Famed blogger Sean Rose, preparing himself for his greatest review ever.
I promised myself I would not let this happen. I promised myself that I would listen through Limp Bizkit’s 2000 long-player Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water all the way through once or twice within the span of a couple days, review it, and be done with it. And then I could move on, free to focus on the next batch of requested reviews and whatever I wanted otherwise. Free from the ne’er-ending gaze of the Red Cap.
But here I am, almost a month after I first listened to this album, and the blog has remained silent until now. Clearly, I have failed.
Do I have any excuses for this delay? No, no. Nothing legitimate. To offer some kind of explanation, here is a brief rundown of my listening experiences with this record throughout the last month:
– Got the album. Listened to it. Made fun of it on Twitter. Somehow managed to make it all the way to track 11 (“I’ll Be OK”) before I started to feel sick and turned it off.
– Listened to “The Rod Stewart Album” for the first time. Liked it a lot.
– Listened to “The Rod Stewart Album” a few more times.
– Started the next track on Starfish, “Boiler,” days later. Got 20 seconds in before I put something else on.
– Listened to “The Rod Stewart Album” one more time. Still good.
– Weeks passed. Finally listened to “Boiler,” along with the rest of the album.
– Made fun of it on Twitter again.
And, well. Here I am. A changed man.
I still am not sure how to approach a review like this. Trying to pidgeonhole a record like Chocolate Starfish with words like “good” or “bad” is an exercise is futility. This is a record that simply… exists. As such, I feel it is only necessary to give you a brief rundown on what you might find in this, this seventy-five minute long hell-creature commonly referred to as “Limp Bizkit’s third album.”
– In case you skimmed over the previous statement, I will repeat: this record is seventy-five minutes in length. Seventy. Five. Minutes. In that span of time, only four songs are less than four minutes long, one of which is the album’s minute-long spoken word intro. Average song length here would be around five minutes, often bordering on six – with a few near the end of the record surpassing seven. Now, I’ll be fair here and admit that Starfish‘s ten-minute “Outro” probably should not count as a proper track, since it’s just a lazy compilation of studio noises and Ben Stiller prattling on about his love of the band (I’ll get to that later). So in reality the record is only about 65 minutes long.
But that’s… that’s still a lot. To put things in perspective, I have trouble with 60+ minute long albums by bands I LIKE, unless it’s fucking Exile On Main Street or something. I can’t tell you how much better I feel Michael Jackson’s Dangerous or even R.E.M.’s New Adventures In Hi-Fi would have been if they had just whittled away a few songs here and there. So that is something to keep in mind.
– The first proper song in here, “Hot Dog,” features Fred Durst saying the word “fuck” almost 50 times. I know this because he keeps count: “If I say ‘fuck’ two more times / that’s 46 fucks in this fucked up rhyme!!” And as a bonus, if you listen through all three minutes and fifty seconds of the song for yourself, Fred will give you a full rundown on many, many other things that are “fucked up” (including, but not limited to: the world, peoples’ faces, a kid AND the knife he is holding, and life itself).
It also happens to have the ugliest chorus in the history of popular music.
– If you enjoy the classic Limp single “Rollin’,” and are bemused by the fact that 99.9% of most commercially released rock records do NOT feature the song, Chocolate Starfish is the record for you. “Rollin'” is featured here not once, but twice: first as the original single (“Air Raid Vehicle”) version, and later on as an extended remix (“Urban Assault Vehicle”) version. Single version’s 3:34 minutes, remix version’s 6:32 minutes. For those keeping count, that is almost ten straight minutes of “Rollin’. Almost one-sixth of the record.
– There are some guest voices featured on this record. They are: Xzibit on “Getcha Groove On,” the most explicitly hip-hop oriented track here; Method Man, Redman, and DMX on “Rollin’ (Urban Assault Vehicle)”; and Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots pops in to sing most of “Hold On.” I don’t hold any particular love for any of these guys (well, maybe Method Man and Redman but that’s it), but they are a breath of fresh air after almost one straight hour of Fred Durst’s obnoxious yelping. If there were a guest singer/rapper on every track here, Starfish would be a whole lot easier to fight through.
– Oh, and yes, I guess Ben Stiller counts as a guest vocal too. For some reason, he and the Limp were tight bros back in 2000; not only does he show up in the intro to the Rollin’ music video, he gets an explicit shout-out from Fred in the intro to “Livin’ It Up” (in which he is referred to as Fred’s “favorite motherfucker”) and has a bizarre recorded conversation with the band during the “Outro.” After asking Fred if he grew up with DJ Lethal (and whether or not they called him DJ Lethal when he was a kid), he starts to giggle maniacally. Then his giggling is looped, over and over again, for about 3 full minutes.
– And – AND – according to Wikipedia, this record also features the guest vocals of Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins, Mark Wahlberg, and (I am not making this up) skateboarder/Rob and Big star Rob Dyrdek. I have no idea where they are on this record, but suffice it to say if this is not some kind of Wiki-editing prank and they are in there somewhere, then Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water currently holds the world record for “Largest Percentage of Sheer Unfiltered Douche In A Commercially Released Rock Album.” (What I am saying is, Rock Against Bush Vol. 2, you will have to settle for second place.)
– 90% of this record is your generic rap-rock garbage-guitar business, with Fred Durst complaining about everybody hating his band in the most lyrically blunt way possible (“hate is all the world has even seen lately,” indeed). This you probably already assumed. But there are a few songs here that manage to break the mold: “The One,” for instance, is a straight-up love song with not a single “shit” or “fucked up” to its name if you can believe that. Hell, it even has an interesting echoey guitar riff that god forbid I actually like! I mean, on any other record it would probably not be much, but in the middle of this 75-minute behemoth it is like finding an oasis in the middle of the Sahara. The aforementioned “Getcha Groove On” is a passable attempt at straight hip-hop, at least in Limp Bizkit terms. And “Hold On” is a slow, grungy ballad mostly sung by Scott Weiland, and it works because it doesn’t actually sound like a Limp Bizkit song at all until Fred Durst finally decides to show up. Which, sadly, is right after the first chorus.
– I never thought Fred Durst was a particularly talented lyricist/rapper, for obvious reasons. But I honestly never knew he was this bad. Most of the rhymes here make “Nookie” sound like Paul’s Boutique – that is, when Fred actually bothers to rhyme and doesn’t just end a line with a misplaced “shit” or “fucked up.”
God. God. What else can I say?
To put this record in perspective, Chocolate Starfish was the last Limp Bizkit record released when the band was still a significantly popular group. Shortly after its release, guitarist/skull-suit-wearing-dude Wes Borland would quit the band, leaving them in a creative tailspin. The unfortunately-titled Results May Vary would be released to commercial and critical guffaws in 2003, featuring a remarkable cover of the Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes.” After that, I could care less what happened to them.
That all, in a nutshell, is all you need to know about Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water – or, at least, is all I could possibly write about them without driving myself insane. Originally I was planning on just ignoring a review entirely in favor of a list of notable lyrics from the album, but this would require me to listen through the album multiple times and I was not planning on doing that. Feel free to look them up yourself.
And to be fair, blogbuddy Dave Winchell knew exactly how I would react to his request, so I am not worried about disappointing him. I am worried, admittedly, that after almost a month-long buildup this review has failed to meet some lofty expectations. If that is the case, then I apologize deeply.
But what I can say is this: I have listened to this album twice through, and I have come out alive. And at the end of the day, isn’t that enough??