7 min read

on limp bizkit + why we talk about music online the way we do

in which i partially blame early 2010s music website culture for why we have to talk about limp bizkit now

The newsletter is back now that I have a new apartment with windows and wifi access! I know you're all thrilled. The easy thing to do today would be to listen to Limp Bizkit FOR THE FIRST TIME and get off some stupid jokes, but I haven't written anything in a bit and that feels disingenuous. The whole point of the FOR THE FIRST TIME format is that I'm listening to something important. And Limp Bizkit is not important.

The thing is that I did listen to some Limp Bizkit songs prior to this and it is, unequivocally, not good. I'd never considered if Nookie, Cookie, and Pussy rhyme before, so at least there's that I guess. As with anything, if you like it that's your cross to bear, but it's not good. My cross to bear is enjoying, like, The Fray and The Script and all that garbage. But I was two years old in 1999. Limp Bizkit means nothing to me.

I am, obviously, unfamiliar with a lot of music. This is predominantly because I became a sentient person who was able to choose music for myself in like 2008. I chose Owl City and All Time Low via youtube2mp3.com, but I was choosing music. Music that was forced on me by virtue of environment was Steely Dan and the soundtrack to Grease because that's what my parents liked. I heard Fall Out Boy Singles on the radio and A Day to Remember with my sisters and All of the Lights by Kanye West in my friends' garages in the summer. Limp Bizkit, and most nu metal, was dead in the water before I'd ever have a chance to be forced to listen to them. I feel like metalcore might be my age group's equivalent to nu metal.

There are plenty of bands I feel like never listening to is maybe to my detriment. Case in point, I recently listened to every Green Day album. I came out of that not thinking about how bad their later catalog is, but thinking about how much of their music I think is fine. Obviously influential, but fine to my ears. I really enjoyed Warning, but otherwise.. fine. I even bought and read the Cometbus issue about Green Day in an effort to Get It and at some points I did! Those points were mostly when I spent 3 hours straight inundated with just Green Day and I forgot what other music sounds like. If I forget about the last 20 years of pop punk I am more familiar with that is influenced by them, Green Day is great. Sometimes writing about music like that is hard for that reason. Imitation waters down the original if you immerse yourself in the imitations first.

The thing about Limp Bizkit, though, is that it's not influential like that? Popular, yes. But long lasting impact? I'm not sure. Nu Metal and Rap Rock on the whole maybe (I am a Turnstile fan after all), but Limp Bizkit.. I don't know. Plenty of popular things don't permeate in the way Green Day permeated the last 20 years of pop punk.

Nostalgia culture is such a plague and certainly the worst thing Gen X and Millennials have thrust upon us. Dominant American culture, apart from some pop music, is just recycled nostalgia. We have the worst of 2000s fashion fed to us as "iconic" and reboots that nobody asked for and emo nites where normie assholes buy overpriced merch about being sad and today I listened to a podcast that was over an hour long about Limp Bizkit. I did that today. I was dropping off film to get developed and a man was yelling "SHUT THE FUCK UP" in a Fred Durst impression over and over through my airpods that decided, this time, if I take one out it just won't pause.

Critiques you might have of how I spend my time aside, why are we talking about Limp Bizkit? How did we get here? Well, dear reader, I'd like to propose two things that are just kind of general thoughts about why internet music discussion is what it is at all.

1.Monoculture died and rock music as a dominant force died with it.

I'm aware that referencing back to and reviving culturally important art has always happened. Redoing it and making it new happens all the time and has always happened all the time. Even still, I can't help but feel like it's worse now for rock music. Rock radio has been playing the same stuff since I was a kid. A band on the level of Limp Bizkit just cannot happen now. A band that feels even close to the level of Limp Bizkit probably can't happen now. I'll put the end of that possibility firmly at like 2013.

