Chris Cornell – Scream

Chris Cornell - ScreamChris CornellScream (Interscope)

Look, I understand that it’s all too easy to write a scathing review of Chris Cornell‘s third solo outing, particularly when it’s as bad as Scream is. But in all honesty, the hostility of my words and the anger in my mind as my fingers hit the keyboards are motivated from one reality: there was a time in which I really enjoyed the work of Chris Cornell.

Listening to Scream has effectively erased those memories. It’s also built up such a resentment towards him that will take years to repair.


Scream is the most blatant disregard of God-given talent since Rod Stewart‘s Blondes Have More Fun, with the notable exception that Stewart’s record was listenable and you could remember a track or two after it ended. At 32 years old, Stewart left behind his enviable rock and roll voice and turned into a commercial juggernaut that appealed more to the ladies than to the lads that appreciated his God-given talents, particularly after a pint or two. At 44, Chris Cornell seems uncharacteristically ambivalent, changing course musically for reasons that aren’t entirely sound, sane, or logical. He’s decided that now is the perfect time to begin pursuing a dance-rock direction, a genre that is better served by men half his age, and with less of a history to disrupt.

He’s chosen Timbaland to assist him with this career suicide. It’s a pairing that undoubtedly pissed away hundreds of thousands of Cornell’s royalties and UMG‘s profit margin. Unless Timbaland stupidly agreed to forgo a fee for points, he may be the only person to financially profit from this project. And what he may have made in production charges, he will have to pay back in moral retribution at some point in his life.

It’s that bad. There are those that may claim to know that Cornell was headed in this direction after his James Bond soundtrack contribution, but they are liars. While that track may have reeked of an opportunistic paycheck, nothing prepares you for the jaw-dropping amazement that Cornell presents on his third solo release.

You begin sensing something’s wrong the moment you hear Cornell’s familiar voice over programmed beats. But nothing prepares you for the moment you hear Cornell’s voice being manipulated by a fucking auto-tuner. It’s embarrassing, pointless, and it immediately causes you wish that Cornell would have just made another shitty Audioslave album.

The utter contempt for his past, his future, and for his listeners is amazing. Cornell sleepwalks through his new musical landscape like a George Romeo zombie, showing so little emotion that you become concerned for his mental state. When it’s all finished, you actually begin to stop questioning why Cornell made Scream only to begin asking why he hates music so much.

It’s that bad. And don’t think that I’m holding on to his past so hard that my ability to accept Cornell’s quest for new music endeavors is completely broken. He’s a big boy, he can do whatever he wants, and I understand perfectly that it may not be my cup of tea. But Scream is a different beast completely. There’s no redeeming value to it, no commercial appeal, and no reason for you to hear it. As a matter of fact, the only sound that should come from Chris Cornell at this point is a heartfelt apology.

Video: Chris Cornell – “Part Of Me”

Video: Chris Cornell – “Scream” (embedding disabled)

Chris Cornell: iTunes, Amazon, Insound

57 thoughts on “Chris Cornell – Scream”

  1. When I first heard this record I thought it sounded like a Saturday Night Live skit. It didn’t make any sense, though, without a corresponding video of SNL cast members goofing with a major celeb.

    In all honestly, I don’t care about Cornell. There was a time when I did. When I really liked Sound Garden and some of the side projects he contributed to. But his ridiculous escapades now taint his earlier work..

    Recently I’ve read interviews where Cornell dumps on the old grunge days, complaining about how stupid the scene was and how much he hated the fans, the clubs SG used to play in, etc.

    At a time when record companies claim to be under assault from the internets tubes, albums like this and the big budget that was shat on it are a clear indication of how out of touch the industry is with its consumers and its product.

    All I know is that if I could sing like Cornell. If I could pose on stage like he once did back in the day. I’d be in a loud as hell, real as hell rock n roll band and I wouldn’t be fucking around with Justin Timberlake’s pimp.

    This album isn’t music, it’s an abomination.

  2. I’d love to read an article defending the artistic merit of this album. Just one. Surely one exists, right?

  3. Who gives you the right to demand an apology from an artist for making some music you don’t like? This isn’t some unjust new law imposed by a despot, it’s an album. And auto-tune isn’t the spawn of hell – it’s just a vocal effect. Nobody minded when CC processed his voice to buggery all over DOTU and its attendant remixes (some of that is flanged and distorted…) because hey, that was a rock album, right?

