While my heart belongs to Spotify, I like to peruse the iTunes charts to see what people are listening to. I’m always alarmed when the top album or two on the charts is from a group I’ve never heard of since I think I should at least be familiar with something that popular. Such was my reaction when I saw the new Hollywood Undead album (“Notes from the Underground”) battling it out this week for the top spot.
My first thought when I saw Hollywood Undead up there was, “How the [beep] is there an album at #1 from a group I’ve never heard of?” I’ve had this reaction before, but it continues to amaze me that I am not familiar with something that so many people already know about. After I brushed off my ego, I became intrigued by the band’s name. I’m a devotee of Bravo and Us Weekly. Was it possible that a band with ‘Hollywood’ in their name was the musical equivalent of one of these fine media outlets? And they were wearing masks- how fun! Maybe it’s like when they had the masquerade party on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. But wouldn’t their voices sound muffled if they sang with masks on? So many questions- I had to give them a try.
It took all of 15 seconds after I began listening to “Notes from the Underground” to realize I was off base. A bit of online research revealed that Hollywood Undead is a rap rock group, which means they rap very loudly. My first few times listening to “Notes from the Underground” confirmed my fear: they sounded like very angry young men - too screamy for this mama. Still, I persisted and was rewarded by finding that some of the songs started to grow on me. This is a marriage of hard rock and rap. Since hard rock isn’t really my bag, this wasn’t love at first listen, but the rap aspect definitely helped since rap adds an interesting twist when done well. Hollywood Undead reminded me of Ozzy Osbourne meets Eminem (although they would both probably take issue with that marriage).
My bigger issue with this music is the violence and anger and negativity, which I know is a very “mom” thing to say, but honestly if my teenage son was listening to music like this I would not be thrilled, and it also distracted me from the music itself and whatever was good about the cleverness of the lyrics.
Now, the big question: why do the band members in Hollywood Undead wear those masks? I read a lot from those who said that the band members don’t want people distracted by their faces and want the focus to be only on the music. However, I found an interview clip from a couple years ago with two members of the group who offered an even simpler explanation: they like how the masks look. They said that they were never meant to hide their identities but were really more of a “fashion statement.” So there you have it!
I’ll leave you with the video for “We Are”, which will give you a glimpse of the violence I referred to. Enjoy!
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Filed under: Album Reviews