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Tournament of Rock IV: And the winner is….

The the final round matchup between #10 seed Meat Loaf and unseeded upstart Duran Duran saw more than 12,500 votes cast, a new Tournament of Rock record. Thanks to everyone who showed up to voice their support.

Along the way we’ve had some laughs, traded some barbs, shaken our heads in disbelief at some of the results, watched some videos, and a few of us have reveled in the irony and spectacle of it all. It has indeed been fun.

The final was a see-saw affair. It started slow, then DD surged to what looked like an insurmountable lead. But the Meat Loaf fan club struck back, pulling even and nudging ahead for a few minutes. But the Duranies rallied and pulled away, in the end tallying 58.15% of the vote.

Ladies and gentlemen, please congratulate your choice for the greatest corporate band in the world, DURAN DURAN! Let’s celebrate with Simon doing is David Bowie impression.

Here’s how the final bracket looked. See you next time. And by the way, if you’re looking for more music content, have a look at our Best CDs of 2012 series.

Image Credit: KikiLime Designs

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV FINALS: Duran Duran vs. Meat Loaf

In our second semi-final we have…no surprise whatsoever, as the Duranies just keep on coming. This time around they scored 85% of the vote to absolutely crush REO Speedwagon. We’ll see if they can now muster one final assault on Corporate Rock Mountain.

And don’t tell me you had unseeded Duran Duran and #10 seed Meat Loaf making the finals in your office pool, either. Nobody could have predicted this.

So, on with the show. Introducing first, at a combined weight of 587 pounds, hailing from Birmingham, England, DURAN DURAN!

Their opponent (you’re just waiting on a “combined weight” crack here, aren’t you? Stop it.), hailing from Big D, little a, double L A.S., MEAT LOAF!

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: REO Speedwagon vs. Duran Duran

And the Meat Loaf Express just keeps on rolling. We could look at the string of results and wonder whether he’s been so successful due to the enthusiasm of his fans or the indifference of those of his opponents. In any case, AC/DC is his latest victim and we’ll see Meat Loaf in the finals, where he’ll face off with the winner of this match.

Up first, let’s hear from REO Speedwagon:

And now, the band that. thanks to the insane loyalty of its fans, has established itself as the prohibitive favorite to win it all.

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: AC/DC vs. Meat Loaf

Rick Springfield tallied the fourth-highest vote total in the the tournament so far, which was good for…40% of the vote. Wow, the Duranies were out in force. If they keep showing up like this Duran Duran is going to be our champion. Still, three matches remain and anything can happen. Onto the semi-finals.

I won’t lie to you – I’m a little surprised that Meat Loaf has made it this far. There’s no questioning his corporate rock credentials, of course, but he’s beaten some artists that I thought for sure would draw more voter love. Shows you what I know. In any case, he’s up against it now.

In the red corner, hailing from the magical land of Oz, please welcome AC/DC!

Their opponent in the blue corner, hailing from the magical land of Dallas, Texas, give it up for Meat Loaf!

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: Rick Springfield vs. Duran Duran

We have another nailbiter to report: by a scant three votes, our third quarter-final winner is…AC/DC! Congrats to Eric Clapton, who goes home with our thanks and a copy of the Tournament of Rock home edition.

One more semi-final slot remains to be filled, and both of our contestants have enjoyed strong fan support so far in the tournament. Gentlemen: start your engines!

Up first, here’s Duran Duran with “Save a Prayer,” which I have always felt is one of the greatest videos from the ’80s.

Rick Springfield counters with one of the greatest songs in power pop history.

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: Eric Clapton vs. AC/DC

In our second quarter-final match up we had the makings of a blowout, as Aerosmith surged to a huge early lead. Then Meat Loaf’s fans weighed in, as it were, and the biggest solo artist in all of Hard Rock blew past the boys from Boston like, well, a bat out of hell, I guess, logging nearly 60% of the vote. Aerosmith, the tribe has spoken.

We turn now to a couple of acts that have both made their livings slinging an axe, although in doing so they have proven that great tools can often be used in very different ways.

We begin with Slowhand, singing about meeting the devil at the crossroads

And here’s AC/DC. They’re on the highway to meet the devil. Because the world moves a lot faster these days.

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: Meat Loaf vs. Aerosmith

Wow. #4 seed REO Speedwagon vs. #5 Bon Jovi turned out to the be the nailbiter we’ve been waiting for. Each band held significant leads at one point or another, and in the end it came down to a photo-finish: by a mere two votes, your winner is…REO Speedwagon. Congratulations to both bands on a great showing, and we’ll see REO in the semi-finals.

Up next, another match of top seeds: #2 Aerosmith and #10 Meat Loaf. Frankly, here are two artists we’d kill to see collaborating. Maybe they could do a medley of “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” and “Big Ten Inch Record.” I smell a hit, yo.

Let’s see here. How about we start with my favorite Embaerosmith tune in the last 20 years.

Since we’re focusing on high spots, let’s now see the greatest moment of Meat Loaf’s career.

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: Bon Jovi vs. REO Speedwagon

The last match in the Sweet 16 goes off without a great deal of drama, despite the fact that it was technically an upset: AC/DC, purveyor of ballsy hard rock and affordable Shiraz, handles Phil Collins easily and takes another step down the highway to CorpRock hell.

And now we arrive in the quarterfinals. Eight bands left, and only one crown. We’ll tell you who they are, show you a video, and the rest is up to you. Without further ado, then, our first matchup – an inter-regional affair pitting New Jersey against the Heartland. In the spirit of the season, here’s Bruce Springsteen Bon Jovi.

I can’t find any video of REO Speedwagon doing Christmas songs. So the next best thing is this, featuring them channeling The Shirelles.

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: AC/DC vs. Phil Collins

Finally, we have a result that we sort of expected: #16 Rick Springfield takes out unseeded Foreigner. The 87%-13% margin is more than we might have anticipated, but Rick’s fans tend to be enthusiastic. We’ll see him in the Great 8, where he will take on Duran Duran.

And now, the final match of the Sweet 16 round: #11 Phil Collins vs. AC/DC, which defeated #6 seed Bryan Adams in the prelims.

Me: Phil Collins is like your accountant got famous. AC/DC is like the burners in shop class got famous. What a choice. I will offer this up as…something. I’m not sure what.

That is the AC/DC wine display at a local liquor store. Let me repeat that: AC/DC wine Pictured here: Back in Black Shiraz and Highway to Hell Cabernet. You couldn’t get more corporate than this if Bill Gates and Carly Fiorina formed a band. It’s a long way to the top if you want to mainstream rock and roll, I guess.

[sigh] Nonetheless, this is still one of the greatest songs in rock history. Rip it up, boys. And I need more bagpipe.

I have no idea how Phil is going to compete with that, but let’s give it our best shot, shall we (with an assist from Philip Bailey).

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: Foreigner vs. Rick Springfield

The upsets just keep on coming, as #10 Meat Loaf takes out #7 KISS in a sideshow special. Congratulations to the hottest band in the world for making it to the Sweet 16, and we’ll see Loaf in the Great 8, where he’ll face #2 Aerosmith.

Onto our next match, which ought to be a lively one: #16 Rick Springfield vs. the band that took out our top seed in the prelims, Foreigner.

fikshun: Rick Springfield used to be in a soap opera. The same can probably still be said for the members of Foreigner.

