Dating back to the Harry Truman presidency, one of our weirder political traditions is the pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey by the President of the United States. It goes like this: The leader of the free world is presented with a live turkey, which he then declines to execute and eat, using the power that resides in the highest office in the land to grant a full Presidential pardon. It would seem like a gag on South Park if we didn’t have visual proof (see above).
The concept got us thinking: 2011 was overstuffed with musical turkeys. Lou Reed, Bon Iver, The Throne … so many of our favorites produced missteps this year, or, like onetime dark prince Danzig, sorta kinda crushed all of our hopes and dreams. Still, Hive hasn’t given up on them entirely. So here are seven turkeys we’ve decided are worthy of a second chance next year. 2012 can’t get here soon enough.
1. Lou Reed
The man who uttered the words, “I want so much to hurt you, marry me, I want you as my wife / spermless like a girl, more man than I” as Metallica roared behind him is also the man who wrote “Perfect Day” and “White Light / White Heat.” With that in mind, who are we to declare Lou friggin’ Reed off the cool list? The dude pretty much invented the cool list. Lou gets a pardon. Metallica, meanwhile, gets served up with stuffing for failing to redeem their past decade-plus of crappiness even when Lou Reed shows up and gives them a chance.
2. Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Zooey Deschanel and Ben Gibbard
Remember when hipsters could believe in the power of love? Even if we were all lonely and stuff, heating up sad little cans of Hormel chili on our space-heaters by ourselves every night and wondering why the world was set up so people as wretched as ourselves would never find true happiness, we had indie rock dream teams like Kim and Thurston (classic!) and Zooey and Ben (current!) to convince us that it was at least possible. But within the past three months, both couples have called it quits, leading us to believe that love is a sham and we will all die alone. Still, Daydream Nation? Transatlanticism? At least they gave us some music to accompany our heartbreak about their heartbreak.
When even Slayer is on Facebook making French onion soup jokes about you, you know that you’ve burned off most of your cool. Still, despite Danzig only making national news for his absurd backstage antics and disappointing thousands of fans who paid to hear “Skulls” at Fun Fun Fun Fest earlier this month, let’s assess him honestly. Yes, he’s a prima donna diva who is hard to rationally defend from criticism. But the man is responsible for the Misfits, who still routinely blow the minds of 13-year-olds first discovering punk rock. He recorded the untouchable first four Danzig albums. And no one anywhere will ever argue that there’s a song that’s more fun to sing along to than “Mother.” Danzig’s spot on this list is safe in perpetuity. But dude’s pushing it.
Remember earlier this year when both of these dudes were the hottest shit in the game, and the idea of them collaborating seemed like it could be the most exciting musical moment of the year, until we heard it and it turned out to be terrible? That was a bummer of a wake-up call that sometimes great things go really poorly together. But just like you didn’t give up on either Chinese food or cheese just because your failed high school cooking experiment proved that some things are better off separate, we’re happy to ignore “Fall Creek Boys Choir” and wait for them each to collaborate with Childish Gambino or Lana Del Rey or somebody that’ll provide us with a different sort of hype-up-letdown.
5. The Throne
That first week after Jay-Z and Kanye West released Watch the Throne, everybody did backflips trying to convince themselves that it was a legendary collaboration that lived up to the hype. That two of the biggest names in hip-hop delievered a full album together as promised. It’s a lot easier to embrace the truth — that Watch the Throne is a lazy, semi-listenable document of a real fun couple of weeks that those guys had hanging out in the studio together. It doesn’t make My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy any less great and The Blueprint IV will probably be the only thing we listen to in the car for the month after it drops. So this was a natural pardon … if only because the tour seems to be working.
6. Jack White
The great thing about Jack White is that his nutso collaboration with the Insane Clown Posse is only the third most unlikely record he made this year: The musical offerings he put out by Conan O’Brien and Stephen Colbert have to take the top two slots, thanks. At the same time, it’s safe to say that at least part of what appealed to White about recording a version of Mozart’s “Leck mich im Arsch” with the Insane Clown Posse was shocking people by co-signing a group that makes its living as rapping clowns. Well, mission accomplished, but even the Juggalos have to admit that “Leck mich im Arsch” is not anyone’s finest work. How ‘bout a White Stripes reunion now? Heck, we’ll even settle for a new Raconteurs record.
William Shatner’s 2004 collaboration with Ben Folds, Has Been, was an incredibly unlikely triumph of bold ambition, absurdist humor and odd sincerity. Given that, and his general attitude that everything in life is way more fun if he just goes SHATNER all over it, this year’s Seeking Major Tom covers album threatened to squander all of the good will that he’s garnered just by being himself. It’s not even funny in a winking, ironic sense — he just sounds like your drunk grandpa that nobody in the family has the guts to tell him he should turn in his driver’s license. Be funny again, Shatner! Don’t make us embarrassed to love you!
8. Lana Del Rey
Though she’s only known for two songs and her lips, Lana Del Rey became an overnight internet sensation for those looking to flex their amateur media studies degree muscle. Despite not having a body of work to speak for her, we’re giving her an honorary pardon for forcing everyone to endure countless theories about the authenticity of musicians in the year 2011 more than any other act.