Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rolling Stone Must Be Stoned

In 2003,Rolling Stone published its "Immortals: Top 100 Artists" list. I can't say that I had a terrible reaction to the list in its entirety. My biggest beef is probably with those who were left off the list. My secondary beef is that the order (specifically of the top 15) was perplexing to say the least.

To start, several artists were excluded from the list and several were more than just head scratchers. Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, BB King, Creedance Clearwater Revival, Metallica, RUSH, Phil Collins, REM, Queen, Pat Benatar, Heart,Frank Sinatra, and Van Halen were NOT ON THE LIST! Alright, before I start making suggestions about who should have been removed from the list to make room for these heavy hitters, I must first discuss my philosophy.

Inclusion on the list of "Immortals" should include artists who changed the face of rock, who impacted it in ways more significant than mere albums sold. Popularity is only one guage of rock immortality. Prolific artists who published astounding numbers of songs, who wrote their own music, who produced their own albums, who toured extensively, who had a long career all should be considered in higher regard than an artist whose career was a flash in the pan.

With that said, I can certainly understand where Rolling Stone came up with including Little Richard in the top 10. I don't agree, but they did apply the philosophy of longevity, production and impact. However, how can they possibly disclude Van Halen when they entered Guns N' Roses? How can they justify Nine Inch Nails over Pink Floyd? Or Metallica, even?

I couldn't help but notice that male artists dominated the list. I also couldn't help but notice the discrepency between rock, soul, blues and the bands that specialize in a harder brand of rock. I can understand the tip of the hat to those artists who blended other forms of music into rock or were sentimental choices: Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Bo Diddly, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, or George Clinton. But, that sort of inclusion can sometimes be taken too far.

Much of the controversy around the list centers on the order of the list. I will agree that some of the placements were strange. I also realize much bias and taste is involved in these choices. I could re-order the list and in the process dump artists in favor of those I have listed above. But,so could every American. We are left with the impression that Rolling Stone Magazine is big fans of rap, huge followers of mediocre bands from the 70's, and are opposed to British bands (except the Beatles, of course), hard rock and common sense.