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Michael's Number Ones: "Still Frame" by Trapt



DATE

WEEKS

November 15, 2003

2

So yeah, these fucking guys. Look, I don't believe you should apologize for liking a song or an artist when you did. And I don't think the lead singer of a band turning out to be a dickhead should negate the fact that I liked their music at one point.


I wish I didn't have to write about artists whose behavior and political views I find abhorrent, but that's just the world we live in. Social media and the MAGA movement have brought a lot of rotten thoughts to people's attention. And it's tested the ability for people to hold multiple truths in their head at the same time.


Trapt's self-titled debut album was one of my favorite albums of 2003, led by the slow-burner hit "Headstrong". That song was an absolute banger, and I'd still listen to it if it came on the radio right now. Would I say the same thing about their second #1 hit on my chart? Not so much.



"Still Frame" uses a photograph as a metaphor for being stuck in a bad situation. Chris Taylor Brown's narrator feels frozen and lost. "And every time I think I've finally made it, I learn I'm farther away than I have ever been before." He wants to be saved from whatever he's facing before it's too late.


Brown sings that he's drifting away from the people he needs and fears for his future. "We had it all figured out 'cause we had everything covered. Now we're older it's getting harder to see what this future will hold for us. What the fuck are we going to be?"


When I read the lyrics, I relate strongly to the idea that as I get older I fear what the future holds. Maybe I had such fears when I was 17 as well, wondering what things would look like after high school and into my college years. I lost touch with almost all of my high school classmates, due to me not getting into a university right away and moving away from the town where I went to school. Nowadays, I wonder about the mistakes I've made in the path I've chosen for my life and how that's directing what comes next.


Brown's delivery certainly makes the sentiment feel urgent. The music is led by a pulsating bass line and aggressive guitar work. The other takeaway I have? It feels like Brown ironically allowed the feelings he conveys in the song to come to pass in the years that followed. More on that in a moment.


Listening to the song now, I'm not sure it's as memorable as "Headstrong". It feels like a slightly inferior copy, which likely explains why it wasn't pushed to pop radio, and only got to #3 on Billboard's Modern Rock chart. The video isn't particularly memorable either, but it got played all the time on MTV2 and Fuse, which meant I was constantly exposed to it.



Trapt never got another top 10 hit on my top 40. The third single from their debut, "Echo" was pretty good in its own right, but only peaked at #16 on my chart. It did better on the Modern Rock chart, where it got to #10.


Their sophomore album Someone in Control came out in the fall of 2005. Even though I bought the album after it was released, I can't recall listening to it more than once or twice. Maybe that's because it just wasn't that good.


The first single from the album, "Stand Up", got to #12 on my top 40 in 2005, and made the top 20 on alternative radio. Listening to it today, it sounds like a fairly generic mid-2000s rock song without any of the urgency or texture that marked their debut. The next two singles did reach my top 40, but it was clear by this time that I was moving on from the band.



Their next album, Only Through the Pain, and its first single, "Who's Going Home with You Tonight?" barely registered with me when they were released in 2008. Their songs still charted on the Mainstream Rock chart as recently as 2016, but those weren't stations I really paid attention to by that time.


Instead, the only way I paid attention to the band was when I learned that Brown went on social media rants revealing himself to be a flaming asshole. He went off in 2015 on the band's Facebook page about the show Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Now I've never had any interest in anything dealing with the Kardashians, but I also don't really care if other people do. Brown apparently felt differently, unleashing homophobic slurs and telling commenters to kill themselves.


It won't surprise you to learn that Brown has been a Donald Trump supporter and used his platforms to spew MAGA garbage across the internet. In that time, he's revealed himself to be a thin-skinned dickhead who got into flame wars with anyone daring to state an opinion contrary to his own.


In 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown went on a week-long Twitter tantrum that justifiably earned him and the band the ridicule of the entire internet. I don't want to go too deep into Brown's psychotic opinions, but I'll give you two examples: he believes Trump was correct in using the phrase "Chinese virus" to describe COVID, and believes George Floyd was to blame for his murder at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. I think saying "fuck this guy" doesn't scratch the surface of my feelings toward Brown.


So where does that leave me and Trapt's music? I can't deny that I liked their debut album, and some of the songs from that record still hit hard for me. And I'm not sure that having shitty opinions and being an asshole is enough for me to memory-hole songs that I genuinely liked when they were current. Does that put me in the wrong? Maybe.


I wouldn't even say Brown was the worst person to have a top 10 hit on my chart. That dubious distinction belongs to Ian Watkins, lead singer of the Welsh rock group Lostprophets. I absolutely loved their 2004 album Start Something, and their single "Wake Up (Make a Move)" reached #3 on my top 40 that summer. But in 2013, Watkins pleaded guilty to sex crimes against children. He's currently serving a 29-year sentence in a British prison. After the plea, the other band members immediately broke up, pulled the band's music from streaming, and their whole catalog was banned by the BBC.


I tried to listen to Start Something a few months after I learned about the sentence, but I felt none of the joy I felt before. How could anyone? Watkins destroyed lives with his actions. When I moved a few years later, I didn't take the CD with me. I don't regret not hearing any of their music since then, and I'm just glad now I don't need to devote a whole post to the band.


Back to Trapt. Needless to say, they won't be appearing in this column again. Due to Brown's behavior, Trapt got their social media accounts banned by Facebook and Twitter by the end of 2020. The band apparently has a new album coming out this year, but I won't be listening to it, and I doubt many other people will either. Brown may have revealed himself to be a terrible person, but nothing he can say can take away those memories I have of spinning their music. Otherwise, I'd be giving him a power that he clearly doesn't deserve.


EXTRAS

I have to get a little creative with this one. "Still Frame" left absolutely no impact on pop culture, and nobody notable covered this song. So here's Max Collins of the band Eve 6 making fun of Brown on a Twitch stream with Anthony Fantano in 2021.



(Eve 6's biggest hit on my top 40, 2001's "Here's to the Night", peaked at #4.)



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