A few things to start off with: Pink Floyd’s The Wall is a landmark album, and an important album, but it is not – nor should it be – immune to criticism. The album does have issues, even though fans such as I have found ways of coping with them.
So too, the architect of The Wall, Floyd bassist and co-vocalist Roger Waters is a lightning rod for controversy and has been charged over the years with accusations of antisemitism. It is something that I think would merit a true and sober critical examination.
Further, Alan Parker’s film adaptation of The Wall, itself an iconic piece of work, has significant flaws.
No artistic expression – be it benign or virulent – should be so lionized as to be untouchable from counterargument or dissection…provided that comes in the form of a sincere rebuttal. Nostalgia Critic’s The Wall is no such thing.
Set aside the cheapness of the video’s construction. It’s a YouTube video, after all. It can have high production values, but is not a requisite to be on the platform. Focusing strictly on the soundtrack being sold on other digital outlets, one things stands out very clearly. I’ll get to that in a moment.
Written and performed by Rob Scallon and Doug Walker a/k/a the Nostalgia Critic from the Internet’s Channel Awesome, the end product is amateurish, the humor lacking a point other than to take only the easiest, cheapest shots. So-called parodies include, “The Song After This One Is Really Good,” “We Need More Victimization,” and at its most crass and least inventive, “Comfortably Dumb.” It has all the incisiveness of a middle school kid whose gold plated zinger is, “You’re fat and ugly!”
The music gets points for being a pretty good approximation of the original instrumentals, in that way karaoke tracks do. It is soulless and plastic, but given the circumstances, I’d hardly imagine great pains would be taken. There isn’t much more I could say about that.
I have never been a fan of Walker’s comedy, so I am already biased. His delivery is like so much of Internet culture’s, all hyperactive and bug-eyed, all “whaaaa?!” and “huh???” and “yaaaassssss,” and calculated to get viewers to mash the retweet button, with as much thought provoked as a GIF of a cat falling into a toilet. That this record is meant to make a point somehow as a piece of cultural criticism is, in its essence, an insult.
Also an insult, but one being lobbed by other critics, is the comparison of Scallon and Walker to “Weird Al” Yankovic. This assertion needs to be shot down and fast. Yankovic has always played fair with his source material and respectfully approached his style parodies with care. His backing band is, without question, incredibly talented performers. They are all doing it for real, and even when Yankovic is charged with delivering a low blow, it seldom comes off as lazy.
But Nostalgia Critic’s The Wall is lazy, ill-advised, and ironically typifies one of the alleged songs on the piece: “Waiting For The Point.”
Here is the point. I personally feel that Scallon and Walker had no intention to be relevant or even humorous. They identified one of the most worshipped of sacred cows, chucked out a hasty diss track (diss album) devoid of mirth or commentary, and launched it into the world knowing that Pink Floyd fans would:
a) Watch and stream it
b) Post outraged hot takes about it
Mission accomplished. That’s precisely how they got me and inspired this article. This is the height of cynicism because the creators of this work don’t really care if you like them, or this effort, or not. You clicked in, heard and/or saw the ad alongside of whatever venue you logged into, and cha-ching. Suckers bring bucks. Your outrage paid them a dividend.
That’s probably the greatest insult: not that this somehow is an offense to Pink Floyd (I’m sure the surviving members are doing fine enough either way), not that the recording essentially flings feces at the work(s) and its fans with no actual point to make, but that Pink Floyd’s The Wall is any old vehicle to latch onto, just another deer in the forest and Channel Awesome is riding it like a tick. That’s a creative way of saying this effort sucks.