Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Coming Out Of The Closet: Highly influential, extremely popular, and/or overrated bands that I could do without

This is a list I've been thinking about for a long time. Mostly because I don't like the following bands, am absolutely puzzled by their popularity, and have an intense yearning to express my disdain. Undoubtedly, some of the reason behind my disdain is the fact that I simply don't understand their popularity. Maybe that's just the way it goes, taste being subjective and all, that I'm not going to like every massively-important-to-rock-and-roll-history band (read: dinosaurs). And to prove this point, my next post will be another highly subjective list of dinosaurs that I enjoy the music of!

Since the list was getting a bit too long, I'm only going to go in-depth with 5 major ones and then I'll just mention the "dishonorable mentions."

The Beatles

I can't stand the Beatles. I've heard a few albums and countless songs over the years (how could one not hear a million Beatles songs in his/her life, since they have penetrated every layer of the mediaverse in various forms?), but none of them are enjoyable. I will admit to being slightly charmed by their old poppy numbers, like "Twist And Shout" or "Can't Buy Me Love," but I would never put them on my iPod or dance to them at a party. I don't like anything about the Beatles -- the harmonies, the timbres of Lenon and McCartney's voices, the sunny hippie lyrics, their incorporation of "exotic" instrumentation on some songs, etc. The music of the Beatles bores me, it does not provoke emotions (or imagery or anything, really) in me at all. The proliferation of phony Beatlemania through merchandise and commercials makes the phenomenon that much worse. I'm constantly reminded of their presence and thus their music, and I am thus annoyed.

Led Zeppelin

My disdain for Led Zep runs deep. Now, it's particularly odd for me to hate them since their innovations eventually spawned so much great music, many a good genre. But, you know what, if Zep hadn't have done it, someone else would have. And maybe I would like that band. Alas, I'm not compelled by the music of this group. It's not that I don't like the bluesy stuff, stuff that is overly histrionic, or the EPIC guitar playing (the only element of this band that I fancy is the guitarage), or the STOCK rhythm section, it just doesn't seem to gel for me with Zeppelin. It's inexplicable. Though one thing I know for sure à propos de Led Zeppelin, is that "Stairway To Heaven" is one of the most boring and overrated rock jams, ever.


Ozzy Osbourne

Who cares about Ozzy? I'm not really a Sabbath fan either, but the thing that really keeps me away from liking Sabbath is Ozzy's vocals, which is why I decided to list him only, rather than penalize the band as a whole (and then, why penalize Dio, as well?). Ozzy is possibly the most annoying vocalist in the history of rock and roll (Steven Tyler from Aerosmith edges him out a bit), so I find it extremely surprising that he is so legendary. Sure, his antics and non-musical persona are sometimes interesting and the Osbournes didn't get terrible until it penetrated every sphere of the mediaverse, but I couldn't care less, since I'm much more concerned with the music. And Ozzy's music is garbage. I can't name one song that this guy sings that I actually enjoy or care about. Perhaps it's an acquired taste, his (awful) voice? Or is that just what people say when they want to justify liking something terrible?


BUT THEY INVENTED GRUNGE AND ALT ROCK!!! That's absolutely untrue. Nirvana's actually kind of derivative, when you think about it. Take some elements of Pixies and Melvins, and voilà, Nirvana. Nirvana is probably (partially) regarded so highly because their mainstream success ushered in a new era in popular music, where bands that a few years before would have been laughed off in favor of cock rock could now make money. So I dispute their musical importance (importance to popular culture though is indisputable). But then there is the subjective factor. I can honestly say Nirvana's songs don't appeal to me. I'm not familiar with their first studio album, Bleach, but Nevermind and In Utero bore me. It's honest music, undoubtedly, but it doesn't move me, nor am I enticed by their "uniqueness." I think Nevermind is way too polished, and even Kurt Cobain agreed with me (according to a book about Nirvana, as cited on Wikipedia, he said "Looking back on the production of Nevermind, I'm embarrassed by it now. It's closer to a Mötley Crüe record than it is a punk rock record."), so, in a way, it's not surprising that it was a mainstream hit. In Utero is better than Nevermind, it has more texture and rawness (produced by Steve Albini, no wonder!), though the songs still don't jump out at me, with their catchy choruses and all. They stick in my head, but not in a good way. I don't want them there (the STIs of music). I actually prefer to listen to "La Bamba." At least I can dance to it.

Sonic Youth

This may be the biggest "SHOCKER" of the list since, on paper, Sonic Youth should be my favorite band ever. Post-punk New Yorkers? Check. '80s? Check. Noisy? Check. Co-ed vocalizing? Check. Non-pop song structures? Check. And they were and continue to be a hugely influential band. Though, I think by now, their music has gotten less interesting and more same-y. They have an extensive discography, so naturally, I've not heard all their songs, but why would I want to? I've heard so many random songs over the years and the entirety of the Daydream Nation album (has it been remastered? the version I heard sounded like garbage, not in a good way), but they never catch my attention. It just fades into the background for me. No little detail stands out, no song moves me. I keep thinking I need to give SY another chance, but everytime I hear one of their songs, I'm driven away from hearing more. I just don't have the patience for their music (but I will spend hours listening to Sunn O)))!)

Here's some other bands that I think aren't as great as everyone says they are, mostly because I'm simply not enticed by their offerings: Pink Floyd (The Wall is an awesome movie, though), Jimi Hendrix ("Voodoo Chile" blows), Tupac (I prefer B.I.G.), Metallica (yeah, not a big thrash fan, and their 90s output needs no explanation -- truthfully, I debated putting Metallica on this list), U2 (YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH), the Sex Pistols (pre-fab punk solely meant to provoke: boring!)

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