Thursday, August 16, 2012

5 Classic Artists Who Don't Deserve Our Love

A few years back Bloggerhythms posted a series on guilty pleasures. The posts make the point that we all have a few of these personal gems hidden away in or hearts, even if our heads won't allow us to admit it, while at the same time we all have a list of artists we are supposed to admire but can't. So today, as a followup to those little treatises, I give you five legendary musicians who don't deserve the love so many people heap upon them. Stars you are allowed to hate, and you know who you are Yoko Ono and Michael Bolton, are not included on this list.

James Brown
The man had tons of hits but every single one of them was exactly the same song. They all featured tuneless, staccato horns bleeping in the background, one note rhythm guitar playing, and wailing vocals. It seemed as if Brown laid down one arrangement on tape for his first record and sampled it for every other song he ever released. All he did was scream, sweat, and spastically spin his body around. I can do all of those things too. What amazing talent of his am I missing folks?

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell sometimes gave off an aura that she is more enlightened than the rest of us because she is an artist while everyone else is just a pop musician. However, the main reason to dislike Mitchell is her whiny, pitchy voice. Her singing, especially on the early folk albums, is often cringe worthy whenever she reaches for the upper registers. Except for parts of Court and Spark her pleasures elude me. I can't listen for too long despite her supposedly formidable composing skills. Also, if I hear "River" overplayed again this Christmas I'm going to scream like James Brown.

David Bowie
Men in dresses and makeup never did it for me and I'm sure I let this affect how I feel about Bowie's music. That said, even after he gave up the Ziggy Stardust persona he never stopped coming across as a too bizarre eccentric and a musical chameleon with no direction. He is more of a spectacle than a musician. His voice isn't particularly appealing either.

Talking Heads
David Byrne's singing on "Burning Down the House" is one of the worst lead vocal performances I've ever had the displeasure of hearing. Add in the totally stupid "Stay Up Late," a song that does nothing more than describe the anatomy and actions of a baby (Where's the genius in that?) and we have a band that is way overrated. What does it tell you that their most listenable song is a cover of Al Green's "Take Me to the River?" It's surprising Byrne connected with so many people considering he has obvious disdain for anyone he believes is culturally inferior to him. Byrne was supposed to be a New York intellectual fronting an art-rock band. Not in my book.

Michael McDonald
I have no objections to his arrangements or compositions but McDonald is one of the WORST vocalists in pop music. There is nothing appealing about his voice. He sings like he has marbles in his mouth while in pain from a hernia. His recent attempts at covering Motown classics should be deep-sixed along with any microphone he attempts to warble into. His worst crime: ruining The Doobie Brothers. Working with McDonald is Steely Dan's only career mistake. Unfortunately, many people seem to love him.

5 comments :

  1. I am with you on these, mostly, except for McD (who/whom I'm going to see with Donald Fagen and Boz Scaggs in Milwaukee tomorrow night). I am not sure he's well-suited to classic soul songs, however. His true calling might be as a backup vocalist, harmonizing with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers.

    It seems to me that Mitchell and Bowie have been a big influence on contemporary singers, given the number of tuneless wails and disembodied-and-disinterested vocals I hear on a lot of stuff. Byrne doesn't bother me when he's got a good song to work with, but he doesn't, always.

    My own list of un-admirables would include Pink Floyd, who have been leaving me cold for nearly 40 years now. So Roger Waters was psychologically damaged by his childhood. Who wasn't?

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  2. Charlie: Hey there, I'm new here....
    I have some problems with voices too, & I'm with you on Bowie and Talking Heads. But they both have a coupla great songs. If the Heads' "Take Me to the River" doesn't do it for you, how bout "Road to Nowhere"?
    Agree Joni Mitchell could be kinda weedy, but I love "Raised on Robbery" & "Coyote"....
    Michael McDonald DID get overused in the '70s/'80s, got really tired of hearing him -- sounded like fog with a voice. But I still love "Takin' it to the Streets."
    & whatchoo mean you don't LOVE the Godfather Of Soul?! WHAAATT?! Jump back! HEY!
    I can think of lotsa GROUPS that don't deserve any love (or at least Not Much). Can I nominate Guns 'N' Roses, AC/DC, Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Megadeath, Metallica, Iron Maiden...? Maybe 4 good songs outta the whole bunch!
    ...& I think Pink Floyd was SUPPOSED to leave people cold -- I think that was kinda their point....
    Cheers!

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  3. Haha - great idea for a list! I'd put Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin up there. I appreciate what Dylan did, but his voice is just awful. Let the arguing begin.

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  4. I don't mind McDonald and even like him on some songs ("What a Fool Believes" and "Takin' It To the Streets" come to mind). As for Bowie, I agree with you on most of his material but there are a few songs of his I like ("Life On Mars," "Ashes to Ashes," and "Space Oddity" come to mind).

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  5. I don't understand the appeal of Bruce Springsteen (which I believe is a stoning offense in the state of NJ). I like a few of his hits but I really don't understand the level of devotion and appeal of some of his more die-hard fans.

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