Video Killed the Radio Star

8 10 2009

62f558b26754183b_beatles-rock-band

 

Welcome to 2009:  U2 is now trying to compete with the Beatles for best video game.  

I’ve got news for you, U2– you’ve already lost in every way to The Beatles because, for one, The Beatles were too busy making legendary music in the studio to worry about who had the coolest game in the Rock Band series.  If you even have time to consider making a karaoke video game out of yourself, then you clearly don’t have what it takes to be a rock legend.  If someone had presented the idea of a “Beatles: Rock Band” video game to The Beatles in the 60s, they would have dropped acid and then giggled for 36 hours over the absurdity of the idea, and that’s another reason why they’re cooler than you.  

What I’m trying to say, on a broader level, is that very few rock bands of our generation can even come close to touching the iconic rock bands of our parents’ generation in terms of quality, innovation, influence and prolificness (prolificity?).  Quick, name 5 legendary bands of the 60s and early 70s that your grandchildren will still be listening to.

I bet your list looks like mine: 

1. The Beatles 

2. The Rolling Stones

3. Led Zeppelin 

4. Pink Floyd

5. The Doors  (This is really a grab bag… I might also go with the Velvet Underground based on the sheer quality and continued influence of their music, although they were far from the others in terms of commercial success.  You can’t count Jimi or Janis because, while they had bands, we think of them as solo artists.  I would accept a number of  other bands for this slot– feel free to make a suggestion, although you have to be able to make a good argument for its inclusion.)

Now, try to name five comparable rock bands of our generation (which I will loosely define as those of us born between 1979 and 1987).

1. Radiohead

2. 

3.

4.

5.

Yea, I could only think of one. Nirvana was iconic for us, but that’s partially because our generation was intoxicated by the plight of Kurt Cobain.  I’m just not sure that their musical influence will last into future generations, that our kids will be smoking pot and putting on Nirvana albums as opposed to, say, Pink Floyd.   

Chili Peppers?  They have certainly been prolific, and I do think Blood Sugar Sex Magik is a great, iconic album.  But the Chili Peppers have kind of slid into suck-dom with the likes of other formerly good bands such as Oasis, Weezer and Pearl Jam.  Let’s be honest, “Californication” makes me want to rip my fingernails out.  Anthony Keadis’ former heroin problem is the only reason the Chili Peppers have retained some semblance of street cred despite their hideous descent into whiny sugarpop.

Then there are the lesser known bands like Sonic Youth and Rage Against the Machine that are very good, indeed, but lack the mainstream success to match the Beatles and Stones.  Radiohead is really the only band that is as original, as influential, and as continually, consistently amazing as its predecessors.  There are songs on their latest album that blow me away as much if not more than their earliest material.  But Radiohead is an anomaly nowadays.

The truly great musical icons of our generation are pop stars–  Madonna and Michael Jackson have already gone down in history books.  But why have these showy pop artists with heavily synthesized music replaced the legendary rock of the 60s and 70s?  Is our generation so ADD that we need sparkly jackets, provocative dance moves and boob tassels to keep us entertained? Has our culture become so visual that we have lost the ability to recognize great, simple, authentic music?  

I don’t know, you tell me.

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30 responses

8 10 2009
Mr. F

You have to inculde u2 in the list, sorry, even if I hate them as much as I hate Sarah Jessica Parker

8 10 2009
Jordo

I agree, U2 should be up there even though I hate them. I think one could make an argument for Pearl Jam. Maybe even Guns N’ Roses, although I fucking hate them too.

Not gonna lie, little bit bitter about you shitting on Californication.

8 10 2009
districtramblings

I’m sorry Jordo and Mr. F, but “you have to include this band that I hate” is not a very persuasive argument. And Guns N Roses does not quite count as our generation.

8 10 2009
alexrobertson87

Firstly, I would like to comment that Britain has produced some pretty brilliant bands. The argument could be made for U2 based on longevity in today’s very finite musical careers, but I feel as though early U2 has been drastically overshadowed and sadly brought down by pop-hungry, slightly withered today U2. Not sure our children’s children will listen to them, but they do have to be noted for being a huge musical force (whether or not you actually do like them).

I might make the suggestion for possibly including The Who at #6., not as recognized or given enough credit. The Clash, but that’s moving to late 70’s and more punk-rock era.

8 10 2009
graber

With our generation I believe in the end, people will look back and see pop artists/rappers/people who show their vaginas getting out of cars, as the dominant music of our generation (which i don’t agree with)

Furthermore, you can find comparable bands of our generation. But what you may be able to find are the heavy hitters, the rock bands that helped defined the music of our generation, because no matter how hard you try (I’m looking at you, Kings Of Leon) you can’t touch the Stones and Beatles…

And let’s be clear, U2 ain’t a band of our generation. The new music of U2 is not only bad, it’s listened to by our parents or people aged between our parents and us. The Beastie Boys would be a great example if they weren’t really rappers and if they weren’t between the generations we’re speaking of.

