Kings of Leon Punched in Face by Fame

by Liz Colville

In case Kings of Leon’s fame makes you nervous or grossed out, you should know that it is something they are “wrestling with.” In long, sweaty, involved matches that are tough to call. They are not just sitting around going, “Fame’s great!” Except they are.

But try to understand! This is where they are in their careers, says Nitsuh Abebe over at New York, where he ponders the band’s just-released fifth album, Come Around Sundown. This is the point where things start getting nostalgic, confused and soul-searchy. Wrestling matches begin. Players turn into honest men. Stadiums get bashful about how large they are. T-shirts start to resemble expensive t-shirts trying to look like cheap t-shirts that in cold weather are covered with cardigans. Promotional photos contain expressions that seem to say, “Hey, little darlin’.” Videos try too hard.

Here’s Abebe’s description of the video for “Radioactive”:

[T]he band awkwardly cavorts with dozens of black children at what looks like a post-church barbecue from somewhere around the civil-rights era. “It’s in the water,” Caleb wails — “it’s where you came from!” And that’s interesting, in its way: If you can watch it without laughing in amazement, you’re either a better person than me or you slept through sensitivity training. But again, it’s the band earnestly reaching out to the biggest archetypes going — it just so happens that they accidentally grabbed hold of a creepy one.

While wrestling with fame, lead singer Caleb Followill still finds the energy to spend the entirety of his press tour insulting hipster straw men, Justin Bieber, and indie bands, specifically Arcade Fire (in which case maybe those hipsters weren’t made of straw). Who will be next?

Photo by ELOdry via Wikipedia