    Scream is a wonderful, crazy, disturbing album – complex, profound, scary – and like many really original pieces of art (from “Kid A” right back to “Rite of Spring”) it consequently gets crap thrown at it by the uncomprehending. Wait a few years, and people like you will be queueing up to call it a masterpiece.

  4. Igor,

    Who do you think you are? I think you suck! You obviously don’t know jack about music, what’s cool or Rock & Roll, either. So that means you suck and you don’t know nothing.

    I don’t even think that if you heard a good rock album you would know what it is that you were hearing when you heard it.

    No. You would continue to suck so bad like you do now.

    Why did you bother to even comment? Are you paid by Cornell to travel the internet and plug his crapy stuff?

    R U even an American? Your name sounds stupid and like a communist.

  5. Geez! Aren’t you over reacting a bit? This is one album for Christ’s sake. How did you deal with hearing Euphoria Morning for the first time?

    If you’re willing to give up Chris Cornell because he made an album you dislike intensly, you’re a fool and a drama queen. That man is so full of music that he eats, sleeps and bathes in the essence of it.

    Aside from his wife Vicky, and his three children, music is his LIFE!

    Scotty…. which interview(s) did Chris state all of this?

    “… dumps on the old grunge days, complaining about how stupid the scene was and how much he hated the fans, the clubs SG used to play in, etc”

    Chris DID mention in an article about the skank girls that seemed get back stage rather than the real fans. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard or read Chris dissing his fans or his time with Soundgarden.

  6. At least it’s getting a reaction. Unlike Audioslave, which I thought could’ve been interesting, but instead sounded really bland…

    I have long thought that Cornell was the best singer in rock. I also really started respecting him as a songwriter around Down on the Upside.

    His talent thus established in my mind, I was willing to follow him down the rabbit hole post-Soundgarden, and I really dug ‘Euphoria Morning,’ his first solo album – it’s really texturally interesting.

    I’m glad he’s messing with people’s heads a little bit on ‘Scream.’ I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, that he was making an honest go at an unusual artistic collaboration, rather than a blatant grab at pop superstardom.

    I gotta say, though, that some of this just sounds really dumb. I never should’ve watched that stupid video. Some of these lyrics are trite as hell. Others sound like he’s really trying to be ‘hip,’ but it comes across like when a dad on a TV sitcom tries to be ‘down’ and ‘get jiggy’ with the kids. And there are moments when the looped vocal punctuations sound like a fcuking C&C music factory song, so it doesn’t matter if Chris was singing the best lyrics of his life over it, it would be annoying.

    I’m still going to give it a chance. Not rushing out to buy it. I’ll stream it a few more times. Not sure I’ll ever be in the masterpiece queue, though.

  7. Um, Andy – since when did you have to be “an American” to post a comment on an article? The internet is a global medium and there are other countries in the world aside from your own,just as there are other kinds of music apart from “rock” – which, by the way, I’ve been listening to since I was 12.

    You might like to look up who “Igor Stravinsky” is (Wikipedia will help if you don’t have any books in your house). Hint – he wrote “Rite Of Spring”. I think I mentioned it.

  8. Are you sure you are not his ex?

    The cd does not deserve that kind of response, esp. from someone who once “really enjoyed” Cornell’s work. This kind of over exaggerated response is provoked by a fan with an obsession or someone with a vendetta.

  9. Wasn’t this the same Igor Stravinsky who was banned in Boston for musically desecrating our national anthem?

  10. Is that booze he’s got in the video? I thought Cornell was a hopeless drunk who couldn’t handle the sauce? This is pure speculaton but maybe he’s drinking heavy and his judgement is clouded. If the booze is causing problems at home he could be making this music just to get young chicks. The only thing he might get from this is Goth broads. Scary.

  11. Little Timmy, I thought the guy who got roasted for doing something innovative with the national anthem was another one of those dreadful Seattle rockers, Jimi Hendrix, wasn’t it?

  12. Sven,

    Have you ever heard of “props”? They use them in movies, and plays, and even music videos. Probably just apple cider parked on that table Chris sat at.

