Song Of The Day 3/22/2014: The Original Cast of "High Fidelity: A Musical" - The "I Slept With Someone" Trilogy


From time to time I get asked -- well, chained up and interrogated is more like it -- "What's the worst album you've ever heard?"

Despite being a music expert of encyclopedic proportion (which is a more complex way of saying "unemployed") I've usually resisted answering that question because it dwells on the negative. For a long time I didn't have one, because the worst albums I heard were just forgettable. There was never one that stood up and proclaimed its awfulness and wore it like a wet serape. They were dismissible, and I just moved on past them.

Then I heard the original cast recording of High Fidelity: A Musical.

Yes, they made a Broadway musical out of High Fidelity, the Stephen Frears movie starring John Cusack, which in turn was based on Nick Hornby's book. You might not have known this because it only had 14 performances on Broadway. In fact I didn't even know about it until four years after it closed in 2006.

Granted, it's impossible for me to grade this cast album on a curve. If you're making a musical about an indie record shop filled with indie rock fussbudgets -- well, just by coming up with the idea you're flirting with peril. But if you actually go through with it, you'd better get the music right. You don't have wiggle room.

And the music of High Fidelity: A Musical is horribly, horribly wrong. If you're looking to start doing facial exercises listen to this album, because you will be wincing in lemony torment the entire time. You will save the money you were going to spend on Botox.

I mean, this is how the show starts off. The character is curmudgeonly Rob Gordon, indie rock store owner, and the song is "The Last Real Record Store On Earth":
I've got my daily crossword and there's coffee in the pot
I've got cable and a girlfriend who is pissed off, but she's hot
I've got records that it's taken me a lifetime to amass
And I play 'em on a system that will kick your system's ass!
I could spend a full 10 minutes on each line of that opening stanza making a very pointed case as to why it represents absolutely nobody who works in the music industry. Anyone. Entry level or executive. We would be here all night. This also flies in the face of every single artistic choice Nick Hornby, Stephen Frears and John Cusack made in the construction of the Rob Gordon character. He would have said not one of these insipid lines. Hell, in the movie, if somebody walked into the shop and muttered any one of these lines, Cusack would throw him out.

But for today, I've chosen the most beastly wrong set on the record. The nadir of High Fidelity: A Musical is this trilogy of songs in the middle of the show, sung by the warring romantic leads. The first one's called "I Slept With Someone Who Slept With Lyle Lovett." The second one is "I Slept With Someone Who Handled Kurt Cobain's Intervention." (I don't think Kurt Cobain ever had an intervention.) The third is a "reprise." I refuse to listen to any of them again because they might make me hate music. In fact, after hearing these songs, you may hate me.

I put a lot of great songs on this blog. Then sometimes, just for fun, I throw a toaster in the filled bathtub and destroy the west wing of the house.

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