As you may have heard, INXS broke up earlier this week, stunning music fans everywhere -- because music fans everywhere had no idea that INXS was still performing. In a statement announcing the "news," INXS went on to demonstrate their own inability to understand irony as a concept by saying things like: "We understand that this must come as a blow to everybody, but all things must eventually come to an end..."
Now, don't get us wrong: INXS kicked some major ass back in the day -- 1987's Kick is a damn near perfect album, combining rock guitars with pop hooks and selling a blatant sex appeal via accessible melodies. It was a moment of genius that propelled the band to global superstardom. But it was crystal clear from the get-go why this Aussie sextet was so successful -- frontman Michael Hutchence. I mean, look at this guy! No... Seriously... Look at him... in all of his lithe, shirtless, pouting, perfectly tousled glory:
It's like someone threw the DNA of Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger together, removed all of the ugly bits and created Hutchence in a lab. Dude had charisma for days. But, as we all know, that beautiful creature died suddenly in 1997 of either suicide (which is the official verdict) or of an auto-erotic asphyxiation incident gone awry (which is what Huthence's then-partner Paula Yates suggested). And this -- even though the band had only just released Elegantly Wasted, which was a pretty good album -- was the point that INXS should have quit.
Ending your band because your vocalist is no longer living is -- to put it in the simplest of terms -- just the smart thing to do. It's the right thing to do. Because no matter how hard you try, your band is never going to be the same. Your band is never going to be as cool. And the world will merely view you as a bunch of heathens who can't face reality and are unwilling to accept that the frontman really does make the band (at least most of the time). No matter how much you want to believe you're still rockin', audiences will see you as just a really, really good tribute band.
And yeah, people go watch tribute bands all the time. There's money to be made from it, but it just looks rather desperate. And what INXS did seven years after Michael Hutchence's death was even tackier than merely limping on without him -- they turned the hunt for his replacement into a goddamn TV show. Which is gross, whichever way you look at it. This thing was so heinous that each time a contestant was eliminated, guitarist Tim Farriss would say: "You're just not right for our band, INXS," as if that phrase didn't apply to every single human ever that isn't Michael Hutchence.
It was bad enough that Rock Star: INXS happened at all. The fact that the band released an album with the new vocalist almost immediately after the show in 2005 felt rushed and forced and a bit money-grabbing. Then, just when we thought it couldn't get worse, five years later, INXS and the the new guy released a record that featured new versions of tracks including "Never Tear Us Apart," "Kick," and "New Sensation." In other words: songs that absolutely did not need to be re-recorded ever. It just should not have happened.
So, sorry INXS, we're not sad that your band is splitting up. We're sad that you didn't have the decency and the dignity to do so when that wonderful frontman of yours so sadly slipped out of this world. To act like ending the band now is a tragedy is to entirely miss the point. INXS, as the world likes to remember it, ended 15 years ago. We're just really glad to see you finally catching up to that fact. Oh, and if you could just get that memo over to Queen, we'd be super grateful.