What makes a pretentious album? A groan-inducing concept, lots of highfalutin waffle, and a ridiculous cover. If you’re lucky you get all three at once. Here are some of the worst offenders.
10. Pete Townshend – ‘Psychoderelict’
A misunderstood 60’s rock star gets harassed by a music critic. Featuring more psychobabble than an Alanis Morrissette album and distinctly lacking in good riffs. Not as good as ‘Tommy’ then.
Most Pretentious Moment: We’re sure the song ‘Let’s Get Pretentious’ is supposed to be post-modern, but just ends up sounding…pretentious.
9. The Smashing Pumpkins – ‘Machina / The Machines Of God’
Billy Corgan’s not a man who is known for his charm or subtlety, but will let him off because he made classics like ‘Gish’ and ‘Siamese Dream’. Not so much on ‘Machina’, whose ‘concept’ was The Pumpkins playing exaggerated versions of themselves and Corgan hearing the voice of god. A lot. Unhelpfully they forgot to write any tunes to back this concept up.
Most Pretentious Moment: ‘The Imploding Voice’. ‘God’ speaks. Unfortunately he sounds like someone making a terrible racket.
8 Transvision Vamp – ‘Little Magnets Versus The Bubble Of Babble’
Whilst their previous album ‘Velveteen’ hit Number One, this album, which leaned heavy on the “mood pieces” and panting, failed to chart.
Most Pretentious Moment: “Won’t you be my twangy wig out?” Wendy James sings on, er, ‘Twangy Wig Out’. Um, no thanks!
7. KISS – ‘Music From ‘The Elder’’
Not only did they drop the heavy rock (but kept the make up), KISS went for a comic book like concept for their next album, about a boy who is ready to fight evil and become a superhero. Unsurprisingly it didn’t sell as well as previous KISS albums.
Most Pretentious Moment: ‘I’ was a ridiculous pomp rock enterprise but in retrospect the video was pretty funny.
6. Mansun – ‘Six’
Could any other band pay tribute to both L. Ron Hubbard and Winnie The Pooh? Mansun disappeared up their Britpop back alley with this ludicrous album. Listening to it felt like doing a dissertation.
Most Pretentious Moment: ‘Witness To A Murder (Part Two)’. An opera singer belts out one over a harpsichord melody
5. The Passengers – ‘Original Soundtracks (Volume 1)’
Who needs a pesky film to base a soundtrack around, when you can get all the more ponderous and navel gazing without one? Instrumentals, singing bassists and Pavarotti all played their roles in this overblown mess.
Most Pretentious Moment: ‘Miss Sarajevo’ with Pavs. Eye wateringly embarrassing for all concerned.
4. Lady Gaga – ‘Born This Way’
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3. Lou Reed and Metallica – ‘Lulu’
The collaboration no-one wanted. Lou’s high art, spoken word-isms failed to mesh with Metallica’s run on grooves. The result made both parties look, well, a bit like they needed to get out a bit more.
Most Pretentious Moment: The doom-laden closer ‘Junior Dad’. Listeners, fun time is officially over.
2. Terence Trent D’Arby – ‘Neither Fish Nor Flesh’
Another artist who insisted on annihilating his previous incarnation. The follow up to the hugely successful ‘The Hardline According To…’ album involved a large dose of over-indulgent funk and self indulgent musings.
Most Pretentious Moment: The fact that it was so pretentious he had to change his name after it was released.
1. Lou Reed – ‘Metal Machine Music’
A bit of musical self annihilation and Lou killed off his glam persona with these four sides of hissing feedback.
Most Pretentious Moment: The fourth side of the original LP had a locked groove so you could listen to it…forever!