Chris Cornell's dance album dismays rock fans

Thu Mar 12, 2009 4:45pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Chris Cornell is getting a kick out of angering his fans.

The former Soundgarden singer has stunned the rock cognoscenti with his whimsical decision to record an album with Timbaland, a hip-hop producer whose clients include pop stars Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado.

"Scream" is both the title of his third solo outing and a reflection of the howls of indignation. Online forums ignited with bitter denunciations (and occasional defenses) of the album long before it hit stores on Tuesday via Interscope Records.

Critics were vexed by all the beats, synthesizers and processed vocals, especially given Cornell's impeccable rock credentials. Soundgarden was one of the biggest bands of the 1990s, with its metal overtones helping pave the way for the "grunge" revolution. After the Seattle foursome broke up in 1997, Cornell put his brooding vocals to good use in Audioslave, a "supergroup" rounded out by the three musicians from the archly political band Rage Against the Machine.

His two previous solo releases were stylistic departures, but not of the same magnitude as "Scream." The Los Angeles Times said it was "a fascinating but heartbreaking document of how many wrong decisions one can make in writing and performing a record." Rolling Stone called it "a strange mutation."

Cornell is savoring the outrage.

"That part's kinda fun," Cornell, 44, told Reuters in a recent interview. "If someone is up in arms about the idea of an artist that they really care about doing something that they just can't believe, it begs that question, 'Well, what is it that you would want? Would you then want predictable, comfortable salad that gets reproduced year after year?'"


<p>Musician Chris Cornell arrives for the 2009 MusiCares Person of the Year gala in honor of Neil Diamond in Los Angeles, February 6, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/Files</p>