Here at The Afterword we pride ourselves on our good taste, our fine musical ears and on the fact that we just know what’s what.
But just as yin needs his yang, as light needs darkness, as God needs Satan, so we need to know what’s bad just so that we know what is good.
Amongst this small group of people, in this unregarded corner of the internet, I am vaguely known for my hatred of U2. The truth is, I don’t hate them because they are terrible, my hatred is there because they are mediocre, a far worse crime than being terrible, especially if this crime is abetted by strange popularity amongst the public at large. See also Adele and Ed Sheeran. Most things are terrible because they are mediocre and popular.
But can we define and recognise what is actually terrible? So terrible it acquires a strange grandeur? Provoking a realisation in the listener that only an actual genius could be this uniquely terrible?
I would say that Jim Morrison’s “Lament For My Cock” falls into this category wholeheartedly. It’s shockingly awful, from his unspeakable “poetry” album An American Prayer, which many years ago I paid actual money for in a shop but quickly got rid of. I wish I’d kept it now.
This is not “so bad it’s good.” That category does not actually exist because if something is good it is by default not bad.
This is terrible. Genius.
Are there other examples?