The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

Fry up some cheese, ’cause we firin’ up dat Skillet — Nostalgic Novelty Noughties Nu-Metal

Skillet is a band most people have probably completely forgotten ’bout. If you don’t remember them, the best way I can describe them is, “they were the band whose songs e’eryone made Naruto AMVs for”. No, not Linkin Park — tho they also had plenty o’ Naruto AMVs &, in fact, made the official music video for their recently-released “Lost” — somehow still sung by the deceased Chester Bennington, presumably during breaks from hanging out with Tupac in hiding — a professionally-made AMV.

They are also, like our good friends Thousand Foot Krutch, yet ’nother example o’ that holy genre known as Christian nu-metal. & unlike most ✝-rockers who try to downplay their association so they don’t get conflated with weirdos like that rainbow-haired dude with the sign who murdered people, Skillet’s lead singer, John Cooper, isn’t ’fraid to go full-Flanderization: a couple years ago he perhaps tried to scam his band back into relevancy the same way Trapt did by saying something idiotic & backward; in this case ’twas less dramatic than expressing admiration for male students being raped by female teachers & mo’ laughably pathetic: comparing the song “WAP” to Hitler speeches or something. Clearly he’s not fucking with that wet-ass pussy: he only fucks pussies that are as dry as a desert. Like most things conservatives say nowadays, ’twas an incoherent jumble o’ conservative gripes & memes that don’t fit together & aren’t e’en quite right: @ 1 point he whines that “you cannot sell” some Dr. Seuss books on eBay, when you very clearly can, — in fact, thanks to the fears sparked by this controversy, one could probably make much mo’ money than usual selling these now-scarce books on eBay — presumably referring to Dr. Seuss Enterprises voluntarily ceasing publication o’ new editions o’ books with racist depictions, much as Warner Bros. had done to certain racist Looney Tunes shorts way back in the late 60s to no controversy.

Anyway, we won’t be focusing on that inanity, but on the music itself, which, sadly, is a bit mo’ competent than Thousand Foot Krutch, but also less funny. Said album I have chosen is the generic-titled Awake, released in 2009, @ the end o’ the age o’ nu-metal, but not too late for this album to go double-platinum & having its singles play regularly on the radio. Admittedly, their 2006 Comatose, with hits like “Whispers in the Dark” &, well, “Comatose”, probably has a greater hold on people’s memory — to the extent that this band does still remain in people’s memory — & is the mo’ well-regarded for the good reason that it is much better than this album… — tho it didn’t sell as well as Awake, only going single-platinum — but ’cause o’ that it is less funny & memetic. In truth, there is 1 song in particular I want to talk ’bout & it is on Awake, not Comatose.

1. Hero

You have no idea how disappointed I was when I read the Genius lyrics & saw the line “I’m not superhuman” where I always distinctly heard sung, “I’m not superheroman”, which is a far funnier, & therefore better lyric. As you can expect, this song’s lyrics are generic — tho here they fit a bit better, given its evocation o’ silver-age-style superhero comics, which also oft spoke in clichés. If anything, I wish this went the full way & actually used lines from comics, like, “With great power there must also come great responsibility”, from Spider-Man or, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”, from Marxman.

Since Skillet is considered a Christian Rock band, his savior could be interpreted to be Jesus Christ. However, since there is no direct reference to His name, the titular “hero” could refer to anyone that’s willing and able to save him and this world from self-destruction.

Genius annotation

Obviously this song is ’bout Bibleman.

As for the song itself, it is standard Skillet, with plenty o’ bombastic strings & singing, tho the backup singing by Jen Ledger… exists, I guess. It’s mildly catchy, tho not quite on the same level as their big hits from Comatose.

Grade: B

2. Monster

This is the whole reason I’m writing ’bout this band, so enjoy it before we have to waste time on 10 generic songs afterward.

& that reason is the end o’ the bridge, where the oft-repeated line, “I feel like a monster”, is sung in a Frankenstein’s-monster-like growl & it is the most amazing thing.

