A friend of mine recently introduced me to a new band named Brokencyde. For those of you that have not yet been introduced to them I highly recommend watching their music video for “Freaxxx” before continuing.
Done? Good. Now some history, Brokencyde (pronounced: LIIIIIIARRRRRRR) is a band from Albuquerque, NM. This surprises me for two reasons. First, I’d imagine the musical history in Albuquerque is mostly based around beating the skin of a dead animal while wearing elaborate headdresses. Second, the only other band I’ve ever heard of to come out of Albuquerque is The Shins.
Brokencyde make music that can be summed up as screamo-crunk. Which, as you can probably tell, involves layering imitation Lil Jon beats and terrible rapping over white teenagers screaming. As a whole, this approach hasn’t garnered much love. As Wikipedia notes, “Brokencyde has been universally panned by critics. Metal Edge magazine has called Brokencyde ‘fucking horrendous’.”
But I think the critics go a little far in their blasting of Brokencyde. As a culture we’ve been asking for this with the popularization of absolutely terrible music.
Popular music is no longer something you listen to; it’s something that visually and aurally attacks you until it makes you its bitch. Essentially our relationship to popular music is the same relationship a pitbull had to Michael Vick (pre 2007).
Brokencyde was born into this world. Why screamo-crunk instead of electro-acid-jazz-funk? Because in the early 2000s both screamo and crunk music, two genres which have no right to exist in the first place, were both popular among the Hot Topic set to which Brokencyde belong. They said as much in an interview. With the bar set incredibly low, Brokencyde, at first a two man crew, saw no reason it couldn’t break into music despite an utter lack of talent. Unsurprisingly, they were right.
Since forming, Brokencyde haven’t sold a shocking number of albums (unless you consider more than zero shocking, which could be a valid point), but they’ve sold enough; their music videos have over 11.5 million views combined on YouTube; and they’ve been out on several tours, including The Warped Tour. After coming to grips with the level of success Brokencyde has attained, it’s natural to wonder both why and how they were able to achieve it. However, that’s the wrong question to ask. The real question is who could possibly listens to this music?
Like so many terrible bands before them, Brokencyde prey on the weakest people in soceity: insecure tweens. If Britney Spears was music for wannabe cheerleaders and Marilyn Manson was music for wannabe serial killers; Brokencyde is music for some weird hybridization of the two.
The name Brokencyde supposedly originated because the founders of the band felt “broken inside.” Funny, I would have guessed it was derived from the first two reactions I got listening to the music. First I thought something on my computer was broken, and when I realized it was fine, I wanted to murder somebody. However, the “broken inside” theme fits in perfectly with their core audience. Young teens’ lives change quickly, producing confusion which can leave anyone feeling “broken inside.” One year a birthday party involves ice skating and ice cream cake, the next it involves doing your first shot of Jaeger behind a shed at the public park. One minute Suzie doesn’t notice Bobby, the next she has these strange feelings about him.
But how does the music of Brokencyde capitalize on these feelings? Just look at Suzie. The poor girl used to have music that she would listen to alone while crying because she passed Bobby a note but Bobby never returned it and later she saw him laughing at her with his friends in the hallway. She also had music she would listen to while getting ready to go party it up with the “gurlz”. Brokencyde managed to smash those two sounds into one. Now Suzie can dance and cry at the same time, just like a childless, 35-year-old divorcée out at the club who suddenly realizes how pathetic her life is.
The only question now is, will Brokencyde ever realize how pathetic they are? The name of the album they dropped this year is Will Never Die, which doesn;t bode well for society. In a press release they actually refer to themselves as “the band everyone loves to hate.” That’s something that a wrestling villain says about himself, but in wrestling there are heroes to combat the villains. To extend Brokencyde’s own analogy, they are the villains of music and the heroes are EVERYONE ELSE. How they think that this could possibly be a good marketing campaign is beyond me. Maybe all that hair dye made its way past the roots and has finally infected their brains.
With each new video they post garnering more and more views, it appears that Brokencyde might actually be here to stay. That is, of course, unless Mogwai, the Scottish post-rock band, haven’t already put a hit out on Brokencyde. Mogwai’s releasing an album in 2011 titled Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will…