    Cornell has been clean for seven years I think he said. And with popping out two beautiful kids back to back, I doubt there are any “problems” at home. Finally, Chris DOES have a “young chick”. And boy is she hot!!

    So Sven, no bonus for you. Your negative spin on Cornell is BS and I’m calling you out on it.

  13. Igor,

    You probabaly have a hump on your back dont you? You fucking commie!

    America = love it or leave it alone!

    The rest of you sucky music lovers can f off 2! Any of you making excuses for Cornell have probabaly never really partied either.

    Party to you puke sometime and maybe you’ll love real rocknroll finally!!

    f off!!!

  14. “Geez! Aren’t you over reacting a bit? This is one album for Christ’s sake. How did you deal with hearing Euphoria Morning for the first time?

    If you’re willing to give up Chris Cornell because he made an album you dislike intensly, you’re a fool and a drama queen. That man is so full of music that he eats, sleeps and bathes in the essence of it.” — Bill O’Reilly-NOT

    ———————————

    I may get toasted for saying this, but “Euphoria Morning” was a horrible record. After a great run in one of the best rock bands ever, Cornell’s first solo album was a huge disapointment. It’s been all downhill from there.

    I can’t go along with the notion that anyone who eats and breaths” music is making some kind of art that can’t be critized. Kids finger painting are just kids finger painting. An idiot banging on a drum isn’t necessariy producing ‘art’. While some people find that point of view to be democratic, a liberation of art from art snobs, I find it destructive to artistic expression. I’m not saying that I’m all that great a critic of what exactly is and isn’t art, only that lumping random doodles into the same basket as deliberate and ernest artistic experession only leads to a dumbing down of art in general. Hence the proliferation of country craft fleamarkets where every suburban fat-lady-bending-over-lawn-decoration-maker is an “artist”, or the countless new age inspired trinket shops filled with hand made tie died Dead Head shirts, or every other horrible wedding band fronted by some dude who really “feels” what Eddie was thinking when he does that Pearl Jam cover.Can any idiot create art? In my opinion the answer is No. If I picked up a guitar and started pounding away at it, all I’d be doing is mimicking and butchering the sad amount of musical understanding buried in my noggen. Can Chris Cornell create art? My gut reaction is No as well. He might well be accomplished in bad taste these days, but I wouldn’t insult the art community by calling the guy an artist.

    The closest Cornell ever got to making real art was long ago when he had a real band backing him up and he belted out real music. All this Timbaland garbage is just sad.

  15. Sergei: Methinks calling Jimi Hendrix a “Seattle rocker” is kind of like calling Bob Dylan a “Duluth, Minnesota folk artist.”

  16. You can’t take this review or the comments seriously. There is way too much hate here not to see this for what it is, an attempt by the underground slugs and snakes to slander the guy. Maybe HE should hire a private detective. cuz that kind of hate is dangerous.

  17. Saying someone is a hopeless drunk and continuing that habit is slander of the most vile kind, not opinion.

    But hey, hate is contagious.

    Hire a PI Cornell, you’re gonna need one!

  18. Please refrain from maligning two of the natural world’s greatest Families. Both the snakes and the gastropodes don’t find any of this funny. :(

  19. Jake!

    Bud, you’d lose!! Let’s just say I’m a concerned fan of Soundgarden, Audioslave, and Cornell Solo. There seems to be a concerted effort by some to smear Cornell’s name. The claim is because he dares to change the direction of his sound on one album. I find that highly doubtful and very illogical.

    Perhaps it has something to do with court battles and the loss of 15 guitars. Pure speculation, but……. !

  20. Is CC still mad that he couldn’t get more alimony from his old manager?

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

  21. Bill, I’d be concerned too, because I immediately thought of Cornell’s mental health when I heard this. Seriously. I really thought that only a man dealing with some issues would allow an album like this to be released.

    I know nothing about court battles and missing guitars. I would think that if Cornell is missing some guitars, maybe he shouldn’t have ruined that guitar he’s smashing on the cover.

    I agree with Scotty, and if what he’s heard is true, then Cornell not only owes an apology, he owes us an early retirement to stew around the reality of what his past helped provide for him.

