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Challenge: Disprove CM's Thesis

cheetahmaster posted this thesis on music of our generation. And I'm curious to see if it can be disproved. I think it probably can but I don't know exactly how or with what examples. (Note: I don't think you can or should take CM to task directly for the statement if you think it's wrong, let's just call it a statement that's hanging out there to be disproved.)

It's also hard to define greatest, in the sense that do you mean are they our generation's Elvis? Or our generation's Beatles, Led Zeppelin, or Rolling Stones? The latter of whose influence and greatness is probably widely debatable? [edit] And can our generation even have something seminal like that?

I am thinking of greatness in a sense of popularity + musical quality (or percieved musical quality based on critical repsonse) + staying power. And I don't listen to what people would consider "great" bands by those standards, so I have a hard time coming up with alternatives.

Anyways, discuss.

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( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
valancymay
Jul. 7th, 2006 12:05 am (UTC)
I also have a thesis:

David Gahan is our generation's Mick Jagger.
cheetahmaster
Jul. 7th, 2006 12:26 am (UTC)
How's that?
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snidegrrl
Jul. 7th, 2006 04:09 am (UTC)
I thought of Radiohead too, but don't know enough about them to really defend them as an option.
(no subject) - cheetahmaster - Jul. 7th, 2006 11:59 am (UTC) - Expand
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salami_salome
Jul. 7th, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)
I'm having a hard time with this one too. I'll listen to a U2 song if it comes on the radio but I don't own any of their albums, and their ubiquity to me sorta seems to water them down.
Does the death of Kurt Cobain disqualify Nirvana? I'd say they were a star that shone pretty bright, if not for very long. Even if you hated 'em you gotta admit they were big. Anthemic. And people projected the gestalt of a generation onto them, whether or not they wanted it that way.
snidegrrl
Jul. 7th, 2006 04:11 am (UTC)
i think the thing with Nirvana is that the follow through wasn't them. everything that came down after nirvana broke may be somewhat attributable, and certainly they are universally recognizable... ehn, i don't think i know enough about the grunge thing to answer. i bet some pearl jam fans could make a good case for that band, though. far as i know they are still together.
(no subject) - multiplexer - Jul. 7th, 2006 11:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angela_la_la - Jul. 7th, 2006 01:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
multiplexer
Jul. 7th, 2006 02:13 am (UTC)
I have no answer to this question. It means you have to limit yourself to a genre, a time period, and a sound. Do you mean what is the Top 40 band with the most staying power? Punk? Hip-Hop and Rap? R&B? Blues? What about Industrial and Techno? Goth? Goth punk?

According to Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums of All Time (lives on a shelf in my living room for Instant Access) the highest rated album is, unsurprisingly, Nirvana's Nevermind. No album had so much impact on an entire generation as Nevermind. It blew hair bands off the charts. It brought in grunge. It influenced sound and TV and fashion. It saddled us with Pearl Jam. Nevermind has sold 8 million copies.

But the most influential album in our lives, our Generation X culture, and our world is easily Michael Jackson's Thriller. The title single sat at #1 for 37 weeks. Sure, it came out in 1982, but it influenced everyone when it came out.

The Joshua Tree shows up at #26 in the top 500 albums, and Achtung Baby is not too far behind. Most people agree that U2 is one of the 50 greatest artists/groups of all time. They're considered one of the "biggest' bands in the world. They have the most number of grammies. They've sold 170 million albums total.

I would say that U2 is one of the most marketable groups of all time. They certainly move albums. Most critics conclude that they are a landmark band. I'm not as convinced that U2 has had as much permenant impact on music as Nirvana had, though.

snidegrrl
Jul. 7th, 2006 04:13 am (UTC)
I think we might be talking about rock and roll. But that was part of the question too, which is, what's the question?

I am not that fond of Nevermind, of course it did rock me at the time.

You make a fine point about whether U2 had an impact on music...
bjoneill74
Jul. 7th, 2006 02:13 am (UTC)
depends on what you are comparing.. album sales, concert tickets sold, number of charted hits, how often bono is involved in politics..
who really gives a crap about that stuff?

in terms of talent, song writing, being memorable, production quality, etc??
Those are all very subjective things.
Those things are all something that end up being very personal.
Music connects with different people in very different ways.
The above comment on David Gahan is proof of that.. David Gahan has left an impact/impression with someone.. I couldn't even tell you who David Gahan is, but I'm all for it.. you've connected with it and that's great.. no need to defend or argue your taste here..
even when two people like a band.. they usually differ on what songs/aspects of that band they like.. then there are the masses that simply just chomp on what the media/execs want them to.

I've never understood why people need to validate things with other people..
"I like this music, but perhaps I aughtta check with some other folks to see if it's acceptable".. CROCK OF CRAP..
it doesn't end with music.. people do it with food, movies, tv shows, religion, political preferences etc.. there are of course exceptions to the rule..

I do however like U2 quite a bit.. I love the Edge's style and sounds.
Are they the biggest band of our generation??
*shrug.. I don't much care..

I like them and I like a lot of other music which most people would scoff at.. it doesn't matter as long as it takes me to the places in my head that I like to go.. or new places for that matter.




snidegrrl
Jul. 7th, 2006 04:23 am (UTC)
Yeah, I don't think I was trying to find a definitive answer here, I just really like to hear people talk about bands. :) "Greatness" can be measured in all sorts of ways, some of them measurable like album sales, market penetration, demographics... and those things tie in to less measurable things like how much influence a band's music or the band themselves have on culture and other artists. So in one sense, I wanted to hear people theorize on the subject of greatness.

