Don't waste your time on the new album by Courtney Love's re-formed band, Hole. I mean, "Nobody's Daughter" isn't coming out until April 27, and I haven't even heard it yet. But if the music blogosphere -- which also hasn't listened to the record -- is to be believed, it's going to be one heck of a trainwreck. And it doesn't seem likely that the media will put Love's personal life aside to focus on her music any time soon.
Just about every publication that covers music is taking Wednesday's announcement of the record's label and release date as a chance to weigh in on the rock widow's crazy antics. At Philadelphia Weekly, the news came coupled with the perpetual question of whether Courtney Love is an "inspirational, influential, odds-overcoming tough-chick rocker, or manipulative, soulless, fame-grubbing monster." Dude site Heavy captions a photo of Love with the sarcastic quip, "How can you stand to miss this hotness?" and then (perhaps to meet some quota for the use of the word "hot") refers to her as a "hot mess." Meanwhile, the folks at New York magazine's Vulture prefer to describe Love as a "famous crazy lady" and close their post with an extra dose of schadenfreude: "We wish Love a smooth, uneventful promotional run, and look forward to the exact opposite of that happening."
Of course, Love has been an easy target throughout the nearly 20 years she's been in the public eye. First she was guilty of being addicted while pregnant; then she "killed Kurt"; for a few years after that, she was a "sellout" for trying to get a movie career going. These days, gossip sites run an article just about every day on her plastic surgery, legal troubles, Twitter rants and, most recently -- a detail that very few of the posts announcing "Nobody's Daughter" managed to miss -- the fact that she's had her teenage daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, taken away from her. Hell, Love can't even post an informal, unedited video of herself singing The Replacements' "Unsatisfied" in a hotel room without the Village Voice jumping on what was obviously never meant to be a polished performance for a bizarrely overzealous takedown. "To say she does not pull it off is putting it politely," crows Zach Baron. "To say 'she sounds like a horse' is putting it mildly. Rather, Ms. Love sounds, at various intervals, like a sucker-punch victim (2:17), a drunk in a bubble bath (2:47), a woman on the can yelling for more toilet paper (2:20-ish)."
Listen, Courtney Love courts the press, and she also may be unstable. She may have (or have gotten over, depending who you believe) a drug problem. But how many male musicians can you name that fit this description? And yet, how often do you see critics scoff that, amid all their personal problems, they couldn't possibly put out a decent album? In a deeply insightful piece on the differences in how we see "crazy" men vs. "crazy" women in music, Ann Powers explains why this might be:
A male artist getting crazy can come off as threatening, but he's also often greeted as a prophet or, conversely, an endearing holy fool. A woman artist getting crazy is a different kind of mess — one that raises the general discomfort level by raising the specter of uncontrolled sexuality, irresponsible motherhood, violence done to or by the sacred "gentler sex" — all elements of our common consciousness that have haunted us since Medea's time and have never been resolved.
It's not that we shouldn't trash the new Hole record if it sucks. I just wish Love's army of haters could wait to hear it all the way through at least once before writing off "Nobody's Daughter" and the woman who made it.