Review Summary: Some things are better left buried.
I don’t know what’s been happening to me lately. You see, I consider myself a music conoisseur, with nearly 15 years’ experience in the field, and I take pride in not listening to ***ty music. And yet, as of late, it seems I’m turning into some sort of musical masochist. You see, rather than review tried and true albums that would look good on my review listing, I’ve been setting out to dig up and review musical atrocities of decades past.
What’s worse, my initial objective in so doing was to try and somewhat redeem
these albums, finding the proverbial “silver lining” in each of them. So far, my task has proven all but impossible, and my quest has become one to find the absolute worst record ever made. I thought I’d found it when I reviewed Steven Seagal’s Songs From The Crystal Caves
, but since then I have found at least two other albums that share the dubious honor of being worse than that one. Again, I thought music couldn’t possibly go any lower than Jillian Hall’s A Jingle With Jillian
, a record so bad I couldn’t muster up the guts to review it. But once again, I was proven wrong.
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the worst record of all time: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Coming Out Of Their Shells
Now, those of you who read X-Entertainment or watch Nostalgia Critic videos might have heard of the “making-of” tape for this one, and of how epically bad it is. Basically, it’s a badly-acted kiddy version of “This Is Spinal Tap” that commits the fatal flaw of taking itself seriously. That’s right, a video about humanoid amphibians amphibians with guitars takes itself seriously. And you wonder why it’s bad!?
However, we’re not here to review the video, rather the musical portion of it. Nowadays available only in download format (or possibly in some shady garage sale), this piece of musical excretion was actually given away at Pizza Hut around the time the Turtles took their tour. Much like the tour itself, it was an unabashed cash grab on a red-hot fad, and it features about as much musical value as your 9-year-old nephew performing “Happy Birthday” through raspberries and armpit farting.
Now, when I first saw and heard glimpses of this, I made the crass mistake of labeling it “not-bad AOR”. But that was before I heard the entire thing. You see, that categorization is certainly true for No Treaties
and Count On Us
, as well as, to a lesser extent, April’s Ballad
and the title track. The rest of the album, however, is merely a hodgepodge of whatever was “happenin’…musically” at the time. About half of it sounds like Milli Vanilli, except much worse. The other half contains the previously mentioned AOR songs, a funky-fresh theme and atrocious attempts at rapping and surf music. The common trait through all of i tis how universally poor it is.
The album starts off, rather anti-climactically, with a fully acoustic ballad. It’s nothing but three minutes of badly strummed guitar and a piss-poor singer delivering lines like “singin’ in the sewers is a wonderful sound”. It’s also guaranteed to instantly put anyone under 10 to sleep. If your kid manages to survive this harrowing experience, he or she will be faced with nine tracks of atrocious lyrics, bad singing and worse beats, peppered with a few admittedly fun moments.
Lyrically, the TMNT gimmick inevitably leads to a lot of shell-related puns and song titles such as Pizza Power
. However, paradoxically, the worst lyrics are those not related to the Turtles. Skipping Stones
is a senseless rambling about goodness knows what, while No Treaties
sends out a questionable message with its chorus of ”no treaties after the war”
. And I would swear that on Toobin’
they were singing about suicide, until I realised it was actually “sewer side”. Worst still is Walk Straight
, that couples TMNT lore with an inspirational message and tops it off with a chorus that goes ”walk straight/no need to mutate”.
The music is just as poor as the lyrics. Rock bottom is achieved in Skipping Stones
, a track that will certainly be able to do what Out Of Our Shells
couldn’t: put not only kids, but grown-ups
to sleep. I know I nearly dozed off listening to this interminable, sluggish pseudo-Milli Vanilli ballad. It’s every bit as slow as a real turtle, and just as boring to witness. Equally interminable is the dreadful Toobin’
, a song about surfing turtles that features the worse, fakest Beach Boys pastiche this side of the 50’s. And what can I say about April’s Ballad
, except that it features a Celine Dion wannabe who achieves the feat of being even more
annoying than the real deal!? This song is legendarily bad, and for all the wrong reasons.
But what about the vocals, you ask!? What do these “turtles” sound like!? Well, certainly nothing like they do in the show. If you’ve ever watched it – and I know you have – you know Donatello’s supposed to have a nasally pitch, while Michaelangelo and Raphael sound more prepubescent and Leonardo has a more mature type of voice. Here, they all sound exactly the same: like bad AOR singers. Actually, that’s not true: one of them also sounds like a terrible white rapper. It’s hilarious to see these studio singers contorting their voices to try to convey emotion with their ultra-limited range, all while the rapping guy makes Vanilla Ice sound like Snoop Dogg.
Before I wrap this up, however, I have to mention Cowabunga
. The reason it hasn’t been mentioned in the bad lyrics or bad vocals section is that it takes both things to an entirely new level. This song is a universe into itself, and must be heard to be believed. The lyrics have too many instances of ridiculous rhymes to mention in this review, but do me a favor: if you need a good laugh, try and look them up. I assure you you won’t regret it.
So what’s not bad about it? Well, difficult as it seems to believe, No Treaties
and closer Count On Us
are actually semi-decent AOR tracks. It’s like some composer had these two loose songs that he was dying to publish, and he thought this would be as good a vehicle as any. No Treaties
in particular features some real-sounding instrumentation and a kick-ass Kissian guitar solo, making for overall the best song on the album. While it can by no means be considered “good”, it’s at least an average song, sharing some similarities with Hulk Hogan’s theme, Real American
. As for Count On Us
, it’s basically a Turtles-themed country cousin to the previous track, but it at least makes for a fun album closer. The third standout is Pizza Power
, a guilty pleasure of mine that features a funky bassline and hilarious – this time intentionally – lyrics.
Still, don’t be fooled. Nothing on here remotely approaches “good music”. I guess if I heard No Treaties
out of context, I may consider it decent, in a cheesy sort of way; the same goes for Pizza Power
and Count On Us
, which I might consider fun parodies of real songs. But one decent song and two guilty pleasures surrounded by seven tracks of the most atrocious music you have ever heard do not a worthwile album make. And even though it was free, and even though I was five at the time, I suspect that, even back then, I still wouldn’t have liked this tape.
Now excuse me, because this album makes me want to go and upgrade Vanilla Ice’s rating to a 1/5. So I’m going to go do it. The rest of you, don’t dig up this album until you want to be aurally raped. Some things are better left buried.