Graded on a Curve:
Limp Bizkit,
Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water

Finally–the perfect band for people who like the Red Hot Chili Peppers but think they’re–get this–too tasteful and smart.

Nu Metal avatars Limp Bizkit made mucho bucks with their aggressive fusion of rap and metal, proving in the process they had the mad skills to suck at two genres at once. That said, if your idea of a good metal band is a bad rap band, Limp Bizkit’s hugely successful third album, 2000’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, could just be for you.

The turn of the millennium was a dark time for people like me; the likes of Limp Bizkit, Korn, Creed, and Papa Roach ruled the airwaves, and no one was safe. My older brother called in to a radio station to win an unnamed prize once. The DJ asked him if he liked Korn. My brother said yes; he thought the guy was talking about the kind that comes on the cob. He ended up with two tickets to see the band, which is kind of like winning radioactive waste.

I can sum up my problem with Limp Bizkit is two words: Fred Durst. The man has undeniable commercial smarts, and his crude braggadocio can be amusing; I’m impressed by his ability to stuff forty-six “fucks” into a single song (see “Hot Dog”), and you should be too. And the song itself ain’t bad, if you’re willing to settle for an unreconstituted Nine Inch Nails rip.

But the boasting wears; Durst wavers between defiance and self-pity, and when it comes to rhyming’ and stealing he’s no Beastie Boy. There’s no joy in this music–Durst is good for the occasional laugh, sure, but in general he just sounds pissed off. And how much does a rich record label vice-president have to be pissed off about?

Durst and Company serve up “My Generation” “Limp Bizkit style,” but all Durst does is complain about those who dare to talk shit about him. “Full Nelson” ditto; poor Fred keeps asking “Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me?”, demonstrating the biggest persecution complex since John Lennon and “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” When he bellows, “Motherfucker! Just shut your motherfucking mouth!” he doesn’t come off like a rebel without a cause; no, he sounds like a child throwing a tantrum.

And if Durst goes full petulant on “Full Nelson,” on “My Way” all he does is snivel about getting stepped on all the time. “It’s my way or the highway,” he rails over a second-hand groove, and he might have gotten away with it if he didn’t sound so… whiny. Fred needs to listen to some Jerry Lee Lewis; the Killer would approach the song with swagger, not adolescent pique.

But that’s what made Limp Bizkit so successful; teenage boys could relate to Durst’s adolescent angst. And while I get it, I do wish they’d find themselves a better role model. Alice Cooper for example. He knew that being a teen makes you a persecuted outcast, but he was also smart enough to address the teen predicament with a saving sense of humor.

As for the music, it occasionally impresses; Limp Bizkit packs an undeniable sonic punch, and some of these songs come at you like a steamroller. And a few of these numbers–”Livin’ It Up” for instance–do a pretty good job of melding hip hop to metal. I particularly like the fat bottom and synth blips (to say nothing of the input of Xzibit) that make “Getcha Groove On.” That said, Durst isn’t the person I would choose to sing it, and his rhymes ain’t worth a dime.

Similarly, while I like the Lalo Schifrin Mission Impossible riff that propels “Take a Look Around,” I’m not impressed with Durst’s vocals or the rather trite loud-soft dynamic the boys tend to fall back on. “It’ll Be OK” says grunge, but lacks Cobainian inspiration, and once again Durst is reduced to whinging. “Why are you fucking up my whole life?” he sings. Get over it already, says I.

I could go on all day about this LP, but I think I’ve made my point. Suffice it to say Durst ain’t no rapper and feeling sorry for yourself is no way to go through life. He’s a One-Note Johnny and a case of arrested development and if you’re a 13-year-old pissed off about the fact that you’ve been grounded for smoking pot in the garage you’ll no doubt be able to relate.

But if you’re not, his perpetual disgruntlement soon wears as thin as a Frank Zappa yellow snow joke, and there’s a reason I stopped listening to Frank Zappa. Durst may have grown up some since Chocolate Starfish came out, but I doubt it. Peeved sells, and incredibly peeved sells like hotcakes.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
D+

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  • B12345

    Mein Gott. That LP cover is beyond dreadful.
    “and there’s a reason I stopped listening to Frank Zappa”
    I will ONLY listen to his instrumentals……

    • Michael Little

      Amen, my brother!

  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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