Kim Dotcom's Not-so-Good Times
Following news that Kim Dotcom has launched a new music-streaming service called Baboom, I had a listen to the only available album on the site, Good Times, written and produced by Mr. Dotcom himself.
What Is It?
Good Times is ear-wrangling electronica mayhem, still whirring and buzzing in my mind, squeezed into an hour-long playlist. Before I begin to sound like an old man who has unwittingly stumbled into rave, let me explain that I really like electronic music — drum & bass, early dubstep, house and techno all have a place in my music collection alongside classical, rock music and jazz. I’m not just snuffing Good Times for the sake of it: It genuinely is ridiculous.
Why is it Important?
Kim Dotcom reached notoriety particularly in 2012 when he was arrested by the US for copyright infringement charges. By bringing out a new media-streaming service like this, he is certain to cause a stir.
Listening to it
There is no discernable theme or genre to glue the tracks together. From the first track, Amazing, to the last, Beathoven Slow, practically every genre of dance music has been crammed in to produce a frenetic mess. Styles switch from attempts at anthemic trance to dire renditions of clubby hip-hop. Glitchy breakdowns litter almost every track so that an album that has 17 tracks feels more like one bearing 30.
Before I fall too far down the criticism hole, I will acknowledge that Kim Dotcom might well have produced this album with his tongue firmly in his cheek. The tracks are so wildly overproduced and all bear such clichéd dance track names as Change Your Life, Take Me Away and To Be With You that it may be the case he has created the thing entirely as a joke. Saying that, Good Times being the only thing to listen to on Baboom might make-or-break the nascent service.
To the album’s credit there is one track that I will put my neck on the line and say I like. Party Amplifier took my by surprise as a drum & bass track, and in all honesty, if it came on in a club I wouldn’t not dance to it. The lyrics do well to smudge what is a really clean instrumental, but they don’t ruin the song completely. That’s where the positives begin and end.
I mentioned it was overproduced. To analogise it, I would compare it to a load of different paint colours – every colour there is – being chucked into a pot and stirred. At first all the colours hold their own and swirl into each other and briefly look brilliant. Keep stirring though and it all just blends into a murky brown mess that ought to be chucked away. Switch the paint colours with audio effects and tricks, and you get the picture. Sweeps, echoes, fades and re-drops – the lot – all abound to cause a sensation of auditory bewilderment.
The tracks are peppered with guest vocals and some of the cheesiest lyrics going. The faux-rap Kesha-esque hilarity of Little Bit of Me: “Nothing can stop us now// We’re on a high speed flight// Like a shooting star// We ignite the night”, or the frankly insipid chorus in Good Times: “Surrender to the music// And have some good times// Some good times// Some good times.” I could go on.
Kim himself provides the vocals on Live My Life which I can only assume is his attempt at adding a political edge to his masterpiece – “Don’t want to go to war//Know what happened before//I don’t trust politics//Don’t like dirty tricks//Can’t be constrained//Won’t be restrained” – perhaps this is an acknowledgment of his arrest in 2012 that saw the demise of Megaupload? I suppose we can only live in hope for his tell-all interview in NME. His voice can also be heard on the Wunderbar interlude which sounds like the heavily flatulent emissions of some mechanical monster in the style of the most pumping of German techno music.
Should You Stream it?
If indeed Good Times is to be taken seriously, then good luck to it, but don’t expect it to steamroll the charts. If it’s meant to be some sort of pastiche on the modern state of affairs – a satire intended to admonish the ever-merging world electronic dance music – then it has hit the mark many times over. A phrase that comes to mind is one I read by Erykah Badu: “Pop-techno-cornball-ass-music”. She was talking about the demise of hip hop, but that description seems incredibly apt here.