Canada, we need to have a talk. I love your Timbits with every strawberry-glazed fiber of my being. I do not love your music. It's bad enough when you foist the likes of Celine Dion and Justin Bieber upon an unsuspecting world. It's even worse when your Formula One drivers decide to release an album.
Known seat urinator and former Formula One pilot Jacques Villeneuve did just that: committed egregious sins against my ears. Villeneuve released just one album, Private Paradise, in 2007. One was enough.
"I hope the album makes a great success," Villeneuve told La Presse at the time of its release. "I would never do something hoping to get criticized."
Well, that ship has sailed.
Please, suffer with me in this journey through something Canada is truly, appallingly bad at: music.
Oh my gosh, this is what the album opens up with? Most of the song is just "don't say it, baby." Is the minimum standard for songwriting in Canada this bad? I mean, the same theme of repetition comes up in Bieber's "Baby" (or whatever that song is actually called). Canada, you should know better by now.
It's not even a minute in and I'm already yelling "don't play it, baby" in the back of my head. That one line is most of this song.
At this point, I notice that Villeneuve's voice isn't all that melodic. His words are short, abbreviated and cacophonous, more akin to Marcus Ericsson's team radio than George Strait. It's a complete mismatch to the cheese-rock easy-listening accompaniment.
This album? I'm gonna have a bad time.
Ah, yes: there's definitely accent at play here, and there's insufficient vocal skill to make that accent work with actual singing. "I don't undershtand" why this album exists.
The off-tune howling around the "YOUUUUU" refrain is the absolute worst. Villeneuve is hopelessly nasal in a way that probably works in French, but just doesn't in English, and one of the back-up vocalists must have been hired off a Toronto street at the last minute.
"You, there. Random person tweaking out and howling. Would you like to help us make an album?"
Ballaban mentioned trolling press cars by leaving all the satellite radio channels on French-Canadian country when he hands them off. Is this indicative of the genre? Or is this just French-Canadian old-fart-oriented cheese-rock?
Either way, I'm not convinced that what Ballaban does is not classified as an act of war.
He's comparing his father to a bird? Can it be this bird? Gilles Villeneuve was pretty rad.
I can't mock this one. It's a longing, mournful tribute to his dad.
I knew he would be better with singing in French! I told you so! Who owes me Timbits? Someone owes me Timbits.
I know I didn't make any bets earlier. I'm just owed Timbits for this on principle.
This would fit in on super-mellow, inoffensive dentist waiting room soundtracks everywhere. It's almost soothing. He's in his element here, sort of. (I'm still pretty sure "his element" is a race car, not a recording studio.)
I'm a little drowsy. Watching qualifying live last night didn't help. This song really, really doesn't help.
OOH, THERE'S A LITTLE SYNTHESIZER ACTION. Oh, man. I know this trick well. Back before contemporary Christian music decided to make regular music that just happened to mention Jesus, this whole "add extra, unnecessary synthesizers = we're pop!" idea seemed to be about 99.9999% of the strategy.
Things got exponentially better on church trips after that idea started to fade away. Thanks for the unintentional Twila Paris flashback, Gilles.
This duet would still probably sort of fit on K-LOVE or Spirit somehow.
Oh, phew, we're back to French.
I suspect Villeneuve would like to give up on singing at this point, too, eh?
This is clearly a product of its time and place; 1990s* Canada. Spoken words over a wholly inoffensive easy listening jam session! So edgy.
Either way, I'm pretty sure even K-Geezer here in Austin would pass this one over in favor of the twentieth KT Tunstall song this morning.
There's a lot of uncredited chick-voice on this album. Maybe the hard copy has her name in the liner notes. Or perhaps there are names? This almost sounds like a new fancy lady.
Either way, we're back to the abrupt, unmelodic English musical stylings of Villeneuve's voice.
The fancy lady should've sung the whole song.
Or better yet, not sung this at all. The lyrics are determined to kill us all with repetition. "I'm sorry I left..." followed by "I'm sorry I left..." No! Please leave.
Towards the end, they're laughing. I feel as if they're laughing at me. "Hahahaha, some poor, unsuspecting F1 fan is going to actually listen to this album. We didn't even bother to come up with whole songs' worth of lyrics, just irritating lines to repeat ad nauseum until the elevator music stops! OWNED."
Ah, violin. French lyrics set to violins.
Where are the little Dove squares? If Villeneuve's voice wasn't hoarse from years of shouting over race cars, this sounds like it belongs in a chocolate commercial.
Take a moment. Here's a bubble bath, because everyone totally eats in the bathtub. Have a little piece of candy with terrible advice written inside the tin foil wrapper. Listen to the smooth jazz stylings of Jacques Villeneuve.
Just kidding, the off-key hot mess mid-way through the song totally kills the illusion. You're still listening to Jacques Villeneuve try to make music. There is no bubble bath. The chocolate cake is a lie!
Back to English. English, misery and woe.
Villeneuve makes an attempt to hit a few high notes here that are so strained that I'm worried for poor Jacques. This song is going to break him. He's going to strain something, snap his vocal chords clean in half and be forced into the no-longer-booming market for Stigs.
Please, Jacques. Never play this one again. Stig himself is probably somewhere with a "will hoon for food" sign right about now.
We finally meet, "Private Paradise." The namesake of the album itself.
Nope. Still awful. Dude can't hold a note, ever.
Villeneuve has the vocal range of the jock who gets coerced into trying out for the Senior Song in high school by sheer merit of everyone loves that guy, but whose voice is limited to about one octave after years of shouting, grunting, and not really being all that into any artsy-fartsy singing stuff.
I think that's what's going on here. Is it over yet? I can see the end of the playlist on YouTube. Please let it be over with soon.
As long as he sticks to that one octave in French, he's almost listenable, I guess.
Compared to the most of the rest of this album, I feel like this song could be more terrible.
Has anyone made Canadian hick-hop yet? Rap-country. You know, about trucks and stuff.
Villeneuve, you could have a lucrative future in Canadian hick-hop with these race-worn vocals.
Really, though, good effort (especially with the out of place soprano-in-falsetto voice towards the end of the song), but this could be substantially more terrible. Give me something to work with here.
Oh, no. I sort of asked for this in saying the last song wasn't entirely terrible, didn't I? It's titled "Women Come Women Go," for pete's sake.
It's that bad.
"Hey, let's sing really repetitive lyrics—poorly—about how women are all evil wenches! Only let's not use any fancy-thesaurus words like 'wench.' No one's ever done this kind of a song before!"
Please. Send help. Send help and The Shins.
"HAY GUISE, WE'RE CANADIAN. LET'S SING ABOUT SNOW!"
Sometimes the world is black, and tears run from your eyes.
Let's build a snowman! We can make him our best friend!
It's over? Someone owes me a sixty-pack of Timbits for this.
*I originally mistyped the release date as 1997, presumably because this album sounds like it belongs in 1997, if not 1987. This typo has since been fixed.