1. Foo Fighters
The quintessential American rock band of our generation.

2. Radiohead
I’ll give it to you.

3. Metallica
You may not like metal, but what Metallica has done for the genre can not be matched by any artist for their chosen stylings…

4. Weezer
It’s a hard argument because yeah, the last several have kinda sucked. But I’m calling a comeback with the next one!

5. Green Day
C’mon. Anyone says shit, I’ll fight you.

8 10 2009
Paci

What has Green Day done since Dookie? Looks like we are fighting Graber.

8 10 2009
BS

I have much to say on this topic. I’ve split this up into a couple of categories:

Iconic: defined as bands that will definitely be remembered no matter what:

1. U2 – yes, they suck, but no other band of our generation has such world wide appeal. And to his credit, Bono has put out a lot of hit singles given that his head is so frequently lodged up his own ass.

2. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Again, not a huge fan, but immensely popular. And I do remember them playing quite a few shows with nothing on but socks around their chili peppers. That’s pretty rock star if you ask me. But seriously, guys, we get it. You really really like california. It really defines you. We get it. We didn’t need 4 albums dedicated to a state, constantly under threat of burning down or ripping off and floating into the ocean, full of potheads and failed actresses turned pornstars, run by The Terminator. Actually, I guess that’s pretty interesting

Now, onto bands that I will be proud of telling my grandkids I listened to:

(in no particular order)

1. Radiohead — yes, no debate here really. If you don’t like them, you probably suck as a human being

2. Rage Against the Machine — Agreed, they did not get mainstream appeal. That’s mainly because they were Raging Against The Machine in the early 90’s, where everything was great and no one understood what they were so angry about. Communism had fallen. People were making millions in Wall Street Online Casinos. They were about 15 years head of their time. Now we have a world wide economic oppression, two wars, and ‘anti-war’ president that’s anything but. I smell a comeback.

3. Nine Inch Nails – Rocking for 20 years. Check. Misunderstood and notoriously difficult frontman to work with. Check. Still selling out all their shows. Check. Not to mention Reznor was part of the internet music marketing innovation revolution, putting out all their albums online for free.

4. Tool — The Pink Floyd of our generation. No doubt in my mind that in 15 years high school kids will be getting high and obsessing over them. They just had a tour, playing venues with 15,000 capacity, 5 years after their last album, without a single MTV commercial, no major record label, not even an email to fans. And the entire tour sold out in minutes. They never got radio play (because their songs were 10 minutes long), but ask anyone that knows whats up and even if they don’t understand Tool, they respect them.

5. Pearl Jam– Come on. Eddie Vedder is adorable.

8 10 2009
graber

you can pick the time, the place and the weapons should you need them.

Furthermore. Nimord is fantastic and American idiot has sold around 10,000,000 albums.

8 10 2009
Slab Pie

Definitely Nirvana & Radiohead… though I can’t think of others that would honestly count as “our generation” that I do not despise…
FOO FIGHTERS? No thank you.
Weezer? no.
Green Day? I’m with Paci.
I’ll say Metallica is closer, but still…
Other than that, I’d say we’d have to look at it more decade by decade than generationally because no other rock band has really sustained their power like the Stones, Zeppelin, or Beatles

8 10 2009
Ben

Whoever picked foo fighters is insano. These things gotta have the music power of the greats, but also staying power. Unfortunately our generation of tweets has created too many different genres and venues to try to pick a mainstream, but sticking with the general rockiness, I gotta say:

1. Beastie Boys – Total fucking rockstars, I don’t care if they can also rhyme
2. Pearl Jam – yeah I said it.
3. Radiohead
4. U2 – weak on rock, strong on staying (especially when you don’t want to hear them)
5. Weezer

8 10 2009
graber

Ben, meet us to fight at the time and location that Jodi picks…

8 10 2009
Ben

You’ll die just like the Foo Fighters 5 years ago

8 10 2009
Mr. F

we are talking iconic, influence (worldwide?). pearl jam maybe, but weezer, sorry but no…
Also, Basset, your definition of generation is too tight… 7 years is not a generation.

8 10 2009
districtramblings

7 years is not a generation, no, but 7 years worth of people being born makes for a looot of people, and there are huge differences between what someone born in 1979 would listen to and what someone born in 1989 would listen to. HUGE differences. If anything, I think the generation I define is too broad.