    The more shit I’m hearing about Cornell, the more I’m thinking that he’s an ungrateful prick.

  22. Apparently Bill thinks that sarcastic speculation about a person in the public eye by absurd characters here may have something to do with Cornell’s nasty dispute with his EX…

    http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/article/cornell%20gets%20prized%20guitars%20back%20from%20ex-wife_1099052

    The idea of the characters here being in cahoots with Cornell’s ex is comparable to John Lovitz’s liar character samehow being involved in the custody battle for Frances Bean.

  23. The action on this topic is pretty impressive…clearly negative shit brings people out. Todd should be proposing articles to Jake like “Metallica – Chronically Overrated” and “Why West Coast Rap is Irrelevant”.

  24. Randall,

    There is no need to disparage Susan. She never asked Cornell to cut three progressively horrible albums.

    I can understand how cornell might have a beef with her. After all, his solo work only reinforces the fact that she was undoubtable the brains behind his success in Soundgarden.

    Without her he totally sucks!

  25. Wow. Such hate in a review. Makes me wonder what the writer has invested in it personally..or in Cornells career. Everyone knows there is a community out there that WANTS to see Cornell fail and will take any opportunity to try to twist whatever they can against him.

    “so little emotion that you worry about his mental state” First..it is amazing that anyone can diagnose his mental state thru his music. And if you actually listened to his cd you would know that the lyrics he wrote are some of his darkest since early soundgarden.

    What is happening here is that the parasites have lost their host. When cornell was living a hard life he attracted some shady fans/people. Now that he is clean those same folks are too unhealthy to know what to do. Cornell had a flee bath and rid himself of a few demons and those little flees are running around worried now. What is unhealthy is peoples nasty obsession with their hate for this cd. If you don’t like it…fine…move on!

    If your memory is now erased because of one cd, maybe you should be checked out for a concussion or Alzheimer’s or something? I am worried for your mental state.

  26. brokenhalo,

    do you really think that everyone who doesn’t like this crap album has some kind of vendetta against Chris Cornell?

    Maybe the album simply sucks. Maybe he’s singing through a fucking auto tuner because he knows that he sucks.

    Maybe Chris Cornell just plain sucks. Without Soundgarden behind him, he doesn’t seem capable of putting out anything worth listening to.

  27. I found Euphoria Morning to be a natural progression from the work Cornell had done with his previous band, and was surprised by those who disliked it; I felt like they had not been paying attention to the evolution of Cornell’s songwriting over the last few Soundgarden records. So, yeah, there is something to the people-can-be-intolerant-to-changes-in-an-artist’s-musical-path argument. But after Carry On, 2007’s mediocre followup to Euphoria Morning–with its limp, misguided cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”–all bets were off.

    Of course, a collaboration between a grunge-era icon and the likes of Timbaland was gonna raise eyebrows; that’s a given. But it’s not the car-crash outcome of the album that’s worriesome–it’s the steps taken there. It’s the emptiness of Carry On; the touring with Linkin Park; working with Timbaland without a substantive artistic goal; the joining of forces with the likes of Justin Timberlake and John Mayer; and finally, the clumsy symbolism of smashing a guitar–his former musical self?–on the cover of this new album; all of which come across as the acts of man hell-bent on burning, no, blowing up the bridges to his past. Yes, nostalgia can be deadly for an artist wanting to move forward, but was THIS really the best alternate route?!

    In the end, the problem is not that Cornell chose to make a contemporary R&B record, it’s that Scream is assembly-line, Pussycat Dolls/Britney Spears-type tripe of the most uninspired kind. Perhaps if he’d chosen to further explore the inklings of old-school R&B found on “When I’m Down” and “Wave Goodbye”, from Euphoria, we might’ve gotten something interesting this time. Instead we’re left pondering the motives and intentions of a major talent, one who is perilously close to dismantling years of hard-earned popularity and acclaim over baffling decisions and half-assed musical attempts at reinvention. As a fan, it’s a tough blow to witness someone of this stature pointlessly fritter away a career of note for some ill-conceived stab at who knows what. Talk about a mid-life crisis…

    Strike two, man.

