CD Review of Scream by Tokio Hotel
Recommended if you like
Panic At The Disco, Boys Like Girls, Getting punched in the face repeatedly
Label
Universal Music/Interscope
Tokio Hotel: Scream

Reviewed by James B. Eldred

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E
mo is distinctly an American creation, one popularized by rich kids whose idea of rebelling is getting a shitty haircut and buying clothes with characters from Disney movies and overrated Nickelodeon cartoons on them. While the genre has had some success overseas, there have not been any European emo bands that have come close to the sales of groups like AFI, Panic at the Disco or My Chemical Romance. That’s changing now, thanks to Tokio Hotel, a band that has been tearing up the charts in their homeland of Germany, no doubt because girls seem to go gaga for the 19-21-year-olds who make up the band. It sure as hell can’t be because of their talent, originality or anything related to the music, because Tokio Hotel doesn’t even fit the low standards needed to stand out as a halfway decent emo band. The only thing memorable about the group is the lead singer’s hair.

That lead singer would be 19-year-old Bill Kaulitz, who founded the group with his guitar-playing twin brother before their balls even dropped. Little Billy and his crew have been everywhere on American TV lately, showing off his egregious fashion sense (girl’s jeans and tight leather tops) and that truly tragic haircut (Einstein gone glam) to the somehow-still-relevant TRL crowd. His voice has no range and lacks emotion; he’s unable to even pull off the generic emo whine. Once Tokio Hotel has run its course and the band vanishes into the flash-in-the-pan night, Kaulitz will probably be remembered as “that German dude with the hair.” (A better fate than his generic bandmates, whose stagnant and by-the-numbers playing will have them be remembered as “those guys who were in that band with the dude with the hair.”)

Kaulitz’s image was no doubt prepared, pampered and tested by the people behind Tokio Hotel (more on them in a second) before being unleashed onto unsuspecting and easily influenced stupid teenage girls around the world. The music here is secondary; as long as girls with disposable income are given something to throw their parents’ money at, who cares what the music sounds like?

In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t sound like much of anything. Scream is the band’s American debut, consisting of English-language versions of songs taken from the band’s German albums. It’s filled with generic power-ballads (“Monsoon,” “On the Edge”) pseudo-angsty rockers (“Ready, Set, Go!”, “Break Away”) and the requisite “important message ballad” (“Don’t Jump.”), so no matter the mood, the band has a track that will go perfectly with your little sister’s MySpace page. Completely forgettable and bland, the best thing about Tokio Hotel is that anyone outside of their vapid demographic who has the misfortune of hearing them won’t have to worry about getting their songs stuck in their head.

What’s particularly pathetic about Tokio Hotel is that the boys in the band seem to have little say in the direction or sound of their music. One look at the linear notes shows that their production team wrote most of their songs, as the Kaulitz brothers only get the occasional credit (and it is always last). From the looks of things, their production team also owns the publishing rights to all of the band’s songs, and one of their producers even serves as the band’s manager. It’s pretty obvious that these kids are getting screwed by a group of industry-savvy adults, and it’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for them -- if they didn’t suck so much.

Regardless of their talent or musical ability, Tokio Hotel seems set to conquer the pop charts in the coming months, so you might want to hunker down, crank up some Motorhead and hope you can wait it out, because it’s probably going to be a rough summer.

First the holocaust, now this bullshit. Thanks a lot, Germany.

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