Forgive me for my heresy, but it's about time the truth was finally told about some of Classic Rock's biggest icons. For decades we've all had to endure music from these artists and, to be truthful, their material is not all bad. But we must all come to terms with the fact that a lot of it just isn't that good; surely not good enough to receive the blind devotion paid by classic rockdom (if I can use such a term). Some of these artists have been master self-promoters; others have "benefited" from having passed away and therefore achieving classic rock immortality; some have done both. Some of these artists have benefited from fawning critics who wouldn't know good music from a hole in their notepad. Whatever the case, at the risk of being struck by lightning, here are the five most overrated classic rock artists of all time:
Hmmm. Take a guy who can't sing, can't really play guitar (though you have to admire his one-note guitar solo in "Cinnamon Girl" for its pure audacity) and add the stage presence/appearance of your redneck cousin Earl and you've got Neil Young. He was really the first grunge rocker - just 25 years ahead of his time. Neil isn't BAD - he's just not that good. And what does it say about our society when we refuse to do anything about those sideburns?
Okay, so I know I will never be able to visit New Jersey or my brother-in-law's home for saying this, but, Bruce Springsteen is really overrated. Somehow he was able to get some hipster music critics on his side when he broke onto the scene and has milked that ever since. He's one of these guys that's considered deep, a "man of the people", yada yada yada. But really, once you peel away the populist political musings, musically speaking, he's very bland, even schmaltzy. This guy is known for putting on three and four hour concerts! Is that a good thing? Seriously, my favorite Springsteen song is his version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" that I hear on the radio station in town that plays nothing but Christmas music from October through January.
Growing up in the 70s it was as if you were part of the Kiss Army by birthright. Kiss was everywhere! And even to this day the Kiss marketing machine has made the band one of the biggest music franchises in history. Gene Simmons is an excellent business/marketing man, how else can you explain their iconic status with such crappy music. Weak vocals, lame guitar playing, cheesy lyrics - but cool make-up and lots of explosions. Oh, and don't forget the fake blood, spiky boots and Simmon's long tongue. To be honest it must be said that a Kiss concert is a lot of fun - but not because they're first class musicians. Try this little experiment: Listen to a Kiss CD, then listen to a CD from one of their contemporaries like Cheap Trick, Boston, Montrose, ZZ Top - pretty much anybody else. You'll find that, musically, Kiss can't even come close to most of the other rock bands of their day.
Yes, I said it. And Yes, I know I'm treading on hallowed ground. The Beatles were probably the greatest musical act of all time. Their contribution and influence can really not be overstated. However, John Lennon, as a solo artist, was only mediocre. He was considered the "deep" one in the Lennon/McCartney partnership. However, Macca's solo material is infinitely more listenable than Lennon's. Apparently John was the "deep" one and Paul was the talented one. And don't tell me about "Imagine". As far as creepy odes to collectivism/communism go it's not a bad song - but one song does not a classic rock icon make. John Lennon is proof that The Beatles were truly greater than the sum of their parts.
Where do you begin with the doors? Not sure what is more irritating, Jim Morrison's bad lounge singer delivery or Ray Manzarak's hyperactive, "ice pick in my ear" organ playing. In actuality it's probably a combination of the two. It's for this reason that I maintain a strict "No Doors" policy in my home, car, workplace, etc. If a Doors song comes on, the radio goes off - it's as simple as that. Not sure who decided Morrison and the Doors were cool but surely 10 million angst ridden, college radio dufus hipsters can't be wrong, right? Actually, they are wrong. The Doors really aren't cool and they really are pretty lame. My apologies to any college professors or pony tail guys out there.
As previously mentioned, these classic rock artists are not all bad. Some have produced some good work. However, in the four-plus decade sweep of classic rock music history, these artists have not deserved much of the praise and reverence accorded them. It is okay and, I must admit, very liberating to cast away the facade and speak the truth: these particular artists may be viewed as icons but they're really just overrated.