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Chris Cornell meets Timbaland … enough to make you ‘Scream’

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A rocker (Kathy) and a hip-hopper (Mike) discuss “Scream,” the new solo CD from ex-Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, recorded entirely with mega-producer Timbaland.

Mike: I’ve been intrigued by this Chris Cornell/Timbaland collabo album since I heard about it. Note that I didn’t say I looked forward to it or anticipated it. More than anything, I was curious. Timbaland, of course, is responsible for Justin Timberlake’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds.” I figured that’s what he’d be bringing to the table on “Scream” — I just wasn’t sure how that would mesh with throaty rock vocals. My big question is this: Who’s going to listen to this? I can’t see Cornell’s rock fans getting behind the blips and beeps of Timbo and I can’t see the Timberlake audience latching onto Cornell — despite the influx of ads I’m seeing on MySpace.

Kathy: You’re right, Mike. I think rockers are going to have that WTF moment (Kind of like a co-worker today who was startled, dumbfounded and apparently quite disturbed to hear the tunes coming from my office were that of Cornell). The whole collaboration took me by surprise. I knew Chris Cornell had a solo album coming out, but I assumed it would be a rock album. What else would you think a guy who was in Soundgarden and Audioslave would do? Add in that he co-wrote the David Cook’s hit “Light On” and it all adds up to a mainstream rock album. Boy was I wrong.

Mike: Yes, it’s not mainstream rock at all, which is what confuses me. I don’t see this getting played on rock radio. And while the Timberlake/Timbaland stuff had some crossover to rhythmic radio, I can’t see Chris Cornell getting played on B95. That said, there are a few songs that caught my ear on this album. I liked the first track, “Part of Me” — which for some reason had me thinking of Michael Jackson — and I thought “Otherside of Town” could do well on Top 40 radio/VH1/MTV.

Kathy: It definitely doesn’t fit rock radio around here. The only station I think that might play it is Alice. When “Part of Me” started, the first thing I thought of was the teen pop sensation Cora Corman in the movie “Music & Lyrics” – it was all those Egyptian like sounds that did it. Weird. But, I agree with you, the song is catchy and definitely has that get-stuck-in-your-head potential. But, after about five songs morphing in and out of each other, I thought I had been listening to 20 minutes of techno with a tinge of rock. It wasn’t until the last part of the CD, when we get to “Scream” and “Otherside of Town,” that I felt like we got to appreciate what makes Chris Cornell so great: his voice.

Mike: Ahh yes, the song-morphing-together Timbaland model. Again, something that works with a Justin Timberlake record but seems forced here. I don’t see Chris Cornell as a guy whose music is various soundscapes melting into each other. Like you said: It’s the voice. I appreciate the ambition in this project. I like when artists go outside their comfort zone. And there are probably a few songs here that I’ll revisit — but I’m still wondering what the audience is for this. Maybe people are more daring than I think. I was wrong about “Hey Ya” – never thought that would blow up either.

Kathy: The thing is that the ambition seems like a copycat of a lot of stuff we’ve heard before. Like you said, Justin Timberlake comes to mind. I also heard some older-school R&B – there are a lot of “Owh!” screeches mixed in that made me think he was trying to channel James Brown. Then it’s like “let’s sample the ‘Lion King’” with those African beats. And we end up with Elvis Costello-esque stuff in the end. I like innovation but not being confused. Oh … and did you notice what I think is a secret song (at about the five-minute mark on the last track)? It is nothing like the rest of the album. Huh? Did I mention that I am so confused?

Your turn: Who’s heard the “Scream” album? What do you think?

Responses to "Chris Cornell meets Timbaland … enough to make you ‘Scream’"

Renee N says:

now I’m intrigued… I’ll have to go pick it up!

Danielle says:

I have not heard it, but everything I read has been similar to what you guys had to say, or downright negative. I will not be rushing to buy/download…

paulg says:

Seems to be in line with Linkin Park/ JayZ about four years ago yet there is no mention in your discussion of a twice baked idea…are they alike or not?

Mike Oz says:

@paulg: This is a little different. That Jay-Z/Linkin Park CD was a mash-up. It took existing music from both sides and put them together. Whereas this is original stuff from both sides.

pretty towel noose says:

listened to track one.

-a lot of the moves of the dancers is VERY Michael Jackson.

-I don’t like that they deliberately compressed his voice, it’s like he’s a poor-man’s sammy hagar from the 70′s or something.
(Prollum is? It’s probably going to get tons of airplay, despite the fact that it’s sort of layered over FastBall’s ‘the Way,’ and has a definite hook.)
-More stupid hats and hormonal babes lookin’ to scratch an itch, (resulting in fights on the danceflo, –must be the pheromones.)
-Nice to see the dancing ‘black silhouette’ cowboy (from the advertising sidebars) get a gig, (and probable unfortunate std.)

If this is the strong song?
I’m Not feelin’ it, –which means it may go huge.

Just proves it’s hard to ‘go back’ to a more ‘pop’ sound once you’ve been a grunge-metal god.
(…still, when he tours? that’s gonna be one heck of a case of whiplash due to set-list.)

Juan says:

It’s different. Then again Chris has always been different. From what I recall, some of the Audioslave stuff was actually religous based. Why would this surprise anyone?

Some of it did sound JT’ish, which was weird. For the most part it was good music not rock, not hip hop, just good music.

Does everything really need a catagory? You know The Chili Peppers aren’t really any certain genre?

Marty says:

I caught Chris on Jimmy Kimmel last night and he did two songs (you can find video at Kimmel’s site) – I thought he looked hot and sounded great.

Kathy says:

@Juan: I agree with you that everything doesn’t need a category. But, for me, when I am so used to identifying someone with a genre it is jarring to hear him sound so different. That said, I do think a lot of the songs are catchy and make you want to dance. The more I listened to a few songs, the more I liked them. I do hate that they diminished Cornell’s voice. I’ve always loved it, so I wanted to hear him, not so much electronic music.

Tudor Stanley says:

I loved what Trent Reznor said about this in his twitter:

“You know that feeling you get when somebody embarrasses themselves so badly YOU feel uncomfortable? Heard Chris Cornell’s record? Jesus.”

classic honesty