by Seth Graves
1. Music Theory
There are those who will debate this one until their faces are several shades of blue. Fortunately, you can deflect most of those arguments if you have a Musician’s Friend catalog handy. Music theory is the driving force behind running jokes about Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. It’s the essence of douchebuggery that laces each issue of Guitar Player magazine. It pulls power chords from out of the groin, quantifies them into mathematic gibberish, and produces ungodly and unlistenable wankery from the least interesting figures in music history.
The Exception: Lou Reed swears wholeheartedly to this day that there is an intricate amount of calculated composition to his 1975 home-recorded noise album Metal Machine Music. Then again, he says the same about Lulu, his instantly meme-able collaboration with Metallica.
Actors and musicians are often erroneously lumped into corresponding categories. That category is more accurately called “celebrity” and can also include athletes, reality-television personalities and suit-and-tie billionaires. Let’s not do that anymore. The correlation is more often than not a one way street: Natural born performers who make their living as musicians can and do often segue successfully into acting (Mos Def, Ice Cube, David Bowie, Vanilla Ice?). If Keanu Reeves, Billy Bob Thornton, The Bacon Brothers, Kevin Costner, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Bruce Willis, Jared Leto, Bill Paxton, Russell Crowe, Corey Feldman, Juliet Lewis, Steven Seagal, Don Johnson, Scarlett Johansson, Jeff Goldblum, Gary Busey and Adrien Greenier have taught us nothing, it’s that the same cannot be said the other way around. (See this recent Cream post for proof.)
The Exception: Rick Springfield’s Working Class Dog is a magnum opus of power-pop awesomeness.
Look, I dig hip-hop, I heart rap and I am by no means a musical segregationist. But there was a time in the not-so-distant past when rap and rock were mutually exclusive, and I still subscribe to the school of thought that feels things were better that way. Aerosmith and Run DMC’s collaboration was novel, but barely influential and fairly harmless in the long run. The same can be said for Anthrax’s “I’m the Man.” But, while Public Enemy and Anthrax’s take on “Bring tha Noize” did in fact rival the original, its legacy proved irreversible when the latter part of the decade was dominated by the likes of Limp Bizkit, Korn, Kid Rock and Insane Clown Posse adopting bro-fi guitar riffs to accompany their trite-ass rhymes.
The Exception: While Judgment Night is as forgettable a film as Phunk Junkeez were a band, its soundtrack — a collaboration between alt-rock luminaries like Sonic Youth, Helmet and Dinosaur Jr. with hip hop prodigies like Del the Funky Homosapien, House of Pain and Cypress Hill — still rocks any dance party you put in its way.
I won’t waste any verbiage preaching to the choir about the ills of Christian rock. Arguing against its legitimacy in the realm of rock 'n' roll is like explaining why pedophiles shouldn’t be allowed to work at Chuck E. Cheese. Rather, it’s the toll religion has taken on formerly secular artists who took to sucking ass once they started bringing The Good Book with them into the studio.
Both Prince’s credibility and listenability plummeted once he started witnessing Jehovah, reducing his back catalog of hits to a cleaned-up mid-set medley at his live shows. “Christian-era Bob Dylan is my jam!” is something that no one says. Has anyone heard a Megadeth song they liked since Dave Mustaine was born again? And who knows, Cat Stevens may have very well turned out a few more rockin’ hits before devoting his life to Islam.
The Exception: Check the facts: Jews (practicing or otherwise) have written almost all the best songs in rock 'n' roll history. I also have no qualms with the latter works of the Rev. Al Green.
It can be said — and I’m quoting myself here — Florida is shaped like a giant flaccid penis for a reason. Go forth and blame the existence of Marilyn Manson, Limp Bizkit, Creed, .38 Special, Gloria Estefan, Dashboard Confessional, Ricky Martin, 'N SYNC, Yellowcard, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Poison the Well on the Sunshine State.
The Exception: Against Me!, Obituary, Hot Water Music, 2 Live Crew, Deicide, and Rick Ross could collectively make an equal and opposite case for a region with such a rich history of terribleness.
Editor's note: In my opinion, the ever-messianic Tom Petty single-handedly washed away most of Florida's latter-day sins.