|One of the most-anticipated and least-listened-to albums in rock history|
|This is what 14 years did to Axl Rose.|
It only reached #3 in America, but it went all the way to #1 in Argentina, Finland, Canada, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, and even Thailand. It got mostly favorable reviews domestically, and the title track was a mid-sized hit as well, reaching #34 on the charts.
In the seven years since its release, however, this noteworthy collection has largely been neglected. This is rather remarkable because, previous to its release, Chinese Democracy was one of the most infamous and written-about albums in the history of rock. The hour-long LP was 14 years (!) in the making, and by the time it came out, lead singer Axl Rose was the only original Gunner left in the lineup. The other musicians had either been fired or quit in disgust.
For years, rock magazines such as Rolling Stone dutifully reported all of the delays, missed deadlines, and outrageously mounting costs of the mysterious album, all of which were attributed to control freak Rose and his single-minded obsession with making Chinese Democracy absolutely perfect. Some writers even speculated that the album would never see legal release.
Finally, in 2008, Axl Rose proved the doubters wrong. What Rose had not predicted, however, was the implosion of the music industry, the decline of albums in favor of singles, and the general shift in audience interest away from heavy metal and towards pop and hip-hop. He'd made his masterpiece, but the general public had already moved on. After nearly a decade and a half of rumors and false starts, Chinese Democracy debuted to widespread indifference. Besides, no real album could possibly hope to compete with such hype and publicity.
Clearly, however, writers have not totally forgotten about Chinese Democracy, because they still use it as a metaphor for anything whose release is delayed for years and years. Some examples:
- Gawker called the Affordable Care Act "the Chinese Democracy of legislative components."
- RVA called D'Angelo's new album Black Messiah "the Chinese Democracy of R&B."
- The Reformed Broker called the Verizon iPhone "the Chinese Democracy of smart phones."
- Dowsing called Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate)'s You Will Eventually Be Forgotten "the Chinese Democracy of emo."
- A pinball site called Pinside (their motto: "Flippin' fantastic!") declared that "the new Metallica Code is the Chinese Democracy of the pinball world."
- You want more? Well, according to various pundits, there are Chinese Democracys of "indie rock albums," "blog posts," "video games," "reality TV albums" (whatever those are), "algorithm changes," and "mountain bikes," too, plus a hell of a lot more.
So in a weird way, Chinese Democracy did achieve a sort of immortality -- not as a piece of music, but as a figure of speech. Does that count as a triumph?