Friday, July 20, 2007

Weekend Listomania (Shameless Poseurs Edition)

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. My new Oriental houseboy Hop-Sing and I will be spending the weekend honing our mad ninja skills (and whipping up a really divine Creme Brulee in our free moments). So posting by moi will necessarily sporadic for a few days.

Meantime, here's a fun little project for you all:

Most Overrated Rock Group or Solo Performer!!!!!

You know -- seemingly untouchable icons with huge critical reputations who just strike you as insufferable pretentious bores.

My totally top of my head Top Five:

1. David Bowie
2. Frank Zappa
3. Smashing Pumpkins
4. Madonna
5. Elton John

Let the snideness begin!!!!!


Anonymous said...

This'll be interesting....

1. The Doors/Jim Morrison
2. Grateful Dead
3. Jefferson Airplane
4. The Four Seasons
5. McCartney, since the early 80s

dave™© said...

I dunno... do Madonna and Elton really have "huge critical reputations"?

I've always been more impressed by Elton's record collection, anyway...

Anonymous said...

Patti Smith (sorry, Steve)

Anonymous said...

After I watched this Little Britain sketch with Elton, I've thought him a bit less of a pretentious bore.

Gary said...

1. The Doors
2. Eric Clapton
3. Janis Joplin
4. Sonic Youth
5. Bob Dylan

NYMary said...

Lou Reed/Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan. Both are far more interesting for their effect on others than they are in and of themselves, at least to me.

steve simels said...


Sonic Youth?

You mean you have a a problem with famed Woman in Rock Kim Gordon?

Seriously -- I was waiting for somebody to nominate them...

Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

But Steve-o, Madonna's "controversial!" We know this because her publicist told us so!!!

Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

I'm going to nominate the Rolling Stones. Haven't managed to do anything interesting for 20 years, yet still hang around, cluttering up the radio waves and the arena circuit.

steve simels said...

Patti Smith?

Don't sweat it, anon. As much as I love her, I'm well aware that she has a very high bullshit quotient.

Unknown said...

Funny how Bowie (one of the few genuinely great rock icons, and someone who can still deliver the goods), lands the top spot here and that most over discussed, over-played, and - quite frankly - atrociously dated pop combo The Beatles are nowhere to be seen.

steve simels said...

I'd love to stay and bat this around, but I'm gonna be gone for the days, so may I simply say to James --

Bowie? With all due respect -- oh, please. A handful of good songs, at best.

And anybody who claims not to like the Beatles is just being difficult.

Kid Charlemagne said...

U2 - If I wanted to listen to someone hectoring me constantly, I can always call my mother.

Allman Bros. Band - Criminally responsible for the legion of horrific southern rock bands that were to follow in their wake.

Grateful Dead - Merely tolerable on acid, completely unlistenable without.

Anonymous said...

Eric Clapton is on my list, too. B-o-r-i-n-g.

But at the very top is Sting. I saw him at Jones Beach a couple of years ago and almost fell asleep in my seat.

And McCartney was charming when he was with the Beatles, but he has become insufferable. Not only is he excessively self-congratulatory on stage, he replaced the strings in "Yesterday" with a synthesizer! He couldn't find four live musicians to play on stage with him? In New York? Please. Not only is he arrogant, he's also a cheapskate.

Vicki said...


I agree with your list - except for Zappa. I'd replace Zappa with the Stones.

And what Mary said about Dylan, et al.

Anonymous said...

Bartkid sez,

I nominate Dinosaur Jr. and Green Day.

Kid Charlemagne said...

How could I forget??


I'll tak Uncle Tupelo over this pretentious tripe anyday. Plus, Wilco was a better band with Jay Bennett.

TMink said...

I have not listened to Elton since GYBR. But I ahve the SACDs of everything before that and reall enjoy it.

Bowie, I like him, so that one hurt.

Frank, ouch. I really like Frank, although I can understand why anyone would not like Frank.

Where is Sting? I can agree about Sonic Youth, the idea of Sonic Youth is greater than the records. While I like him, I could put Prince up there at number 5.

I got the box set of the Doors, and some of it sounds so dated, but some of it still really works for me, so I can't get on board the over rated Doors train.

Clapton had the goods, but he is too spotty now.

Ahhh, Phil Collins! Great drumming for Eno and Bowie, but Phil's work never did much of anything for me.


Anonymous said...

All right, I'll play...

Pearl Jam

Dave Matthews Band

Aerosmith (esp. Aerosmith Mark II)

That's all I can think of at the moment - still waiting for the coffee to kick in.

Cleveland Bob said...

Beatles, no...McCartney...YES! He's been asleep at the wheel for years.

I also agree on Clapton and the Smashing Punkins is an excellent choice.

As for others? So many names, so little time.