8 10 2009
bros

hah I read the whole post thinking you had asked about ironic rock bands, not iconic. I though, wow, this will be 30,000 feet above my head. guess what, it still is.

8 10 2009
Mr. F

Basset, I’m not sure, if you were born in 1940 or in 1950, you would still be listening to the beatles in 1970.

8 10 2009
districtramblings

Well, I was born in 1983 and I’m still listening to the Beatles in 2009. That’s my whole point.

8 10 2009
Southern Girl

Would the Grateful Dead be considered rock? If so, they take that 5th spot instead of the Doors, for me.

8 10 2009
Little B

Metallica, radiohead, and nirvana will be remembered, though not in that order. I do agree that radiohead is something special, but it is in no way the only band that will be remembered by my grandchildren. Maybe I’m too youn to join in this argument, but the decline of the chilipeppers did not start with californication. Blood sugar, californication, and by the way are all respectable albums. Sure, there are some weak songs in the mix, but as for consistent success, the red hot chilipeppers are a guaranteed top five. Another band, though it may be too young to apply, is incubus. Brandon Boyd’s style has evolved over the last ten years, but has his ingenuity and musical talent declined? Ever so slightly, if at all. Enjoy incubus and fungus amongus were a bit weak in my eyes, but from S.C.I.E.N.C.E. to a crow left of the murder, even light grenades, incubus has been phenomenal. It would be biased for me to say that they are the most consistently successful band of our time or even the most likely to be remembered, but, whether biased or not, I give incubus a top five any day, along with foo fighters, radiohead, the chilipeppers, and that arguable last spot.

8 10 2009
Little B

Also, my compliments to the “hideous descent into whiny sugarpop” comment. I disagree with it’s application to the chilipeppers, but that phrase is probably the simplest and most descriptive way to describe the fate of green day. Dookie and nimrod were incredible. American idiot? Hah. Whiny sugarpop at it’s very best.

8 10 2009
Slab Pie

WOW…INCUBUS just joined the discussion? I’m OUT.

8 10 2009
districtramblings

Don’t hate- the Incubus fan admitted to being much younger than the generation in question.

8 10 2009
luke

i agree with the post hands-down. Radiohead is, for better or worse, the only example of a band of our “generation” that can claim the mantle shared in the 1960s and 70s by the Beatles, the Stones, Led Zep, et al. For the past 12 years Radiohead has been, without question, the beacon of our (rock-)musical culture. there’s just no other band we can say that about. they’re massively popular, yet they haven’t succumbed to the temptation to “sell out” (quite the opposite); they’re generally beloved by critics, yet only few people feel that they’re simply fashionable; and, most importantly, it’s hard to deny that everyone – fans, critics, and fellow artists alike – looks to Radiohead, more than to any of their peers, to create music that can be taken seriously as both art and entertainment.

this is crucial. there are plenty of great bands. but no other band of our generation has straddled this divide and successfully maintained both their integrity and popularity, yet. in my opinion that’s what they have in common with the Beatles, and why it’s so hard to see other bands joining them in that category. it’s a rare thing. For example: Sgt. Pepper is art, sure, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. but i think what we’re really discussing here is iconography. alot of music is substantively great, and alot of it is fun, but i think Sgt. Pepper is iconographic because the Beatles, for example, gave the world substantive art in a package that was capable of being appreciated by the masses without being diluted, at all. so did the Stones, and so on. i think in a more abstract sense that’s what attracts us about bands like the one’s we’re discussing: they make us feel simultaneously smart and happy. isn’t that f-ing great? it’s like we can go to the movies to see a cheesy summer blockbuster and come out feeling like we just spent 4 hours in a museum. radiohead is one of those bands that bridges that gap, seemingly effortlessly, and i just don’t think you can point to any other band in the last two decades that has had that effect on so many people.

8 10 2009
Little B

Exacty, luke. “legendary” entails more than just record sales or platinum hits. I’m not going to argue that incubus or the chilipeppers are even on the same tier as radiohead, by I respect them for the same reason. They have stayed popular and successful without conforming or losing their integrity. They also do a great job of entertainig as well as producing incredible music. Anthony keidis started with the early chilipeppers as a comedian. He didn’t sing; he just kept the audience entertained between songs. The combination of his stage presence, individuality, and ridiculous pipes have kept him in the limelightl ever since his overcoming his heroin addiction and the hepatitis it caused.

