The reason the critics all like Elvis Costello better than me is because they all look like Elvis Costello. – David Lee Roth
We thought it would be fun to detail some of the most glaring examples of Rock Criticism gone wrong. And to prove it takes one, or maybe two, to know one…we enlisted Rob Tannenbaum (ex-Rolling Stone) and Craig Marks (ex-Spin) to host the proceedings.
So, here you have it. A Slacker Radio countdown of 50 great artists and songs, from Kanye West and Taylor Swift to Paul McCartney and Led Zeppelin that the critics, at least in one important moment in time, got totally and completely wrong.
“She’s no Ashanti” – The NY Times upon the release of Beyonce’s first solo album.
“Jimmy Page is a very limited producer and a writer of weak, unimaginative songs” – Rolling Stone on Led Zeppelin’s debut.
“Deserves the conniving self-pitying voice that is his curse” – Robert Christgau and The Village Voice on James Taylor
“Oozes lumpy sincerity” – NY Times on Macklemore
“Kanye isn’t quite MC-enough to hold down the entire disc” – Rolling Stone on Kanye West’s College Dropout.
“Deeply irritating; sub-Fergie” – Slate on Kesha.
“The most insufferable band of the decade” – Jon Pareles and the NY Times on Coldplay
“Queen may be the first truly fascist rock band” – Dave Marsh and Rolling Stone on Queen
“Incredibly inconsequential and monumentally irrelevant” – Rolling Stone on Paul McCartney’s RAM album.
“Laughable” – Nick Tosches & Rolling Stone on Yoko Ono.
they may start because they love music, or because of some weird happenstance. But they STAY for one reason only…
“You know why people stay in the music business, Jack?
E. G. O.
Oh, they may start because they love music, or because of some weird happenstance. But they STAY for one reason only — Ego.” — Jane Friedman.
Jane Friedman was a NY publicist, Patti Smith’s manager, and someone who really loved music. She taught me a valuable lesson during my first months in the music business.
“They come up with storyboards and lines, and I see the process. Then, I do what I do: Buffettizing.” — Jimmy Buffet, singer-songwriter and touring phenomenon, on his role in developing the new Margaritaville social networking game.
“Rickey doesn’t have albums. Rickey has CDs.” — Rickey Henderson, legendary Major League Baseball outfielder, when asked if he had the Garth Brooks album with the song Friends in Low Places. Henderson, was infamous for talking about himself in the 3rd person.
“People prefer man-to-machine over man-to-man relations when it comes to music discovery.” – David Hyman, CEO of subscription music service, MOG.
“It’s not just the ability to touch, see and smell an album and the artwork…it’s the fact that you are in a Real Place with Real People…and not just any people: other music-obsessed freaks like you. I discovered so many bands by just hanging out, talking to shopkeepers, getting recommendations from some random dude who was flipping through the Nick Cave bootleg box as fervently as I was. You can’t get that feeling sitting behind your computer, ever.” – Amanda Palmer, recording artist and technology enthusiast.
In honor of the recently announced return of MTV’s 120 Minutes, I thought a flashback was in order.
What better than “Every Word Means No” from Let’s Active — the ultimate 80’s College Rock video?:
DMI Tip: Why is this the ultimate “80’s College Rock video” — I’m glad you asked:
1- This is Mitch Easter’s band. Mitch of course produced R.EM.’s Murmur, aka as the definitive College Rock album of the 80’s.
2- The band, Let’s Active, is simultaneously under-appreciated and legendary.
3- The ‘dancing in place” two-step move that bassist Faye Hunter employed is textbook. Belinda Carlisle took this move mainstream in the video for “Our Lips Are Sealed”.
4- The college-rock pogo is also in full affect. Note, this is a slower and gentler pogo than the 1976-1978 British Punk version.
5- The fuzzy sweater vests. This look certainly swept College Radio programming offices throughout the early 80’s. Kurt Cobain took it to a whole other level when he went full-fledged Cardigan in the early 90’s.
6-The eye-makeup. Many folks think Pete Wentz took “guy-liner” straight from the 70’s Metal and Glam acts; but College Rock certainly had its eye makeup run too. Pun intended.
7-Big hair. Big guitars. Small drum kits.
8- It sends signals of innocence and prolonged adolescence. Note the puppies.
9-The song, “Every Word Means No” put the J in Jangle.
10 – Let’s Active and ‘Every Word Means No” remains to this day, completely obscure. A College Rock necessity.
DMI Tip: OptoFidelity is a Finnish company that specializes in machine vision and optical measurement technology. Now, they have designed a robot to play Angry Birds. Note cheezy Rockford Files meets NIN instrumental track on the “behind-the-scenes” video below:
“The last thing a young woman needs is another picture of a sexy pop star writhing in sand, covered in grease, touching herself. My image was an issue at my record label. I fought for months and cried at meetings. I got criticized for being arrogant because if you’re sure of yourself as a woman they say you’re a bitch whereas if you’re a man and you’re strong-willed it’s normal.” — Lady Gaga
“It’s not F**K me, it’s F**K you.” — Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of The Pretenders and her advice to women in Rock and Roll.
“I snorted my Porsche. I snorted my plane. I snorted my house in that din of drugs and booze and being lost”. — Steven Tyler, lead singer Aerosmith and American Idol judge.
‘The best pitch I ever heard about cocaine was back in the early eighties. It was a street dealer who followed me down the sidewalk going: I got some great blow man. I got the stuff that killed Belushi.” — Denis Leary, actor and author.