In 2012, 16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham wrote My Teenage Dream Ended, a revealing autobiography published by MTV Press that was full of reflections on the traumatic events that had come to define her life up to that point, including the death of her child’s father and her struggles with drug abuse. The book sold well enough and would normally have just sort of slowly faded from the collective consciousness like so many celebrity memoirs before it, but Abraham unwittingly cemented her place in the pantheon of outsider art with the release of a companion piece to the book, an album also called My Teenage Dream Ended.
A collection of ten intense, EDM-influenced pop songs, each one sharing a title with a corresponding chapter of the book, the album clocks in at just 27 minutes but is a dense, overwhelming listen. Abraham’s vocals were recorded to just a click track, to be overlaid onto the backing tracks later, and are so drenched with Autotune that you often can’t make out what she’s saying at all. The lyrics you can understand are deeply personal, lines pulled directly from her diary, full of references to loss, postnatal depression, and abuse. The whole thing feels more like a product of art therapy than a pop music product ready for the mass market.
The music itself is very of its time, full of abrasive dubstep synths, cloying electronic strings, and the aforementioned, immediately dated vocoder effect from our old friend Autotune. Many of the tracks don’t operate within the agreed-upon logic of a traditional pop song, beginning and ending without much warning, vocal lines punched in seemingly at random. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s also a weirdly rewarding time capsule if you’re willing to engage with it on the right level.
The reception to the album was, predictably, extremely negative, with many write-ups taking on a gleefully mean-spirited tone that, looking back, seems like a relic of a past version of the internet. We’ve since eased off of some of the more cruel language and redirected the collective righteous fury of the hive mind towards people more deserving (usually some dipshit conservative media figure or politician who said something reprehensible on Twitter), but back then, people were really nasty when talking about this record. Sure it’s amateurish and hard to listen to, but there’s no denying it’s an incredibly interesting thing that we should all be glad exists.