Graded on a Curve:
The Police,
Ghost in the Machine

Well, it’s National Just Say Fuck It Day (check your calendar!) and what better time to cobble together a few slapdash comments (you know, in lieu of a real review) about a band I’ve hated since the first time I heard “Roxanne”? So without further ado, here goes!

1. The Irish writer Brendan Behan once quipped, “I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn’t make it worse.” Which basically sums up my feelings about this band.

2. The Police’s bread and butter was cultural appropriation. Nothing wrong with that–they were never punks and they had to steal from somebody. I’m listening to 1981’s Ghost in the Machine, and what a sleek machine of cultural appropriation it is! We’re talking an overproduced saloon car with faux reggae seats. And a horn that, instead of honking, plays snazzy jazz horn arrangements.

3. Like most deep spiritual seekers who discover Eastern religion with their penis, the tantric-sex loving Sting has a lot to say about living in the material world. And like most celebrity spiritual types who seek to spread the message of spiritual detachment from the material world, Sting makes me want to seek Vairagya in a cheeseburger.

4. On the very, very reggae (and very, very boring) “One World (Not Three)” Sting sings, “One world is enough for all of us.” I approve the sentiment, I really do, but I would ask that my small parcel of it be sound-proofed.

5. Whenever The Police show up, whether it be at a party or on my car radio, they immediately arrest my fun. And then fail to read it its Miranda rights.

6. I’ve already mentioned what a deep thinker Sting is. But the wonderful thing about Sting is that all that deep thinking doesn’t make him profound–it makes him pretentious. He makes a cursory attempt to cover his tracks on the very lightweight “Every Little Thing She Does,” but elsewhere he gives vent to all manner of very shallow profound thoughts about politics, violence, and the travails of living in a spiritually bankrupt modern world. And on “Hungry for You” he even sees fit to express said thoughts in French, the language of Descartes, Pascal, and Pepé Le Pew.

7. Sting limns the problems of the world and declines to offer solutions in “Spirits in the Material World,” and I admire him for that. Trouble is he can’t have it both ways, by first talking about our “troubled evolution” and then attempting to get us off the hook by insinuating we’re numinous victims trapped in some superimposed hell. We’re the beasts who created the material world in the first place. But I’m wasting my breath. As I learned the last time I found myself in handcuffs, one should never argue metaphysics with a cop.

8. I am offended by many of the songs on Ghost in the Machine, but I take special affront to “Too Much Information.” Never has a song about information overload been so instrumentally overloaded. Take the intrusive horns. I want them to stop because, well, they’re “driving me insane.” Although maybe that was the idea.

9. The annoying perky “Re-Humanize Yourself” (yet another case of instrumental overload) would make a great Angry Samoans song. All they’d have to do is change the title to “Euthanize Yourself.”

10. Because it’s National Just Say Fuck It Day and I’ll be damned if I’m going to put anything in its proper place, I will just say here that I’m giving this LP a B. Because as awful as I think it is it reminds me of all the wonderful music there is in the world. As Aristotle or someone once said, you cannot measure goodness without evil.

11. Sting apparently believes he’s a super hero. He goes by the name “Omegaman,” and if I understand the song correctly his super power is talking to himself.

12. I sent my DNA to one of those discover your ancestry places and found out I hail from the lost continent of Atlantis. Sting sent his DNA to one of those discover your ancestry places and found out he’s descended from a long line of flat-footed trainspotting enthusiasts.

13. Despite what you may think, I really rather like Sting. Honest to God. He was hilarious in Zoolander II, and I really can’t find it within myself to dislike a man capable of poking fun at himself. And that beard looks great on him.

14. Despite what you may think, I really don’t care much for Sting. He once said, “I come from a family of losers, and I’ve rejected my family as something I don’t want to be like.” Dare to be a loser, Sting–losing is character building, and winners are boring.

15. I kinda like “Demolition Man,” I have to say. Sting’s a “walking nightmare, an arsenal of doom,” and he kills conversation when he walks into the room. Sort of like that drunk uncle who always has egg in his beard and is always finding new ways to knock over the Christmas tree.

16. Sting: “Love is stronger than justice.” Me: “Try telling that to a judge.”

17. “Life was easy when it was boring,” sings Sting on LP closer “Darkness.” And lover of easy living that he is, he makes the song as boring as possible.

18. Seriously? I don’t like a single song on Ghost in the Machine. Not one. And that’s something I can’t say about Dan Fogelberg albums, Backstreet Boys albums, or ELP albums even. At best there are songs I hate less than other songs. It’s kinda like choosing between 20th Century European dictators. You may opt for Mussolini over Hitler as the lesser of two evils, but that hardly means you want him at your bar mitzvah.

19. I lied earlier when I said I was giving this album a B. I can’t even give it a C. I’m having a hard time giving it a D.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
D

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