Like there is no question in my mind I think the greatest band of my generation (and the generation before) is Genesis, and of course there are plenty of people who say not only is their music crap (or just this or that part of their music) but here, Phil Collins makes terrible pablum to be eaten up by the masses, blah blah. I see that as an amazing impact made by a very talented musician and writer even if I personally can't listen to No Jacket Required very often.

I like U2 in a sort of vaguely disinterested way. But I've known so many people who were so passionate about them! And I know they can fill stadiums. And have been together for 20+ years and still make music that's relevant. I guess I just wanted to know what other bands have done that from my generation - and I like to stir shit up a little. I really like to hear other people tlak about the bands they love. They've all already heard me talk about the bands I love. :)
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zenthia
Jul. 7th, 2006 02:26 am (UTC)
Well, my comment over there refers to my favorite band, but to make a serious thought-- I was watching VH1's hottest bodies the other day (at the gym - honestly, that's the sort of thing that really helps keep you going past the time you were going to stop... Oh.. it's Carmen Electra... Must... sweat... harder... butt... not.. that.. firm...) Anyway, so on came Madonna and there she was in all her glory and hot bodied-ness and I thought - damn, she must be the musician of the last few decades. Always changing her style, still staying on the radio and generally being provocative if not down right important. So, I don't think it's U2, I think it's Madonna, not that I'm going to go buy her new album or anything.
snidegrrl
Jul. 7th, 2006 04:24 am (UTC)
I maintain that as time goes on, her music will be remembered as pretty good, but her entertainment business acumen is what's to admire. :)
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crafting_change
Jul. 7th, 2006 02:47 am (UTC)
There are so many issues of 'what is the greatest band ever' ...it gets homogenized by our 'cultural ear' (ie. would the audience consider The Roots' a band, or something not made in 'the west') and then by age (I wouldn't consider 'The Beatles' of my generation, and U2 formed the year I was born). And then what is it, record sales, mass marketing, longevity of albums past the time stamp of recording methods for years. I'm a U2 fan, but they have... I'd say... 4 albums I really like. I get as much music sustainability out of: Radiohead, PJ Harvey, Outkast, or Spiritualized. And this is just brushing the tip of major industry music, I'm woefully behind on not as highly circulated work.

Art shouldn't be a competition... No band can speak for 'a generation' because any generation is vast in it's experience and it's cultural touch stones. Art is reflective of a moment, and there are a thousand moments and billions of people in that moment. No particular viewpoint or commentary is better (although we can debate the execution of technique)
snidegrrl
Jul. 7th, 2006 04:28 am (UTC)
I'm not actually trying to get one answer. I don't think there is one right answer. I'm trying to get lots and lots of thoughtful answers, because my friends' words are interesting.
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rob_donoghue
Jul. 7th, 2006 02:47 am (UTC)
It is easily disproven and utterly unassailable.
snidegrrl
Jul. 7th, 2006 04:25 am (UTC)
Dangit, I want to hear what other bands people think are that great! Fie! How should I have phrased this?
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sonicage
Jul. 7th, 2006 12:29 pm (UTC)
There are no great bands only great moments.
examorata
Jul. 7th, 2006 12:45 pm (UTC)
For me, music is such a personal thing that "greatness" really only has meaning to me on a gut level. I note that in your post you state the Rolling Stones' greatness and influence are "debatable" but I suspect that is a personal preference coming through? There's not a thing wrong with that! It's just part of my point, that how I respond personally to a band is the main thing for me. The Stones' influence culturally is vast. Musically, I'm probably not knowledgeable enough to know. To me the main thing the Stones did was help reawaken interest in what had gone before - the blues artists of a previous generation that otherwise might have gone into obscurity.

U2 appeals to me on the gut level, greatly. Their songs can make me cry and shake with rage. If I try to step back, however, I think their longlasting influence will be on the culture. They did not break new musical ground the way that Nirvana did. But they are imprinted in the minds, hearts, and guts of our generation, I think. From the overplayed hits from Joshua Tree to the images from LiveAid to Bono's wailed "Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you," I think they are just a force in music and will be drawing stadium crowds into their 60s if they want to, just like Mick and the boys.

I will also add that the one U2 concert I attended was the closest thing to a religious experience I can easily describe.
angela_la_la
Jul. 7th, 2006 02:11 pm (UTC)
This is interesting, because I was just about to comment that I didn't know anyone to whom U2 is a personally important band, unlike, say, Pearl Jam, which someone mentioned above. I know several people who are to some extent "obsessed" with Pearl Jam, travel to see their shows, collect bootlegs, etc. I don't really know anyone for whom U2 is that important. I've always seen them as a great radio band that everyone likes but few people (aside from critics) really love.

I have to agree about the influence of the Stones, too. I am not a big fan of theirs, but like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and even the Velvet Underground, they made a real impression on the music that followed.

Also, Kim is obviously waiting for me to jump in and say "Rush", so I will. :) I don't think I can really make a case for them being as big as the Beatles, or even them being a band of "my/our generation", but they have certainly sold a lot of records over the past 30 years. Also, unlike the Rolling Stones, Kiss, and Aerosmith, all of which share the same career longevity, they are still getting good reviews and fan response for their new stuff. Not so much with the other three, huh?
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ubet_cha
Jul. 7th, 2006 01:24 pm (UTC)
Its a little funny, I've always felt that too define any media icon as greatest you have to eliminate the most ten years to sort out who has really made an impact considering any recent hits may just be 2-3 year fluff.


I don't know I consider the Stones, Ledd Zepplin and Beatles my parents generation. If I were too point at an act from what I consider our generation I'd go with U2.....but its still too early. ...........Ask me in 20 years. *S*
( 55 comments — Leave a comment )

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