The 50 Worst Songs of the ’00s, F2K No. 15: Hinder, “Born To Be Wild”


Get your motor runnin’…head out on the fast track to synergyville.

Post-grunge’s rock-radio death grip of sad self-regard made some people miss the relative “fun” (read: drug-fueled debauchery) of hard rock’s late-’80s heyday. And at least one of those people had enough clout at Universal Music Group to sign the Oklahoma rock act Hinder, who married the gleeful misogyny of the Motley Crue era with the uncomplicated self-regard of the current age. (And they leavened it with a bit of resentment toward hip-hop’s chart ascent: “I think hip hop came in and stole that party from rock ‘n’ roll. That’s where the fun has been for a while, and we just want it back,” rhythm guitarist Mike King once said.) The band’s first album was called Extreme Behavior! Its first single was called “Get Stoned”! The guys were so into nailing chicks, lead singer Austin Winkler’s microphone stand was festooned, Steven Tyler-and-scarves style, with bras! (Whether or not said pieces of lingerie were actually from frenetic audience members or bought by some lowly production assistant is still unclear.)

The irony, of course, is that even though Hinder’s pose was all about having something approximating fun, it was the cheatin’-heart ballad “Lips Of An Angel” that broke the band big-time–“Lips” peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100, and crossed over far enough to earn a watery Jason Nevins remix. In the wake of “Lips,” Hinder tooled around the radio-sponsored-concert circuit, asking the crowds of 15-year-old Jonas Brothers fans in attendance how they felt about getting laid. Somehow, this did not win them much post-“Lips” success outside of rock radio, so they then resorted to even more extreme measures: They unleashed a cover that was even more opportunistic than the rework of “Take Me Home Tonight” that closed their shows.

Thanks to NASCAR, who needed a song for their TNT telecasts, and Steppenwolf, who apparently figured that nothing could be worse than having their rock-radio staple redone by the Prince Of Darkness and the Princess Of Puppet Pigs, Hinder was granted the opportunity in the spring of 2007 to remake “Born To Be Wild,” and expose its wild ways to the nation’s stock car racing diehards.

Somehow the band got it in its head to make Steppenwolf’s crisp track better by fooling the audience into thinking that it was actually as long as “Comfortably Numb.” First, the band added multiple by-the-numbers guitar solos by lead axeman Joe Garvey. Add to that Winkler, who in between Xeroxing his between-verse exclamations gamely repeats the chorus over and over again–and yes, it’s cliche to refer to cover songs derisively as “karaoke,” but, well. You know when you’re at a karaoke bar, and some poor sap gets stuck with a song that refuses to fade out until the chorus has been repeated approximately 543 times? That’s the effect here–to the point where it almost makes one want to throw a drink. Which would, in keeping with the tradition of Hinder, be “extreme.” But it would also result in even more extreme electronics-repair bills.

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