The Eagles, Steely Dan, Doobie Bros., Billy Idol, Billy Joel, Ozzie, Skynard, Rod Stewart...need I go on?...

TMink said...

Steely Dan, Rod (when he was with the Faces, Jeff Beck and his before Hot Legs) and Ozzie? Really???

Now Steely Dan is certainly not a rock group, but I find their music outstanding and iconic. Old Rod rocked fantastically. And early Black Sabbath with Ozzy is also iconic in Trey's book of Rock opinion.

And come to think of it, Billy Joel's first few records are wonderful to listen to as well.

Eagles, Doobies (especially after Michael McDonald joined(shudders) and Skynard, I see your point.

How about Big and Pac? Yawn.


Unknown said...

Just to reiterate for Steve, my Top 5 list of the most over-rated artists/bands solely consists of The Beatles - extending only to the dreadful solo careers of their two most celebrated members. I truly don't like them and never have. I'm always rather bemused when Beatles fans get all in a tizzy saying you CAN'T not like them... why not? They're horribly dated, cheesy and twee; the staple of misty-eyed "classic" rock stations and karaoke bars the world over. They're still on the covers of bloated monthly rock journals with frightening regularity, even though their recorded output spans only seven years and they never actually made an album that was good all the way through - what's not to dislike? Give me Dylan and The Velvets any day.

It's unfortunate that you don't appreciate Bowie but I would argue that his back catalogue is a rather formidable beast which extends much further than "a handful of good songs, at best". His influence on music, art and fashion is enormous and undeniable, whether you like him or not, and fully deserved.

In truth, I guess what really riles me about your list is that it seems to equate Bowie with Elton John and Madonna, two of my pet hates (I personally have nothing against Zappa, while Smashing Pumpkins are not even a blip on my radar). If your list had also included Dylan, Miles Davis, The Velvets and Kraftwerk, I could've at least taken it as a inverse compliment!

Anonymous said...

Grateful Dead
Dave Matthews Band
Celine Dion (I know she's not "rock" but no negative list is complete without her inclusion)

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah - I have to add Phish to the list.

The sad part about lists like these is that they invariably include artists who are profoundly talented musicians. And while there's no accounting for taste and The Market, it's strange that such talented folks can set some people's teeth on edge so easily.

I can't believe no one's nominated Rush yet. I'm fairly apathetic about them, but it seems as though they're the collective whipping boys for the internets. And, of course, there's Yes.

dave™© said...

Just to reiterate for Steve, my Top 5 list of the most over-rated artists/bands solely consists of The Bea--


sherifffruitfly said...

Most underrated: Queen.

dave™© said...

Hey, Steverino - if you're around, thought you'd get a kick out of this!

Feral said...

Here's a few,

Guns 'n Roses
Most of the newer bands that have been on SNL or Leno.

steve simels said...

Just to reiterate for Steve, my Top 5 list of the most over-rated artists/bands solely consists of The Beatles -

Dood -- we'll discuss this at length, I hope. I think you're nuts, but that's the whole point of discussing it.

But that said...I need to go to sleep.


NYMary said...

I truly don't like them and never have.

So why are you reading a powerpop blog again?

Anonymous said...

Good to see a lively discussion--my computer has developed a Safari crash everytime I try to access Atrios' comments. And all my computer experts are in there, so I don't know how to fix it! It's been a lonely (but less sleep-deprived) couple weeks.

As for the topic, I can't be objective! It reminds me of the scene in 'Manhattan' when Mary and Yale are naming their Academy of the Overrated, and they have the nerve to name Ingmar Bergman in front of Isaac/Woody. 'Ingmar Bergman? INGMAR BERGMAN??" he shouts.

Dylan's bowl can hold all the praise you could possibly offer. Because of what he means to me. The Beatles? Yeah, I like 'em, but for who I was when we were first introduced, they will never mean as much to me as they do to others (though I think Sgt. Pepper is a great album all the way through). Sonic Youth? I still don't get the appeal--again, because of who I was when we were first introduced, but I want someone to make me a sampler disc to convince me of their greatness. I know Bowie, in particular, offends you steve. But I'll always love him 'cause of that 'handful' of good songs and because he owns a great painting by my favorite painter, Odd Nerdrum!

Underrated: Townes Van Zandt!

P.S. NYMary: why I read PowerPop is not because pop music is my fave--I read it 'cause of you and steve!

[Uh oh--possible double post here, sorry]

The Kenosha Kid said...

Before there was Punk Rock and New Wave, the only thing that gave us hope in the evil 70's was David Bowie. Mr. Simels, you are a tosser!

steve simels said...

they [the beatles] never actually made an album that was good all the way through

No offense, James, but that's perhaps the silliest statement I've ever heard about anything.

Anonymous said...

As usual, not a pop music expert, but I have a few suggestions.

Nirvana - Not without some influence, but their stature has gotten far outsized compared to their output.