Me: When Foreigner sang “I Want to Know What Love Is,” it turns out that Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s hot-blooded video for “Relax” was not the answer they were looking for. I loved their first record, but it’s hard to forgive the homophobia. I mean, what are they, a Christian band? As for Rick, it was hard to forgive the decision to cast Janet Eilber as the love interest in Hard to Hold. But I’ll get over that one. Some day.

First, something old:

And something new. Ish.

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: KISS vs. Meat Loaf

Wow. I predicted Stevie Nicks in a landslide, and I was half right (Duran Duran scoring 59% of the vote constitutes a landslide, right?) Still, that seems unfair to the literally thousands of Stevie fans who showed up to vote and comment. This was the largest turnout in our four ToRs to date, in fact, so congrats to both acts. We’ll see DD again in the quarterfinals, when they take on the winner of the Rick Springfield/Foreigner match.

And now, onward. March Madness fans will tell you that the 7/10 match-up is always a dangerous one, and maybe it will be here, as #7 seed KISS squares off with #10 Meat Loaf.

fikshun: Both are kings of hype and self-promotion. Gene Simmons rocked the small screen in The Avengers prequel.. er…Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. Meat was in Fight Club. Meat was in Rocky Horror Picture Show. Even though the latter came out the same year as Kiss Alive!, I’m still not sure if Paul Stanley gave birth to Dr. Frankenfurter’s persona or vice versa. Wow, this is a better match-up than the Dr. Phil/Josef Mengele tilt I’m hoping to see in the afterlife.

Bonesparkle: I always thought Meat Loaf was Bonnie Tyler before the sex change. It is so hard to keep up with you Americans and your pop stars.

Me: This is going to come down to the female vote. Gene Simmons can lick his eyebrows. Meat Loaf can…ummm…is sweat sexy?

Up first, an age-old existential question: why are we here? Well, I was made for loving you, baby. It’s like reading Sartre, isn’t it?

And now, I’d do anything for love, but ewww.

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: Stevie Nicks vs. Duran Duran #NSFW

UPDATE: Due to intense interest, we’re going to extend voting an extra day in this match. Polls close at midnight tonight (MST). Get your votes in.


I keep predicting close matches and I keep being wrong. Way wrong. In the last match Bon Jovi absolutely stomped Boston, corralling 82% of the vote. I’m not surprised that Bon Jovi got a lot of votes, but I am surprised that Boston got so little love. Shows what I know. So in the next match I’m going to predict a blowout. Since I think Duran Duran ought to beat Stevie Nicks, I’m picking Stevie in a landslide. Take that.

fikshun: Stevie beat Ozzy. Stevie has more solo hits than all the members of Duran Duran combined. Neither artist has sponsored a commercial product. Duran Duran isn’t on speaking terms with their former guitarist. It’s an open question whether the same is true with Stevie. This could get interesting.

Bonesparkle: I’ve decided to cast my vote based on hotness. In this round, Nick Rhodes is way prettier than Stevie Nicks.

Me: Some people slur Stevie by saying she slept her way to the top, which is totally unfair. You don’t think Simon LeBon would have slept his way to the top given half a chance?

Up first, it’s a shame that whole sparkly vampire thing didn’t come around 25 years sooner.

I selected the uncensored version of Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” because I’m very interested in photography. That’s the only reason. (#NSFW)

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: Bon Jovi vs. Boston

I expected a closer contest, but I overestimated the Van Hagar fanbase, I guess. Regardless, Eric Clapton spanked Van Halen 2.0 pretty soundly, hauling in 72% of the vote. Slowhand moves on to face the winner of the AC/DC-Phil Collins match in the Great 8.

Maybe this faceoff will generate some drama at the polls: it’s the fifth seeded boys who gave love a bad name vs. #12, just another band out of Boston, on the road to try to make ends meet.

fikshun: Some would argue that the Three Mile Island accident was the most toxic disaster to waft across the Eastern seaboard.  I’m not so sure.

Bonesparkle: Bon Jovi has so adroitly shifted and adapted to address the evolving fancy of the marketplace, from hair metal to housewife rock to country, that I find myself praying for polka to make a major comeback. Seriously, can somebody with Photoshopping skills cobble me together a shot of Jon in lederhosen? On a horse or a motorcycle – either way works.

Me: People say Boston kept making the same record over and over. While this is true, at least it was a good record. Peter Cetera kept making the same record over and over, too, and if you don’t get where I’m going with this I can post some videos for you.

Up first, the Pride of Sayreville, New Jersey. (Thank me – I almost posted their cover of “Hallelujah.” But I decided that this was WAY more fun. As in, almost as much fun as watching Billy Squier dance.)

My friends who saw Boston live say this was the highlight of the show.

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: Eric Clapton vs. Van Hagar

Our second Sweet 16 matchup saw our biggest voter turnout so far, and nearly 70% of these folks preferred the definitively Midwestern stylings of REO Speedwagon to those of our friends from across the pond, Def Leppard. Congrats to Joe Perry and the boys, and we’ll see REO in the Great 8 vs. either Bon Jovi or Boston.

Up next, a clash of legendary guitarists who love the smell of money: Eric Clapton vs. Van Hagar.

fikshun: In this match-up, you have a once-talented guitarist who drank/drugged himself into mediocrity versus Eric Clapton  … er, wait.  Never mind. At least Eric Clapton had some good years. Van Hagar is the Wikipedia definition of the bad years.

Me: Hey, Eric, the devil is on the phone and he says if you’re going to keep fucking around with John Mayer he’s going to need to renegotiate your contract.

Jim: Eric Clapton nearly gets a pass based on his Bluesbreakers work alone – not to mention Cream, which I have now done. John Mayer still sucks.  Eddie – oh, Eddie, I see some SOB “tapping” his fret board and throw up a little in my mouth. You were soooo fucking good.  So it comes down to whether one thinks Sammy Hagar or John Mayer is a greater chancre on the legacy of the respective career. Pass the antibiotics….

Bonesparkle: Here’s an idea. Let’s replace the singer who’s making fun of high school sophomores with…wait for it…a high school sophomore!

Mr. Clapton, you have the floor.

And now, Mr. Van Hagar, 4:25 for a rebuttal.

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: REO Speedwagon vs. Def Leppard

In our first Sweet 16 matchup, Aerosmith laid a beatdown on Bad Company. Probably no surprise in that. Congrats to BadCo for making it this far, and we send them off with a copy of our home edition and a year’s supply of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat!

Up next, a match we expect to be a little closer: #4 seed REO Speedwagon vs. #13 Def Leppard.

fikshun: Regardless of your criteria, Def Leppard out-whored, out-slummed, and out-rocked the Spudwagon. Hand me the coffin nails.

Me: Usually fan videos on YouTube are amateurish and cheesy, but in this case I think I found one that just about perfectly captures the essence of REO’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore.” Which, by the way, was the archetypal ’80s power ballad, wasn’t it?

Bonesparkle: Admit it. You like this song.

Me: Do not. Shut up.

Bonesparkle: Are…are you crying?

Me: No. Go away.

Bonesparkle: You are! You’re crying!

Me: Leave me alone! [sniff]

Me: And now, the Leppard with their own monster power ballad. They’re right, you know. Love really does bite.

Bonesparkle: Done properly, anyway.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

Click to vote.

CATEGORY: ToR4bracket

Tournament of Rock IV: Aerosmith vs. Bad Company

We finished up the preliminary rounds with a bang. The Eagles forged a big early lead, but tenth-seeded Meat Loaf staged a furious comeback, nipping the Country Rock icons at the wire.

