Hollywood Undead lives with their latest “Swan Songs”

Caleb Nelson

The suburbs finally have a bawdy act they can call their own. It’s like Eminem fused with Linkin Park and somehow, something fresh was created. Hollywood Undead’s “Swan Songs” (A&M/Octane) stands on its own feet, and makes its mark on listeners.

In 2005, two friends uploaded a song on Myspace, which quickly spawned the rise of Hollywood Undead. As the band grew to seven members, they added to their repertoire, uploading pictures of themselves in masks and taking on pseudonyms. Sloppy raps mocking the emo scene. Sex and booze. Over-synthesized beats with scream-o choruses. That’s what you get with Hollywood Undead. They soon became one of the most popular bands on Myspace with nearly 1 million plays within the first nine weeks. Because of this popularity, No. 5, the only track on Swan Songs of their original uploads, snuck onto the first Myspace compilation and the band signed with Myspace Records (distributed by Interscope).

Three years later, on September 2nd, Swan Songs was released. Down to six members, the crew has perfected their sound and branched from comic observations and promoting their sexual prowess into, ironically, more heartfelt lyrics which only improve this album. Including tracks produced by Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails), and three by Don Gilmore (Linkin Park), the best aspects of this debut are engineered and produced by Deuce, who sings and is one of the original two members.

Songs like “Bottle and a Gun” and “Everywhere I Go” are perfect examples of their growth as a band, displaying raw and carefree attitudes. Graduating from lyrics like, “I wear skin tight cloths and dress like a homo/ I must be emo,” in their early internet releases, to “got a gold ass grill/ hit me on the side kick if you want to chill,” they may not be the most intelligent guys in the music business, but they know how to write a hook. Hollywood Undead has found their sound, and doesn’t plan on abandoning it.

With their popularity largely due to the Internet, they were inevitably betrayed by it when their entire album appeared on file sharing networks a few days before its release. They countered this by offering Swan Songs in its entirety on their Myspace page while the record label apparently scrambled to find bonuses for the album. Hollywood Undead may end up getting more money in royalties from Madden 09, which included one of their songs, “Undead”, on its soundtrack, as from the album itself. Still, the band seems unworried. Groupies are abundant and 40’s are still cheap.

Hollywood Undead exemplifies the transition for musicians into cyber space. Hate them if you want, but Hollywood Undead has forged their own underground scene that won’t disappear quickly, even if they never release another album.