This week, Dr. Thorpe delves deep into the seedy world of the unbearably mellow. On the chopping block today are Jack Johnson, professional surfer turned infuriating strum-machine, and John Mayer, the most hideous purveyor of musical lameness since Karen Carpenter.

Well, as the first order of business, I’d like to inform you that my suspicions were confirmed: Tool fans are incredibly stupid:


yo i 100% agree with ya on good charlotte.... but tool.. there 50 times better than 3 dogg night..... u probly like britney spears asshole..... yo just because tool is great.... tool, radiohead, coldplay all those bands you say suck there the bands who are criticlly acclaimed millions of records sold 46&2 = POP LMAO-- for an asshole like you that means laugh my ass off 100 emails.... wow what bullshit... i bet you have not got 1 bitch ass fagget bitch. die motherfucker die

But of course, this is no big surprise. This week, I’m not taking on the incredibly stupid so much as the incredibly lame. I’ve had quite a few requests that I discuss the music of Jack Johnson, and people often request his lame-rock brother John Mayer in the same e-mail. So without further ado, let me kill two birds with one stone:

Chapter V: Anyone who doesn’t hate Jack Johnson should be shot.

Back in the 60s, the appeal of earnest men with acoustic guitars was that they often had something to say. With the recent revival of Nick Drake’s popularity, it was of course inevitable that a new generation of acoustic sad-sacks would rise up to fill his shoes. Across the pond, bands like Travis and Starsailor took up the soft-rocking melodic mantle, but of course, they sucked like few bands had sucked in decades (I once had the acute misfortune of seeing Starsailor opening for another band, and I was quite amused when the singer/guitarist drooled a magnificent string of drool whilst thrashing away on his guitar- I yelled out “Hey! That guy just drooled!” but nobody else seemed to be as amused as I was).

Jack Johnson, guitar-playing troglodyte.

However, American tastes don’t run quite deep enough to appreciate such nuanced lyrics as “Why does it always rain on me?”, so American labels decided to find something even lamer to fill in the mellow-rock void. But, Jesus, whose brilliant idea was it to give record deals to those smarmy date-rapist semi-jocks who play their acoustic guitars under the big oak tree in front of the dorms? It seems that rather than reviving the revolutionary spirit of folk music, the industry has finally decided to cash in on the buying power of a major college-age demographic: the infuriating hemp-necklaced Abercrombie-clad faux-surfer bastards who are always raising their hands in your Spanish class and asking how to say “four twenty” as a means of pandering for high-fives to the retarded clones they consider friends. Who else but these idiotic, cultureless half-wits would be caught dead listening to somebody as unabashedly un-cool as Jack Johnson, or worse yet, the fish-faced Dave Matthews homunculus John Mayer?

It may surprise you, but I listen to the radio a lot. No, I don’t like most of the music that gets played, but as an angry music nerd I would be derelict in my research responsibilities if I didn’t keep up with popular music. The local cesspool of a “Modern Rock” station is perhaps the most mentally corrosive of all the stations in my town. Like every other station in its format, it’s infested with Linkin Park, P.O.D, Creed, and whatever other collection of dropout scrap-piles corporate America has decided to shove down your throat this week.

Even amid this sea of troubles I remain resolute in my quest not to lose touch with what people are listening to; however, if there’s one thing that can always make me instantly snap off the radio, it’s Jack Johnson. I don’t even change the station when he comes on. He is so superhumanly bad that he ruins my resolve to listen to any music at all for the next half hour or so. I don’t know if it’s his ridiculous, affected, implacable accent, or his dimwitted sensitive-man lyrics that make me hate him so much. Maybe it’s his dorm-quality acoustic guitar slapping. Perhaps it’s the fact that every line he sings sounds so fucking smug that I want to slap him in the mouth. Maybe it’s that fact that nobody has had so many variations of the same song on the air since back when Oasis was actually famous. Over all else, I think the thing that makes him most loathsome is that he’s a smug, talentless hack who waltzed his way into the music world despite his total lack of qualification, much like a spiky-haired, well-to-do Gap-clothed Ben Harper fan waltzing his way into UC Santa Cruz.

Like a deer in the merciless headlights of mediocrity.

I simply refuse to accept that people’s standards of rock music have spiraled into such a deep abyss that they’re willing to accept Jack Johnson. However, the popularity of John Mayer is even more bewildering. The man is such an unmitigated pussy that he makes his mentor, the insufferable Dave Matthews, look like Lemmy from Motorhead. The fact that anyone could seriously sing a song called “Your Body is a Wonderland” in front of actual human beings without getting laughed off the stage is vein-poppingly infuriating. The lyrics of the song are, amazingly, about a million times lamer than the title. Let’s just take a look at some of them, shall we?

We got the afternoon
You got this room for two
One thing I've left to do
Discover me
Discovering you

Wow, it’s like a remake of Afternoon Delight by the Starland Vocal Band! That’s exactly what we needed. The last two lines are somewhat hilariously reminiscent of The Darkness’s recent “touching me/touching you” lyric; at least we can take comfort in the fact that The Darkness’s song is a joke.

One mile to every inch of
Your skin like porcelain
One pair of candy lips and
Your bubblegum tongue

This one reminds me of Better Than Ezra, one of the frontrunners of the last wave of insipid pussy-rock; they too had some song about skin being like porcelain. It’s good to see that John Mayer isn’t above using well-worn gag-inducing clichés from the crap music of the past. Let’s also not forget Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Lips Like Sugar,” although it might be argued that that song was pretty good. The point is, however, that he’s never had an original thought in his life.

Your body is a wonderland
Your body is a wonder
(I'll use my hands
Your body Is a wonderland

Sweet Jesus, I can’t even keep going with this, it’s simply too painful. At this point, let’s try an experiment. Go up to the next female stranger you see and tell her that her body is a wonderland. My hypothesis is that she’ll be too busy laughing at you to even bother slapping you.

If you want to share your thoughts and feelings, hire a goddamn therapist. However, if you like a certain band and want to know exactly why intelligent people think that they suck, you can e-mail me at

– Dr. David Thorpe (@Arr)

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