And now we arrive at the Sweet 16. The procedure is simple and relatively painless. You know the artists (unless you’ve just recently arrived on Earth). In the bracket below, you see the band’s seed beside their names, and parentheses (#) indicated that this entry defeated that numbered seed in the prelims.

Think about it, watch a video, then tell us who you like.

Up first: #2 seed Aerosmith takes on Bad Company, which upset #15 seed Alanis Morissette.

fikshun: What’s worse?  Flying down a steep, icy road on roller skates or waiting for hours at the bus stop at the bottom of the hill?  Yeah, this match-up feels kinda like that. Happy effin’ holidays!

Bonesparkle: Bad Company vs. Embaerosmith. Somewhere in here is a clever “bad to worse” joke, isn’t there?

Here’s the boys from Boston.

And now, a word from their opponents.


Click to vote.


Tournament of Rock IV: the Meat Loaf pod

The results are in: pod 15 saw Stevie Nicks going all Iron Man on Ozzy and the rest of the competitors, really inflicting a beatdown that we didn’t see coming. Where are all the Ozzy fans, dude? In any case, Stevie moves on to the Sweet 16.

Now we arrive at pod 16, our final preliminary round. Yes folks, we’d do anything for corporate rock, but we won’t do that. Because, you know, it freakin’ hurts.

  • #10 Seed: Meat Loaf
  • Billy Squier
  • The Eagles
  • Limp Bizkit
  • Peter Cetera

Meat Loaf

After a tenure in the off-Broadway production Rainbow (In New York), Meat Loaf earned a slot in More Than You Deserve, a musical written by classically trained pianist Jim Steinman. An appearance in the cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show followed, and in 1976 Meat Loaf also handled vocal duties on one side of Nugent’s LP Free-for-All. Soon, Meat Loaf reteamed with Steinman for a tour with the National Lampoon road show, after which Steinman began composing a musical update of the Peter Pan story titled Never Land. Ultimately, much of what Steinman composed for Never Land became absorbed into 1977’s Bat Out of Hell, the album that made Meat Loaf a star. Produced by Todd Rundgren, the record was pure melodrama, a teen rock opera that spawned three Top 40 singles — “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” and “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth” — on its way to becoming one of the best-selling albums of the decade.

Alex: I respect a man who will tell me what he will and will not do for love. But Meat Loaf never said what “that” was, and I can’t live with that sort of uncertainty.

Jim: He wasn’t terrible in Rocky Horror. Sadly, in everything else, he was…

Me: Meat Loaf gets credit for Rocky Horror. But that’s cancelled out by his appearance with Mitt Romney. So that leaves us with Fight Club versus…everything else he ever did?

Bonesparkle: “I’d Do Anything for Love” would make more sense if it were being sung to Meat Loaf instead of by him. If a woman sang that song, I think we’d understand that by “I Won’t Do That,” she means take her clothes off while he’s in the same county.

Billy Squier

Many point to Billy Squier as early-’80s rock personified — an era when he and many of his peers tempered hard rock with pop melodicism — and by adding just the right amount of posing and posturing for the newly constructed MTV set, he scored a string of arena rock anthems and power ballads. … Squier’s hit parade continued with 1982’s Emotions in Motion, another big release that spawned an additional monster radio/MTV hit with “Everybody Wants You,” as Squier supported the album with a tour of U.S. arenas (with an up-and-coming Def Leppard opening). But on his next release, the 1984 Jim Steinman-produced Signs of Life, Squier hit a snag in his career. Although the album was another sizeable U.S. hit, the video for the album’s single, “Rock Me Tonite,” alienated some of Squier’s hardcore rock following, as the singer was filmed flamboyantly prancing around his apartment in time to the music (and in a moment of great delight, ripping off his shirt) — resulting in the clip often being considered one of the most inadvertently hilarious videos of all time.

Jim: Attempted to make The Stroke the word, but succeeded only in sounding as if he spent too much time applying The Stroke to himself…

fikshun: I remember seeing an interview with Billy Squier where he more or less blamed the end of his career on the homo-eroticism of his “Rock Me Tonight” video. He’s probably right, given his audience at the time. He claims he was only going along with what the video director was telling him to do, trusting that the director knew better. It seems apropos that the man who wrote the song “The Stroke,” a cynical assessment of going along with the machinations of the corporate world, would be undone by … you know … going along with the machinations of the corporate world.

Me: I loved Billy Squier. Still do – tracking his greatest hits as I type. It’s true that I mistyped “type” as “trype” just then and had to fix it, but that’s not the point here. The point is that Billy did some seriously great tunes, corporate or not.

Bonesparkle: Yeah, but you’ve seen that video, right?

Me: I’ve seen the video. Now, can we talk about something else?

Bonesparkle: I don’t know. I think we should watch it again.

Me: That isn’t necessary.

Bonesparkle: I think it is.

Me: Do NOT play that video!

Bonesparkle: You mean this one?

Me: You suck, you know that?

The Eagles

With five number one singles, fourteen Top 40 hits, and four number one albums, the Eagles were among the most successful recording artists of the 1970s. At the end of the 20th century, two of those albums — Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) and Hotel California — ranked among the ten best-selling albums ever, and the popularity of 2007’s Long Road Out of Eden proved the Eagles’ staying power in the new millenium. Though most of its members came from outside California, the group was closely identified with a country- and folk-tinged sound that initially found favor in Los Angeles during the late ’60s, as championed by such bands as the Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco (both of which contributed members to the Eagles). But the band also drew upon traditional rock & roll styles and, in their later work, helped define the broadly popular rock sound that became known as classic rock. As a result, the Eagles achieved a perennial appeal among generations of music fans who continued to buy their records many years after they had split up, which helped inspire the Eagles’ reunion in the mid-’90s.

fikshun: For most bands, if their principal members are no longer enchanted with their sound they’re making, they break up the band and start over.  The Eagles, on the other hand, replaced one member with another until they got their corporate formula just right. (Out of curiosity, I wonder if Don Henley is into eugenics.) It was a heck of a formula though. How many other bands got heavy airplay on the hard rock FM stations at the same time they were getting heavy airplay on the AM country stations? One point in their favor: like KISS, they’ve been on their farewell tour for what seems like 15 years now. Like KISS, they booted out a lead guitarist. Unlike KISS, they didn’t send out another clown wearing a mask with his likeness, trying to pretend nothing had changed.

Jim: Once a great band, then became everything they thought they were slyly making fun of…and didn’t realize it. To quote their best composer, “Don’t look back/You can never look back….” Had they heeded….

Me: It’s hard to imagine that adding Joe Walsh to any band would make things worse, isn’t it?

Bonesparkle: The archetypal expression of The Eagles’ aesthetic actually resides in Glenn Frey’s solo hit, “Party Town.” Discuss.

Limp Bizkit

After Korn played the Jacksonville area in 1995, bassist Fieldy got several tattoos from Durst (a tattoo artist) and the two became friends. The next time Korn were in the area, they picked up Limp Bizkit’s demo tape and were so impressed that they passed it on to their producer, Ross Robinson. Thanks mostly to word-of-mouth publicity, the band was chosen to tour with House of Pain and the Deftones. The label contracts came pouring in, and after signing with Flip/Interscope, Limp Bizkit released their debut album, Three Dollar Bill Y’All. By mid-1998, Limp Bizkit had become one of the more hyped bands in the burgeoning rap-metal scene, helped as well by more touring action — this time with Faith No More and later, Primus — as well as an appearance on MTV’s Spring Break ’98 fashion show. The biggest break, however, was a spot on that summer’s Family Values Tour, which greatly raised the group’s profile.

