The 20 Worst Songs of 2010, #17: Trade Martin, "We've Got To Stop The Mosque At Ground Zero"
F2K10 is a countdown of the 20 worst songs of 2010. Track our progress here.
If there are history books 100 years from now, they will no doubt portray 2010 as a time when hysteria took over American discourse in fits and hiccups. During the summer's most scorching days, a disproportionate amount of crazypants attention was paid to the possibility of a "mosque at Ground Zero," since "community center at the old Burlington Coat Factory" had too many syllables and not enough dramatic oomph. The whole sad, screechy episode was probably best captured by Trade Martin's "We've Got To Stop The Mosque At Ground Zero," a nasty little bit of treacle that sounds as inspired by themes from syndication-distributed sitcoms as it does by venom-filled blog rants.
Put the lyrical content aside, and "Ground Zero"'s status as a terrible composition remains undeniable. Martin is an arranger and session musician who trumpets the fact that he's worked with B.B. King, although his résumé can't hide the fact that the musical crimes committed by "We've Got To Stop" are legion. The song is dragged along by dinky synthesizers that are so cheaply recorded, you could be excused for thinking that you were actually listening to a field recording from an anthropologist stationed outside an amusement-park karaoke booth; when I first heard "Ground Zero," I thought it was actually a discarded scratch track from a South Park episode about the mosquetroversy. (Compare and contrast. If only Martin had called upon Trey Parker and Matt Stone for production assistance!) The backing vocals are watery and off-pitch, and it seems like they were all sung by Martin, whose lead vocal croak, to be charitable, does at least sound sincere.
And then there are the lyrics, which reach heights of lousiness that transcend politics. I don't want to spoil them for you, because they really need to be "enjoyed" in context. So instead, two notes: One, the lyric "it's a slap in the face" is punctuated by an actual slap; two, these are the words that form the song's rhyme scheme:
Understand / Stand Zero / Hero Attack / Fact Minds / Time Zero / Hero Attack / Fact Trust / Much Zero / Hero Attack / Fact Killed / Build See / Mockery Zero / Hero Attack / Doubt about it
The song ends abruptly -- with an explosion, in fact. Because what better way to not make a mockery of 9/11 than by making a mockery of its defining event?
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