Sunday, March 18, 2012

Top 10 Most Revered or Reviled Artists

There are artists that almost everyone loves, or at least greatly respects, and there are popular artists that are widely loathed by the music intelligentsia.  There are also lots of bands that lots of people think are pretty good, while others think are just OK, or visa versa.

When I was posting my top 500 songs of the 1970s list for the first time, I got to thinking about the most contentious artists.  These are artists that almost nobody thinks are kind of OK.  Most people think these artists are absolutely wonderful or absolute rubbish (or at least grossly overrated).

I don't have a very good metric for these rankings.  I tried to think of one.  Loosely, I was imagining equally vociferous arguments in favor or against these artists' greatness.  In some cases, the vociferousness of the feelings pushed artists up the ranking more than the balance of the opinions.

10. Grateful Dead
9. Wings
8. Coldplay
7. Fleetwood Mac
6. Barbara Streisand
5. Rush
4. Oasis
3. The Cure
2. Bob Dylan
1. Billy Joel

I've failed to make the case for any of these 10.  I think it's a good list if it's self-evident that a lot of people love or hate all of these artists.  If it's not self-evident, I should have made better choices.


  1. Interesting!! Let me respond artist-by-artist.
    10. Grateful Dead. Excellent selection. I own a greatest-hits because I felt I needed to, and I respect the idea of the Grateful Dead, but secretly I hate them.
    9. Wings. I imagine more revulsion out there than reverence. I have the double-disc McCartney Hits collection. I like a lot of Macca's post-Beatles work but in thinking of Wings my first reaction is "yecch."
    8. Coldplay. Good choice. I bought the first album but eventually sold it back. I know hate them.
    7. Fleetwood Mac. Good one, but maybe more of a "do you love the 70s or do you hate them" vote than the band themselves. I do not own any Mac but could imagine purchasing some sort of essential collection for a deep discount.
    6. Streisand. Sure.
    5. Rush. Great choice. I have a compilation but suppose I kind of hate them. Geddy Lee coming across as a prick in an interview with Narduar the Human Serviette didn't help.
    4. Oasis. Good pick. Split was probably more even in their heyday, but I would imagine has leaned toward hate. Yes, I do have a two-disc compilation.
    2. Decent pick. Maybe a more even split in his heyday, now leaning toward can't-touch-this legendosity.
    1. Billy Joel. Purely generational split? I had the double-album greatest hits in the original vinyl era but now despise him.

  2. 3. The Cure. This is the entry I question the most and yet somehow I skipped it. Maybe it was to give me more time to think about it. In high school I would've bet that either you loved the Cure or hadn't heard of them. And now I'd guess either you love the Cure or don't think of them at all. But during the in-between days, I'd imagine there were some tougher alt-rock types who dismissed the whole Smiths/Cure scene. I own Standing on a Beach AND the more recent Greatest Hits.

  3. Maybe The Doors? The psychedelic-era stuff is often poo-poo'd as "druggie music" (as if other rock was recorded stone-cold sober!), so I think Morrison gets thrown in with that.

    Genesis/Phil Collins? Brilliant to some, totally boring to others, but nonetheless one of only a few supposed thinking-person's bands of the 70's.

    The Who...?

    Dylan, the Dead, Billy Joel, and Rush are spot-on examples of your theme, I think.