Jim: First, learn to spell. Second, spelling will not change the fact that you suck. One is reminded of the words of Dr. Samuel Johnson: “It is better…” Oh, nevermind. The words of that philosopher Ron White fit better: “You can’t fix stupid …”

Alex: I know LB did it all for the nookie, but I shudder to think that they got any.

Me: Wait – isn’t this the same as Kid Rock?

Peter Cetera

While best known as the longtime frontman for Chicago, singer Peter Cetera also enjoyed success as a solo performer. Born September 13, 1944 in the Windy City, Cetera was in a band called the Exceptions when in late 1967 he was recruited by another aspiring group, then called Chicago Transit Authority, to play bass. By the early ’70s, Chicago was among the most popular acts in America, their brand of muscular jazz-rock spawning such major hits as “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” and “Saturday in the Park,” many of them featuring Cetera on vocals. In 1976 he penned the gossamer ballad “If You Leave Me Now,” and when it hit number one, most of Chicago’s subsequent work followed in the same soft rock style. Although the band’s fortunes dwindled over the remainder of the decade, in 1982 Chicago returned to the top of the charts with “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”; several more smashes, including “Hard Habit to Break” and “You’re the Inspiration,” were to follow. Although Cetera recorded his eponymously titled solo debut in 1981, he remained with Chicago full-time until 1985. Upon quitting the band, he soon returned to the top of the charts with “The Glory of Love,” the first single from his album Solitude/Solitaire as well as the theme to the film The Karate Kid, Part II; that same year he scored another number one smash, “The Next Time I Fall,” a duet with Amy Grant.

Jim: I’m sorry – my brain only forms one word when I see Peter Cetera’ s name: “SUCKS!”

fikshun: The first Chicago record, back when they were going by the monicker Chicago Transit Authority, was really hot. But as with the Doobie Brothers and Jefferson Airplane, an evil changeling stepped in and it all went to crap. When the hydra descends to terrorize the city, the three heads of Peter Cetera, Mickey Thomas and Michael McDonald will be a formidable beast indeed.

Bonesparkle: Sam, you hateful son of a bitch. Didn’t we already deal with this in the Chicago pod?

Me: I felt that Cetera’s solo career deserved to considered on its own merits.

Bonesparkle: Fuck you. You call Meat Loaf vs. a second helping of Cetera vs. Kid Bizkit vs. Linda Ronstadt’s goddamned backing band vs. the Prince of Prance a choice? That’s like having a choice between getting your balls shot off or hacked off with a machete.


Click to vote.

The rules.

Image Credit: LA Times


Tournament of Rock IV: the Stevie Nicks pod

And order is restored: after a couple of notable upsets, #13 seed Def Leppard rallied to win pod 14 after falling behind Toto and The Beach Boys early. Congrats, and we’ll see them in the Sweet 16.

Moving on to pod 15, where our highest seeded female artist seeks to weave her formulaic gypsy magic over a dangerous field of challengers.

  • #8 Seed: Stevie Nicks
  • Daughtry
  • Hootie & the Blowfish
  • The Outfield
  • Ozzy Osbourne

Stevie Nicks

Famed for her mystical chanteuse image, singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks enjoyed phenomenal success not only as a solo artist but also as a key member of Fleetwood Mac. Stephanie Lynn Nicks was born May 26, 1948, in Phoenix, AZ; the granddaughter of a frustrated country singer, she began performing at the age of four, and occasionally sang at the tavern owned by her parents. Nicks started writing songs in her mid-teens, and joined her first group, the Changing Times, while attending high school in California. During her senior year, Nicks met fellow student Lindsey Buckingham, with whom she formed the band Fritz along with friends Javier Pacheco and Calvin Roper. Between 1968 and 1971, the group became a popular attraction on the West Coast music scene, opening for Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Ultimately, tensions arose over the amount of attention paid by fans to Nicks’ pouty allure, and after three years Fritz disbanded; Buckingham remained her partner, however, and soon became her lover as well.

Brian: Is it Stevie Nicks or is it a goat (think South Park)?  Your call.

Jim: Every time she sings, an angel’s wings fall off….

Me: I was so happy when Stevie went solo. I thought with her out of the way Fleetwood Mac could get back to making decent music again. [sigh] I was so young and naïve back then….

fikshun: Ozzy is in this pod. There’s nothing I can say against Stevie that I couldn’t levy against Ozzy. In fact, Stevie at least has had the class to keep her private life mostly private. Ozzy’s private life might just be his music career’s most valuable asset.


Daughtry was featured heavily during [American Idol]’s seemingly never-ending audition rounds for two reasons: he was telegenic, and he capitalized on the rocker promise of Bo Bice and Constantine Maroulis from the previous season. Moreover, he was bald and handsome, had a terrific smile, and his devotion to family made for great TV. Daughtry sailed through to Hollywood and made it into the final 12, where he was hailed as a standout and soon seemed to be a favorite to win. Daughtry mania began to peak in March when his rendition of Fuel’s “Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” caused such a sensation that rumors began to fly that Fuel wanted to hire him as their lead singer — something that proved to be no rumor, as the modern rock group, savoring the new press, practically pleaded for his presence after he was voted off the show.

Jim: I personally know many great, great musicians from North Carolina. They are not famous. Chris Daughtry is. This is one of the existential mysteries.

Me: Seriously. The dB’s are from NC and they never got famous. Don Dixon is from NC and nobody knows who he is. The Right Profile died on the vine. Jeff Foster makes the best music of anybody alive and sells what, eight CDs? But this tepid saucer of cat wank makes it big? I hope there’s a hell. And when he gets there, I hope they strap Simon Cowell down and make him listen to the “music” he pimped on America for the rest of eternity.

Bonesparkle: If Avril Lavigne can be a “Punk,” then Daughtry can be a “Rocker.” Excuse me, I meant “Rocker®.”

Hootie & the Blowfish

For a short time, Hootie & the Blowfish was the most popular band in America. Grunge music ruled the airwaves during the mid-’90s, but Hootie played a mainstream pop variation of blues-rock, and their easy-going sound netted them a string of Top 40 hits. Formed at the University of South Carolina, the group featured lead vocalist/guitarist Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, and Jim “Soni” Sonefeld, and the band’s name referred to two mutual friends (not Rucker and the group itself). Cracked Rear View, the quartet’s first album, was released in the fall of 1994 and became enormously successful, due in part to the album’s first single, “Hold My Hand.” The song had worked its way into the Top Ten by the beginning of 1995, propelling the album to number one and paving the way for three additional Top 20 singles: “Let Her Cry,” “Only Wanna Be With You,” and “Time.” Cracked Rear View became the most popular album of 1995. By the time Hootie & the Blowfish returned to the scene with a second album, Fairweather Johnson, in early 1996, the debut had sold 13 million copies in America alone. Fairweather Johnson didn’t replicate that success. It entered the charts at number one and sold two million copies within its first four months of release, but it didn’t produce any singles on the level of “Hold My Hand” or “Let Her Cry.” Musical Chairs followed in 1998 and experienced even less success, and the bandmates decided to take a short break after its release.

fikshun: I have this nightmare sometimes where I’m being led down a metal grate stairwell. The air is hot and dry as though I were two feet from an open fireplace. There are shadows moving below, framed in orange light. It feels like some sort of foundry, like something out of a Terminator film. But at the same time, I have a generalized animal fear that the source of the orange glow isn’t molten metal, but rather something closer to Soylent Green. As I reach the bottom of the stairwell, I see a dark blue Rick Perry suit standing at a lever, slowly pulling it back and forth. Where the suit’s head should be, I see the AT&T logo, hovering over the collar like some menacing Eye of Sauron. The orange glow is coming from some imitation of life essence that is pouring into molds on the floor. The molds creep by me on a conveyor belt toward the suit. Some nights, the molds resemble a hollowed-out likeness of Huey Lewis, but most nights it’s Hootie.

