I never reviewed Lulu, the 2011 album that seemed to mark the low point of both Metallica’s and Lou Reed’s careers; it was such a shitstorm of media frenzy that it ceased to be music before the general public even had the chance to listen to it. Although I didn’t find it to be a complete mess in every respect, there’s nothing on it that I ever want to listen to again. But I do have a theory on why it exists.
It may be a self-serving theory, because I love Lou Reed and, as of this year, hate Metallica. Yes, I love Ride The Lightning and Master Of Puppets and even the black album. There were even some guilty pleasures to be had on Death Magnetic, if you could tolerate the production. But it's been pretty clear from the start that James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich are unfeeling pinheads, and although I try not to let personal dislike of musicians affect my appreciation for their music (and obviously I don't ACTUALLY KNOW HETFIELD OR LARS PERSONALLY), I think their lack of brainpower and nonfinancial creative motivation gradually made their music unlistenable starting with Load. And now that they've announced their intention to play a concert in Antarctica, an utterly pointless endeavor whose expenses and proceeds could surely feed all of Africa for a year, I completely fucking hate them.
Of course, even a Cro-Magnon would be able to recognize the potential notoriety of a collaboration with Lou, and since Metallica is devoid of artistic sense, its head honchos have no idea whether the aimless riffs they come up with or Lou's batshit ranting have any worth at all, but their egos naturally assume that what they're doing is awesome, so off they go! At first I suspected Lou had finally gone senile, but then I realized that not only was Lulu effortless, free publicity and a curious social experiment on a huge scale--it was the perfect opportunity for Lou to very publicly make idiots look like idiots with virtually no actual damage done to his own reputation. We all know that exposing charlatans was one of Lou's favorite pasttimes, right? Had he denounced the album, his dipshit collaborators couldn't have persisted so fervently in praising themselves for this Experimental Artistic Achievement. I can't help envisioning Lou laughing his ass off through the whole process and aftermath.I don't normally admire people for ridiculing other people, and at various times I admit I've felt incensed at things that Reed has said to and about interviewers and writers. I do, however, think it's fun to look at Lou Reed's entire life as a massive multimedia pop-art experiment, with Lulu standing as perhaps its most triumphant prank, a dayglo musical can of Campbell's soup. Whether it's a big middle finger to the world or a delusional final statement, it's fabulous.