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December 06, 2004

Are they really THAT good?

Here is a collection of poor reviews of musicians and groups typically considered great. See if you agree with any of their assessments.

Rocked as "overrated" are Elvis Costello, David Bowie, The Beatles, Elvis, Bob Marley, Prince, Nirvana, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, U2, Neil Young, Jim Morrison and The Clash. Quite an honor roll to be taking on.

Here's a taste:

James Brown
He's the godfather of soul, which is fine as long as "soul" is defined as funk workouts bereft of tunes. Brown is one of the most pernicious influences on pop for the last 50 years. His canon consists of little more than brass-driven aerobics workouts, over which he barks claims of his own magnificence, and were he to yell "Get up, I feel like a sex machine!" you'd be dialling 999 rather than leaping into bed. Apologists point to his work for the black community, but a former jailbird who has faced arraignments for armed robbery, tax evasion and spousal abuse looks exposed on the moral high ground. So say it loud: he's crap, and he's proud.
Ian Gittins

U2
U2 are probably the most over-rated band in history. Their debut, Boy, was a classic and still sounds fresh and impassioned. Fatally though, they became a band that believed their own (fawning) press and whose egotism has devoured their talent. The Joshua Tree showed what a good guitar group/stadium rock band U2 could be. Sadly, they had the sort of pretensions that usually afflict mediocre American outfits like the Chili Peppers. On Achtung Baby and Zooropa they started plundering other bands' innovations and moving into "dance music" - though only the whitest, geekiest student could dance to them. Bono's ego meanwhile became so over-inflated he made Robbie Williams look camera-shy. As a political mouthpiece, the effectiveness of what he's spoken out about has always been over-shadowed by the column inches he's received. His insistence on singing the key line in the new version of Band Aid for example hardly seems very... charitable.
Jim Shelley

Neil Young
Like the poor and Pauline Fowler, Neil Young is always with us, a reminder of the drearier things of life. Venerated by paunchy Mojo-reading types, Young - whose reedy voice is the exact timbre of a continental dial tone - has changed neither his riffs nor his plaid shirt since he left Buffalo Springfield in 1968. Forever droning on about a mythical, moral America, Young has even-handedly bored three generations equally thoroughly, and unleashed some unspeakable musical atrocities. His last record, Greendale, was a concept album apparently scripted by William McGonagall, the anti-communist dirge Rockin' In The Free World remains one of the direst songs ever penned, and so relentlessly maudlin is Young that poor, impressionable Kurt Cobain quoted him in his suicide note. The apologists who boast that Neil Young has "never sold out" forget the main reason things don't sell out: people don't want to buy them.
IG

Discuss.

Posted by Dan at December 6, 2004 09:35 AM

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Comments

I'd be happy to help toss U2 into the overrated pile (if we could get an ego that large airborne). I too was (and still am) quite taken with their very early stuff, but it seems these guys got totally disconnected from reality along the way. Is it just me, or is Rez of William Gibson's Lo/Rez a very thinly veiled Bono?

Posted by: Pete at December 6, 2004 04:43 PM

Pete, I'd like to agree with you, but Mrs. Popping Culture is likely to crush me, just as she will crush you.

She's big with the U2.

Posted by: Big Dan at December 6, 2004 11:07 PM

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