My tendancy to obsess over menial subjects continues. This week's target topic is Former Child Star Bands, which you have to admit is completely fascinating. Unable to cope with being out of the spotlight once puberty hits, a disproportionate number of ex-kiddie moppets from our favorite shows and movies wind up assaulting our ears with their side-project "art." I knew all that alleged two-hour-a-day, on-set-tutoring was bullshit; in reality, they are all getting high in their trailors dreaming of being the next Brandon Cruz. So how are they doing anyway? I tried to be non-objective in my approach here (meaning whatever annoying character they played in the past has no bearing on my assessment), but who am I kidding? Corey Feldman singing theatrical metal? This entry practically wrote itself.
Bad 4 Good (Danny Cooksey)
It doesn't get any better than this. Annoying Sam from "Dif'rent Strokes" singing "I'm bad and I ain't even dead!" Aside from the Cooksey association, two friends brought to my attention that this band also features a young longhair by the name of Thomas McRocklin, who was a little protege of Steve Vai. I mean, who can even compete with a name like that? I don't care if it's a stage name—Thomas McRocklin + Danny Cooksey = gold, Jerry, gold!
Cheesy awesomeness factor: 10
Actual talent: 6
Overall assessment: Goes past bad to good and all the way back to bad again
Elephone (Ryan Lambert)
Before the Mickey Mouse Club became the hotbed for young pop talent, a little show called "Kids, Incorporated" showcased the next generation of precocious brats that would go on to make shitty music. Martika, Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson and Ryan Lambert all sprung forth from the demon loins of this godforsaken pre-teen variety show. While Martika now dabbles in goth-pop, and Fergs overcame her meth-addicted girl-group days to pee her pants on stage with the Black Eyed Peas, cute little Ryan went on to front the "indie/rock/Hawaiian" outfit Elephone. It shouldn't come as any surprise that they're all emo-ed out with smart-boy glasses, brush haircuts and Kitson boutiquewear. The sound is Radiohead-ish, via The Smiths with a side order of My Bloody Valentine.
Cheesy awesomeness factor: -5 (just like the old days, when he was pretending to be a riverboat captain, Ry-Ry still takes himself far too seriously)
Actual talent: 6
Overall assessment: OK, I'll admit I didn't hate it and Ryan is kind of cute. But the pretentiousness level is hilariously high, and thus, it sucks. Let's be realistic...the only reason anyone would go see them is to see the kid from "The Monster Squad". Don't hide from your past, Ryan, embrace it. It's all over YouTube now, so there's no getting away. Just do a cover of the "Kids, Inc." theme and get it over with.
New Radicals (Danielle Brisebois)
Danielle, who played the charming little foil to Archie's grumpy curmudgeon on "All in the Family", may arguably be the most successful of the child star banders, thanks to the New Radicals' "You Get What You Give". Do you remember them? The lead singer always wore a frat dink bucket hat and that song had the living hell played out of it in the late '90s. I fucking hated it. So even though Danielle was involved in something that might be recognizable to the general public does not mean it doesn't suck.
Cheesy awesomeness factor: does not compute
Actual talent: 1 (well, they play their own instruments...)
Overall assessment: Sucks
The Papercranes (Rain Phoenix)
Though not as well-known as her actor bros Joaquin and the late River, Rain Joan of Arc Phoenix has a couple of respectable roles under her belt, as well as appearances on "Family Ties" and "Amazing Stories". She also looks DISTURBINGLY like her brother Joaquin. Hey, didn't the Phoenix family belong to the Children of God/Hookers for Christ cult? If so, that puts a whole new twist on this Fiona Apple-lite, twingy-twangy, keyboard-plinky, sad-girl-looking-out-a-rainstreaked-window alt. pop. Maybe this music that nearly lulled me to sleep was MEANT to do that, so it could fill my head with quasi-religious messages that will lead me to shave off all my hair and wear ankle-length skirts all the time.
Cheesy awesomeness factor: 1
Actual talent: 3 (she's not completely tone deaf and she's a Phoenix)
Overall assessment: The Papercranes are fucking awesome. They are the best band of all time. They are better than The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley combined. Oh, wait, I mean the subliminal messages didn't work on me! What I meant to say is: it sucks.
Hm, that name doesn't sound familiar, you say, to which I reply, "Does VICKY THE ROBOT ring a bell?" How could you forget the thought-provoking genius that is "Small Wonder"? And while Jerry Suprian hasn't really won any Nobel Prizes for Physics, it turns out the greatest robot character actor in the history of television and film has really moved on to the music industry. More specifically, the contemporary Christian music industry. While that is really not all that surprising, what is is that she's allegedly slated to be on the next installment of the Surreal Life. It would be better if she was exposed as a meth-guzzling beastiality porn star, but it might still be fun, especially if she's one of those "Jesus is Cool" people and she ends up on the show with someone like Ron Jeremy.
Cheesy awesomeness factor: 9
Actual talent: ? (but if her skills at impersonating a robot are any indication, I'm guessing it's going to be pretty high)
Overall assessment: OK, I didn't actually hear any of her songs, but did I really need to? Have you ever heard any cotemporary Christian song that didn't sound exactly the same? So my guess is going to be: sucks.
Truth Movement (Corey Feldman)
Log onto Corey's website and you are immediately assaulted with an elevator version of "I Will Survive." Pretty optomistic message from ol' Feld-dog. I barely survived checking out the clips of his music on Amazon; I'm not even sure if what I heard was the actual music or a "Welcome to Windows MediaPlayer" intro. The only clue I had was the singing, because his singing voice sounds exactly like his speaking voice. Then I started picturing him doing Michael Jackson dance moves and crotch grabs and that pretty much put an end to this whole experiment.
Cheesy awesomeness factor: off the fucking charts
Actual talent: -2.5
Overall assessment: Imagine a lite-rock version of a Cradle of Filth song playing in the dentist's office. Then imagine how you felt after waking up in the dentist's office after having your wisdom teeth yanked out. Which is strangely exactly how I feel right now...