Farrah Abraham
My Teenage Dream Ended


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
December 20th, 2012 | 453 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is not a review.

That score up there is completely arbitrary. I asked a buddy of mine to give me a number between 1 and 10 and he said 8 so there you go. How can you apply a score to something like this? A score implies a rubric against which you’re judging a piece. So far as I know, no such rubric exists for Farrah Abraham’s My Teenage Dream Ended. What’s the standard for Accidentally-Genius-Avant-Garde-Pop from Reality-TV C-Listers?

But that 4 is just as well; something about this monster leaves me hopelessly captivated. This album is so far removed from any conceptions of “goodness” that goodness itself stops being a measure to judge it by. Internet commenters gleefully proclaim “this shit is worse than Rebecca Black,” but Farrah’s music doesn’t even approach the level of comical vapidity Black’s transparently sweet “Friday” hit. Teenage Dream is a different beast entirely, comprised of glitch-y wubs and aggressively anti-melodic auto-tune. It’s as if at its conception, Farrah had an image of glitzy female pop-music a la Kesha, then hacked at it with a knife and poured acid on it so that it became this sublime grotesque of the original. Or, to use an analogy I imagine is a more accurate description of her creative process, Teenage Dream is what would happen if you gave a child a keyboard, an auto-tune vocal filter, and free reign to do whatever it wants, and what it came up with was a horrifying demonstration of just what the shit we listen to is made of, the foundational principles of modern pop music blown up to the point of ludicrousness. Whether we like it or not, My Teenage Deam Ended spits modern culture back at us in ways that are vile, hideous, and completely unintentional, and it became the site of the best critical conversation of 2012. Who cares if Kendrick Lamar released a hip hop classic or if that’s even a thing anymore when the very concepts of Artist Intentionality and Music were being called into question on the most compellingly ugly album of the year?

For those of you who are doing pretty good all things considered, Farrah Abraham was on the first season of MTV’s Teen Mom. The father of her daughter died in a car accident two months before the baby was born. She struggled with post-partum depression and had a rocky, abusive relationship with her own mother. It’s an extremely sad story, undoubtedly, but the unfortunate fact of the matter is that it’s also not a particularly noteworthy one without the album she inexplicably recorded to accompany her autobiography. The album version of My Teenage Dream Ended is an incredibly bizarre thing whose very existence is remarkable in itself. How did nobody tell her that releasing experimental compositions with almost total disregard for rhythm and melody might have been counterproductive to the book she was trying to push? How did nobody tell her that auto-tuning every one of her unnervingly confessional shouts to the point of sounding between human and robot might have been a bad idea? None of that matters now. All that does is that a piece of art has come into existence and we need to decide what to do with it.

The initial response for the majority of everyone seems to be laughter and derision, which is understandable because My Teenage Dream Ended sounds pretty dick by any traditional standard. If you go into it with any expectations based on preconceptions of what constitutes “listenable,” it will suck. But what if that was the point all along? If you give Teenage Dream any consideration beyond the reactionary “what the fuck is this shit?”, it begins to suck in such a way that it draws attention to the very bases by which we judge things, and when those get deconstructed, the album becomes a strange yet utterly fascinating example of pop media throwing up on itself. Here’s a woman whom our ethically perverted sense of schadenfreude made a celebrity. The product of our love of watching people dismantled and broken on television has spit back at us a demonic caricature of what we’ve been secretly wanting all along. Deal with it, fuckers.

Of course, that argument comes up against the fact that it obviously wasn’t the intended point of My Teenage Dream Ended. Clearly, Teenage Dream is whatever it is by accident, which calls the question: should our interpretations of art be influenced by what we know about the artist and his/her intentions? Farrah Abraham is quoted as saying “I just was playing around with music and people took it WAY too serious.” Well, too bad, Farrah, you do not get to control how my brain interprets your sonic tomfoolery! I don’t think Farrah’s utter lack of self-awareness (or hyper self-awareness? still working on that) or her perceived vapidity should prevent us from having the critical discussions this album surely warrants. It should not be dismissed because of its supposed low-art origins; in fact, they're the very reason discussion is so crucial. I imagine if this album came out with a black cover littered with upside down crosses and all the A’s in Farrah’s name were changed to triangles, we’d be having a different, way less interesting conversation surrounding My Teenage Dream Ended. But because it is an oddity without attempting to be one, an outlier that sprung into existence without any censorship, a pure, totally unfiltered expression of consciousness without any recognizable thought given to how the exterior world would perceive it, it has deceptively tremendous value.

