The 100 Most Influential Artists?
By Walter Price
To say “Top/Most Whatever” lists are silly, amusing and all out subjective festivals for geeks in a room trying to find content to fill their pages before their tricky facial hair goes out of style would be going easy on the subject.
So, NME has a new ‘100 Most Influential Artists’ list out and it is odd to say the least and straight up out of whack with actual music history. The Beatles are off the list and the reason being is, “Obviously modern music wouldn’t exist in its current form without them, virtually every facet of NME’s world can be traced back to ‘The White Album’, they’re clearly the most influential act in rock history. End of argument, right?” says the mag’s neatly sideburned Mark Beaumon and then expanded his/their reasoning, “But how many bands today turn up to a rehearsal room plastered with posters of Ringo, neck a load of brown acid and plug in planning to write a 21st Century ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’? Far fewer, we reasoned, than want to write their own ‘Seven Nation Army’ or ‘Crystalised’. Ditto Dylan, The Stones and The Who, et al.”
Crystalised? At least The Zombies made it at 64.
Then something about how they used some sort of cider driven science or something or the other. Which I believe.
Now I find myself needing to list things from their ‘scientific’ list.
99. The Cure
NME Says: “Goth band” – but were they? Alright, so Robert has worn his best Krusty slap since year zero, but much more than being mardy, he will be remembered as one of the greatest texture-makers in British music. Atmospheric was his middle name, whether that was upbeat or down, hence why he is a godfather to Mogwai and The Shins as much as Warpaint and The Horrors.”
I Say: “Bruhahahahaha. Really? Hey guess who NME thinks is more influential than the Cure? Well, everybody but The Beatles & Deerhunter (the later made #100).
BlazeSarkisian85 (NME comments board) Says: “The Cure as low as 99 yet Kanye is in the top 5? This is a joke.”
73. Wu-Tang Clan
NME Says: “For a band with such a distinctive sound, Wu-Tang’s most enduring legacy may actually be their impact on the music business. By using their releases to showcase individual members, who then emerged with solo LPs, Rza’s five-year plan for world domination couldn’t be bettered. Every rap group since with more than two talented MCs has tried to copy their template.”
I Say: I agree with part of this. I will add that New York (and beyond) rap post Enter The Wu-Tang (6 Chambers) would be forever changed. Not just in the business arenas (that came later) but in the style of thousands of aspiring MCs. And it’s RZA not Rza.
Phillip Mlynar (Village Voice) Says: “The Wu Tang Clan’s musical influence on other rap groups is unprecedented. The flows, mafia-alias nonsense, and slang — “Don’t play me like I got a flowerpot-head, kid!” “Lobster-head-ass nigga! — have inspired a couple generations of subsequent rappers, both aspiring and often already established. (If you follow the line of reasoning Nas details in “The Last Real Nigga Alive,” then even Jay-Z’s career owes a debt to the Wu’s style.) And RZA’s early, soul-sample-rooted productions have been cited by no less a maestro than Kanye West as the prime influence on his breakthrough chipmunk-soul style.”
NME Says: “65. Diplo Pinning Diplo down to a snappy soundbite is near-impossible. This is a man who has worked with both Usher and Rolo Tomassi. Between his own mixtapes, work with Major Lazer and production duties covering pop, hip-hop and hardcore, Diplo’s involvement tends to mean an artist is about to blow up. Where he goes, others follow, and all of them are dancing.”
I Say: I need a beer.
62. The Stooges
NME Says: Iggy and his Stooges are not just in the squealing thrash noise that forms the root of melodic garage and hardcore music today – Fucked Up, Gallows, Black Lips, Radkey, Goat – they’re in every single garage-punk maniac flinging themselves off speaker stacks in the name of enterpainment. We’re looking at you, Honor Titus.”
I Say: Wowzers, Good sounds but are Radkey, Cerebral Ballzy or Gallows future influencers? But good idea to list a slew of DJs higher on ya list than Iggy & gang…WIN!