Jim: I paid $3 to see them at a club in NC many years ago, before they sold 13 million copies of Cracked Rear View. I could have flushed the money down a toilet. I shall always regret that I didn’t choose the toilet option….

Otherwise: When I was a teen I used to shoplift magazines. We have all done things we are now ashamed of. Thank you for trusting us enough to share. Although, I must confess, I doubt any of us have done anything as heinous as paying to see Hootie. Maybe sex with an animal or a random thrill killing, but not paying to see Hootie. That’s sick, man.

Brian: There are few groups whose collective output should be gathered up, loaded into a rocket, and blasted at the sun. Hootie is one of those deserving of that special honor.

Me: No, Brian. The actual band should be blasted into the sun. I actually paid to see them live once. This was before anybody knew who they were. They routinely played a club in my hometown and a friend said “dude, you’ve never seen Hootie? They’re AWESOME!” So I went. They played for an hour and I swear, I can’t say for sure if they played a bunch of different songs or if it was the same one over and over. The friendship was never the same again.

Alex: If any band really cries over the Miami Dolphins, they deserve to be on this list. I hereby sentence Darius Rucker to be called “Hootie” for the rest of his days.

The Outfield

Ironically, given their obsession with America’s favorite pastime, the Outfield got their start in London’s East End. Playing under the name the Baseball Boys, the trio of bassist/singer Tony Lewis, guitarist/keyboardist John Spinks, and drummer Alan Jackman played around London and recorded some early demos, attracting the attention of Columbia/CBS Records. They were signed shortly thereafter and began working on their debut album, Play Deep, which was released in 1985. The album was a smash success, going triple platinum, reaching number nine on the album charts, and producing their biggest song, “Your Love,” which was a Top Ten hit. To support the album, they launched an international tour opening for Journey and Starship. They began recording their second album in 1986 and in 1987 issued Bangin’. While not duplicating the huge commercial success of their debut, it did produce two hit singles, “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “No Surrender.” The band’s third album featured a bit of a stylistic shift and was more meticulously produced than their previous efforts. Voices of Babylon, released in 1988, produced a single of the same name, but the band’s commercial success was slipping. Jackman left the band after it was recorded and they hired Paul Reed to step in as drummer for the Voices tour.

fikshun: If you took two parts debut album era The Cars, one part Cutting Crew, and a dash of Split Enz, you’d have The Outfield.  No, really.  You could totally clone that band exactly by just following that formula.

Jim: Sam liked them. I don’t know why. I don’t know why anybody liked them.

Me: Hey, step off The Outfield. Yeah, they were corporate, but they’re one of those bands that’s like Rick Springfield – there was more going on than people seemed to notice. Voices of Babylon is still one of my favorite CDs from the ’80s and there is nothing like rolling down the windows on a summer day and driving around town with Play Deep cranked to 11.

Bonesparkle: Yeah, you liked their music, but when you saw them live how many tubes of SPF 30 Chapstick did John Spinks have smeared on his nipples? Dude, put a fucking shirt on.

Me: Okay, to be fair, they were touring with Starship. I think Craig Chaquico had a no-shirt clause written into the contracts for their opening bands so he wouldn’t be the only topless douchenozzle out there.

Ozzy Osbourne

Though many bands have succeeded in earning the hatred of parents and media worldwide throughout the past few decades, arguably only such acts as Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, and Marilyn Manson have tied the controversial record of Ozzy Osbourne. The former Black Sabbath frontman has been highly criticized over his career, mostly due to rumors denouncing him as a psychopath and Satanist. Despite his reputation, no one could deny that Osbourne has had an immeasurable effect on heavy metal. While he doesn’t possess a great voice, he makes up for it with his good ear and dramatic flair. As a showman, his instincts are nearly as impeccable; his live shows have been overwrought spectacles of gore and glitz that have endeared him to adolescents around the world. Indeed, Osbourne has managed to establish himself as an international superstar, capable of selling millions of records with each album and packing arenas across the globe, capturing new fans with each record.

Jim: If Curly Howard had been a rock star, this is what he would have been like. Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk….

Me: First-ballot inductee into the CorpRock Hall of Fame. Anybody who can mainstream Satan worship is a king-hell god of branding.

fikshun: If ever you need a dancing monkey, Ozzy’s your man. I’ve heard rumor that he was at one point a top flight front man of evil, but that’s unsubstantiated. The only Ozzy that I’ve ever been aware of is the grinning idiot hiding behind round-rimmed shades. If there’s any pain in those eyes, they don’t make it as far as the crows feet for us to see. Eez eet taym tuh heet thuh road fuhr ah-noothuh tour, Sharunn? No?  Ookai, Ayll joost be down een mee stood-yo, fiddlin’ weeth mee plonkuh!  G’night, loov!


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Tournament of Rock IV: the Def Leppard pod

For awhile there our seeded bands were on a roll, but now, two big upsets in a row as Foreigner takes out the #1 seed, Journey. Frankly, we’re stunned. We love Foreigner, of course, but we didn’t think anybody was going to be beat what we see as the prototypical, archetypal, über-corporate mainstream rock band. But hey, the people have spoken. We’ll see the Dirty White Boys in the Sweet 16.

Up next, one of the icons of Hair Metal faces a slate headed by the fallen remnants of a true rock legend and and the ultimate in cynical corporate supergroups.

  • #13 Seed: Def Leppard
  • Beach Boys (Mike Love/Kokomo years)
  • Damn Yankees
  • John Mayer
  • Toto

Def Leppard

In many ways, Def Leppard were the definitive hard rock band of the ’80s. There were many bands that rocked harder (and were more dangerous) than the Sheffield-based quintet, but few others captured the spirit of the times quite as well. Emerging in the late ’70s as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Def Leppard actually owed more to the glam rock and metal of the early ’70s, as their sound was equal parts T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, Queen, and Led Zeppelin. By toning down their heavy riffs and emphasizing melody, Def Leppard were poised for crossover success by 1983’s Pyromania, and skillfully used the fledgling MTV network to their advantage. The musicians were already blessed with photogenic good looks, but they also crafted a series of innovative, exciting videos that made them into stars. They intended to follow Pyromania quickly but were derailed when their drummer lost an arm in a car accident, the first of many problems that plagued the group’s career. They managed to pull through such tragedies, and even expanded their large audience with 1987’s blockbuster Hysteria. As the ’90s began, mainstream hard rock shifted away from their signature pop-metal and toward edgier, louder bands, yet they maintained a sizable audience into the late ’90s and were one of only a handful of ’80s metal groups to survive the decade more or less intact.

Jim: Props for sticking with their drummer after his horrible accident. Props taken away for making the same damned album six times in a row because the first one in the series was a legit hit.

