Top 5 Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Respectable Career, Featuring Kings of Leon
Is it really so hard to be Kings of Leon? That's a question that countless arena-rock sobsters have been asking themselves in the wake of the Followill clan's tour cancellation, a move which disappointed fans, upset beer manufacturers, and may damn near bankrupt Live Nation. Rather than revel in the sudden disappearance of what has quickly become the most annoying band in rock music, we would rather take the Followills' calculated descent into mediocrity as a warning sign for other bands facing similarly ephemeral bouts with fame. Should you ever be faced with a career worth sabotaging, here are a few steps to accelerate its ultimate demise.
5. Actively fight against the things that made you cool.
When our buddies in KoL were first introduced to the indie rock scuffle, adjectives like "rubble-rousing" and comparisons to an imaginary, Southern Julian Casablancas were thrown around without a second thought. By the time their country-stomp classic second album Aha Shake Heartbreak weaved into pseudo-mainstream consciousness, many writers wanted to catch the raucous live performances from the "drink now, figure shit out later" Tennessee boys. Sellout cries came when the overly polished Only By the Night gained worldwide recognition, but instead of fighting back with loud rock antics and even louder music, Kings of Leon returned with the truly atrocious Come Around Sundown, an album that features tequila sunrise cover art and the same U2-reverb guitar tone on every track (which is, you know, a bad thing when you're a guitar band). In the process, they have effectively become to rock music what Will Smith is to acting: vapid, reliant on a few overused skills, and vaguely symbolizing the arrival of some kind of apocalypse.
4. Encourage radio syndicates to destroy every hit you've had.
Getting in bed with the big wigs at Clear Channel and Cumulus would normally seem like a great idea for a band that wants to remain financially viable -- unless it compromises every shred of remaining interest in your music. Surely, you've all heard "Use Somebody" approximately 8,354,627 times in the past three years, and while the harmonious "Oh oh oh"s and heartfelt lyrics probably intrigued you at one point, your likely reaction is now somewhere between a slight cringe and a violent expletive-laced outburst. The sad part: radio syndicates don't feel the slightest bit bad about this. Extremely overplayed singles benefit the bands financially in the short-term, and score huge paychecks for the radio execs, so giants like Clear Channel feel no guilt in bludgeoning casual listeners to the point where they have no choice but to hate the band. It's not the best strategy for any artist hoping to maintain long-term viability.