Lulu – Why Branding Sells More Than the Music Itself

Blog, Rock/Metal

I’ll get this off of my chest now, before I move on to the real reason I’m writing about this album. ‘Lulu’ the collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica is the worst album I’ve ever heard. The reason I don’t like the album apart from the fact that it sounds awful, is just how pretentious it is. They’ve deliberately created this as a legacy project – in the vain hope that years down the line people will regard it as a work of genius. They could describe it as ‘artistic’ and a project of expression. However, the truly iconic examples of artistic works we’ve seen over time, weren’t created for the egotistical pursuit of legacy (at least most of them weren’t).

So this is where ‘Lulu’ truly fails, they’ve tried too much to be kooky and weird, and at the same time, they haven’t really tried because the projects execution is so poor. I guess lyrically, the album can be considered artistic but musically it’s just so poor. It sounds like an improvised jam, lacking in direction and with terrible production. Yet, as I sit here typing this, the album currently sits at number 36 in the UK album charts. It’s only two places below Megadeth’s new album and one place above Steel Panther’s new album (although the latter is entirely understandable).

So it’s quite clear that this album’s success is down to the fact that Metallica have put their name on it, as opposed it having any good music on it. If Lou Reed and Mastodon had collaborated would the album have been as successful? Lou Reed and Cannibal Corpse? Lou Reed and Maroon 5? Most likely not. No shit Sherlock, I hear you all say, and yeah it is quite obvious. But you know what? It’s really sad.

How can an album so bad make it into the UK top 40? It really does show that branding is more important than content. Metallica could put their name to any product they like and it would sell. If Metallica had soap, it would be the highest selling, multi-platinum soap of all time. If Metallica made condoms, the world would see a population decrease for the first time since the bubonic plague in the 14th century.

Take a look at a completely different brand, let’s say Apple. Apple are in the same fortunate position. Apple could make shit iPads and still sell millions of them, but they choose not to. They make good products and take the time and effort to make something special. Machine Head are like Apple. Their new album ‘Unto the Locust’ is amazing, because the band clearly spent a lot of time making it the best they possibly could. Albums like that restore my faith in music – albums like Lulu don’t.

When the music industry faces an uncertain future, when many amazing unknown bands struggle to get themselves heard we don’t need albums like ‘Lulu’ sucking up people’s disposable incomes and taking all the glory. Especially when the albums suck. And suck this album does.

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