The Great Music Debate – Continues….

A few weeks ago, Garbanzo and I examined the local alternative radio stations Top 94 Alternative Artists of All Time list.   The station asked it’s listeners to vote on who they thought those artists should be. Based on the votes for the artists, they assembled the list.  They started at #94 and have been revealing two artists each day during the work week since.

Garbanzo and I have defined “alternative” as music that marked an evolutionary point in music.  This is music that maybe had its roots in several other types of music, but did not, at the time, have a name or category within the music scene.  These are bands/artists that would end up defining the new genre. Keep in mind that some people who show up on the list, may actually no longer be considered alternative as their music became mainstream.  But, at the time, they were, indeed alternative.    I’m sure X will correct me being the big music guy he is.  Let me correct that statement, he has quite the music background that required him to find new music before anyone else.  I explain because he has well informed opinions – opinions that have clashed with mine and have led to some interesting debates. We’ll see if he sides with Garbanzo again.

So, continuing on the count down.  We left off at #51 which was Elliot Smith. As like last time, my comments are bold, Garbanzo’s are in italics.  Follow along if you can.

50. INXS – I like INXS. But, the only thing I feel they did was mark the start of the influx of Australian musicians into the US music scene.  Their music was fresh, but never seemed “alternative” to me.  I remember hearing about INXS back in about 1985.  But, just transitioning out of a steady diet of AM radio, I had no idea what they were about.  A few years later they had it big with KICK.  I wonder how alternative they really were.  They had nothing but top 40 hits for the next few years (until the unfortunate suicide of the lead singer).  Don’t think they should be this high on the list. True. Guess I never listened to their earlier stuff which I have heard is totally different than Kick. 

49. The Gorillaz – I do agree with this one and would have disappointed had they not shown up on the list. Awesome.  What a great choice.  A musically talented group that took the whole multimedia concept to a whole new level.

48. Silversun Pickups – Uhm, I like Silversun Pickups – but it is too soon for them to be considered Greatest of All-Time. Wow.  Really?  They are good, but greatest of all time?  Top 50?  Seriously?  I hereby declare that this list was only voted on by people who shop at Hot Topic. So you voted? Cool.

47. Joy Division – Would have been shocked if they hadn’t appeared on the list. As the Wombats would say, Let’s Dance to Joy Division.  Great choice.

46. Presidents of the United States – I actually mixed this group up with another one.  I do like them.  I’m just kind of back and forth on the “Greatest of All-Time” label.  Maybe they made it because of the Pacific NW connection? I think this is a solid choice.  They managed to forge their own identity despite the overwhelming onslaught of grunge.  They have managed to keep their own sound and continue to produce a string of great songs year after year.  I might have even bumped them up a bit.  Top 40? Really? Top 40? I don’t think so. I think they are fine right where they are….unless you are going to use the Pacific NW connection to justify it. No.  I think they stand on their own merit.  I didn’t even know they were from the Pacific NW.  I just think they are creating their own sound and others are following.

45. No Doubt – Yeah, not alternative in my opinion. I liked them, and Gwen Steffani has a very unique voice.  But musically, I don’t believe they drove the genre of music forward radically. I think No Doubt gets the nod because they struggled and fought so long before finally making it big (thanks Clueless!).  Unfortunately, once they hit is big, they totally sold out.  That knocks them down several pegs in my eye.  I would include them in the list, but not top 50. Nope. Would never have included them given the other stuff that was overlooked. I’d pick Silversun Pickups first.

44. Stone Temple Pilots – Of course, these guys had to be on there. I agree with this one. This group is okay.  That’s about it.  They rode the coat-tails of the grunge movement without ever doing anything new or innovative.  They sound the same as any other grunge band from 1993.  I guess they can be on the list on the strength of grunge really serving as the defining moment of alternative music, but they should not be anywhere near this high.  Maybe number 84. Uhm, didn’t they get their start about the same time as most of the other poster children for grunge? Just because they weren’t Nirvana or Pearl Jam does not make them less part of the grunge movement in Seattle at the time.  But, then again, shall we share with everyone the fact you hate Grunge? Biased, maybe? It isn’t that I hate grunge.  I am just over it.  I’ve been over it since 1993. Possibly November of ’92.  But i just see them as a minor player on the stage that was grunge.  Kind of like giving John Saxon credit for making Kung Fu movies all the rage in the 70’s.  I guess I’ve really got you now. I mean, you’re pulling out obscure 70’s Kung Fu references.  At least you’re not making me watch them again. And for those who have not been forced to watch Kung Fu, he’s referring to the white guy from Enter The Dragon. 

43. The Police – I’m kind of surprised that The Police and Sting showed up on the list.  Not sure how I feel about these guys. I think these guys get it just because they had a fist fight back stage the night they got discovered.  How awesome is that?!?  Now, if only they would have punched Sting harder and got a decent song-writer! Tell us how you feel? Let me guess – you think Sting is extremely talented and a hot man you are happy to see.  I’ll buy tickets next time he’s nearby. I think he is a talented musician who is a horrible songwriter.  His lyrics are pretty terrible.  I like some of his songs, but usually it is the music I enjoy and i tune out the lyrics. And I know your iPhone is loaded with great songwriters. Yeah.

