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)