As we at Popblerd passed around the latest list of new releases to divvy up albums for review, one particular album stood out like a sore thumb: Buckcherry, the band you’d always hoped was dead, is gearing up to release a new record.
This is a moderately startling development, precisely because it’s not that startling: as we all know, rare is the past-its-prime band that has the self-awareness and decency to call it a day when they cease to be relevant or interesting, but it’s kind of wild to think that our society let Buckcherry happen for as long as it has. And yet, considering that modern rock listeners seem to agree that Nickelback and Three Days Grace and the like haven’t outlived their already-dubious usefulness, it’s not particularly shocking that we’re seeing another Buckcherry album in 2013.
Strangely enough, when I fancied myself a rocker in the late ’90s, Buckcherry almost fooled me. Their self-titled debut album had most of a boob on the cover, which appealed to the 15-year-old me quite nicely, and their brand of tattooed L.A. sleaze was often likened to Guns N’ Roses, one of my earliest musical obsessions. “Lit Up,” lead singer Joshua Todd’s love letter to cocaine, didn’t quite fool me, but “For the Movies” almost did, a tuneful, bluesy mid-tempo ballad that integrated then-modern pop into the mix. I never actually bought that album, but I can’t help but feeling that I would have regretted it almost instantly, considering the dunderheaded downward spiral Buckcherry’s career would take. It’s difficult to get stupider or sleazier than a track like “Lit Up”, but Buckcherry tried time and again, scoring a resounding success with the grotesque “Crazy Bitch”.
It’s a love letter to groupies, which isn’t necessarily a recipe for disaster: we’ve all got our guilty pleasures, and I’m assuming many of us if pushed would cite at least one decadent ’80s rock song about fast women among our sources of shameful enjoyment. And while many forms of music over the years have come under fire for casual misogyny — even early Jukebox From Hell installment “Before He Cheats”, sung by a female artist, suggests that women are bipolar creatures that require constant emotional coddling to keep them from transforming into castrating she-devils — “Crazy Bitch” is a particularly reprehensible specimen. Because, in lead singer Josh Todd’s vernacular, a “crazy bitch” is “a female stranger who submits to my sexual whims.” (In this sense, he’s correct, as I assume most sane women aren’t exactly in the market for the greasy, bird-chested offspring of Steven Tyler and Willem Dafoe.)
And, you know, whatever. “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” are fellow stripper-pole anthems that take a similarly reductive (although less outright offensive) view of women, and we give them a pass, and that’s fine and all. But there’s something about the word choice here that’s really grating: insinuating that bitches, on the whole, be trippin’ is kind of de rigueur in this style of music (lest we forget that Nickelback once suggested that “you look so much cuter with something in your mouth,” because LOL PENIS), but Josh Todd stops just short of saying “women are merely objects put on this earth to entertain my genitals.” Otherwise, why the word “bitch”? When Outkast reiterates the phrase “crazy bitch” multiple times during the coda of their 2003 hit “Roses”, they at least have the foresight to spend the first half of the song presenting empirical evidence about the object of their ire that suggests that she often behaves in a crazy and/or bitchy manner. When Buckcherry does it, the only evidence presented to support the claim is “well, she’s always having all sorts of sex with me. What a bitch, amirite?”
Which brings us directly to Joshua Todd’s central thesis. If, immediately after coitus with Joshua Todd, a woman ceases to be a woman and now exists strictly as a “bitch”, we only have two options: a.) Josh Todd’s genitals transform normal women into materialistic sex zombies, or b.) Josh Todd believes that women are not to be respected after you’ve used them for their sole useful purpose. “You’re crazy, but I like the way you fuck me,” Todd howls over and over again with all the charisma of a drug-addled twelve-year-old swearing in the backyard; Todd’s lack of any discernible charm (or talent), coupled with his penchant for boneheaded lyricism, makes every profanity an exercise in tedium. Every b-word is a pejorative, every f-bomb used as a verb; it’s as though he tried outright to offend when writing these lyrics, except no, because there’s no purpose to his obscenity. It’s just ugly pandering to the monosyllabic (or the teenaged), exercised with zero thoughtfulness or panache.
And as if to add insult to injury, the eternally-preening band asks us to accept “Crazy Bitch” as a raucous rock anthem of sorts. Except there’s nothing rousing or remarkable about it. There’s an ugly riff, a series of hideous guitar flurries, cacophonic noises that Buckcherry asks us to simply accept as grit; it would be repulsive to listen to even if the lyrics were something along the lines of “Hey, you’re a strong, independent woman, and even though we had an ill-advised sexual romp, I’d like to get to know you a little more. Perhaps over coffee and scones?”
“Crazy Bitch” isn’t alone in Buckcherry’s discography. When the band’s not singing about sex and drugs, they’re… well, they’re not singing, unless they’re throwing a lone ballad into the mix to imply that they’re actual people with feelings and stuff. (Like “Sorry”, which hails from the same album as “Crazy Bitch”, and is about as potent a ballad as “Crazy Bitch” is a slow jam.) “Riding”, from 2001′s Time Bomb, invites a woman to go for a ride with Todd, whereupon he will grant her drugs and the privilege of fellating him; “Too Drunk”, from 2008′s Black Butterfly, is almost worse than “Crazy Bitch”, as Todd apologizes to the female population of the world for not being able to perform sexually because he gets blackout drunk all the time, which of course makes him awesome. (He also claims that he puts female anatomy “on layaway”, which you shouldn’t think about too much because it’ll give you an aneurysm. Oh, and compares his penis to a “candy cane” — so, thin and curved? What?)
And yet, somehow, this song is the most egregious of all the Buckcherry songs; probably because, against all reasonable odds, women love it. Not normal women that you’re friends with and talk to and stuff, mind you, but bar-hopping party girls. In my day job as a provider of karaoke and DJ services, I encounter it all the time; men sing this song, and the girls go crazy. Or, even worse, women cut out the middleman and sing the song without a hint of irony; it’s saddening, this idea that the very demographic the song vilifies has somehow accepted it as an anthem. And not as a feminist act of taking the venom out of the very word that demeans them; as an honest, earnest admission of guilt. Look at the Youtube comments for this monstrosity: they’re peppered with terrifying statements like “I hope one day to be someone’s crazy bitch!!!” Which, congratulations, real women with thoughts and stuff hate you just a tiny fraction less than they hate the Twitter idiots who say “Chris Brown can beat me up any day of the week LOL!”
So for failing on the basis of everything that makes music enjoyable, “Crazy Bitch” gets a big fat F. Doubt my claims? Watch the video below, should you dare. (Beware of the comments section, though. The amount of dudes talking about their boners is downright staggering.)