42. Spoon – No surprise A little high.  Spoon is good and may actually have some longevity.  But, taking a look at these other bands they are ahead of…I just don’t see it.  Maybe this is the Obama gets the Nobel equivalent, they are getting the award on the hope of things to come. Didn’t they just release a new album that may be pushing them into the front of everyone’s minds?

41. Snow Patrol – I know locally these guys are a favorite. They’ve been around for about 15 years now.  But, I’m not sure “greatest of all time”. Nope.  Not buying it. 

40. New Order – No surprise.

39. Sound  Garden – No surprise.  Kind of helped define the “grunge” genre coming out of Seattle during the time of Nirvana. See my comments for STP. Again, you are a grunge hater….maybe I should force you to listen to Nirvana.  Maybe the PE teacher at your school who you have a crush on will help me. Hey, no fair using the hot PE teacher against me!  🙂

38. The Ramones – I really think these guys are too low on the list.  #38? Really? These guys should have been top 10.  Top 15 at the lowest.  I demand a recount!!!!

37. Elvis Costello – Again, too low on the list.  Agreed

36. Garbage – I love Garbage.  Shirley Manson is fabulous. Glad they made it. Two albums (or is it three?) and they make it in at #36?  Garbage is great, and they were part of the post-grunge movement, but this is one of those bands that just seems a bit too high on the list.  But I do love Garbage.  Wish they hadn’t broken up! First off, they haven’t really broken up – Shirley Manson is doing a side project, if I’m recalling correctly. Compared to some of the others, they may be at the right point on the list.

35. Franz Ferdinand – Love Franz Ferdinand, but to be honest, they have the same variation of the same song they play over and over again using different lyrics.  I’m surprised they are on the list. Hot Topic!  Were there no other poling stations?

34. Violent Femmes – Of course, these guys had to be on there! But only #34?? FUCK ME RUNNING!  ONLY 34????  These guys took punk in a whole new direction and they are only 34?????????? Amen!

33. Bob Marley – Alternative? Really? Yah Mon.  Really!  Bob Marley brought a new sound to the mainland and defined a sound that was completely different than anything else being played on the radio. Yeah, but wasn’t the music already defined. I mean, i can find some music that has not been heard on the mainland, but it doesn’t make it alternative.  Unless we are not defining alternative as new to the white people. If it ain’t white, it aint right. He’s trying to be a smart-ass….he does NOT mean that comment – the dumb ass.

32. The Decemberists – No surprise they landed here.  They are alternative given the combination of music they combine. And their story telling through their albums is something I’ve rarely seen done in the music scene. I think this is a solid call.  I think there is a bit of a local bump here, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t deserved.  The Decemberists are unlike anything else out there right now.  Even though they are relatively new, they seem to have a real impact.  If you get an opportunity to see them live, you must go see them!!! So this is a time where album count doesn’t matter? Interesting? I make the rules.  I can break them. Uhm, who’s blog are you contributing to? I believe Emmy is the editor of this one. Your rules – hahaha!

31. Alice in Chains – Not a surprise – but only #31? Meh.  About right.

30. The Shins – Not too much of a surprise. And I’m sure their position on the list is mainly due to the fact they are local to Portland. Way too high!!!!!  They are good, but not that good.  Ahead of the Ramones??????  And Marley?  And the SEX PISTOLS?????????? Maybe some of the voters were high. I mean, this is Oregon – land where marijuana is a cash crop.

29. Cake – I like Cake. They do have a unique sounds that is hard to classify in one way or another. Good call.  Even though I will never pay to see them live again…but they have a great sound and are definitely pushing music in their own direction as opposed to trying to follow what everyone else is doing.  A-FUCKING-MEN about seeing them live again. Holy shit! What a fucking disappointment live.  Let me rephrase, they sounded great. But waiting a fucking hour and a half for them to come on stage after the second opening act played was a bit much.  Then for them to come onstage and play for a whole hour.  Yep, not getting my concert money again – I don’t care what they are doing musically.

As we did last time, we are looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

And X, I am prepared for your call this time. No scaring the crap out of me. 🙂

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Great commentary. It is nice to be reminded of some of the quality music that I’ve been remiss in listening too recently. Some rankings are well deserved (The Decemberists and the Shins) but some are really strange choices (The Police and Bob Marley are alternative?)

    Looking forward to the rest!

  2. I’m not sure I agree that that definition of alternative is as well defined as you think it is. I love Elvis Costello think he’s truly talented and one of the greats but not surehe ‘created’ a category. Just for example. And ANY list of greatness that places him in the vicinity of Lump is highly suspect.

    And Garnage had 4 albums, even if Bleed Like Me wasn’t spectacular, it had a couple good singles. 2 great albums. 1 good album and 1 mediocre albums puts em well above many bands.

  3. Confessor X says:

    I don’t know where to start, the list or your comments…maybe an email is in order… 😛

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