Chris Cornell Hasn’t Screamed For You Yet

Jan 20th, 2009 // 12 Comments

The new issue of Billboard has a rundown of albums that are coming out in the coming months, and nestled among the usual suspects—Franz Ferdinand, 50 Cent (haha), Kelly Clarkson—is one album that I thought had come and gone from the consciousness long ago: Chris Cornell’s Scream, his much-maligned collaboration with Timbaland that somehow hasn’t been released yet despite cell phone company-sponsored minitours and New Yorker writeups and watery OneRepublic-ish balladeering.

Chris Cornell

“Scream” (Mosley Music/Interscope, March 3)

In one of the more unlikely pop music pairings of late, Chris Cornell drafted hip-hop maestro Timbaland to produce his third solo album. As to be expected with Timbaland behind the boards, songs like “Long Gone” and “Watch Out” move Cornell in a much more R&B-oriented direction, with busy drum machine beats, buffed-up chorus vocals and string samples filling the nooks and crannies. “I don’t care what anyone says,” Cornell says. “What we did together is different than anything that has been done before.”

After the first two disappointing leaks from the album, I was actually sort of intrigued by “Ground Zero,” which opened the season premiere of Life On Mars (it’s back next week!) and which, at the very least, had a bit of a pulse, as opposed to the other two tracks:

Still, it seems kind of odd to me that the label’s waited so long for this album to come out, resulting in a delay that’s near-Scherzingerian. And what with all the publicity it received last autumn making me think that the record had already come out and tanked, what on earth is the label going to do as far as a rekindled press campaign? A Sweding of Singles? More Life On Mars tie-ins? A week-long stint on that new Jay Leno show?

Life On Mars – Chris Cornell Ground Zero Music Video [YouTube]

  1. PengIn

    I have no idea who the audience for this album is supposed to be.

  2. Anonymous

    @PengIn: I heard whatever the first single is called on the local modern rock affiliate (104.5) here in Philly. It is still terrible.

  3. Maura Johnston

    @PengIn: Former grunge fans who are now into Sia? I dunno, just a guess.

  4. Al Shipley

    @PengIn: The shame is that I am probably as an ideal an audience as there can be for this album, as a big fan of both Cornell and Timbaland. But they’re both pretty over the hill, and even if they’d gotten together at their creative peaks (which were probably both around 1996), I’m not sure the results would’ve been any good.

  5. revmatty

    I’m not really a big fan of either (I think they’re both fine, but I don’t go out of my way looking for stuff by them) but this sort of unusual pairing has my interest piqued. I’ll at least give them a listen as it might be quite good. Then again, I thought the same thing about Scarlet Johansen’s album and look how that turned out.

  6. Anonymous

    Speaking as a “former grunge [fan who's] now into Sia”, then I’ll say that it ain’t for us (at least me), either. Cornell’s scared me with his unique style of poor decision making since his first solo album.

  7. T'Challa

    @Maura Johnston: you had me at “near-Scherzingerian”

  8. T'Challa

    @Maura Johnston: you had me at “near-Scherzingerian”

  9. Anonymous

    Timbo and Chris toured last fall, and I actually caught the show in Denver…as a diehard Soundgarden fan, I was skeptical at first. But it was fantastic…seriously.
    They did the entire album start to finish and it rocked.

    I think even Timbo and Chris themselves were sick of the same chord progressions, over-electrified R&B and grungy tunes that are pushing 2 decades of being heard and wanted to go a different route….this is edgy, different and ballsy.

    Chris Cornell may be the bravest man in rock music, its a big risk, but the crossover genre is dope. If people can let go of the Superunknown days long enough to listen to this album without prejudice, they just might dig it.

  10. Maura Johnston

    @sambamalicious: I hope you’re right! I just wish the ballads weren’t so “Apologize”-ish.

  11. Anonymous

    I’m not gonna lie; I’ve been sold on this album since I first heard about it. I’m sad to know about the constant delays, but not too surprised. Rock radio won’t touch it because Timbaland is on it, and Top 40 stations will hesitate because it’s a traditionally rock guy and won’t know if it’ll take.

    Isn’t Shock Value II supposed to be coming out soon too? Because that might account for some of the delays.

  12. Anonymous

    Someone needs to tell Chris that it’s not the newness of the fusion of rock vocals and R&B beats that alarms us. It’s the fact that these tracks are…not…that…good.

    The reason why people keep asking Chris what exactly the dynamic is between him and Timbaland and who contributed what is that from a passive listen it’s hard to believe Cornell contributed ANYTHING. He’s just not there. He’s a sample source, a session musician, putty in Timbaland’s hands. The result is an album that sounds like some sullen outtakes from FutureSex/Lovesounds.

    I know he CLAIMS up and down that their partnership was an equal thing, but someone needs to tell him that your producer isn’t SUPPOSED to write your songs with you. He’s not your band-mate. It’s supposed to be all about YOU, whereas this album might as well be Timbaland with anyone, it sounds exactly like all the other work he’s ever done. Just sulkier.

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