Ex-Soundgarden/ex-Audioslave vocalist Chris Cornell recently released a solo album, Carry On, which is an effortfully mediocre and thoroughly undistinguished collection of 40-something-former-hard-rock-guy-tentatively-enters-maturity songs. Ordinarily, I would let its arrival go without mention or second thought, but it contains one especially heinous crime to the auditory canals that deserves censure. I'm talking about his rendition of Michael Jackson's “Billie Jean.”
First, I doubt anyone—especially your humble blogger—needs to hear “Billie Jean” ever again. As great and indelibly catchy as it is, the song's been overplayed so much, it's become as familiar and innocuous as the sound of your electric toothbrush or refrigerator hum. (I don't care how badly Jacko needs the money; please let this song go unsung.) Second, if you are going to cover “Billie Jean,” why would you ditch its incredibly funky and lithe rhythm and substitute it with a leaden blues arrangement and add a generic Guitar Center jagoff ax solo? And then why would you over-emote so wretchedly that you make Joe Cocker seem reserved in comparison? Like his fellow grunge icon Eddie Vedder, Cornell is under the tragic delusion that he has soul. Seriously, Chris (and Interscope Records), what the hell were you thinking? In a court of law, you would be sentenced to 10 years of looking at this website.