Friday, September 19, 2008


Often as soon as rock musicians scale to the heights of superstar status, they have little to nothing to prove anymore. After selling out arena after arena, spending several weeks in the Billboard charts, being interviewed in all the best music magazines, and winning a never-ending stream of sycophants they frequently have a tendency to indulge in what are very rightly termed "vanity projects."

Vanity projects can take many forms, but what they all have in common is that almost every one of them turn out to be awful. Here a few examples---the guitarist who has spent years developing his pentatonic, slightly derivative guitar soloing suddenly wants to release an album full of jazz standards, despite having absolutely no talent in that department. The pianist who effortlessly knocks out one lilting, perfect pop song after another switches instruments to the clavier or the harpsichord and hires an eighteen piece orchestra to back him. The vocalist who made his name in punk through his gasping, overblown vocal style now wishes to sing like Frank Sinatra, and no one has the guts to tell him his voice is totally unsuited for the genre.

Capstar is a very peculiar kind of vanity project. Three members of a successful, hard rock group have decided they wish to record a new batch of songs for a children's animated television program. The powers that be haven't given the series the green light just yet, but the group impatiently starts sessions anyway. What is being lauded by their label's promotion department as "the softer side of Capstar" should probably be called instead "some of the worst songs ever recorded". Vanity project have a way of revealing massive musical limitations. Without heavy distortion and high energy, the group aren't much of anything except dreaming big with nothing to back it up.

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