Hello my dear readers! Have you missed me? All apologies for going so long between posts. Getting settled into a new dimension can be rather jarring and I had to take a bit of a break after the speed run that was the year end review week. While I was gone, I made some plans for future reviews and my latest article went up at Steampunk Chronicle.
However, today’s subject is not entirely a happy one. In fact, it is what is commonly called a “Come to Jesus meeting” in the American South.
Black Cards, I need to have a few words with you.
If you don’t know, Black Cards is the current project of Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz. Initially starting out as a four piece band, the Black Cards had an impeccable way of mixing older influences with electronica music. Futurism with a good dash of retro, if you will. This was especially evident on their first single ‘Club Called Heaven’. The speakeasy victrola is well balanced with the electronic keyboard and the video even features lead singer Bebe Rexha as Jan in the Pan from The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.
Or should I say former lead singer? I’ll get to that after the video.
For the past year, the band had been working on songs for an album that was dubbed “The Unicorn” by fans. Occasionally, Wentz would leak demos of songs they had been working on and a few songs managed to make it out. My personal favorite would have to be ‘Dominoes’, but my friend Thaddea prefers ‘Take Me Down (Higher)’. For a while though, all we were getting was remixes of songs that weren’t by the Black Cards.
Then, on January 11th, this happened.
Without any warning or formal statement, the band’s bio was changed to show that the only members left in the band were Wentz and keyboardist Spencer Peterson. Every picture and song that included Bebe had been taken down. Fans were left confused for TWO DAYS before Bebe finally released a statement on her Facebook page that she was no longer in the band. It took Pete a whole two hours after that to release a statement about it through the Black Cards page. And of course, due to Pete Wentz’s confusing language, it was up to James Montgomery of MTV to clear up the news that Black Cards was going to keep doing stuff without Bebe.
…Where do I even begin about how very wrong this is?
It’s not the fact that Black Cards is continuing on without their lead singer. It is upsetting that a great talent like Rexha will no longer be in the group, but that’s not what is really wrong with this situation. Bands lose and gain members all the time. It can be through mutual decisions, sudden surprises, and just generally getting screwed over. The parting of the ways for Bebe and Black Cards is relatively tame in comparison to some.
What is really wrong with this situation is how poorly handled the whole thing was by Black Cards, Crush Management, and Pete Wentz.
First off, Wentz’s statement should have come out first. Not Rexha’s. Not the changes in the Facebook page. Wentz and Crush should have been upfront from the beginning that Rexha was no longer in the band. He should have also been a bit clearer about what the future of Black Cards will be. The average reader would probably not know that saying “The black cards are dead. Long live the black cards” means there’s a regime change, not an ending.
Also, there is no assurance to the fans. None. I realize that the mixtape is coming out soon, but by only leaving your remixes of Gym Class Heroes and Rihanna on your page for the time being isn’t really assuring fans that the deck is being reshuffled. It just makes it seem like Black Cards has become just another remix project. If you want to let your fans know everything is going to be fine and that you know what you are doing, prove it.
The thing that I always come back to on this whole mess though is the Facebook bio. It was changed without warning and not even acknowledged for two days.
That is a lot of time for confusion and animosity to fester. It was just made worse by the fact that the recently departed Rexha was the one who had to speak up first. I’m not sure if changing the Facebook bio early was a mistake by someone at management, or a deliberate attempt at sneaking her departure in under an already closely watched radar, but it was disrespectful. It was disrespectful to the fans and it was disrespectful to Bebe by trying to erase her life with the band without even acknowledging it was happening first.
Ultimately, I feel like this move has killed the Black Cards project before it even really got out of the gate. The album had been sitting on the shelf for a while, and now the voice behind those songs is gone. Wentz says he hopes that the songs with Rexha will see the light of day, but that’s no guarantee. The fan outrage and ship jumping has already started, and Pete Wentz will be fighting an uphill battle to prove that he didn’t waste everyone’s time with hopes and expectations of something cool and different. Considering the fact he already has to do that with trying to convince Fall Out Boy fans that he has to do this, that hill is getting pretty steep. It makes me worry that he’s going to end up tripping and fall backwards down the slope.
I’ve been wrong before, though. Perhaps there is an ace in the sleeve on this one, but the Black Cards are going to have to play it fast before losing the pot.