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Sweet Jane, You Ignorant Slut

These are the best rock & roll conversations in the world. No argument.

You're an idiot. A slobbering mendicant. A syphilitic, slack-jawed mouth-breather.

Nothing personal, of course. These are just the facts as I see them, if you dare to disagree with me about music. Yes, we can differ about petty things like whether or not the Scissor Sisters' cover of "Comfortably Numb" is awesome kitsch or lame retro money-grubbing (I vote for awesome). But when you get into the real geeky arguments, the ones that can last a road trip, you best check yourself before you wreck yourself. A real, beer-fueled argument can turn bespectacled waifs into The Rock on PCP.

Right next door you can check out Mike Seely's entry into the Great Music Arguments, his list of the ten most hated men in rock. But this is just one of the many awesome musical games you can play if you want to see your music-geek pals rip into each other. Rolling Stone, where every other issue is "special," makes its living by printing lists that are nothing but fight fodder.

Chuck Klosterman unveiled a great new game, Build the Best Band, in this month's Spin.

Sometimes your goal in these arguments should be simply to drive your music-loving friends into a mouth-foaming fury. So I've thoughtfully provided you with some answers that are sure to drive your buddies insane. Just keep a straight face and keep insisting that you're right.

Best Beatles SongThis is an argument that can cause divorce. You get one song to embody the work of the most important band in history (you hear that, Seely?). Have fun!

The Correct Answer: "Paperback Writer"

The Answer That Will Drive Geeks Crazy: "Twist and Shout"

Greatest Guitarist of All TimeThe key to this "greatest" argument is to understand the slippery definition of "greatest." Do you factor in the historical influences? Is it a matter of pure speed? Bombast? Melody?

The Correct Answer: Jimi Hendrix (Come on!)

The Answer That Will Drive Geeks Crazy: Stevie Ray Vaughan

Most Overrated Current ArtistMusic geeks, like skinheads and hippies, try to express individuality by dressing and acting just like their friends. This conformity lets critical reputations bloom when they should wither and die. Luckily, you can pluck the weeds yourself.

The Correct Answer: The Streets (No one really likes the new Streets album. They just think they do.)

The Answer That Will Drive Geeks Crazy: Wilco(also pretty true)

Is Hip-Hop the New Rock & Roll?Be sure to have this debate in mixed company, and watch the tempers flare. Is hip-hop going to continue to strangle rock & roll as the popular music of choice, or is it just the next disco?

The Correct Answer: White people are still going to need some kind of music they can play for each other, but hip-hop sure ain't disco.

The Answer That Will Drive Music Geeks Crazy: Pack up your Yo La Tengo albums and go join Mick Jaggerat the rest home, Grandpa!

Sell Out!Has (blank) sold out? What is selling out? Should you stop liking a band just because they got popular?

The Correct Answer: You only sell out when you noticeably change your sound in order to get famous. The Black Eyed Peas sold out when they added a hot woman to their lineup (but the Black Eyed Peas always wanted to sell out, anyway). Nick Drakedidn't sell out to Volkswagen because he's dead. If you stop listening to a band just because they got popular, you are a douche.

The Answer That Will Drive Geeks Crazy: Shut up, commie! I'm just in it for the ducats!

Jam BandsAn unlistenable waste of sound waves or transcendent music of the gods? Very few people fall into the middle of this debate.

The Correct Answer: If they leave the damn wah pedal alone, it's just fine.

The Answer That Will Drive Geeks Crazy: Phish is awesome, and I'm going to prove it to you with this seven-hour set from '93.

Dead ClubMore of a game than an argument, the Dead Club is a classic. The rules are simple: Who dies next? Yeah, anybody could have picked Johnny Cash and Ray Charles to go when they did, but would you have had the foresight to see that Rick James had one foot in the grave?

The Correct Answer: Beats me, but we haven't had a good old-fashioned rapper shooting in a while. Duck, Lloyd Banks!

The Answer That Will Drive Geeks Crazy: Is it just me, or is Thom Yorke looking a little paler than normal?

The Desert IslandYou're going to be stuck on a desert island with an eternal CD player and five discs. This is the classic "Top Five list" argument; you can spend hours just nitpicking about the rules -- i.e., do boxed-sets count as one choice? (Of course not.)

The Correct Answers: Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works 85-92; the Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers; My Bloody Valentine, Loveless; The Allman Brothers Band, Live at Fillmore East; Boards of Canada, Music Has the Right to Children.

The Answer That Will Drive Geeks Crazy: Now That's What I Call Music!, Volumes 6-10.

 
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