Me: People make a big deal of the band not ditching their drummer when he lost his arm, and the should. But they never mention that the band wasn’t really doing anything that required a two-armed drummer in the first place.

fikshun: To think, just 30 years ago, these lads from Sheffield, England were as pasty white as the recently departed Wonder Bread. Now they look more leathery than a pack of veteran CEOs at a management training retreat in Cabo. The alternate history buff in me really wants to know if they’d still have had a career had they not crossed paths with reclusive hit producer, Robert “Mutt” Lange. Come to think of it, “Mutt” also produced AC/DC’s Back in Black and Foreigner’s 4. If that isn’t the hallmark of a corporate formula, churning out more of the same, I don’t know what is.

Brian: Def Leppard tried to be just like all the other hair metal bands – and largely succeeded. Sex, drugs, more sex, more drugs, lather, rinse, repeat. That doesn’t mean I didn’t listen to them in high school, mind you. After all, what ELSE would a testosterone-charged high schooler in the late ’80s listen to?

Lex: I so remember when the cool, older burnouts had Def Lepard posters on their walls. And I guess Pyromania was a decent album for what it was. Did they do anything after that?

Me: Well, they did Pyromania a few more times, although they did change the name and cover artwork a little each time they rereleased it.

Bonesparkle: I remember James Carville’s famous comment re: the Paula Jones affair: “Drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.” That same hundred dollar bill, drug behind a Camaro blasting “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” will get you her sister, too.

Beach Boys

After 1979’s M.I.U. Album, the group signed a large contract with CBS that stipulated Brian’s involvement on each album. However, his brief return to the spotlight ended with two dismal efforts, L.A. (Light Album) and Keepin’ the Summer Alive. The Beach Boys began splintering by the end of the decade, with financial mismanagement by Mike Love’s brothers Stan and Steve fostering tension between him and the Wilsons. By 1980, both Dennis and Carl had left the Beach Boys for solo careers. (Dennis had already released his first album, Pacific Ocean Blue, in 1977, and Carl released his eponymous debut in 1981.) Brian was removed from the group in 1982 after his weight ballooned to over 300 pounds, though the tragic drowning death of Dennis in 1983 helped bring the group back together. In 1985, the Beach Boys released a self-titled album which returned them to the Top 40 with “Getcha Back.” It would be the last proper Beach Boys album of the ’80s, however. Brian had been steadily improving in both mind and body during the mid-’80s, though the rest of the group grew suspicious of his mentor, Dr. Eugene Landy. Landy was a dodgy psychiatrist who reportedly worked wonders with the easily impressionable Brian but also practically took over his life. He collaborated with Brian on the autobiography Wouldn’t It Be Nice and wrote lyrics for Brian’s first solo album, 1988’s Brian Wilson. Critics and fans enjoyed Wilson’s return to the studio, but the charts were unforgiving, especially with attention focused on the Beach Boys once more. The single “Kokomo,” from the soundtrack to Cocktail, hit number one in the U.S. late that year, prompting a haphazard collection named Still Cruisin’. The group also sued Brian, more to force Landy out of the picture than anything, and Mike Love later sued Brian for songwriting royalties (Brian had frequently admitted Love’s involvement on most of them).

Alex: If you have Muppets in your video, it’s not your best work. Come ON! This is the group that did Pet Sounds! “God Only Knows”! “Don’t Worry, Baby!” So much good summer music. They have some of the most fantastically arranged harmonies in pop music, and they got John Stamos to strum a guitar and mug through a song about an island that may or may not exist? Psh.

fikshun: I’d be lying if I said I knew how much the Beach Boys had whored themselves out to advertisers over the years. Maybe they’ve been more conservative with their image than Marlene Dietrich. All I know is that I can’t picture a commercial for retirement planning or erectile dysfunction without whistling one of their tunes. That’s Coca-Cola level brand recognition there, folks.

Jim: This band ended after Holland. Simple question for doubters: Should any band without a single Wilson brother present be allowed to call themselves The Beach Boys?

Lex: I’ve rewritten almost all of “Kokomo” to take advantage of the silly way in which Wisconsin has named its cities. Baby, why don’t we go down to Peshtigo. We’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow…. Also, while they wrote some memorable stuff, I guess I wouldn’t have figured there was a time when the Beach Boys weren’t pretty corporate, but I wasn’t there so maybe I just don’t know.

Me: You know, everybody seems fixated on “Kokomo” as the archetypal sellout moment for the BBs. I get that, I do – I was club DJing in a Midwestern college town when that happened and I’m still in therapy over it. But am I the only one who remembers the whole Fat Boys / “Wipeout” trainwreck? Here, let me provide a brief reminder. (BTW, the intro to this vid features the late, great Hector “Macho” Camacho, who died this morning. RIP.)

Damn Yankees

For a brief time in the early ’90s, the supergroup Damn Yankees enjoyed a considerable amount of success on the arena rock circuit. Comprised of guitarist Ted Nugent, Styx’s Tommy Shaw, Night Ranger’s Jack Blades, and drummer Michael Cartellone, Damn Yankees arrived during the final moments of pop-metal’s heyday, and their music didn’t stray from that radio-friendly format at all. The group’s self-titled debut album spawned several hits in 1990, including the Top Ten power ballad “High Enough” and the radio hit “Coming of Age.” Although they proved to be a popular concert draw (Nugent even made headlines for his unchained behavior on-stage, which included shooting arrows into an effigy of Saddam Hussein), the band’s follow-up effort, Don’t Tread, didn’t fare nearly as well. The group disbanded soon after, with Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades continuing to work together as Shaw Blades.

Lex: So I once saw a big, over-the-hill corp rock concert in the early ’90s. it was Bad Company and Damn Yankees. Ted wowed us all by shooting flaming arrows into a cardboard cutout of Saddam Hussein. What’s funny is that Ted not only thinks he’s cool but also that Damn Yankees were cool.

Jim:  Yeah, let’s take Nugent, that guy who didn’t totally suck from Styx, a guy from fucking Night Ranger, and a drummer who would go on to play with a band calling itself Lynyrd Skynyrd who may/may not have any actual members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and form a band. I believe Miss Dorothy Parker said it best: “What fresh hell is this?”

Bonesparkle: Everybody was so offended by Ted Nugent’s neo-fascist political ranting this election season. I don’t get it. Those of us who remember his work with Damn Yankees are actually happy to see him getting his life back on track.

John Mayer

After making his introduction as a sensitive, acoustic-styled songwriter on 2001’s Room for Squares, John Mayer steadily widened his approach over the subsequent years, encompassing everything from blues-rock to adult contemporary in the process. Arriving during the tail end of teen pop’s heyday, he crafted pop music for a more discerning audience, spiking his songcraft with jazz chords and literate turns of phrase. The combination proved to be quite popular, as Room for Squares went triple platinum before its follow-up release, Heavier Things, arrived in September 2003. Mayer continued to retool his sound with each album, however, moving beyond the material that had launched his career and adopting elements of rock, blues, and soul.

Brian: After listening to an interview with John Mayer on NPR years ago (before his first big album), I was excited to listen to him. And that first big album was pretty fun. He really should have stopped there, though. Of course, I’ve started to notice a trend in artists interviewed on NPR – they are either already big and suck, or they’re about to start sucking, with very few exceptions.

