Some Widely Loved Artists I Don't Love

danieltalsky | Reviews | Thursday, April 5th, 2012

I'm always so goddamned positive here on the Snob. I don't usually like to bother to write about things unless I love them, but I think it's worth mentioning that I don't in fact love everything. Plus, it's a critic's job to be contrary so, I'm going to give it a shot.

Elvis Costello

So many music lovers revere this guy to the stars, but sadly I feel like I have to force myself to listen to a whole album. My respect for Elvis just went up a couple of notches when I heard him cover Fiona Apple's amazing and amazingly underrated song I Know:

I could tell that he loved the song, and knew every word and inflection, and hit every single one of its incredible high points. It's not the first time I've thought "I should give Elvil Costello a chance" though.

To me he just sounds hopelessly dated, and nothing really makes his songwriting or performing stand out for me in a way that makes me want to listen to it.

Song I do actually like: Alison

Radiohead

OK, now I know this is going to be a divisive one. There's definitely some Radiohead I like. I know they're the ultimate in modern rock brilliance. I've really loved a lot of what they've done.

Who would have every guessed that a band destined to become a one-hit-wonder from Creep, would switch it up and become one of the most universally acknowledged rock success geniuses ever.

When I put on OK, Computer, one of their undisputed masterworks, all I can think is "Goddamn, can this dude whine!" I feel like he generated this whole generation of first world problem whiners who think intelligently howling about the injustices and plastic-ness of the world is the highest of art.

Sometimes liking music has to do with wanting to inhabit the psychic landscape it creates. I rarely seem to want to live in Radioheadland.

Song I do actually like: Reckoner

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/07-Reckoner.mp3|titles=Radiohead – Reckoner]

R.E.M.

These guys blew my mind when I was first aware of them, which wasn't until I was 15 and videos started popping up on MTV. I wasn't sure whether to like or hate Losing My Religion when it came out (ended up liking it) or Stand / Shiny Happy People (ended up hating it).

I've tried to go back and listen to some of their classic College Rock era albums like Eponymous and Life's Rich Pageant. Much like Elvis Costello I just felt like these guys were outdated by the time I got to them. I liked it, but people seemed to regard their old stuff with a certain level of worship that I just could never comprehend.

Song I actually like: Fall on Me

Jay-Z

I didn't actually realize how huge and ubiquitous Jay-Z was until well after his prime. Now, his sad, late career verses sound pretty pathetic next to Kanye West at the absolute top of his songwriting game. There's Kanye talking absolutely insane shit, always something new, while Jay-Z is still playing up the fact that he used to sell crack in another lifetime and that he's really huge.

Yeah, back in the day he wrote some good songs on Blueprint and The Black Album for sure. But even then, I just can't quite fathom how he managed to become this unbelievable multi-platinum success. He does have that wide, expansive voice, and his lyrics are never too challenging.

Song I actually like: Takeover

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/02-Takeover.mp3|titles=Jay-Z – Takeover]

Queen

I want to love Queen, I really do. I love the idea of flamboyant gay rockers doing operatic imaginative way-before-its-time rock and blowing apart the world. I love plenty of their anthems. I, too, watched Wayne's World and thought, "Holy crap, I've heard that song before I but I didn't realize what a mega-world-destroying beast it was!"

I love all the talk about fat bottomed girls riding bicycles. I love that a band with a gay lead singing became the stadium stomper for America's most red-blooded manly sport.

However, when I listen to an actual album, the pomp and bombast just overwhelm the actual songs for me. They're vamping and camping with a million things going on at once like some grand poncy circus.

Song I actually like: Killer Queen

[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/02-Killer-Queen.mp3|titles=Queen – Killer Queen]

Neil Young

I tried to find this old comic from Seattle's The Stranger newspaper where Neil Young says something like, "You business fellas worry about doing what you're best at: making money, and I'll go back to doing when I'm best at: warbling like an old goose."

There is no doubt that Neil is a prolific and powerful songwriter. I hear his recent album about an electric car was really good.

He is clearly a passionate and insightful hippie who's worked with some incredibly talented people and can obviously make magic with just himself and a guitar.

Only one problem, I could just never bring myself to put on one of his albums again. He is someone I have actively tried to like and "get". I had Harvest Moon on vinyl, I tried to get into After The Gold Rush and Tonight's The Night, but I couldn't quite get over the goose warble.

Song I actually like: Heart of Gold

Win Me Over?

Do you want to change my mind on any of these artists? Pick me out a 3 song playlist and send it to me for any of these artists and I'll give it a shot.

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2 Comments

  1. It's true; the Thom Whine(tm) IS a pretty distinct part of the Radiohead sound, but here are a few earlier songs where it's toned down to the point where I think you might enjoy:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIqEhDWihhU
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXyrCRd1ikw
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRB8N9kX5es

    If you want to appreciate Queen, you should rent (or more likely torrent) a copy of one of their concert videos. The outfits and masturbatory guitar solos notwithstanding, it forces a slightly more stripped-down version of their songs that might fit more with your taste:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B688iTySGy8
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wihX1KCS-d4
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUJkCXE4sAA
    Even Bohemian Rhapsody sounds kind of intimate when the focus is on Freddie and his piano:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JszN7h84TXs

    And here's bonus Elvis Costello cover to break your heart:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuJJBJHDUcY

    Comment by Damien — April 5, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

  2. Listened to everything and liked it all. Planet Telex is good!

    I already like a lot of Queen songs.. just can't really get into any of their actual albums. The videos you gave were all great. He's such a powerful performer.

    And HI DAMIEN! I miss you!

    Comment by danieltalsky — April 5, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

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