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Bruce Springsteen's 'Working on a Dream' probably won't fare well at the Grammys

January 25, 2009 |  2:20 pm

This has not been a good week for Bruce Springsteen. First he gets shut out of the Oscars for his title track to "The Wrestler" and now his new album — "Working on a Dream" — has been dismissed by most music critics. Lucky for the Boss, the CD includes a bonus track of the tune "The Wrestler," which won best song at the Golden Globes. Perhaps that has a glimmer of Grammy hope ahead. Not the rest of it.


Joel Slevin of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "It's hard to believe that the Springsteen of 'Working on a Dream' ever produced works of poignancy and intensity." From Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune: "Both overdone and remarkably slight, 'Working on a Dream' ranks with the forgettable 'Human Touch' (1992) as the most underwhelming Springsteen studio release."

Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times thought, "The best thing that can be said about 'Working on a Dream' is that it's boisterously scatterbrained, exhilaratingly bad." And as James Reed of the Boston Globe notes, "Curiously, 'Working on a Dream' comes with a DVD on the making of the album, but it's safe to say this isn't a classic that warrants it. You'll just have to wait for the next curveball."

While Bruce Springsteen has won 18 Grammy Awards, only one of them came in a top three category (song, record and album of the year). That one win — for song of the year — was back in 1994 for "Streets of Philadelphia" from the film "Philadelphia." Springsteen also triumphed at the Academy Awards with that tune.


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The comments to this entry are closed.


This album is an incredible album. it's completley foolish to say that it is not up to scratch to what you might expect from bruce. I own just about every springsteen album now and working on a dream is one that i enjoy listening to the most. Defenently a great release of music by a man who was 59 at the time of release. The Wrestler, Working on a dream and this life are all great great songs. Bruce obviously isin't going to be slowing down anytime soon.

this author is amatuer. What about all the positive reviews? and the response from real fans?

Obviously, O'Neill is just a Hollywood sycophant who does not know music at all and by the looks of this article, does not know journalism either. Bad combination for someone on the entertainment beat of a major newspaper.

Critics never should be an accurate barometer for what can be defined as a classic piece of music created by a man who, pushing 60, is on a creative roll usually reserved for someone in their early 20's and flushed with the energetic burst of youth. To dismiss this record as anything less than one of Bruce's best does a disservice to real music fans everywhere. And those real music fans are a better barometer of what is good than any bloated rock critic trying to find the next best thing.
GREAT work here Bruce...and thank you!

Jeez. Talk about cherry-picking your sources!

The new Springsteen album has been getting quite a few great reviews as well. 5 stars from Rolling Stone. An "A" from Entertainment Weekly. Reaction among fans on the online boards has been polarized, but the trend is that many fans who had initial misgivings upon first listen now think it's quite good. I've listened to the album in its entirety about 20 times now. I think it's among Springsteen's best.

Interesting how you cherry picked the negative reviews and completely ignored the good reviews. The truth is, critics have been split on this album. Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, Rolling Stone, Cleveland Plain Dealer and some others have given it positive reviews. This isn't Springsteen's best album, for sure, but your blog left me wondering why you're deliberately distorting the overall response from critics. Is there some personal bias at play?

I liked Human Touch and was less keen on some of his drier stuff. So i'm guessing i'm going to love this. An artist who is able to appeal to different ears and audiences. Unlike most most journalists who have one opinion stick with it for 50 years.

Now, what about commenting on all the good reviews for the album? This "article" is a amateurish effort at best. You pick three negative reviews and that's it?

Can I get a job writing here? I mean, by the looks of things they'll hire any hack.

album was awarded 5 stars by Rolling Stone, a rarity. Streaming on NPR this past week. I have heard it and I think the critics cited in this report have missed the boat on this CD



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