And eventually, it reaches a point where it isn’t so hideous anymore, where it starts making a deliciously twisted sort of anti-sense. I can’t deny that after the album breaks you (how else to describe the transition from hating to hate-loving it?), it takes a on hypnotic power, and eventually judgmental rubrics that apply only to this album are erected. Were this a record whose primary critical argument wasn’t the value of its very existence, these paragraphs would’ve been devoted to arguing the merits of “The Phone Call that Changed My Life” and “Without This Ring…” and how “On My Own” is overrated because it’s a microcosm for the record’s novelty. But these are arguments we’ll never have. In the meantime, all I can do is tip my hat to My Teenage Dream Ended for sparking the most intense critical discussion of the year, defend its value for the challenges it poses to our standards of pop music, applaud it for not being in on the very joke it’s telling about us.

Now please, leave me alone to die.



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user ratings (58)
Chart.
2.2
poor
other reviews of this album
Starblind (1)
What did ANY of us do to deserve this?!...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
December 20th 2012


50960 Comments


damn

Digging: Friendzone - Collection 1

KILL
December 20th 2012


72280 Comments


cover makes me feel aw

Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

taylormemer
December 20th 2012


4953 Comments


Awesome

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 20th 2012


10663 Comments


The review was stunningly well written, but you're entire argument hinges on the fact that this is so weirdly bad that it's good. I guess I just don't understand.

Digging: Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta III - Saturnian Poetry

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 20th 2012


15082 Comments


best album of all time

Eclecticist
December 20th 2012


3863 Comments


Worst album cover.

KILL
December 20th 2012


72280 Comments


*best

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 20th 2012


7321 Comments


This should have been a blogpost =S

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
December 20th 2012


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

idk "This is not a blogpost" doesn't have the same ring to it

taylormemer
December 20th 2012


4953 Comments


Also, in before andcas' brain aneurism.

chambered49
December 20th 2012


1727 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

holy shit

thebhoy
Emeritus
December 20th 2012


4461 Comments


Idk at this point it's just who the fuck cares if this shit exists. Honestly it's not that much different from other crap, just woret vocals, tossed off, minus the lame sheen that Ke$ha has, or whoever came in the mail this month from jelly-of-the-month club.

taylormemer
December 20th 2012


4953 Comments


How long you been working on this, it's freaking amazing. Damn.

Kiran
Emeritus
December 20th 2012


6002 Comments


while still completely confused about this (never seen teen mom, never heard of this woman, not entirely sure what's
even going on right now), that second to last paragraph brings up a point i'd really like to see discussed. it's easy enough
to interpret art as 'good' if it comes from a place you know is actively conspiring to make something of artistic value, but
this..

MrElmo
December 20th 2012


1955 Comments


grand review, I too was captivated with the single, it's as if a person who had never listened to music before tried making some.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
December 20th 2012


24098 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I just listened to this and it's actually not awful. Probably like a 2 but that tower of 1s, you guys are overreacting.

I'm too tired and stupid to respond to Kiran's post right now but I hope Downer does cause he raises an interesting question.

Digging: Mitski - bury me at makeout creek

Kiran
Emeritus
December 20th 2012


6002 Comments


oh man

Cygnatti
December 20th 2012


22293 Comments


happy to have
not to have not

Digging: Jerry Lee Lewis - Live at the Star Club, Hamburg

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
December 20th 2012


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

what is that standard and is it identifiable? or is everything arbitrary and in actuality we've constructed sites like sputnik and most of the independent music media simply to enhance and validate our snobbery?


I don't know if I'd put it that bleakly, but there's certainly a constructed standard. What intrigues me about this album is that it seems to have no awareness of that standard. It isn't trying to please anyone. And we say that about a lot of things but actually here

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
December 20th 2012


50960 Comments


Music is entertainment not art
If you listen to something that isn't entertaining because it's "art" then you are an idiot



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