Tuesday, January 21, 2003

AS C-3PO SAID, "WONNNDERFUL!": Chriz Puzak brings us the glorious news that rap-metal is dying its richly-deserved death:

Crazytown, a hip-hop/hard rock act, sold 1.6 million copies of its 1999 debut album, "The Gift of Game," at the trend's peak in 2000. But the band's followup has been a disaster.

In mid-November, "Darkhorse," opened at an awful No. 120 on Billboard's Top 200, with sales of 12,843 copies. Five weeks later, it has vanished from the Top 200 with total sales of only 35,000.

Crazytown can't blame radio for its crash. Its song "Drowning" made the top 20 of both modern-rock and mainstream-rock radio formats. Listeners simply were unimpressed with what they heard.

Korn, likewise, continues to enjoy major rock radio play. And its sales aren't exactly poor, at 1.2 million copies of its fifth and latest work, "Untouchables." Still, that's only one-third of what its previous two albums sold. ("Issues," from November '99, moved 3.1 million copies. And 1998's "Follow the Leader" pushed 3.5 million.) Worse, nearly half the new CD's sales came in its first week, suggesting poor word of mouth.

Perhaps anticipating such a droop, Papa Roach — whose major-label debut, 2000's "Infested," rode the rock-rap wave with 3.2 million copies sold — has rejiggered its sound somewhat. Its second album "LoveHateTragedy" inched toward mainstream rock and punk, but apparently not far or fast enough to save Roach from being squashed. Its latest album has managed only 550,000 sales, barely more that one-sixth that of its hit.

Rock-rap mainstay Rage Against the Machine has disbanded (due to personal squabbles rather than genre disloyalty). It has been replaced by the hip-hop-free Audioslave (a supergroup combo of Rage's three musicians with singer Chris Cornell from defunct band Soundgarden). Yet, its self-titled debut album hasn't sold in supergroup numbers. After four weeks, it's at a tepid No. 51.

Meanwhile, another group of rock-rap louts, Limp Bizkit, is among the missing, ever since it lost guitarist Wes Borland. But Linkin Park, which had the largest-selling album of 2001, plans to release its second work in March. Given shifting tastes, maybe it should increase the rock component and leave rapping to the hip hoppers who do it right.

Rap-rock was good for maybe one Anthrax-Public Enemy novelty record and that's it. I mean, I'm all for cultural fusion but rap and metal are not complimentary sounds. Chris also tells you why Lone Star is better than Mile High for mail order comics and I agree.

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