Bonesparkle: Wait – “first big album”? Are you talking about the one with “Your Body is a Wonderland” on it? New rule – you never get to say a word about anything I do, up to and including catching me wearing panties and eating chocolate chip cookie dough while watching Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Jim: Hey, where’s John? Shouldn’t he be practicing his guitar? He’s not that good. He doesn’t have to be good. Nobody gives a shit. Besides, he’s busy boinking Jennifer Love/Jessica/Taylor/Jennifer Aniston/Renee/Miley. He’s too tired to practice…the guitar….

Me: I was trying to think of something snarky to say. But we’re talking about a guy who once said this: “My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.” I don’t think I can top that. He also said this: “Life is not short, man. Life is excruciatingly long.” Going all Nietzsche on that 14 year-old girl market, huh?

Alex: I can’t comment on John Mayer – I liked him in high school, and I’m only about six years out from high school. I’m too close to the crap to comment.


Toto released its self-titled debut album in October 1978, and it hit the Top Ten, sold two-million copies, and spawned the gold Top Ten single “Hold the Line.” The gold-selling Hydra (October 1979) and Turn Back (January 1981) were less successful, but Toto IV (April 1982) was a multi-platinum Top Ten hit, featuring the number-one hit “Africa” and the Top Tens “Rosanna” (about Lukather’s girlfriend, movie star Rosanna Arquette) and “I Won’t Hold You Back.” At the 1982 Grammys, “Rosanna” won awards for Record of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, and Best Instrumental Arrangement With Vocal; and Toto IV won awards for Album of the Year, Best Engineered Recording, and Best Producer (the group)….Toto’s fifth album, Isolation (November 1984), went gold, but was a commercial disappointment.

fikshun: Corporate history is rife with stories of young entrepreneurs cutting their teeth at one corporation, and using the connections gained there move on to bigger and better things. Intel and Toto have a lot in common in that regard. Just ask IBM and Boz Scaggs, respectively. Also, it’s said that every major music city has a sound that reflects its culture and style. London is often represented by Trevor Horn, whose mixes are clean and distortion-free; every sound is tucked neatly in its place. New York’s style is often associated with the Beastie Boys and other locals who compress their mixes so heavily that the personalities practically jump out of your speakers just to get in your face. The Los Angeles sound is often characterized as faux natural. Great expense is paid for synthesizers and reverb devices that sound more realistic than an orange tan and more luscious than ass-fat injected lips. The Yamaha DX7-laden production of Toto’s Toto IV was proof just how far digital had come and helped pave the way for the West Coast Botox sound we know and love today.

Alex: Nothing in the world could keep me awaaaaaaaaaaay from jumping in here. I honestly don’t remember any other song by Toto, and even that song I remember more from when they goofed on it on Scrubs.

Me: Hey, Jeff Porcaro was in Steely Dan, sorta. It is worth noting that while this was a corporate endeavor of the first order, it was also one predicated on having guys who could seriously play their freakin’ instruments. That counts for something, right?

Jim: There were these bands in the late ’70s/early ’80s…Pablo Cruise, Toto, Little River Band…which one is this again…?

Bonesparkle: You forgot Ambrosia.

Brian: I still sing along to Toto on road trips with the family. No, my kids aren’t old enough to demand I skip the song yet – why do you ask?

Wufnik: Glad you got Toto in there. It wouldn’t really be corporate rock without them.


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Tournament of Rock IV: the Journey pod

I was right. I did smell an upset, as everybody’s favorite corporate headbangers, AC/DC, took out #6 seed Bryan Adams – although not by as much as some might have expected. ZZ Top and ELO picked up some votes, too, making pod 12 the most competitive to date. We’ll see AC/DC in the Sweet 16.

Now we arrive at pod 13, where everyone finds out who those of us handicapping the competition think is the band to beat. Ready to meet your top seed? You better be, because they’re yours. Faithfully.

  • #1 Seed: Journey
  • Bee Gees (Disco era)
  • Foreigner
  • Kid Rock
  • Styx


During their initial 14 years of existence (1973-1987), Journey altered their musical approach and their personnel extensively while becoming a top touring and recording band. The only constant factor was guitarist Neal Schon, a music prodigy who had been a member of Santana in 1971-1972. The original unit, which was named in a contest on KSAN-FM in San Francisco, featured Schon, bassist Ross Valory, drummer Prairie Prince (replaced by Aynsley Dunbar), and guitarist George Tickner (who left after the first album). Another former Santana member, keyboard player and singer Gregg Rolie, joined shortly afterward. This lineup recorded Journey (1975), the first of three moderate-selling jazz-rock albums given over largely to instrumentals. By 1977, however, the group decided it needed a strong vocalist/frontman and hired Steve Perry. The results were immediately felt on the fourth album, Infinity (1978), which sold a million copies within a year.

Alex: The band that launched a thousand karaoke wannabes (about eight of whom are legitimately good).

Jim: Remember when Pete Townshend wrote “Rock is dead”? This is what he was referring to.

fikshun: When Rodney Dangerfield danced to their contribution to the Caddyshack soundtrack, it was an improvement. They are the dark, irrelevant stain on the original Tron soundtrack. With “Don’t Stop Believin’,” they annexed a portion of Canada for the U.S. (“South” Detroit = Windsor, Ontario). Their video for “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” is perhaps the most parodied rock video in youtube history. They were the first band to become a coin-op video game (unfortunately, it wasn’t of the Mortal Kombat variety). When their singer lost his voice, they didn’t replace him with someone they could just rock with. They replaced him with an uncanny sound-a-like. Like Ridley Scott’s Alien, they are the perfect killing machine, unclouded by conscience or morality.

Bonesparkle: I used to wonder how a band that emerged from Santana could be so thoroughly whored out. Then I saw Santana pimping himself with Rob Thomas and Lauryn Hill and Eagle-Eye Cherry and Cher and realized that I must know fuck-all about cred. (Cher was on that CD, right?) How come Santana isn’t in this tournament, by the way? Wait – who are we talking about, again?

Me: Journey

Bonesparkle: Oh, right. Fuck Steve Perry. He kinda looks like Cher, doesn’t he? Her voice is more masculine, though.

Bee Gees

…Mr. Natural (1974), produced by Arif Mardin…was a departure with its heavily Americanized R&B sound, and the following year they plunged headfirst into the new sound with Main Course — the emphasis was now on dance rhythms, high harmonies, and a funk beat. And spearheading the new sound was Barry Gibb, who, for the first time, sang falsetto and discovered that he could delight audiences in that register. “Jive Talkin’,” the first single off the album, became their second American number one single, and was followed up with “Nights on Broadway” and then the album Children of the World, which yielded the hits “You Should Be Dancing” and “Love So Right.” Then, in 1977, their featured numbers on the soundtrack to the Robert Stigwood-produced Saturday Night Fever, “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” and “Night Fever,” each topped the charts, even as the soundtrack album stayed in the top spot for 24 weeks. In the process, the disco era in America was born — Saturday Night Fever, as an album and a film, supercharged the phenomenon and broadened its audience by tens of millions, with the Bee Gees at the forefront of the music.

Jim: Remember when Pete…ah, nevermind….

Me: Disco ruined my high school years. Boomers? They had The Beatles and The Stones and Woodstock and the ’60s. The kids coming along after us had New Wave and The Eurythmics. Us? We had the motherfucking Bee Gees and leisure suits. Remember when they had Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey? If I could have gotten there, that would have been my Woodstock. The only thing wrong with the whole promotion is that instead of blowing up Bee Gees records, they should have been blowing up the actual Bee Gees.

fikshun: The premise for the film Footloose was “what if there was a puritanical town where it was against the rules to dance?” The premise seemed plausible at the time because the toxic devastation unleashed by the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack was still fresh in the American psyche. We are a people still trying to heal. Hold me … please. I feel … unclean.


