Alan Ball was known for his masterful use of music in Six Feet Under. He's lost none of his touch when it comes to his current HBO series, True Blood - which happens to be set in the Louisiana swamps, not terribly far from Houston.
This week's song is pretty damn awful.
CTRL + Z. The song itself is fine. "Burning Down the House" may not be the best Talking Heads song ever. Here's the test: Is the song in question on Little Creatures? No? It's not the best Talking Heads song ever.
Still, it's a pretty damn good pop track that has stood the test of time. However, Alan Ball did not choose to use the original, and instead chose to end this week's episode of the same name as the song with a rendition by The Used.
The Used is a band whose Wikipedia entry Rocks Off literally can't read through without rolling our eyes to the point of dizziness. We're long since past the point where the fact that a band spent some time broke or homeless impresses us. Scott Stapp and Rob Thomas lived out of their cars too for a while too, which doesn't improve the taste of their vintage, although Thomas ain't bad for a $3 merlot.
That's just a personal beef from one musician to another, though. What ruins their song is the Used's hackneyed attempt to harness Talking Heads' groundbreaking music into creating their own new genre called gross-pop: Bringing a messy rock sound into pop. Most of us are more familiar with this genre by the name of "Every Top 40 '80s Metal Song." The only thing that makes what The Used does different from every other piece of emo out there is the shot of industrial they add like a malcontented waiter adding spit to your Kahlua.
The end result was featured on the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen soundtrack. If that doesn't define everything that is wrong with it for you then Rocks Off's estimation of our demographic is way, way off. Their cover is harsh without an edge, rage without technique, and chaos without freedom. It's the sound of a person loves to watch MMA but who can't take a punch.
Ironically, it may be perfect for the episode, though that depends on whether or not Alan Ball is trying for Hollywood or just fucking with us. He made American Beauty, so we're hoping it's the latter.
This season of True Blood has dealt with what is coming to be an all-out war between magical factions. Witches have the ability to ensnare vampires with necromancy, vampires have attempted to preemptively strike against them with about as much success as the underwear bomber, and the werewolf and shapeshifter communities are slowly being drawn in as well.
It's like the ending of The Hobbit, but, you know, with titties and the word "fuck."
We're gearing up for the final battle, and we mean gearing up literally. The episode ends with Vampire Bill, Eric, Jessica and Pam exiting an unmarked black van armed to the fangs with rocket launchers and fully automatic weapons ready to invade the witch stronghold at the local boogity-boogity store. (The author has a prize for anyone who explains the reference in the comments.)
The scene looks like it came right out the Charlie's Angels film, or more accurately like the heist scene in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Here's where we think Ball is either a genius or completely out to lunch. The whole thing has all the feel and logic of big-budget Hollywood: Black leather, pretty protagonists, big guns the works. If Jason Statham was the star you would know how this would all end, no matter how freakin' improbable.
That's the key word, improbable. See, the vampires have repeatedly gotten their asses handed to them time and time again by the witches. We have literally seen more even matches between children and grown people. Part of that seems to be the typical vampiric arrogance against other races. They recognize a threat, but are completely unable to deal with it as an equal. Kind of like, oh we don't know, America.
So we're thinking Ball took the stupid setup of the typical blockbuster, added the stupid soundtrack of said blockbuster, and the next episode will feature yet another defeat for the immortals. Either that, or he just said, "Fuck it, let's show them that I have the kind of brain damage that will put me in control of a Voltron movie."
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We've only got two episodes left, and we're sure we'll see which of the two it is. Remember, kids, the key to avant-garde is knowing who is fucking with whom.
Be sure to visit the Loving True Blood in Dallas blog, where Jef With One F will be a semi-regular contributor to the podcast this season.