Review Summary: Hey You: Proof that it's okay to be different (10/10)
Love & Death: a Haunting track, love it! (9/10)
Zoom Into Me: Beautifully Haunting track alot of emotions run thru it (10/10) - iTunes user BlaqMetlGurl1228
So here’s the thing about Tokio Hotel: they’re pretty much the result of some German experiment where, the (presumably mad) scientist looked back on the history of commercial music and extracted the worst parts of everything that was ever popular. Then he dressed up his creation with elements of rock sub-genres to create a look that would sell. From what I’ve seen, heard, and read, they’re basically four kids who got started really (really) young, found a following among pre-teen girls, got some cool haircuts, sold a bigillion records, translated some of them into English, got one of them remixed by AFI, got even COOLER haircuts, toured the world, and made some serious bank.
Let's try this out: I am an American, heterosexual male who, (I think) is not a complete tool. I do not speak German, but this review is of the German release of their 2009 LP, Humanoid
. I chose the German release because I didn't think I would be able to make it through the album if I understood how lame I was for actually listening to this (even if it was for a review). In preparing this review, I spent 16 or so songs looking for something positive amidst my insomnia-induced delirium and propensity for kick-assery (read: faster, louder music). You all know the ending of this journey already (see: 1,5 rating), but this is, after all, a music review, and it's one that I suffered for, so I'm going to try to discuss the record, at least a little…
Basically, you can pick your poison on Humanoid
. Autotune? Hit up lead single "Automatisch." I’ve actually heard the English version of this song, and I’ve seen the video as well, so hopefully the German lyrics are less about finding things that rhyme with 'Automatic' and more about the song’s theme, which is clearly the gay robot community's struggle for basic civil rights (an issue close to all of our hearts). The song has all the elements of a pop hit: some singing? Check! A computer manipulating the singing so that sounds more like robotic gargling? Check (and ewww). Production that makes instrumentation inaudible? Yep. Super-cool hair? You bet...
Maybe you're in the mood for some Backstreet Boy nostalgia (no, not for the ten minutes the Backstreet Boys were cool for making “The Call”, but for the rest of their career, where they basically harmonized around synth hooks and a drum-machine). Yeah, check out “Kampe Der Liebe.” What is pretty cool about this song, and many of the other songs on the album, is that it sounds like there are 3 clones of lead singer Bill Kaulitz (harmonizing with himself, layered throughout choruses and bridges), along with some ghosts of a band that might've been in the room, or maybe not... it's hard to tell. Songs like “Kampe...”, “Hunde”, and “Traumer” you literally struggle to find a bass line or a guitar riff, or any proof that there was more than one member present in the studio.
The formula for the other songs is, generally, more of the same, but with some serious guitar abuse, usually following the second chorus. A couple of songs are pretty bold, I guess, in that they take some serious artistic risks by breaking from formula and including actual guitar work and drum beats. “Geisterfahrer”, “Lass Uns Laufen” and “That Day” work like this, to name a few, but like the rest of the album, their play is overshadowed by fake string arrangements and maybe even a fourth layer of vocals.
I mean, it gets a bit ridiculous, but this is how the band works. They are manufactured. A quick wikipediation yields the interesting fact that, nearly all these masterpieces are written by eight people, the vast majority of them not in the band. Their over-produced records scream ‘cash-grab,’ but probably not as loudly as the translation of all their songs into poorly-pronounced English goth-nursery rhymes. The singing Kaulitz (Bill, not to be confused with his twin (seriously?) brother Tom, who holds the guitar exceptionally well) wears his glam-rock front-man androgyny by the books, but without the attitude of Kiss, the mystery and musicianship of Queen, or the slash-tastic riffage of MCR.
I guess I’m going to pick “Hey Du” as the track where I try to frame TH as something other than a complete abomination (Perhaps it is that the song title resembles the classic, Peabody Award-winning Nickelodeon dramedy, Hey Dude
). The song sounds like it might’ve been derived from some hip-hop or R&B influences, but I’m pretty sure it was actually inspired by old TV jingles from the 60’s. These guys are the Jonas Brothers, except they apparently have sex a lot. Maybe that makes them cooler than the Jonas Brothers in that I always sorta hated the cultish, pg-13, oppressive puritan ethic that South Park told me to associate with them. But let’s face it, playing the part of rock star and backing it up with the music are two totally different things.