Ever since a gnarly meltdown at SXSW 2010, Michigan trio Salem have become indie rock’s official hate object. The band stoked fresh ire yesterday with their version of Britney Spears’ “Till The World Ends,” a remix that slows the clubby pop tune down to a nightmarish creep. The song’s video was responsible for much of the eye-rolling. It splices nightvision clips of clubland debauchery with footage from battlefields in the Middle East. [We can link to it, but can’t post it. It’s NSFW unless you W in a SC (strip club).]
Are Salem really the stupidest band on Earth? In our weekly Taking sides post, Click Track’s contributors knock heads.
David Malitz: Straight up, Salem is the stupidest band in the world. Stupider than the Black Eyed Peas. Stupider than Die Antwoord. Stupider than Slightly Stoopid. Have you ever seen them in concert, Chris? It’s like the stupid amusement park haunted house ride with the stupidest special effects and stupidest music (with the added bonus that it sparked the genre with the stupidest name — witch house). We are supposed to be impressed by them slowing down a stupid Britney Spears song and making a video with night-vision strippers and soldiers? I am not.
Chris Richards: Due to circumstances beyond my control and/or destiny, I have never seen Salem perform live. I probably never will. I’ve heard only horrible, horrible things. But I can’t resist the dark pull of their recordings — from their Gucci Mane remixes to their stellar 2010 album “King Night.” Salem feel singular in their ability to temper melodrama with mischief and this Brit-Brit remix captures that strength with brutal efficiency. They’ve reimagined America’s fallen sweetheart as the apocalyptic harbinger she may have always been! Plus, it just sounds epic.
Allison Stewart: Salem are living proof that hipsters will buy into anything if you tell them it’s cool enough: They’re like the “Brown Bunny” of bands. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to spend their money on a group whose disinterest in what they do, and by extension in those who like it, borders on contempt. But! This video...at least it’s something. Salem are usually not too interested in anything outside themselves. This video may not have much to say, (Britney! Strippers! The Middle East! Screaming noises!), but its blatant grab for meme-hood is very un-Salem-like.