Saturday, June 07, 2008

Vappie Awards - Best of Music

Welcome to the first (and likely only) Vappie Awards. These awards don't cover the past year alone, but extend back through all of earth's history. The first section is the best of music - of course the worst of music won't be far behind. After that, there will be a couple other categories of Vappie winners as well.

Best Music Video
Chemical Brothers - "Let Forever Be"

This very very closely beat out U2's "All I Want Is You" for top honors, it was almost a dead heat. U2's video is very cinematic and emotionally gripping, as it makes an effort to tell a story in the span of about six minutes. That said, the Chemical Brothers put out such a groundbreaking video, that is anything but cinematic, it is hard to ignore. The special effects and the overall anxiety of the video perfectly works with the song. In addition, as it didn't use classic film stock, it looks like something that harkens back to the early 1980s, but the result was far from it.

Best Rock/Pop Song
U2 - "Bad"

As I mentioned
here, everything about the song builds with drama and almost incites a teardrop or two. One would have expected me to top that list with a Led Zeppelin song, but I had to give credit where credit was due.

Best Live Act
The Who

No argument here. And I'm talking from back in the day. They ran away with this category, as I
explored before.

Best Rock Album
The Who - "Who's Next"

Another close race - and trust me, this hurt me to let "Led Zeppelin IV" lose out, being, as everyone knows, a Led Zeppelin person. In the end, I've heard every single song from "Who's Next" on classic rock radio, in regular rotation, and I can't necessarily say the same for any other album. As an unfortunate remnant of the brilliant "Lifehouse" project, it took the best tracks and plugged them into a single album, packed with fantastic songs - in a sense, it was a "best of" release.

Best Rock Drummer
Neil Peart (Rush)

This was a close race, as were most of these "awards". Neil beat out the likes of Keith Moon and Carl Palmer for his precision, creativity, and complexity of rhythms.

Best Rock Guitarist
Eddie Van Halen

Yeah, another one that was too close to call. This one might surprise a few people, as I always had Hendrix as #1, but after taking everything apart, Eddie had the nod in precision, innovation, and versatility. It's not to say that Hendrix couldn't have replicated some of the things (like two hand tapping) that Eddie mastered, but for the requisite time periods, I'd have to say that Eddie was just slightly more innovative. That's perhaps sacreligious to say, but again, it was a close race here.

Best Bass Player
John Entwistle

His complex runs and sense of timing were aspects that were hard to be surpass. Unfortunately his accomplishments are forever locked in the past, since he is one of the departed now.

Best Rock Vocalist
Freddie Mercury (Queen)

And once again, a tight race. He edged out Bruce Dickinson and a couple others. He simply had the range and power that few could match. It was hard to catch him off his game. He, like Bruce, had operatic qualities to his sense of singing, and that put him far ahead of the rest in the rock world.

Best Lyricist
Jim Morrison (Doors)

It's easy to roll ones eyes at this, but he was, by trade, a poet. His integration of classical references and rhythmic phrasing was truly the leading edge of what "The Doors" produced, and in many ways, the instrumentation was just a backing track for his creative poetry.

Best Song Writer
Pete Townshend

Another tight race, and another photo finish. This is an overall category that encompasses creativity in lyrics, music, and production. For all he did, Townshend runs away with it eventually. Close contenders were Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen. As for Simon, even Pete himself said once "I'm no Paul Simon...". Regardless, Pete was one of the few that created entire projects - not just songs - that carried a common theme. Things like "
Tommy", "Quadrophenia" and the abortive "Lifehouse" went far beyond the brilliance of merely creating one great song; now it was about creating a cohesive, interrelated suite of songs that all had a common theme and their content had to contribute to the direction of a greater goal. Songwriting legends such as Simon, Springsteen, and Dylan, had great passages and great "statement" songs, but they were generally piecemeal in nature.

Best Rock Riff
Led Zeppelin - "Whole Lotta Love"

Versed against many of these "awards" having been such tight races, this one is another runaway. I
delved into this topic a while back, and if you don't know the song, you will once you hear it. Too recognizable, too gutteral, and too infectious.

Best Guitar Solo (In a Rock Song)
Dave Navarro - Jane's Addiction - "Three Days"

Navarro was always a hero of mine and a mad genius in his own way. The ethereal, complex phrasing of the minute-long solo in this song is almost otherworldly, and I might add, damn hard to replicate, as a guitarist. Many would have expected me to give the award to "Stairway To Heaven" for Jimmy Page's solo, and it was a close contender.

Best Rock Hottie
Debbie Harry (Blondie)

Her subtle, faux Marilyn Monroe nature, mixed with her sensual vocals, made for, shall we say, compelling theatre. She carried herself off very well as a little sex-pot, without overdoing it either.

Best Punk Band

They had a lot of the punk ethos, whatever that might have been. The very nature of punk was being one's self, or in this case, a group's self. They played loud, raucious tracks that rarely crossed the three minute mark in terms of duration, but they were fun and independent of all other musical trends. Punk was a medium of independence and non-conformity. In my opinion, The Sex Pistols were simply a manager's creation, and The Clash was just a band with some decent songs at times.

Best Relic
Cheap Trick

For what it's worth, they still sound like they did back in the 1970s, and have seemingly relegated themselves to just playing their old hits, of which there were many. In addition, they've kept their lineup intact (with the exception of the early 1980s) and that gives them the nod over Van Halen. Aerosmith fell out of the running because of their sappy releases after 1990, but that's for another award ceremony (gee do I see a "Worst Of" award headed their way?). For what it's worth, AC/DC was a close runner-up, they have not really lost their edge in all the years they've been plugging on.

Best Make-Out Song
Led Zeppelin - "The Rain Song"

A beautiful piece, that just warms the heart with romance and emotion. Plus plenty of other warm places. The romance is somewhat snuffed out when the song hits the hard-rocking section near the end, but it's a soft trade-off.

Best 21st Century Band
White Stripes

Ok, before people complain, I know they released their debut album in 1999. But they broke through later than that, so there. Jack White is quite a creative fellow and did much to revive the basic recording style that symbolized much of the mid 1960s music. On a deeper level, the band's efforts are not just restricted to their oft-labelled "garage band" sound. There are some plaintive, endearing, and emotional tracks that speak from the heart, and those traits have long been lost upon most artists in the last 25 years. A fresh take on classic songwriting.

Stay tuned for the Worst Of Music awards.

1 comment:

Wendi Manning said...

Bravo on Freddie! The only choice. Although eventually I'll struggle with the Freddie/Boy George conundrum, I think you made the right decision.