Outside o’ that, this song is a clear ripoff o’ Three Days Grace’s “Animal I’ve Become”, which came out ’bout 3 years before this, but obviously not as good. That’s not e’en close to Three Days Grace’s best song, or the best song off its album, One-X, but, spoiler, this is the best song, musically a’least, on this album, so that lets you know how these 2 albums compare. Still, I’m savoring that Three Days Grace lite sound as long as I can, ’cause I know it’s going to go downhill from here.

Grade: A

3. Don’t Wake Me

LOL that they made a Skillet AMV using footage from Elfen Lied, given all the fan service in that anime ( so I’ve read: the only fan service that gets me off are news outlets jerking themselves off ). Cooper may not be fucking with that wet-ass pussy, but Skillet’s fans sure are fucking with that anime-ass pussy.

Speaking o’ going downhill from here… ¿What is this Nickelback-ass shit? You dare to follow the amazing “Monster” with this fucking slush. “Don’t wake me” is right: sleeping is better than listening to this. The chorus legit sounds like Nickelback’s “Savin’ Me”, in the chorus where Chad Kroeger-brand sings, “& sing it for me, sing it for me”. ¡Go back to ripping off Three Days Grace!

No, ¡wait! I’m thinking o’ the chorus o’ Nickelback’s, “Far Away”, where he sings, “I love you, I loved you all along…”. That was the song.

Grade: F

4. Awake and Alive

Ah, there’s that Three Days Grace lite I was looking for.

Actually, I kind o’ wish this song sucked as hard as the last song, as while I much prefer listening to this mildly nice & catchy song, there’s nothing interesting to write. I do kind o’ find the “¡waking up, waking up!” part @ the beginning o’ the bridge funny, with the sing-song way it’s sung that makes it sound like the singer is singing to a child.

¿What kind o’ title is “Awake & Alive”? Obviously you’re alive if you’re awake: dead people can’t be woke, which is why Republicans love dead people so much.

Grade: B

5. One Day Too Late

God, this chorus sounds like it belongs on a kid’s show. I’m certainly not in the mood for hearing a song ’bout making the best o’ my time when I’m writing ’bout a fucking Skillet album — masturbating all day like Jon Arbuckle sounds downright productive in comparison.

¿& does e’ery verse need to start with an ad for Tiktok? ¿Hath this devout band not read the 11th commandment, “Thou shalt not be a fuckin’ sellout”?

I shouldn’t need to tell you that the jingly guitarwork & squeaky singing are intolerable. I don’t e’en know what this is ripping off, but I dread to hear it.

Grade: F

6. It’s Not Me, It’s You

O’ all the Three Days Grace songs, this is the most Three Days Grace, from riffs @ the beginning, the way the singing builds, & the shouts o’ “¡You!” @ the end, which is just like the shouts o’ “¡Home!” in Three Days Grace’s, um, “Home”. Obviously, it’s not as good: the music is too clean & o’erprocessed ( e’en compared to Three Days Grace, who are not exactly Velvet Underground ) & the singing sounds weaker & mo’ weaselly.

But lyrically this is on the same level, if not better, & is, unironically, the best-written song I’ve e’er heard from this band. O’ all the breakup songs I’ve heard, — & given all the angsty nu-metal & post-grunge I’ve listened to in my teens, that’s a lot — I don’t think I’ve e’er heard a song that twists the mealy-mouthed, “It’s not you, it’s me” cliché into this bitter invective, but it’s great — & especially coming after all the lame-ass Sunday-school songs before, such a bitter song starting with the line, “Let’s get this story straight: you were poison”, like the singer is sick o’ this bullshit already, is heaven to my ears. Hell yeah. More o’ this, please.

Grade: S

7. Should’ve When You Could’ve

Sigh. It seems I have to resign myself to getting a shitty song e’ery other song, like Skillet was thinking, “All right, we can’t spoil them: they’re too happy, so let’s give ’em shit now”. In contrast to the iconic, “It’s Not Me, It’s You”, which is a clever title for a song, “Should’ve When You Could’ve” is the corniest shit e’er, & the sassy way the singer sings, “better luck next time, girl”, makes me want to die. & the music is so cheese, it e’en ends with the cliché noodly boops so many pop-rock songs end with & has millennial woahs in the chorus, e’en tho nu-metal is far too early for millennial woahs.

