Music/Popular Culture

Tournament of Rock – Legends: the REM pod

Results: Surprise! The Beatles win! *ahem* Okay, so maybe we all saw that coming. Still, Zappa thumping The Beach Boys this hard for second? Interesting things happen in the battle for second, too – not that it impacts the rest of the competition, of course. The numbers: #1 The Beatles 72%; Frank Zappa 22%; #6 The Beach Boys/Brian Wilson 6%. Fabs advance to the Sweet 16. (By the way – we’ve had a couple of Pope John Pauls. Why no Pope George Ringo?)

Three pods left in the Great 48. So let’s head our search for the greatest band of all time out to the Fillmore region, where the band that defined the Southern Gothic sound for the Alternative era hosts what promises to be a very challenging match. (Once again, let’s see if we can make voters hate themselves…)

Listen, think, vote. Polls close Monday morning.

<br /> <a href=”http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/2189339/” mce_href=”http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/2189339/”>Which band/artist deserves to advance in the Tournament of Rock: Legends?</a><span style=”font-size:9px;” mce_style=”font-size:9px;”>(<a href=”http://www.polldaddy.com” mce_href=”http://www.polldaddy.com”>survey software</a>)</span><br />

27 replies »

  1. EVIL!!!! Hendrix and REM should both be in the top 16, but then I probably think about 25 bands should be in the top 16, but there’s this problem with that…

  2. No, no, no, no, no!

    What dumbass created this tournament and made me choose between two of my most favorite artists?

    Oh, yeah. Me.

    Joan Jett has her moments, but she’s not a game changer the way Hendrix and REM are.

    Now to decide – greatest rock guitarist of them all – or the guys who made “college rock” mainstream….

  3. REM has had utterly brilliant moments (my fave: “Ignoreland”), but I think rock would’ve moved merrily along with or without them. Can’t say same for Jimi. He was a prophet.

  4. Not to dismiss REM and their legacy so easily, but I will anyways. Had to go with Hendrix. I’m sure there will be some interesting discussions. If I had one of those emocons it would be a little guy eating popcorn.

  5. wow, what a killer. this one is the toughest yet for me. Agree with Jim, though I might go further to call REM a voice of Gen-X; a title that neither they nor Gen-Xers would feel okay with … and that’s precisely why it’s true.

  6. From my discussions with lots of fellow Xers on REM, I’m one of the only Xers who considers REM to be OK, but nothing special. I’d take Pet Shop Boys, Metallica, Rush, and dozens of others (including Joan Jett, actually) before REM.

    I’ll probably go for Hendrix, but reluctantly – he’s the best of a disappointing pod. C’est la vie.

  7. I’d have to say R.E.M. is the second best band of the last 25 years, trailing only Nirvana. I prefer REM’s lyrics, and like Sam wrote, they legitimized the college rock scene. I’d argue that Dave Matthews owes a lot to them on that front. Pink Floyd may be the king’s of mood rock, but I’d say they’re their heirs (try saying that five times fast).

    Hendrix is the most influential guitarist ever, but REM is the more complete band. My vote goes to them.

    • Tom, that’s by far the more common view of REM, but I don’t get it. I know people who organized their lives around seeing REM in concert. I know that they’ve earned critical acclaim, that they’re popular, but I don’t understand why. So far as I can tell, they had one good album (Out of Time) and a whole bunch of good songs scattered throughout the rest of their albums. I’ve tried to listen to the REM that my wife brought into the marriage, and they just doesn’t impress me at all. Not musically, not lyrically. Again, a few good songs, but only one album that truly stands out.

      Rho, that makes a grand total of two of us now.

      • Out of Time? Dear lord, Brian, is that even in their top 10 records? Wait a sec while I go count.
        ….
        Hmmm – yeah, top 10, maybe. But not top 7 or 8.

        • As I said, I don’t get why critics and fans fawn over REM. They have never struck me as worthy of even a small fraction of the attention they get.

          See, I get why fans and critics love the Beatles, the Stones, Floyd, The Cure, Bauhaus, and the vast majority of the other acts here in this tourny. I may not agree, but I at least understand it. That response toward REM is one that I simply don’t understand.

