It's All About Joe Artistposted by Tim Walters @ 6:41 PM First came the self-titled album. As far as I know, no painter or writer has ever titled a work with his name, but somehow, this unimaginative and egocentric convention became common among musicians. It would make some sense for a best-of album*, but instead is most commonly used for debut albums--exactly where one would expect the artist to want to make a good impression, rather than seeming incapable of coming up with a real title.
The advantage, one assumes, is that the artist gets a name so nice, you say it twice. That is, he would, except that it turns out that people find referring to "Joe Artist's album Joe Artist" ridiculous, and will go to some lengths to avoid it: "Joe Artist's debut album," "Joe Artist: s/t," "the White Album," etc. What's a poor narcissistic** singer to do?
If you're Peter Gabriel, the answer is "try it three times and see what happens," but a more common strategy is the elaborate self-referential title. Here are my top/bottom five examples.
Gary Burton: Who Is Gary Burton?
Dan Hartman: Who Is Dan Hartman?
Waldeck: Who Is Waldeck?
Marix: Who Is The Marix
Mike Jones: Who Is Mike Jones?
Mike Eddie: Who The Hell Is Mike Eddie?
Fletcher McTaggart: Who Is Fletcher McTaggart?
Who gives a shit?
Extra loser points to Marix for omitting the question mark, and a shout-out to Marlena Shaw, who shows these guys how it's done with her album Who Is This Bitch, Anyway?
4. Jill Scott: Who Is Jill Scott?: Words And Sounds, Vol. 1
Taking a bad idea to a whole new double-generic level of suck, with bonus implied threat.
3. The Nice: The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack
Presumably something like The Sorrows Of Young Werther, only with less moping and more sticking of knives in Hammond organ keyboards.
2. Arrested Development: Three Years, Five Months and Two Days in the Life of...
These guys expect us not only to care about, but to dutifully recite, the amount of time it took them to get a recording contract. Also, a five-yard penalty for the coy ellipsis.
1. Terence Trent D'Arby: Introducing The Hardline According To Terence Trent D'Arby
Nicknamed "The Blowhardline" for obvious reasons, and as a sly reference to one theory about what could give a pretty boy named "Terence Trent D'Arby" the impression that he's a badass.
*Great opportunity for a band with cred but low sales: call your best-of album Pop Flies. Because it's pop, but they're not hits. Get it? OK, never mind.
**This has nothing to do with music, but I have to mention it: when working at a personnel office, I once found the file of a guy named Curtis whose four children were named Curt, Curtis Jr., Curtessa, and Curtessina.