Top Five Iffy Comeback Attempts of the '00s

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On Tuesday -- remember Tuesday? seems like that was ages ago, doesn't it? Tiger Woods was still definitely married back then! -- Gimme Noise singled out this past decade's most successful comeback attempts. But what of the comebacks that fizzled, or just weren't all that? The ones where rappers, rockers, and underground titans strutted back into the limelight -- and we all just sort of shrugged, or worse yet, barely even noticed?

The Breeders. Title TK (2002) wasn't the super-big pop fireball some folks expected in the wake of 1993 sensation Last Splash; it navel-gazed, it fizzed, it spooked, it wobbled. But I was down with where the Deal sisters were heading. Then they disappeared for six years, only to emerge with an disjoined album (Mountain Battles) featuring Spanish- and German-language songs that was "brave." But brave doesn't always mean memorable or even enjoyable.

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Guns 'N Roses. Fuck Axl Rose and his braids and his eccentricities and a recording budget that's larger than the GDP of many developing countries and the willingness of almost every media outlet to pretend that Chinese Democracy was somehow more crucial than actual, unlikely Chinese democracy. Was Best Buy the corporation that eventually was the sole seller of this turkey? Did Axl buy you a Dr. Pepper? Who even cares?

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Photo by Kristin Burns
The Smashing Pumpkins. Oh, Billy Corgan. Billy, Billy, Billy. You started an indie-rock supergroup (Zwan) that was more or less the Pumpkins behind rose-colored glasses, then that flamed out before it even got going. You put out a decent New Order-inspired solo record that the press roundly shit upon. And then you did it: you reformed the Pumpkins. Without two original members. (Who were photogenic ballast anyway.) And issued the least defining album of your career. And Rolodexed Paris Hilton for a sleeve photo! And then you alienated your hard core Pumpkin-patch followers live. And then Jimmy Chamberlin bailed on you. And spent a lot of time on the internet bellyaching about your ex-bandmates and religion and the industry and stuff. And you put out some frankly crap stand-alone singles. And then you were like, "Hey, I'm making a huge new album titled Teargarden by Kaleidyscope in bits and pieces! For free! On the internet!" And then -- whoa -- "Song for a Son" was actually good, on the "Medellia of the Gray Skies" tip. Really, really good. So go figure. We're aggrieved but we're also hopeful.

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Weezer. What a weird 10 years it's been for these guys. In the 90s they were modern rock or alt-rock stars. Then, post-Pinkerton (1996), they dropped off the grid. In 2001, they resurfaced with The Green Album, a pristine pop-rock masterpiece shorn of any shred of personality or Say Anything pathos whatsoever, a concise half-hour shrine to generality that alternately baffled and impressed the group's fanbase. (Personally, I was baffled. And saddened.) Then Rivers Cuomo and company went all meta on us with a string of songwriting collaborations and albums that required that their audience surround itself with scare quotes just to stomach them -- a move that could be Weezer adapting to an increasingly fractured pop marketplace or Cuomo having wider-ranging tastes than anybody could've imagined. Get into your Wayback Machine and see if the you of 1999 would be surprised to find "Weezer" in the same sentence as "Lil Wayne" or "Hugh Hefner." (Or don't.) Anyhow, all of a sudden, The Green Album's smile-y blandness sounds really, really appealing to these ears.

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The Backstreet Boys. They made a Heavy Metal Parking Lot-spoofing video that was pretty much the best thing about their comeback attempts this decade. You should look it up on YouTube. Shit is funny! Nuff said.
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