Critics Weigh In: Critics Had Mixed Feelings About These 2017 Albums
2017 saw numerous albums where critics had mixed feelings. These include albums courtesy of The Chainsmokers, Imagine Dragons, and Katy Perry.
Ah so it begins – that time of year when the year-in-review lists begin to pile up! Year-in-review lists compile the best and worst of any given year. At The Musical Hype, this incorporates best and worst albums and songs. For the first summative year-end-list – meaning there will be no further editions in 2017 – we examine some of the worst-reviewed albums. While us at The Musical Hype provide “our take” on these albums, this mostly examines what professional critic scores aggregated by Metacritic. If you are a review nut and love numbers, definitely check out Metacritic. But since you’re here, check out these 2017 albums that critics had mixed feelings about.
1. The Chainsmokers, Memories: Do Not Open
Among the worst-reviewed albums of 2017 was Memories: Do Not Open, the debut album by The Chainsmokers. Previously, we analyzed the poor critical reception of this work, which mustered up only a Metascore of 43. The highest individual score the album received came from Entertainment Weekly, which Metacritic calculated as a whopping 58. The New York Times (Review: The Chainsmokers Find That Pop is an Awkward Fit), who Metacritic calculated a less impressive score of 40 asserts:
“Mr. [Drew] Taggart is a capable but unexciting singer. And he has shockingly few lyrical ideas, less of a concern for performers more adept with melody. Most songs here moan about brittle young relationships over the musical equivalent of bringing an amiable golden retriever along for an unhurried jog.”
Ouch. The most ‘wack’ review came from Spin (30), who assert:
“The Chainsmokers have one song, and if you don’t want to hear 12 versions of it, please do not un-click the latch holding this box closed. That one song is that same sort of morose piano ballad refashioned for whatever wave of EDM we’re currently in, the one where the drops are more often like coos into your ear than bashes over your head.”
3 stars out of 5. “After being somewhat skeptical about all three singles, Memories is better than anticipated. Maybe that’s not saying much, but personally, The Chainsmokers have assembled a debut that has its moments. Could be worse.”
2. NAV, NAV
Canadian hip-hop artist NAV came out better than The Chainsmokers, if only by a smidge. A Metascore of 45 is nothing to “jump for joy” about. The Chainsmokers did score a commercially successful album despite their tepid rating, which is more than can be said about NAV. There were only 5 professional reviews of NAV, with 4 out of the 5 being mixed. He topped out at a 50 as his top-score, given by Exclaim (“It’s a lack of originality that turns the sound stale rather quickly”) and AllMusic (“More about creating a low-wattage soundtrack for chemical and sexual mischief than foundations for songs”). Interestingly, AllMusic dubbed this project as an ‘album pick’ – say what?
The lowest score that NAV received was a Metacritic calculated 35, hailing from RapReviews.com. Reviewer Michael G. Barilleaux asserts that “‘NAV’ is quite possibly the most boring, uninspired project hip hop has given us so far this year.”
We did not review this particular project. Seems like we made the right decision.
3. Incubus, 8
Veteran rock band Incubus released a new album in 2017. That in itself may be shocking considering the fact that few people partook of 8. To add salt to the commercial wounds, 8 received mixed reviews at best, earning a Metascore of just 45. With just 7 professional reviews, 5 were mixed, while 2 were negative. The most favorable review for the project came from AllMusic, who gave the album a respectable 3 stars, good enough for a Metascore of 60. The next best rating came from Consequence of Sound, which criticized 8 saying:
“An outing as plain as its title. It’s the band’s most consistent album in years, never dipping into any true clinkers but never approaching anything close to a risk either.”
That was good enough for a grade of a “C,” which Metacritic calculated as a 50. The worst marks the band received for 8 came by way of Sputnikmusic, who stated:
“I’d give you a list of reasons why 8 sucks, but if you don’t already know them they’re obvious upon listening, not that I’m encouraging that in any capacity…Every song is so utterly devoid of energy, like they’ve released a record composed of the spaces between the notes in all their previous work.”
Sputnikmusic assigns reviews on a scale from 1 to 5 generally. Reviewer Rowan5215 assigned a 0.5 – a 10 by the Metacritic calculations.
We didn’t review 8, but we did review promo single “Nimble Bastard,” which scored four out of five stars. Even though “Nimble Bastard” was satisfying, it wasn’t satisfying enough to encourage reviewing the entire album.