Amongst the many constant elements from seasons 2-5 of The Walking Dead (things like existential crises, speeches about humanity, bang bang walker, boredom, etc.), the most artistic was the predilection of the show to let Beth Greene sing people to sleep. Right up until her death in the middle of season 5, Beth (played by Emily Kinney) would sing to anyone who would listen. This included songs like the Celtic traditional “The Parting Glass” and a real butchering of the Tom Waits song, “Hold On.” (I’m biased here, Tom Waits is my favorite. All covers of his music are sub-par.)
It turns out, not surprisingly, that Emily Kinney was a “singer-songwriter” in real life and, it just so happens, has released her first full-length album entitled “This is War” a week before the sixth season premiere of her former show. Showcasing considerably lighter material than a nihilistic show like The Walking Dead, Kinney seems to do her best to fit into the space occupied by artists like Hannah Montana-era Miley Cyrus or fellow actresses Hailee Steinfeld and Zooey Deschanel.
The further you get into the album, though, the stranger and more subversive it gets lyrically. Underneath the sheen of the candy pop production values and her light manic-pixie vocals is a cascade of references to drugs, drinking, sex, and a hedonistic sounding life that would make Hedonismbot proud. Kinney references herself as a ‘fighter’ multiple times, but what she’s fighting for sounds pretty crazy.
The lead single from the album is ‘This is War’ and, if you listen to the song above, you’ll get a pretty good sense of what every song on the album sounds like. If you dig this sound, like an After Dark Avril Lavigne, you’ll probably dig this CD. The real pleasure to be had here, in my opinion, is in the weird things that she sings.
In “Birthday Cake” she sings about an overwhelming desire to get married. A couple songs later she’s apparently abandoned this notion in lieu of a booty call, one where you don’t really need to tell her you’re coming; she’s left the door unlocked and is on the bed, just come on in. She references “bruises” and “scratches” more than once, and the combination of words and candied tunage make you wonder what happened to her on The Walking Dead. This music is what a Pumpkin Spice Latte would listen to while reading 50 Shades of Grey.
The best part of the whole thing is the two song stretch from “Berkeley’s Breathing” to “Michael.” In addition to the strange “we keep our doors at night unlocked” copulation mantra, you get a keen sense from the whole thing that Kinney has named her hoo-ha “Berkeley.” Some reader can correct me if I heard that wrong, but if she did indeed name her lady parts, that might be the best celebrity body part nicknaming since James Westfall and Dr. Kenneth Noisewater.
Let’s get this out there: This is not great music. But it is just weird enough to be interesting. Listening to the whole album, you might zone out and not notice that the track has changed, a lot of this is interchangeable. The strange content, and any story you can make up relating it to Beth’s run on The Walking Dead, are really what draw you in–I imagine that Darryl & Beth Shippers might actually get a lot out of that last bit. And, as trashy as this is as pop music, it does provide us with one really important lesson. Don’t ever date Emily Kinney. Thanks for that This is War.