58. Black Sabbath
NME Says: “Black Sabbath. Over on the beefier end of music’s spectrum, the Prince Of Darkness still reigns. Newcomers Royal Blood and The Wytches have adopted their dark aesthetic, and Alex Turner might not be biting the heads off bats yet but Sabbath’s heaving riffs are all over ‘AM’. Which is something the Monkeys have given a nod to, covering ‘War Pigs’ in their set.”
I Say: This is extremely pathetic. Buy some Sabbath, listen and then have a redo. Thank You.
NME Says: “Television were not your typical CBGB band: they wrote long, complex, lyrical songs and played them with a high degree of proficiency. Their sound has found its way into everyone from The Strokes to Interpol to Franz Ferdinand to Arctic Monkeys”
I Say: At least they made the list. Good on ya NME. “…they wrote long, complex, lyrical songs and played them with a high degree of proficiency.” is the best part.
47. The Cars
NME Says: “A young Brandon Flowers took a long drive with his brother, listening to The Cars’ greatest hits on the way, and the minute he hit adulthood he created the 21st-century equivalent. The Killers sparked the ’80s revival, and soon music that sounded like the soundtrack to John Hughes flicks was everywhere. Secretly, Ric Ocasek is at the wheel of 2014.”
I Say: This position for The Cars is wrong but your quip is spot on! I love you.
Ric Ocasek Says: “There’s more to light than the opposite of dark.”
41. Led Zeppelin
NME Says: “When Led Zeppelin electrified the blues music that had in turn inspired them, they set the stage for a whole raft of heavy-riffing rock music. But it’s not just the heavier bands – listen to ‘Trampled Underfoot’ and tell us you can’t hear Franz Ferdinand.”
I Say: These electrifiers of the blues, as you say, should be in a revolving Top 5. But you used the internet and found that these electrifiers of the blues should at least make an appearance so the mob that would have formed outside you cool cubicles wouldn’t draw you up from the nearest lamppost.
NME Says: “I was in a hamburger place in Portland – they were playing the Parquet Courts record and I thought it was Pavement,” Stephen Malkmus told Rolling Stone this year. You can forgive him for the error; slackers left in indie-rock across their 10 years together, bands have been copying their formula of dry-witted lyrics, jangling guitars and Gen X melancholia for years.”
I Say: Perfection
NME Says: “See it in the way Zachary Smith Cole from Diiv holds himself onstage and off; hear it in the mighty grunge riffs of Dahlia, The Vines, Wolf Alice and Royal Blood; feel it at the moshpit madness of a Kasabian live show; watch it in the way The Cribs have conducted their entire career with uncompromising DIY principles. The Seattle legends are everywhere.”
I Say: How drunk were you numbnuts when you made this list. What other band in the, let us say, past 20 years have caused kids to pick up a notebook and guitar more than Nirvana…Wolf Alice? Royal Blood? And Hole at #21… I am going to have a stroke. I’ll send you cats the bill.
NME Says: By expanding their sound from 1997’s ‘Blur’ onwards, the Britpop legends managed to flirt with Radiohead’s new branch of electronic ennui with 1999’s ‘13’ and kick off the millennium’s afrobeat obsession on 2003’s ‘Think Tank’. Ever since, Blur have remained relevant to the new breed; Childhood, Superfood and Speedy Ortiz are all dedicated Blur-ites”
I Say: Blur Good
11. The Smiths
NME Says: “It’s pretty tough to imitate The Smith but as the first UK indie band to achieve serious mainstream success, they undoubtedly had a seismic effect on British pop music. When people talk about ‘indie’ – be it C86, Britpop or the current wave – they’re generally talking about something whose central tenets were laid down by The Smiths.”
I Say: Truer words may not have been spoken NME. I do wonder why The Clash was at 14 and The Smiths at #11 and The xx at #10. I seriously should have never bothered with all this.
Nick Cave at #9 seems iffy and the marvelous The Gun Club #7 seems a bit eager and then you screwed the pooch with ranking Flaming Lips in the top 10 at all. Your list after all…
What you did at #1 with Radiohead will confuse young children and frighten music connoisseurs for ages. Are you familiar with the reason why people hide things in Radiohead jewel cases…Because no one will ever look in them. I’m so spicy.
You can now move freely around your record collection…