A good, general rule of thumb for collaborations is that each collaborator should bring something unique and interesting to the song. When followed, collaborations are great (think “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie). When not followed, collaborations are… confusing, if not unnecessary, but hopefully still good songs (think “A Love Like War” by All Time Low featuring Vic Fuentes — if you can even tell the two singers apart).
“Scumbag” falls squarely into the “unnecessary” category, and to add insult to injury, it isn’t even a good song.
Ostensibly, newcomer Goody Grace is one of the new singer-songwriters that’s cropped up who doesn’t really “believe” in genres. And sure, it’s overdone at this point, but music is feeling stale these days, and everyone is trying to find the next big thing.
Aesthetically, Grace could be a member of Good Charlotte with his back patches, pierced ears and black-on-black apparel; sonically, he could be an Ed Sheeran protégé, with his strange, clunky blend of hip-hop and acoustic rap. Initially, it’s an interesting mix, but after the sheen wears off, it’s pretty clear that all Grace really has is the juxtaposition between his look and his sound.
Certainly, it feels like Grace thinks he’s doing something unique and special, but when compared to actual masters of genre-bending and blending, like Billie Eilish, Grace comes off as clumsy, with neither mastery of acoustic singer-songwriter fare nor of any kind of rap. Definitely, there’s room to grow, and hopefully, Grace will develop — but until then, we’re left with what we have, and it’s underwhelming.
Truly, “Scumbag” is at best, palatable. It is listenable. It is not interesting in any way, but it is listenable . There is nothing either notable or offensive about the song, other than how absolutely, how crushingly tedious and redundant it is, both musically and lyrically. Indeed, for all the times Grace drones that he’s a “scumbag” in this song, one might think that his efforts would be better spent in therapy than in writing songs.
If you’re wondering why Blink-182 hasn’t been mentioned in this review yet, it’s because they’re not even featured until the end of the song, and in a way that leaves you questioning why they were even brought on in the first place. Sure, the change in vocals from Grace to Mark Hoppus is one of the more interesting points in the song, but in the same way that the bits of rice are some of the more interesting points in tapioca. No one is actually really excited about the rice bits, and if you are, you might need to get a hobby.
Overall, “Scumbag” is an unfortunate miss from both a newcomer who desperately needs a win and a legendary band that has had a number of confusing missteps lately. If this collaboration were to be something more aggressive, or punk leaning, it could’ve been something pretty amazing, but instead, it was another phoned-in ballad from a band that maybe, probably, definitely needs to go on another hiatus.
At least we have My Chemical Romance back.
Featured Image: Atlantic Records