  8. Brian,

    I’m an Xer who would agree that they are nothing special and that Joan Jet is definitely better but in this pod I can’t justify voting for anyone other than Jimi

  9. Brian – there’s a great quote from Felix Cavalliere (of The Rascals, a group ignored by TOR, probably unjustly) that goes something like this: “Rock will evolve and evolve and get more and more complex – then some kid with an attitude in a garage will learn three chords and make it all new again.”

    What makes REM so great is that they are a version of that truth about rock.

    fikshun – “voice of Gen-X” – that resonates….

    • REM made rock new again? How? Seriously, I don’t hear it.

      I’ve tried three times in my life to understand what it is fans and critics love about REM. For the life of me, I can’t figure it out. I tried when I listened to their music after buying and loving Out of Time. I tried again eight years ago when I met my first truly hard-core REM fan (he was a co-worker). I tried a third time 2-3 years ago, when I listened to every CD in the family collection, including all the REM. And I just don’t hear greatness from REM. Some good songs, some catchy tunes. And one good album.

      Clearly it’s something innate to my ear as opposed to anything else. There are bands I love and think are great that don’t get any love at all (kind of like Sam and GP). And so I clearly hear something in those bands that most people don’t. Similarly, most people hear something in REM that, so far as my ear can tell, just doesn’t exist. Maybe I was just a year or two out of phase, maybe I was in the wrong part of the country, maybe my friends’ tastes in music altered my own at a formative point in my life, I don’t know. But it is what it is.

  10. REM made rock new again? How? Seriously, I don’t hear it.

    Okay, let’s test this. Go back and show us what came before that they sounded like.

    • Previous and concurrent bands with REM who I think they sounded like: Queen, Duran Duran, Elvis Costello, some of Depeche Mode, Phil Collins/Genesis post Gabriel, Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, Thompson Twins, Dire Straits, some of David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Tears for Fears, some of Blondie, Kim Carnes, Styx, some of The Police, Journey, The Alan Parsons Project, Eurythmics, Yes.

      I can probably go on if you’d like, but I think you get the idea. To my ear, REM’s sound was a repetition of what I hear in the bands listed above.

      If they made college bands cool, then that’s worth something. Their longevity is worth something. But it doesn’t make up for the fact that I don’t hear “new” in their music and what I do hear doesn’t justify (to me) the acclaim.

  11. Just want the two other X-ers to know that you are not alone. I’d be the 3’rd here that doesn’t “get” REM. However I didn’t vote on personal taste (not that you guys did), I voted for who was more influential musically and critically, and I don’t’ see how Hendrix loses this. I’m not saying that REM hasn’t influenced any bands, but I don’t see how they beat Hendrix here.

  12. At the risk of being unduly dismissive, I’m afraid you’ve now made me wonder exactly how your ears are wired.

    Queen: Ummm, it’s hard to imagine two bands that have LESS in common musically. Seriously – this comparison is bizarre. It’s almost like you’re messing with me intentionally. Same goes for Phil Collins/Genesis, Dire Straits, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Yes, and, well, just about everybody you name. In the absence off all this I could sort of see how you might hear something sort of in common with some early Elvis, maybe, but in general this list seems intended to prank.

    • I’m not pranking you, Sam. I’m completely, totally, utterly serious – I hear all of those groups in some way, shape, or form in REM.

      I’ve already admitted that I don’t get REM. I’ve proposed any number of hypotheses for why that may be the case. But this is one of those things that you’re not going to convince me on, Sam, no matter how hard you try, because I’ve tried to understand and appreciate and “get” REM three times already. When I’ve gone out of my way to subject myself to REM in hopes of hearing what others hear, and failed all three times, then there are essentially two possible conclusions – I’m biologically/psychologically incapable of understanding what the big deal about REM is, or everyone else is full of it.

      Either way, I’m not going to vote for REM here, nor am I going to agree that they were as important as you, REM’s fans, and any number of other critics claim. To my perspective, everyone else is full of it. Alas, the majority is always sane, so even if I could prove that everyone else actually is full of it, practically speaking it won’t matter.

  13. I’m not going to try and talk you into anything. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it. And if you hear Queen and Yes in REM, then that’s what you hear. But you might as well have just told me you hear Pat Boone in Motorhead….