Let’s talk about Corey Taylor’s ‘CMFT Must Be Stopped.’ [PC: Ashley Osborn.]
One of the comments on ‘CMFT Must Be Stopped‘ reads: “Only Corey Taylor would write himself a theme song.” Nothing I write in this article will be as accurate as that observation. For the Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman’s latest single – released alongside the merely fine and far less annoying ‘Black Eyes Blue‘ – is all about ego. Which shouldn’t be surprising, given how outspoken he is on many topics, and the fact that he fronts not just an incredibly successful rock band, but also one of metal’s biggest acts. However, this is a new level of cult of personality, with the song and video for ‘CMFT Must Be Stopped‘ looking and sounding like a contrived WWE intro theme. We even see Corey holding his own gold championship belt, like a pro-wrestler wearing a big shit-eating grin, in the thumbnail.
With all of its rap-rock, mid-2000’s Disturbed-esque and awful titular vocal chants, ‘CMFT Must Be Stopped‘ – “CMFT” standing for ‘Corey Mother Fucking Taylor’ (ugh) – guest features U.K. rapper Kid Bookie (who had Corey feature on his 2019 song, ‘Stuck In My Ways‘) and rap veteran, Tech N9ne, who needs no introduction. Two rappers whom also completely smoke Corey in terms of flow and technique, with Kid having the best rap part of the entire five-minute track, coming off the least insufferable, I felt. The whole song reeks of Corey and co. wanting to have some cool guest features first, writing a good song second. You can see a similar ethos with its music video: getting as many of his peers and recognisable faces from rock and metal to awkwardly record themselves on their phones, miming along to this new song from the comfort of their homes amid isolation. There’s everyone from Rob Halford, Babymetal, Randy Blythe, Chris Jericho, Scott Ian, Otep, Lars Ulrich, Lzzy Hale, Marilyn Manson, and even Ryokun from Maximum The Hormone (which was admittedly rad to see), to name barely half of the notable musicians shown. You can practically smell the stench of a forced viral attempt here.
Hearing Corey rapping across most of this song isn’t a problem. After all, he’s cut some good rapped performances in the older Slipknot material, songs that still stand the test of time. The issue here is more what he’s saying, or rather, what he’s not saying. A lack of substance can plague these kinds of rap songs with such speedy vocal deliveries, like the incredibly dreary fake-deep stuff that rappers such as Mac Lethal produce. (Don’t get me started on this songs double negative line: “I don’t need nothing.”) There’s nothing wrong with having some fun and making something silly or jokey; we all need a break and a laugh from time to time, especially in 2020, and Corey seems like he’s having fun with it. Yet for a musician who is so down to earth and intimate in what he writes, for a guy who is so often direct in his biting social and political commentary, the sheer “what’s my name?” smugness of ‘CMFT Must Be Stopped‘ feels so hollow and unnecessary. Put it another way, this would be like if Rage Against The Machine’s Zach de la Rocha suddenly released a rap song about how much he enjoyed money, blow and huffing his own farts because it’s just “like another crazy birthday.”
I’ve seen a wide range of reactions to ‘CMFT,’ from high praise to fierce bashing. Nick Brown, from our peers over at Backbone Takeover, asked whether it was one of the worst songs of 2020 when sharing their coverage on it. To answer that question myself: nah, not really. It’s just inoffensive and harmless, if rather cringey, boomer stadium rock’n’roll: guitar solos, dad hats, self-obsession, some blues, pyrotechnics, female dancers, flashy lights, and so forth. Obviously, I don’t think ‘CMFT Must Be Stopped‘ is good – mediocre at the absolute best, whilst being somewhat fun to laugh and shake your head at – but it’s not the worst thing I’ve heard this year either. (2020 isn’t over yet; who knows what questionable messes could be released next week.) Some have argued that the single and video has done the job, that it’s got people talking about Corey’s new album (one way or another.) To which I say: yeah, but that’s also like saying that you shit your pants on purpose. You still pooped yourself at the end of the day.
When people talk about the “demise” or decline of rock music over the last ten years, they usually contrast it with rap and hip-hop. Styles that are able to continually move forward to not just new faces and younger talent, but also new trends and sounds. So it’s always progressing, in one way or another. Whereas mainstream rock and its bigger artists often recycle and become stagnant. Meaning that you get a Greta Van Fleet, whose music is the full-blown sonic representation of that “born in the wrong generation” crowd. On one hand, it’s always good to see these two worlds merging in a way that doesn’t downplay either side, something that Corey’s latest song does admittedly succeed in. Yet, on the other hand, this is also just extremely dull and inconsistent; pretty damn rough on the way down. The worst part? This song isn’t satire, it’s real.