Thursday, January 10, 2008

Top Ten Rock Artists Gone Limp

Here's my list of the top artists who just turned into milk toast, wimpy, jokers that once had a strong presence in the world of rock:

1) Sammy Hagar
What a joke. He had a promising start way, way, back in the band Montrose, then became this kindergarten "rocker" that wanted us all to be "crazy". By the early 1980s he was already belching out completely childish videos, such as the one for "I Can't Drive 55", where he wreaks havoc in the court room and tells that mean ol' judge what he thinks. This kind of stuff was already too childish to me when I first saw it - and I was 11 years old. Then he sucked all the nasty coolness out of Van Halen with more of his G rated "let's get wild" crap, only further to regress with his Just-Turned-21 tequila obsession. Not sure why he adopted the whole "Mas Tequila" persona anyway, since anyone that would find this sophomoric party mantra appealing isn't of legal age to drink.

2) Sting
He once had a slightly punkish ethos working for a while. The music from The Police didn't necessarily have to be hard rocking, or overtly abrasive, as it never really went there. But his post-Police decline into the soft pillows of elevator music, smooth jazz, and arrogant, disenfranchising forays into world music, so to speak, was simply pathetic, convenient, and self serving. Oh, but there was that whole rain forest thing. Still sucked.

3) Aerosmith
Remember when they used to play rock music? Like fast paced, driving songs? I'm not even looking that far back - hell, the "Pump" release had some great rockers on it, and that was only 1989. Then the old got older, the piss n' vinegar dissipated, and soon enough, we were hearing disgusting, sugary ballads about love and love and love. If they had the wherewithal to realize they were immersed in substance abuse, and to pull out of it, how about if they could realize they are immersed in music abuse?

4) Styx
This decline happened rather early - let's be fair though - pin this downfall on Dennis DeYoung. Once his songs, such as "Babe" charted, the flood gates were open, and even the rest of the band knew it was a death knell. After the "Paradise Theater" release, the levees could no longer hold back the sappy ballads, the goofy concept songs, and other related attempts by Dennis to be another Freddie Mercury. Which brings me to...

5) Queen
Ok, sure, I'm stepping on a grave, so to speak. Yes, the "Innuendo" release did have a rocker on it, but mostly, through the 1980s, it was mushy, radio friendly songs that catered to the aging audience that once rocked along with the band in the mid 1970s. By the late 1980s, the songs all became Freddie's dark ballads about how he's fading away. Sure, it's emotionally heavy and all, but not the music that Queen laid its foundation upon.

6) Def Leppard
Simple exercise - listen to their "Pyromania" album, then listen to "Hysteria". The band loses an arm, and loses its vinegar. The distinction between the two albums is so pronounced, one might be amazed that a mere car accident and three year hiatus could effectively castrate an entire band. The decline was further enhanced when Steve Clark died.

7) Metallica
Up through roughly 1988, Metallica had hard rocking songs that appealed to a type of secret society of followers. Then the moment had to happen - they released a video for the song "One" on MTV, and lo and behold - commercialism! The subsequent albums, while containing some slightly reminiscent sounds of the old Metallica, it wasn't the classic Metallica to which us early adopters could relate. Suddenly we started hearing more Metallica - slower, more accessible Metallica, on the radio, and while the band might deny it, the selling out had already taken place.

8) Rod Stewart
Oh, this one is too easy. By the late 1970s, he was falling into soft radio channels with "The First Cut Is The Deepest" and "Tonight's The Night" and the like. Back when he was cool, he had been with the Small Faces, belted out blues standards with the Jeff Beck Group, and had a couple brilliant solo albums in the early 1970s. After around 1975, he was another hapless victim of melancholy soul singing and pandering to middle of road music executives.

9) Pete Townshend
His last respectable effort came from the Who's "It's Hard" album. After that, he sobered up and, oops - the music turned into crap! I'm not advocating alcoholism as a means for creating brilliant music, but all of his creative energy was clearly spent, and his subsequent solo releases were sad attempts at being creative, perhaps trying to recapture the cleverness of his Lifehouse project, and simply fell flat. He was at least smart enough to render himself a museum act and try harboring The Who for some tours.

10) Cheap Trick
Though they were good for a strong power ballad or two in the past, by the time of "The Flame", their flame was certainly gone. Even their rockers were lame songs from then on. No youth to anything they created after 1987, mostly because they had no more youth.

Honorable Mention:
Heart - Fell into the 1980s synthesizer syndrome
Whitesnake - Anything after 1984 was hilarious and contrived
Van Halen - See above
Genesis - Much cooler band when Peter Gabriel was the singer. That goes way back. That should say enough.
David Bowie - His constant redefinitions often turned him into a plastic jazz singer, not his style. Some people just don't look good in red.


Anonymous said...

Sammy Hagar makes good slacks.

Anonymous said...

One Two Three Lock Box

Anonymous said...

Ronnie Spector ruined Eddie Money. He just wanted to find the party.

Anonymous said...

The Spaghetti Incident had a lot of limp noodles. Will 2008 bring democracy to China?