Grade: F

8. Believe

It says something when I’m grateful they’ve gone back to sounding like Nickelback. Actually, this country-sounding song is hilarious, with its dime-store twanging notes & the way the singer sings, “I can’t fill the emptiness inside since you’ve been gone”. ¡Move o’er, Johnny Cash! Also: the smarmy way the singer sings, “I know I said things that I didn’t mean” in the bridge.

Speaking o’ the bridge, I love the guitar solo @ its beginning, which starts with standard Skillet strings, & then melts into those dime-store country guitar twanging, which devolves into rapid fire notes that sound like they’re being played on a plastic Guitar Hero guitar.

That being said, I unironically like the end to the chorus, with its bombastic, “you’re all that I need / just tell me that you still believe”, as generic as the lyrics are, especially @ the very end.

Grade: A

9. Forgiven

O, now we’re aping Evanescence, with those opening notes that sound very similar to the iconic opening to “Bring Me To Life”. Too bad the singing is nowhere near as catchy. In fact, it’s so monotone, & yet sung with such intensity, that it’s annoying. Same goes for the “ho-woah-woah”s @ the beginning o’ the bridge.

& the lyrics fall into the same Cartmen syndrome where I can’t tell if this is ’bout God or someone they want to fuck — or both. It doesn’t help when you have lines like this:

I get down on my knees
feel your love wash over me

Like, come on, they had to know. I don’t care if you’re Todd Fucking Flanders ( weird how Ned would give his son such an unholy middle name ), if you read these lines, your 1st thought is wishing for God to shower the singer with coconut cream pies.

10. Sometimes

( Note: ’twas a statistical inevitability that 1 o’ the AMVs I randomly chose for 1 o’ these songs would end up having an upskirt in its thumbnail ).

¿How could the band who made “Comatose” make a song so boring. I can’t emphasize how bland the chorus is, both in lyricism & its failure to form an interesting melody. I guess this song has a somewhat interesting guitar sol — No, fuck it. It’s not interesting. Nothing ’bout this song is — woah. ¿What the fuck are those beeps @ the end. ¿Why the fuck isn’t that the song?

Grade: D

11. Never Surrender

“Na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na”… Zzzzzz… This album has 14 songs. Many albums had only 12. ¿They couldn’t afford to cut these obvious filler tracks out?

Grade: D

12. Lucy

The opening is literally just someone hitting 1 fucking note on a piano repeatedly. It’s so annoying.

Because I have a working brain — well, I do so far; we’ll see if this album finally breaks me — I assumed that these smaltzy lyrics were ’bout this singer’s fucking dog dying & was hoping it wasn’t ’bout an actual adult woman, as the lines, “now that it’s over / I just want to hold her” sound idiotic in that context ( well, they sound idiotic in any context, but e’en worse there ). But then I read Cooper’s explanation for this song’s meaning & remembered that Cooper doesn’t have a working brain, but has 1 that has been melted by too much exposure to Jesus’s warm rays:

Listen up while I tell you a story about a young girl and a young guy who found themselves in a hard situation. They didn’t know what to do when they found out that she was pregnant; they were young, they didn’t have any money, they were scared, they didn’t want to tell anybody, they didn’t know what to do, and the only option that they could see was to terminate the pregnancy. So that’s what they decided to do… they went to a clinic, they had the procedure done, and at first they felt relieved that all their problems had gone away. But then something happened that they did not expect, and then over the next few weeks, which turned into a few months, they began to feel an intense sadness… and a pain and an agony and a guilt that wouldn’t go away. They didn’t know what to do, so they finally went to see a counsellor [sic]; they said, ‘look – tell us what to do, we just don’t know,’ and the counsellor [sic] made a suggestion. The counsellor [sic] said, ‘here’s what you need to do – stop acting like you had a procedure, and act like you had a death in the family.’ So the couple went home and they made three decisions; number one, they decided to have a funeral service for the baby; number two, they bought a tiny little headstone; and the last decision to make was what to name the baby. After a couple weeks they finally decided they would call her… Lucy.