[Mick] Jones found immediate songwriting chemistry with [Lou] Gramm (one of the first songs they wrote together was the eventual hit “Cold As Ice”), resulting in the newly formed band taking the name Foreigner and signing a recording contract with Atlantic Records. Foreigner’s self-titled debut was issued in 1977 and became an immediate hit on the strength of the hit singles “Feels Like the First Time,” “Long, Long Way From Home,” and the aforementioned “Cold As Ice,” as the album would eventually go platinum five times over. Foreigner avoided the dreaded sophomore slump with an even stronger follow-up release, 1978’s Double Vision, which spawned such further hit singles as “Hot Blooded” and its title track, and the album stayed in the Top Ten for a solid six months. As a result, the album’s success established the sextet as an arena headliner and would go on to become Foreigner’s best-selling album of their career (selling seven million copies in the U.S. alone by 2001). The group’s third release overall, Head Games, followed in 1979…

fikshun: They changed an album cover at the last minute because they felt the design had homosexual overtones. They backed out of recording an album with legendary producer Trevor Horn after they discovered he had worked with Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Again, they were concerned about The Gay. If these guys are a corporation, they’re Chick-Fil-A.

Jim: Couple of English guys from failed bands form band with some American guys from failed bands. The “lead singer is a cross between John Anderson of Yes and Paul Rodgers during the period of Free with some Robert Plant thrown in.” What corporate record exec is going to refuse to sign that up?

Me: Not gonna lie here – I loved the first couple of Foreigner albums. I’m listening to the debut right now, in fact. By the time we got to “Dirty White Boys” the magic was definitely waning….

Kid Rock

One of the unlikeliest success stories in rock at the turn of the millennium, Detroit rap-rocker Kid Rock shot to superstardom with his fourth full-length album, 1998’s Devil Without a Cause. What made it so shocking was that Rock had recorded his first demo a full decade before, been booted off major label Jive following his Beastie Boys-ish 1990 debut, Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast, and toiled for most of the decade in obscurity, releasing albums to a small, devoted, mostly local fan base while earning his fair share of ridicule around his home state. Nevertheless, Rock persevered, and by the time rap-metal had begun to attract a substantial audience, he had perfected the outlandish, over the top white-trash persona that gave Devil Without a Cause such a distinctive personality and made it such an infectious party record.

Alex: The last good song of his I’ve heard is “Picture,” with previous pod member Sheryl Crow. He’s gotten progressively more ridiculous, especially with this video.

Lex: As for this pod, kill it with fire. And fuck Kid Rock. I’d like to say he’s not even from Detroit, because he isn’t. But I understand that once upon a time he hung with so e pretty cool kids in the Detroit scene and had bona fides. He certainly had a nose for money; he knew that the trailer parks of America yearned for someone to combine rap and rock in a more plasticine manner than had ever been done before. Then he realized that there was even more money to be made by going country – again, the trailer parks of America asked and Kid delivered. I feel like I should apologize. My city has produced two generations of douchebag, second rate rock stars that speak their ignorant minds a little too loudly on political matters. (Ted and Kid should do a duet someday.) But don’t forget, we also gave you Motown, George Clinton’s many musical incarnations, Aretha, and a fair number of other nice things. If you have to think of a white rapper when you think of the D, keep it to Eminem…who at least has actual talent.

Me: Wait a second – George Clinton is from North Carolina.

Bonesparkle: If we ever do a Tournament of Rock for White Trash/Trailer Park Douchenozzle Rock, here’s your #1 seed.

Jim: Uh, no….

Otherwise: A few years ago I did a bunch of work for Harley. Every year Harley has a big get together in Milwaukee. Who the main act is is a big surprise. Big big deal. The folks who run Harley are 100% posers, not an authentic bone in their bodies, and it eats away at them—they want to be trash, but they are suburban church-going folk. They try to think like their white trash customer base but just can’t bring themselves to do it. That year they picked Elton John, who thought he would win the crowd over by making a joke about how he didn’t ride a bike but was attracted to men in leather. They almost had a riot – well, to the extent old fat guys riot. Kid Rock was the next act and he saved the day. Of course, it was in part because he does racist trailer park shit and those guys love racist trailer park shit, but the story from the HD folks was he realized what was going on and worked his tail off to help out Elton and the company. So, yeah, I too find that Confederate flag in the video to be more obnoxious than I can say, but the dude can perform. I have it on good authority.


Although they began as an artsy prog rock band, Styx would eventually transform into the virtual arena rock prototype by the late ’70s and early ’80s, due to a fondness for bombastic rockers and soaring power ballads… Early on, Styx’s music reflected such then-current prog rockers as Emerson, Lake & Palmer and the Moody Blues, as evidenced by such releases as 1972’s self-titled debut, 1973’s Styx II, 1974’s The Serpent Is Rising, and 1975’s Man of Miracles. While the albums (as well as nonstop touring) helped the group build a substantial following locally, Styx failed to break through to the mainstream, until the track “Lady,” originally from their second album, started to get substantial airplay in late 1974 on Chicago radio station WLS-FM. The song was soon issued as a single nationwide, and quickly shot to number six on the singles chart, as Styx II was certified gold… [Tommy] Shaw proved to be the missing piece of the puzzle for Styx, as most of their subsequent releases throughout the late ’70s earned at least platinum certification (1976’s Crystal Ball, 1977’s The Grand Illusion, 1978’s Pieces of Eight, and 1979’s Cornerstone), and spawned such hit singles and classic rock radio standards as “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade,” “Blue Collar Man,” “Fooling Yourself,” and the power ballad “Babe.” Despite the enormous success of “Babe,” it caused tension within the group — specifically between Shaw and DeYoung (the latter of whom was the song’s author), as the guitarist wanted Styx to continue in a more hard rock-based direction, while DeYoung sought to pursue more melodic and theatrically based works… The bandmembers decided that their first release of the ’80s would be a concept album, 1981’s Paradise Theater, which was loosely based on the rise and fall of a once beautiful theater (which was supposedly used as a metaphor for the state of the U.S. at the time — the Iranian hostage situation, the Cold War, Reagan, etc.). Paradise Theater became Styx’s biggest hit of their career (selling over three million copies in a three-year period), as they became one of the U.S. top rock acts due to such big hit singles as “Too Much Time on My Hands” and “The Best of Times.”

Jim: My lead guitarist Steve and I were in a restaurant having a couple of beers before dinner and they were playing “Renegade” over the system. Steve looked at me and said,”There’s one good moment in this song.” I agreed, but a pretty waitress came up with our drinks and we forgot to tell each other what we thought that great moment was. Near the end of the tune they played a drum roll that lasted maybe one second. We both shouted “That’s it!” at the same time. That covers the career of Styx pretty well….

Me: The Grand Illusion was one of my favorite records of the “70s. But Cornerstone scarred me for life. If I’d had a crystal ball I could have looked into the future and seen Tommy Shaw with Damn Yankees and Dennis DeYoung doing “Desert Moon” and it would have all made sense.

Bonesparkle: In the 1977 premiere of Happy Days, Fonzie jumped the shark. Taking the cue, Styx in 1978 released Pieces of Eight.

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Image Credit: Mike’s Daily Jukebox