    The Soundgarden reunion countdown clock is already ticking…

    PS: Today is the 15th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. And the seventh anniversary of Layne Stayley’s passing.

  28. Nice try all. I see 3 or 4 regulars here and I assume everyone else is a puppet that fits on the hands of the 1-3 regulars already commenting. Just because it’s not labeled Colonel Stankers don’t mean it don’t stank.

  29. Kage,

    Do you hate Cornell’s ex manager too?

    so much hate. so much bad music.

    what do you guys get from Timberland to hype his records online? i hope it’s not free Cornell downloads!

  30. I love how when I scroll down to the bottom of the comments page there’s a Google Ad for Scream. That is brilliant!

  31. In said article, Cornell is stated as saying: “And it’s not an ego thing. To me, music shouldn’t be ego-driven.”

    WHAT?? What the hell does he mean? I honestly think that to some extent, writing quality music, rock or otherwise, HAS to be an ego thing. When Pete Townshend wrote his first three solo albums, they were self-indulgent, self-referential, and quasi-autobiographical. Guess what? Those qualities are also some of the reasons they’re EXCELLENT. Pete gave a damn to invest his blood, sweat, tears, and soul into the grooves. Music, when done right, is most definitely “an ego thing”.

    Also, Cornell offers this chestnut about working with his producers: “What was the collaborative process like with (producers Timbaland and Ryan Tedder)?

    Ryan, I think I saw for about 10 minutes in the entire process. We never really worked together. Most of the time I was working in the studio, Timbaland would come in with an idea. We’d listen to a beat idea, he’d talk about where he thought it could go directionally in terms of melodies — never lyrics, really. He would do what he’d call coaching: “This is the way I’d approach it.” And that’s it; he was done. Then I would write lyrics and sing.”

    No wonder the end result is crap. What kind of working method is “I only saw this producer for 10 mins.”? All is forgiven, CC. Stop releasing shit records, we want to give you another chance. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Soundgarden again, but does it have to be this bullshit?

  32. Murph,

    sounds like a few overpaid guys collecting a paycheck from a major label and dialing in everything else.

  33. Well, as far as a Soundgarden reunion is concerned, in the last 2 years Cornell has gone from “I seriously doubt it” to “You never know”. Which would be great if he could still hit the high notes. (He’d still do a better job than Tad, tho. Plus, Kim Thayil and Ben Shepherd could probably use the money.)

  34. dogs and dildos,

    you who are deluded enough to believe that you can judge Cornell or his work,

    know this:

    an artist is a human, not a packaged commodity. you will not get what you want, dogs and dildos. you will get what they choose to give.

    goodbye dogs and dildos.

  35. That reminds me: Collected Soul was a horribly mediocre band. For the life of me I could never figure out how they got as popular as they seemed to be. If they would have titled any of their albums “Dogs and Dildos” I think I might have respected them more.

  36. You have clearly shown the amateur blogger you truly are. Your pathetic attempt at a decent monologue has surely slogged it’s way through the internet with your unintelligent drivel. But what writer is nothing more than a shameless big guy behind a keyboard?

    Why not let the guy be different, he never hides he is musically eclectic. Or weren’t you there when he was a rodeo singer like I was?

  37. GREAT ALBUM!!!

    The best since soundgarden days – I started caring about it again.

    Carry on was the drone – this one is raw, it’s more personal and expirimental!!!

    That’s what CC is all about.

  38. Boys, the Lord didn’t put you here to be shooting and killing each other. It’s right there in the Bible, Exodus 20:13: ‘”Thou shall not kill.’

  39. I just watched the videos and I am apalled. I absolutely loved Soundgarden and they were one of the best live bands I ever saw…. this stuff is staggeringly awful.

  40. Now that I’ve read all the comments as well as the review I’m fairly certain I’ll be disappointed though I will search out and sample some tracks before the final verdict is in for me. Personally I respect Timbaland as well as Cornell but I also don’t go in for fx laden, manipulated vocals…In any event I got two things to say:

    1) The music industry is a mess right now in so many ways and Cornell seems to sense that and he’s searching. 2) Rock as we know it is dead or dying…Not sure what’s coming but I’ve taken off my hat out of respect and am in prayer for an artform that is sick and on it’s last legs. I’m just sad.

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