John Cooper (Quote from Genius)

I’ll give Cooper 1 thing: it’s creative — in that such a thing would only happen on an alien planet, not real life. I don’t know any counselors — e’en the misspelled ones with too many L’s — whose 1st inclination when trying to soothe a couple grappling with the trauma o’ abortion would add to that trauma by insisting to them that that abortion was a “death in the family”, which was not necessarily the idea they already had, much less inventing a bizarre ritual where they hold a funeral for this fetus, rather than, I dunno, just telling them, “It is common for people to feel guilt after something like this”, & maybe saying something ’bout moving on. Fun tip: the psychological community tends to not look highly on fixating on past mistakes or trauma, especially when it involves weird rituals, & in contrast to what Cooper thinks, most health professionals, in fact, do think o’ abortions as procedures, not “deaths in the family” — that’s why they perform them & don’t rub their hands afterward & twirl their moustache & say, “¡Now my kill count is e’en greater than Dr. ikillbabies23!”.

E’en worse, you only get to hear this fanciful story in this garbled recounting, not in the song itself, which is so vague I mistook it for being ’bout a dead dog. Yeah, there’s the line, “I’ve got to live with the choices I made”, which I now see as a wink-wink, nudge-nudge gainst “pro-choice” people, but without this context could just refer to the dumbass singer accidentally leaving chocolate out that the dog ate. ¿Was Cooper trying to hide this song’s true meaning for fear o’ alienating his audience till he felt it had become accepted ’nough to reveal its true dark meaning, or is he just a bad lyricist? Considering P.O.D. made a song called “Abortion Is Murder” & nobody gave a shit ’cause nobody gives a shit ’bout ✝-rock, I’m going to guess the form — hold, on, ¿what’s the 1st line o’ that P.O.D. song?

you are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge

Bitch, ¿you’re blasphemous ’nough to sample the iconic opening o’ Straight Outta Compton in vain for your lame-ass ✝-rap song?

Grade: D

13. Dead Inside

You have no idea how excited I was when the previous song ended on Spotify YouTube Music & I found myself suddenly listening to “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” by Panic! At the Disco. { ¡There are only 12 songs on this album? ¡I’m free! }. But I saw those other tracks on Genius & forced myself to check out the “deluxe” edition, so we’re not free to listen to better music just yet. You could e’en say I feel dead inside.

As trite as it is to say, the best way to describe this song is, “¿What if someone AI-generated a Skillet song?”. It sounds distinctly Skilletlike: it’s got those blasting strings & bombastic choruses, but it lacks the interesting melody twists that make their better songs listenable.

Cooper is begging God to save him from his severe depression.

Genius annotation

& I am begging God to save me from this album.

Grade: D

14. Would It Matter

No, this song will ne’er matter, which is why it wasn’t included on an album that had standards low ’nough to include “Sometimes”.

This song is an alternative metal ballad by Skillet. It is a bonus track from “Awake”. This track has never been performed live. The basic context is about a person who no one cares about and hence wants to leave this world.

Genius annotation

E’en the author o’ this annotation doesn’t think this song matters. This is the most clinical description o’ a song. @ this point “sonic material” is a mo’ fitting term than “song”.

Despite this song not mattering, I was still able to find an AMV for this song, ’cause it is against the law for there to exist a Skillet song without an AMV.

Grade: Doesn’t Matter

15. Monster (Alternate Radio Version)

This is the “Wicked Monster” ( unlike Thousand Foot Krutch, not in the good way ): much as the “Wicked Bible” corrupted the LORD’s words by replacing their demand not to commit adultery with the command to commit adultery, the “Wicked Monster” replaces the aforementioned memetically amazing line, “I feel like a monster”, in a monster-growl voice with 1 that sounds like the normal singing used thruout the choruses — apparently for the radio, presumably ’cause square executives didn’t think ordinary listeners could handle such memetic cheese. ¡Cowards! Thus I have not included a AMV, tho I’m sure I could’ve found 1 with this version, as nobody should listen to this abomination.

Grade: 👹

Posted in Nostalgic Novelty Noughties Nu-Metal