8 10 2009
rockymtnhigh

Well…I just couldn’t pass this up. But first I have to say if you’re going to start a conversation on this topic then I have to say the Beatles fall short of “legendary” if one of the qualifiers is doing cheesy merchandising.
At least U2 didn’t have the “authentic” Beatle Wig!

http://www.fab4collectibles.com/mem6.htm

So I’d have to qualify what is legendary versus most influential. I’d prefer the later term since we’re really talking about music and not on-stage/off-stage antics. And in this respect it’s not how much they rock so much as lasting

Most Influential:

Pre-1970s in no particular order:

Beatles – for pure pop pleasure still are heavy weights
EARLY Rolling Stones – for doing what the Beatles coudn’t do and getting down and dirty with lyrics that are still the shit.
The WHO – technical and power house trio.
Credence Clear Water Revival – under-rated American band at it’s finest.
The New York Dolls – protopunk before punk
John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers
Jimi Hendrix Experience – (yes it was a real band). But his Band of Gypsy’s track ‘Machine Gun’ is unbelievable

1970-1980:
Without these bands bridging that seminal decade would be a huge vacuum…
Parliament Funk
Talking Heads
The Stooges
The Ramones
Cabaret Voltaire
Kraftwerk
Blondie

1980s:
The Cure – without which there are no Smashing Pumpkins, Interpol, Rapture
New Order – the best selling 12inch single ‘Blue Monday’ qualifies them alone, but they influenced Radiohead, TVOTR, NIN, and more.
U2 – there would be no Coldplay or other overly-earnest UK bands w/out U2. So that’s either a negative or positive. Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree are testament to their lasting influence and providing two aurally pleasurable albums.
The Smiths – heard of Oasis, Blur or the Stone Roses? The Dears?
Depeche Mode – Influenced NIN, the Killers, Smashing Pumpkins,etc. Hell even Johnny Cash did a cover of their song Personal Jesus. If the Man In Black doesn’t carry weight then no one does.
Skinny Puppy – Canadian band that without them…a ton of heavy, industrial, glitch, and other sonic disturbances wouldn’t be were they are. NIN? Ain’t nothin’ had he not heard SP.
Jane’s Addiction. Without which Lollapolooza would not have happened.
Prince. Nothing more to say.
Public Enemy
Beastie Boys

The 90s: These bands did/have/were/are influencing the latest generation of bands out there now.
Radiohead – U2, DM, Cure and Pink Floyd all rolled into one.
Smashing Pumpkins
Nirvana
RHCP
Massive Attack
Wilco
Pixies
Aphex Twin
Orb
Wu Tang

9 10 2009
Geof Boyle

Great post rockymtnhigh! You stole my thunder and then some. but, is your moniker the vote you dared not cast?

Districtramblings, I think there has been a lot of garbage being put out ever since record companies realized kids had money to spend. So I don’t think it’s our ADD that makes us want sparkly jackets. It’s that the sparkly jackets really sucked have been forgotten. The music we remember is mostly the music remembered because it sold records, was supported by stadium touring, and was pretty good. Now people want to hear it on the “Best of the **s,**s, AND **s” b/c it was big in their lives.
I mean, like it or not, it’s been the recording and broadcasting industry that sustained all this until the Interwebs came about, and look how hard RIAA are still fighting to control it. I don’t mean to say we are pawns in their game, but how many of us are making our own music? I’m not.

Bacon kid says: Ima tell you something…boob tassels…are good for me.

9 10 2009
Geof Boyle

clarification of generalization in my post: when I say “we remember”, it means anyone in that period of their lives where they had spare time and spare money, (probably more of the former). then, when I say “Now, people want”, i mean those people 5-10 years later with mortgages, little time or care to know what “the kids” are listening to today.

I guess I’m trying to capture the universal human reaction to the commercial cycle predicated on our extended childhoods and the dilemma of modernity (today’s out was yesterday’s in, anxious for new tomorrow). Feed this into the post-modern thesis generator and it will blow up original star trek style.

I love the Ben Folds line “there are a hundred ways to cover your redneck past”. This is what pop music attempts to offer, the tell for “everyone” to know that ‘I’m cool’, I’m no ‘bama. OK, this bama needs to finish the lesson on groundwater.

13 10 2009
Colleen

I can’t believe no one has mentioned Guns and Roses. Even though they couldn’t keep their sh*t together their music continues to holds up. They are also one of the last “rock” bands our generation has produced. The Cure is another great band that has not only influenced so many artists for over 30 years but I believe is completely responsible for what we now deem “emo” and sadly men in skinny jeans that use flat irons. Listen to Appetite for Destruction and Galore and tell me I’m wrong. Honorable mention goes to The Pixies.

20 10 2009
B

Also, a link to the Pokemon theme song:

Think hard. I know you’ll remember it.

28 10 2009
internet

radiohead
the strokes
pete doherty/libertines/babyshambles
arctic monkeys
jeff buckley

ps it’s

beatles
zep
stones

no pink floyd….

good effort!!

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