Streaming killed revenue. Solo artists do better than bands right now and it's been trending that way for years. Rock bands aren't being pushed at us and now you can turn on your car radio and still hear a Fall Out Boy song that is nearing ever closer to being reasonably called classic rock.

There are all these bands that were SO much more popular than anything going on right now in the rock sphere. The ceiling has lowered to a staggering point and, frankly, it just isn't fun to argue about bands that aren't that popular. There's plenty of stuff I don't like, but publicly being like "no mewithoutYou suuuuuucks" just makes you look like a dick even if that's what you believe. It's way more fun to argue about the validity of a band like Limp Bizkit who made more money than I ever will. It's more fun to joke around about Blink-182 because success on their level is insulating.

I'm a born hater. The first cd I ever bought with my own money was by Dashboard Confessional and I hated it. I was like 9 and I hated it so much I held onto it and still have it. But I'm not gonna shit on a band that's not making that much money. They're just trying to make art and get by. Fred Durst, on the other hand, is a wealthy old man who, as his music will tell y0u, does not care. Divisive, popular rock music is just not happening. You've got Phoebe Bridgers, I guess, who people have turned against as her popularity has risen, but that's sort of proving my point. Real success is necessary for that to be an acceptable, fun conversation.

2. We rail against being told we shouldn't like something which, for people around my age who care about music enough to be engaging with Limp Bizkit right now, means railing against aspects of blog culture.

I think this is an important difference to point out. This is– importantly– different than liking something ironically. It is fun to unabashedly be like, "what's up I think Nickelback is cool" or "yeah Closer by The Chainsmokers rocks" and the joke doesn't have to be that you're lying. It's part of the joke that you mean it. This is post irony.

These kinds of re-appraisals of stuff that is obviously not capital 'I' Important I think come out of a post ironic desire to denigrate the former power of Cool Guy Music Writer culture. That sounds kind of stupid but stay with me. I think a lot of older music writers don't consider the reputation of music blogs in the way younger people do. I know what has always Pitchfork liked and what they didn't. I'm aware that stuff used to actually matter. Now I don't think it does, but certain online publications used to matter and people still discuss them as if they do. If you like music enough to be engaging in Music Twitter at all, you're aware of Pitchfork's legacy and a lot of people continue to talk about it.

I am blaming indie rock dude hipster blogger culture for this. You know, kind of. At it's core it's just more fun to talk about music like this and when you have a monolith to go against that feels culturally significant, well, that's fun! Taking a contrarian position is fun! People are having fun with it. That's fine. But that doesn't mean it's not a reaction. The height of cool in 2010 is embarrassing as hell now. What was undeniably awesome in 2015 is cringe (or, equally likely, cancelled) now.

We're so far removed from the cultural monolith of 1999 that liking a band as successful as Limp Bizkit is the contrarian opinion. It's not cool and it's going against some perceived gatekeeping of what you should like to like them. It's not cool to do things ironically, but it is part of the joke to like stupid shit seriously.

I don't know if I think this post ironic conversation is "bad" per se, but I do think that critical reevaluation of everything is useless and goes into my very least favorite thing about music writing and criticism in the realm of rock music right now. The sheer amount of words spilled in service of anniversaries is embarrassing. [Editor's note: I did make a zine celebrating 10 year anniversary of Shed by Title Fight. Call me a hypocrite if you want.]

It feels like the anniversary of an album is the only time writers get to spend significant amounts of words on positively and thoughtfully discussing an album they have a lot of feelings about in a voice that sounds and is unique to them. Pub voice falls away more than usual and you get really great, compelling writing from people I know are talented. I love anniversary pieces for that reason, but I think it reflects something negative about the state of music writing. Reading pre-201oish music writing is so bizarre because it's just so casual and personal and funny. Nobody's hyperbolic anymore and it's just less fun. Who cares. Why read it if it has very little cultural cache AND it's boring?

Got a little off the rails there but, anyway, Limp Bizkit isn't good. Fred Durst's wig is pretty funny though.