Last fall, the former child star of such ’80s blockbusters as Stand by Me and The Goonies, slunk out of obscurity onto The Today Show, and dabbed. Bedecked in a black outfit that registered vaguely as health goth, he gesticulated his way through the song “Go 4 It,” from his new album, Angelic 2 the Core: Angelic Funkadelic/ Angelic Rockadelic. A band of four buxom babes in Spirit Halloween Superstore-style angel outfits undulated behind him.
The critics aren’t wrong—Angelic 2 the Core certainly isn’t good. It’s a whopping 22-tracks long, punctuated with skits that gesture at a storyline or mythos that has something or other to do with angels. But it is in no way exceptional, not even in its badness. It lacks any of the memeable content of Insane Clown Posse’s “Miracles” or of YouTuber Rebecca Black. Feldman’s lyrics are, instead, the kind of vaguely inspirational fare you might hear Katy Perry sing at a rally for an uninspiring Democratic candidate. His backing tracks are similar. “Go 4 It!” has a dubstep-y beat that kinda sounds like Imagine Dragons. Not even Angelic 2 the Core’s garish album art is that memorably goofy—at least, not in a world where Lil B’s discography exists.
No, the only reason anyone is talking about Feldman’s music career is, well, he gets to have one. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country with just as much musical talent as him. But, in a year that was the music industry’s worst since 1991, the guy who gets to perform on a show 4.5 million people watch every day is a guy who is famous for doing something completely unrelated. It’s a pie in the face of meritocracy, that hallowed American idea that tells us it’s okay for Mark Zuckerberg to be worth more than several states’ GDPs because, well, he invented a thing that changed the very nature of human existence. Stories that are irreconcilable with the idea tend to gain traction. Ridiculousness gets clicks and, deep within the reptilian part of the American psyche, unearned privilege is seen as ridiculous.
But here’s the thing: Feldman is no more unique in his cronyism than he is in his music. It’s the norm in showbiz. Kesha’s mom was a successful Nashville songwriter. Taylor Swift’s dad bought a majority share in her first label before it signed her. Meritocracy doesn’t really exist, in music or anywhere else. By some accounts, the American workforce has bifurcated into two distinct classes of haves and have-nots. And who better embodies the former than Corey Feldman, a man who gets to broadcast his midlife crisis on one of the most watched shows in the country? The best the rest of us will ever be able to hope for is to be one of his angels, bobbing dead-eyed in the background, grateful for the residual spotlight when it graces our unworthy flesh.
SEE IT: Corey Feldman plays Dante’s, 350 W Burnside St., on Sunday, June 18. 8 pm. $15-74. 21+.