Chris Cornell collaborates with Timbaland, Cook

Jeff Yerger

Nearly two decades ago, Chris Cornell and Soundgarden were at the head of the grunge era, and 1994’s “Superunknown” established them as one of the most cutting-edge bands of the decade.

Cornell’s growling voice, unique lyrics and guitar skills were the backbone of the group. Basically, Cornell was the man – the hero to long-haired, plaid shirt-wearing ’90s children everywhere.

Tim Mosley, a.k.a. Timbaland, has had major success as a hip-hop producer and a solo artist.

Thanks to Timbaland, Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake both brought their careers to new heights, and OneRepublic can thank him for its smash hit “Apologize.”

His beats are catchy and likeable, and he has become one of the biggest hip-hop acts/producers, next to Kanye and Jay-Z.

It would appear that these two guys are at the opposite ends of the music spectrum, right?

Well, in a twisted turn of events, Cornell recruited Timbaland to produce his third solo album.

Now, changing musical direction and experimenting with new sounds is good, but this is just ludicrous.

It doesn’t help that the music being produced from this collaboration is just atrocious.

This isn’t a good Aerosmith/Run DMC or Coldplay/Kanye West hip-hop collaboration; this is a murder of a respectable rock-and-roll singer’s career.

The title of Cornell’s new album is pretty ironic in itself.

The name of the album is “Scream,” which is suitable enough because this whole situation makes listeners want to scream out, “Why Chris Cornell? Why?”

And the first single off the album, “Long Gone,” is a song that would make even Nickelback cover their ears.

Whatever happened to “Spoonman” or “Black Hole Sun”? The stuff Cornell is producing now is fit for the Disney Channel, not MTV.

A major problem with this album is that it lacks identity. It’s hard to call this a true Cornell solo album because Timbaland’s influence permeates the songs.

The blips and beeps along with the stuttering drum steps that Timbaland is known for are all there.

What Cornell doesn’t seem to understand is that his voice is better with wild guitars and crashing cymbals behind him than with turntables.

It’s unfortunate that Cornell has stooped this low.

After Soundgarden broke up, he had a pretty good thing going with Audioslave.

Though it didn’t produce the most memorable albums ever, Audioslave was tasteful and did what it set out to do: rock.

But since that band split, Cornell has been struggling with his solo career.

His last album, “Carry On,” was a bit of a flop, and he went from a live powerhouse to a mere opener for Linkin Park. Needless to say, his spotlight was dimming quickly.

So what does every artist who is at risk of falling into oblivion do to keep that spotlight alive? No, not become a judge on “American Idol,” but that’s close.

Just ask recent “Idol” winner David Cook who wrote his new song “Light On.” You guessed it: Cornell.

What hurts the most is that he is going against everything he used to believe in – siding with the big suits in corporate America as well as siding with the mainstream – and he knows it.

He doesn’t need the money; he just wants the attention. So much for “blowing up the outside world.”

So now it’s time for Cornell, who used to be one of the coolest guys in the world, to live with his horrible career decision.

He’s going to lose all those fans who have loved him since those Soundgarden days and will instead gain new ones who will listen to his songs in the background of their pre-teen slumber parties.

He will also become a member of the infamous sell-out club, joining the likes of Tommy Lee, Jewel and Flavor Flav. As for the music?

Well, it’ll get kicked around more than a soccer ball by critics everywhere.

Who’s up for some soccer?