Hello Nasty, by The Beastie Boys
Suggested by Stuart Taylor
Of the three bands I’ve drummed for, two of them covered a Beastie Boys track.
It was actually the same track, the Beasties’ eponymous kegger anthem Fight For Your Right to Party. Originally written as a parody track, in the same vein as Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping, FFYRTP was unironically co-opted by the very crowd it was aiming to lampoon. That must have been disheartening for the band, just as Al Murray’s soul must shrivel in increments every time his Pub Landlord routine is taken at face value by a braying spittle-flecked gammon.
Both of those student bands – Badger and Scooby Doo (and the Mystery Machine) – played the song with more than a hint of salted pork in effect, using it as a rabble-rousing end to an evening of dubious musicality. In Badger, we went a step further, role-swapping from our comfort zones and supplementing our unintended gammon with a little ham-fisted playing. I stepped out from the drums and took on the guitar / vocal combination. Thank heaven it was three chords and a bawling chant. More Than Words it was not.
In a sense, FFYRTP is the perfect Beastie Boys song, in that their defining trait – a frankly bizarre style of frat-rock-rap vocals taken on by all three members – is showcased in a picture perfect frame. Other Beastie Boys songs bottle that lightning too, such as No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn, Sabotage (of course), and Hello Nasty’s standout track Intergalactic.
When The Beastie Boys click, blending Rock and Hip Hop into seamless perfection, they are absolutely untouchable. Unfortunately, their vocal style is inherently limiting, and it doesn’t always track with the songs they are creating. A fair amount of the songs on Hello Nasty suffer from the “album track” curse, their main issue being that the music and the vocals aren’t always a jigsaw fit. There are songs that succeed with style, such as Intergalactic and Three MC’s and One DHJ, but others are a lot more jarring.
Lyrically, Hello Nasty displays the signature playfulness that ripples through their entire back catalogue. My favourite line comes from Putting Shame in Your Game, when Ad-Rock declares “I’m the king of Boggle, there is none higher / I got eleven points for the word ‘quagmire’.” It’s all fine fun, but again, their beat and metre can be limiting, as they adhere to a strict formula in which they stress the final syllable of each line, each of them chanting it in unison. Not every song can stomach such brazen brawling bombast.
At twenty-two tracks, Hello Nasty feels overlong, but when it’s on point, it is ON POINT. Intergalactic is a fantastic song, and there are rubies to be found amongst the stones. I rate this album as a creditable 6/10, where the highs get top marks and the lows slip by unheeded. The Beastie Boys are a perfect singles band, with their one-shot barnstormers fighting for the right to grace everyone’s perfect party playlist.