The Grateful Dead - Were they really that good? Their reputation is as one the greatest bands of all time. I doubt it.

Micheal Jackson - yes he is a freak, so this seems too easy, but this is often prefaced by an acknowledgement of his musical greatness. There are some catchy tunes here, but nothing but crap for more than 25 years. And "Thriller" isn't even that good a song.

Frank Sinatra - I know he isn't pop, but thought I would mention he never did much for me.

Anonymous said...

Steve will never forgive Zappa for calling him a "pinhead."

I suppose victory belongs to the last man standing.

Anonymous said...

As for the psychology behind this little exercise in granfallonery, I give you Jen Sorensen and "Anthropolgy of A Trend".

steve simels said...

Smokes, good to see ya!

Ina -- you too.

So it's not just me -- there's something screwed up with the comments at Atrios?

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve.

You know...once upon a time I would've given my right nut (the one with the orchidopexy scar) to have achieved the status of "overrated."

danny1959 said...

This list is extremely silly, especially since The Doors aren't on it. Elton John? Pretentious?

Anonymous said...

Hi to you, too, steve. I don't know how to fix my problem--I think I need a new 'browser?'

And Uncle Smokes--thanks for the musical gifts ;-)

Here's my musical moment today: there's a music festival today. I wasn't planning on going 'cause it's too expensive and the girls are too young to handle a whole day/night thing (it gets real hot), and all the bands I wanted to see were the local ones on the 2nd stage. Then, a friend emailed me that she won tickets and she had an extra and children under 12 are free.

We went. Hung out in the slim bit of shade near the 2nd stage, heard a bunch of bands I love & got to dance to them outdoors. Saw a launch of 12 or 13 hot air balloons and left by 7 ish.

My friends were shocked that I was leaving before all the headliners. In particular, Neko Case. But I don't know her and I'm so glad to be home!

[I know, this is way too long, go ahead say it: 'Get a blog!']

Mister Pleasant said...

Steve, your anti-Bowie stance is somewhat contradictory, as I remember your very positive reviews of "Heroes" and the US-only single version of "Rebel Rebel". Granted, his thin white duke period was obnoxious, and he hasn't produced diddly squat worth hearing after his Eno period. But for a while there he was capable of writing killer rock'n'roll tunes, even providing Mott the Hoople with "All the Young Dudes" just as they were ready to call it quits.

Overrated - perhaps, but I don't think he belong on a top five list.

James - I appreciate your candor but frankly I think you are clueless. Fine if you don't like the Beatles, but to pretend that their contribution to rock music is overrated is merely sticking your head in the sand.

My overrated list would include
- Dire Straits
- The Grateful Dead
- Guns'n Roses

Thers said...

You would like Neko Case, I think. Steve worships her, as do I.

Anonymous said...

The Doors, or as I call them, the Boors. peter spencer

Anonymous said...

First, a plug for Chuck Klosterman's essay on the most accurately rated (i.e., not over- or under-, just 'rated') bands, which is in his latest book. I think everyone here would like it.

But I think most posters on this thread are missing the concept of 'overrated,' which to my mind means 'highly praised by critics and hipster fans.' By that definition, Elton John can hardly be overrated, since he's not really a critics' or hipster darling. And some folks we like a lot - say, Sonic Youth - could be, if they're very very good but not quite as godlike as the Smart Set tend to think.

Know what I mean?

TMink said...

Steve, did Frank really call you a pinhead? What was he upset about? I would consider it an honor!


Anonymous said...

I truly don't like them and never have. I'm always rather bemused when Beatles fans get all in a tizzy saying you CAN'T not like them... why not? They're horribly dated, cheesy and twee; the staple of misty-eyed "classic" rock stations and karaoke bars the world over.

The fact that they are now faves in karaoke bars the world over is not their fault. When they hit the airwaves (at the end of '63 or beginning of '64 ... I can't remember exactly) they were completely fresh, new and different from anything before them. I will never forget the first time I heard "I Want to Hold Your Hand" ... it was one of those life-changing moments, which are few and far-between.

But I would guess the karaoke reference explains why Dylan completely deconstructs his songs when he performs live, making it impossible to sing along. I think he would rather kill himself, or at least his music, than have his concerts turn into nostalgic hootenannies.

Heather said...

Pavement. I just don't get it.
Sonic Youth
Frank Zappa
definitely the Doors
and as much as I love them, Radiohead

Maybe the Grateful Dead, but didn't the critics hate them? So they aren't "critically acclaimed." (I've developed an embarrassing interest in them lately that I'm blaming on middle age.)

Anonymous said...

A belated dedication to dave™© from that most wonderful-lest tune-smith Mc Cartney & his magnificent vocal-lesser Ring-Oh(dear): Ahem... "What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out...ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (ad nauseum)