3. Estranged (1994)
By 1994 the GnR of ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ was well and truly dead, leaving only a bloated, stinking embarrassment of a corpse; a corpse that let out gaseous emissions such as ‘Estranged’.
Not only is the song so monumentally boring it can induce the sonic equivalent of snow blindness, but the video is also incredibly confusing. First a swat team arrives at Axl’s house. Then he leaves his body. Then a dolphin flies – yes, flies – out of a jumbo jet. Then Axl dives off an oil tanker into the ocean… I’m not making this up.
Whereas ‘November Rain’ had a certain charm to it – a so-bad-it’s-almost-good vibe – the same cannot be said of ‘Estranged’. This is just bad-bad, like John Lydon’s butter advert or anything Ben Elton has done since 1989.
Even Slash emerging from the ocean to perform a solo can’t save ‘Estranged’ – that’s how bad it is.
When I first decided to write about GnR’s videos I thought I’d have a good laugh at their expense. But now I just feel a bit sad. Seeing them in sequence, which compacts seven years into just over 20 minutes, shows a band on the way down; the songs get longer, the drum kits get bigger, but the quality is in terminal decline. What started out as radioactive material with ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ quickly decays into the leaden ‘Estranged’.
Why? Three words: Axl Rose’s Ego. As soon as the band became more about Axl trying to make serious artistic statements than about having throwaway fun the whole thing turned into a toilet-clogging turd.
I like to think of GnR as being the musical equivalent of Las Vegas; a fun place at first, but one that quickly becomes a cocaine-fuelled capitalist nightmare. You can visit Las Vegas for a day, much in the same way as you can listen to GnR’s first album, but don’t stay any longer – you’ll definitely regret it.