By: Benjamin Cannon
I don’t remember how, but by some chance, I came across Farrah Abraham’s debut album My Teenage Dream Ended on Spotify. For those of you who don’t remember her, or thought that she died, Farrah Abraham was a star on the trash MTV show 16 & Pregnant, who in conjunction to releasing this album, released a book that sold millions. This was right around when MTV stopped being about music and started being about reality TV. Despite the book doing well, this album was almost universally panned, and was considered to be worse than Rebecca Black. That was seven years ago. In 2019, this album sounds right at home with many trends in electronic music.
It’s not that this album was aware that it was ahead of its time. The mixing on this record is deplorable; Abraham’s vocals were taken directly from a click track, and it sounds as she was not properly integrated into the heavy EDM production. Abraham wrote all her own lyrics and melodies, but she never recorded while listening to the beats made for her. And speaking of the lyrics, while there is definite introspection taking place on this album, a lot of these lines are banal if not downright idiotic. Moreover, Abraham wanted this record to be edgy, which ended up meaning that the beats was inexplicably aggressive while also trying to be sad. If I had to describe My Teenage Dream Ended in one word, it would be hackneyed. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun listen.
Sure, My Teenage Dream Ended is obnoxiously trite, but being obnoxiously trite has become the calling card of the experimental pop collective known as PC Music. One of this record’s singles, “The Sunshine State”, features vacant quips about men, cars, and clothes over what sounds like a very angry truck honking its horn. It could easily be billed as a PRODUCT-era SOPHIE track. Lyrically, she calls to mind Charli XCX and GFOTY, both known for how unapologetically and almost charmingly hollow their subject matter is. The dark synth work on “After Prom” & “Caught in the Act” is toe-to-toe with the icy production found on Crystal Castles’ second and third albums. And despite an essence of wacknes that hangs over this entire album, Abraham gives great performances throughout, and does a surprisingly good job constructing a narrative. Tracing her life after the father of her child died, we watch Abraham get stronger and learn to be self-reliant. It’s empowering, which is something she wanted her album to be. A lot of what was done on accident on this album is now done on purpose. Outside of PC Music, artists like Kim Petras, Abra, and Brooke Candy deliver lines that are celebratorily hollow. The unpolished, tasteless production found on this record has become en vogue. I probably wouldn’t have liked this album if I listened to it when it came out, but listening to it in 2019, it feels like I’m listening to a prediction of what was to come. Farrah Abraham clearly had no idea how to write songs and in general make music. But artists of the late 2010s have figured out how to utilize certain techniques and ideas that can be found on the last gem that is My Teenage Dream Ended.