5 over rated music acts
I got into a debate after the London Closing Ceremony this week. The Brits trotted out just about every musical icon of the last 50 years to, rightly, show the world Britain's true gift to the world over that period. The debate that erupted, mind you, started with the appearance of the Spice Girls. Music purists were horrified that the home of the Beatles and the Stones would showcase, what some believe was, a low point in music history.
I shrugged at the suggestion. There have been a lot of acts whose impact has been inflated over time. Some major stars, I believe, to have been vastly over rated. So the debate was on.
Anytime you put together a music list, its sure to spark comment because the very nature of the subject is so, if you'll excuse the term, subjective. Having said that, we all believe that WE are right and in keeping with that thought here is my list of the five most overrated acts in music history (Canadian edition).
5- Max Webster
Long before The Hip and just after April Wine, Kim Mitchell's band were Canada's band. They played everywhere...constantly. But I never quite got it. The gang I hung around in school all had Max t-shirts and followed the band to endless concerts but for all the hoopla I can still only remember three or four songs. They were a good live band (not great) who translated an endless tour into icon status (see-The Grateful Dead). When was the last time you put one of their albums on?
4- Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison was a mediocre poet who took drug fuelled imagery and tried to make it seem deep and relevant. He parlayed his Lizard King persona into a larger than life phenomenon that, unfortunately, took on even more mythology after his death. The Doors had some memorable music driven primarily by the musical prowess of Ray Manzerek. The organ solos in Riders, and Light My Fire are still some of the sixties most enduring sounds but for all the hype Morrison's lyrics and rock star posing haven't aged well. Looking back on it now
“Royal babies, rubies
Must now replace aborted
Strangers in the mud
These mutants, blood meal
for the plant that´s plowed”
3- The Beach Boys
Why oh why, with so many incredible American talents that have graced the airwaves over the years, are the Beach Boys revered as America's greatest gift to rock n' roll? The lyrics were stuck in high school (a high school on the beach), they didn't really play the instruments all that well (they relied on session players like Glen Campbell to play on record), and they stuck to one style of music that had already been pioneered by groups like Jan and Dean. Good Vibrations was a one off piece of brilliance from Brian Wilson that still doesn't justify why so many people put this band in their top ten. Again, when was the last time you played a Beach Boys album?
OK, they are a good, literate and slick sounding group. But does that mean they are the “greatest group of the last 40 years” as many would maintain? More influential than the Stones? Zeppelin? Not a chance. They stuck to their sound through all the musical changes of the 80s and 90s but that sound made most of their singles eerily similar to one another. Good but not great. Let the emails begin.
And the number 1 most over rated musical act- Elvis
Elvis and his early rock a billy classics brought this new music to an audience that had never experienced the kind of musical abandon that black artists had been playing for years. He was good looking, had a voice and a stage presence that was just what a younger generation was craving in the late 50s. But the heights to which his impact has been inflated over the years is really out of touch with reality. From the 60s on his music was middle of the road and mostly forgettable. Listen to his version of My Way today and it sound like an Elvis impersonator. His devotees will argue this point until the end of time but Elvis was NOT the greatest performer of all time. If he had been he wouldn't have been touring as a half forgotten nostalgia act when he died.
Like I said, music makes the world go around and everyone has a different top 5. Thats mine. Discuss.