Music/Popular Culture

Tournament of Rock IV: the Van Hagar pod

Tournament of Rock IV: Monsters of Corporate Rock!How it works.

In our first contest, congrats to Duran Duran, who defeated their closest competition, Huey Lewis & the News, by a 45%-38% margin. They advance to the Sweet 16.

In our second grouping, we have a delightfully diverse little melange of mainstream goodness to choose from. I’m certain you’ll find something to like. The contestants are:

  • #14 Seed: Van Hagar
  • Coldplay
  • John Waite
  • Sting
  • J. Geils Band

VH covering my all-time favorite Rammstein song, “Dü Schnozzle.”

Van Hagar – NOTE: This entry comprises the Sammy Hagar incarnation of Van Halen only.

Throughout the ’80s, it was impossible not to hear Van Halen’s instrumental technique on records that ranged from the heaviest metal to soft pop. Furthermore, [David Lee] Roth’s irony-drenched antics were copied by singers who took everything literally. One of these was Sammy Hagar, an arena rock veteran from the ’70s who replaced Roth after the vocalist had a falling out with Van Halen in 1985.

Lex says: I really like Van Halen, but damned if I didn’t see the video for “Jump” the other day and found myself wondering if they sold their souls before Hagar joined. So I put Mean Streets on and blocked the rest out.

Me: The AllMusic blurb above hits it on the nose. The original iteration of VH was all about sharing a great rock joke with their fans. Nobody told Sammy Hagar that there was a joke. He’s still trying to uncover the significance of the mysterious OU812 and for the love of all that does not suck, will somebody please tell him that For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge is funny because the first letters spell “fuck.” He probably thinks Rosie Palm is an actual woman.


After surfacing in 2000 with the breakthrough single “Yellow,” Coldplay quickly became one of the biggest bands of the new millennium, honing a mix of introspective Brit-pop and anthemic rock that landed the British quartet a near-permanent residence on record charts worldwide.

Lex: I’m old enough to have ignored Coldplay. Their are benefits to giving up on popular culture early and moving abroad.

fikshun: Coldplay – In much the same way no one really believes corporations are people, I similarly don’t think the members of Coldplay are either.

Bonesparkle: Coldplay is U2 on radical estrogen therapy.

John Waite

…John Waite was a fixture of album-oriented rock radio stations during the ’70s and ’80s. Waite had a talent for power ballads and driving arena rock, occasionally touching on new wave-styled power pop as well. Though he didn’t consistently have hits, several of his songs — including “Missing You,” the Babys’ “Isn’t It Time,” and Bad English’s “When I See You Smile” — became radio staples.

Me: I was a huge fan of Waite’s band, The Babys, going way back to high school. Loved John’s solo work, too, although I began to suspect shark jumping when they put Bad English together.


After disbanding the Police at the peak of their popularity in 1984, Sting quickly established himself as a viable solo artist, one obsessed with expanding the boundaries of pop music. Sting incorporated heavy elements of jazz, classical, and worldbeat into his music, writing lyrics that were literate and self-consciously meaningful, and he was never afraid to emphasize this fact in the press.

Lex: The Police were incredible: pop/rock for the thinking person and backed by Copeland…a drummer’s drummer. But Sting? He’s like the New Age Bullshit Eastern Mysticism yang to Madonna’s ying.

Me: The Police were my favorite band. And I liked the first solo CD. But we evolved in the direction of Mercury Falling. Mainly, I wanted to use “My Brother’s Rifle” to shoot him in the ass.

J. Geils Band

While their muscular sound and the hyper jive of frontman Peter Wolf packed arenas across America, it only rarely earned them hit singles. Seth Justman, the group’s main songwriter, could turn out catchy R&B-based rockers like “Give It to Me” and “Must of Got Lost,” but these hits never led to stardom, primarily because the group had trouble capturing the energy of its live sound in the studio. In the early ’80s, the group tempered its driving rock with some pop, and the makeover paid off with the massive hit single “Centerfold,” which stayed at number one for six weeks.

fikshun: I’m reminded of how the original Czech Budweiser brewery was no longer able to sell their beer outside of the Czech Republic because American Bud had gotten so big and had better attorneys. How corporate does the band have to be that J. Geils himself, the namesake of the band, unsuccessfully sued to get back into his own band?

Lex: I just like to pretend that J. Geils quit before MTV came along. Once upon a time they were a shit kicking frenetic R&B band for partying all night to. “Serve You Right to Suffer” from Full House is as good as it gets. Listening to Centerfold is ironic; it’s like they wrote it about themselves for us kids lucky enough to grow up listening to the real thing.

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15 replies »

  1. This whole pod is pretty middling, unlike the last one where I had pleasant feelings for more than one band.

    I HATE Van Hagar. They only have one song I’ll listen to. Although, with 1984, one could see that things were going downhill. I’ve never been able to listen to “Jump” and it was ALL OVER the radio when I was in high school.

    Coldplay is OK background music sometimes.

    J. Geils Band I never got the way some people did. Didn’t they do “Love Stinks”? I liked that song. Other than that it seemed pretty generic R&B stuff.

    John Waite is one I used to really like, especially with The Babys. Anytime “Isn’t it Time” comes on, I’ll crank it. I like some of his solo stuff too, but I can take a pass on Bad English.

    Sting was OK with his first couple albums, but I never listen to them now. I even bought Dream of the Blue Turtles or whatever it was on album then again on CD. Maybe it was Nothing Like the Sun, I forget. I also had or have Bring on the Night. I’ve got too many albums, and I’ve gone on a couple purges so I loose track. But I LOVE the Police.

    I’m voting for Waite because he’s the only one I turn up the radio for.

    • Stuart: See my comment on SH not getting the joke. If you’re going to be goof rock, you have to KNOW that’s what you’re doing. David Lee was a wink-wink front guy and that made it a party. Sammy expected you to take it as seriously as he did, and that drove me crazy. In any case, VH is going to win this going away, judging from early results, so I think you’re in the majority.

  2. Just the fact that you call them “Van Hagar” clearly shows that you know nothing about Van Halen.

        • Hey, look! More folks who weren’t in on the joke.

          Sammy: “It’s got what it takes, so tell me why can’t this be love?”
          David Lee Roth: “You better find yourself a friend, my friend.”
          Sammy: “You’ve got to run to win and I’ll be damned if I get hung up on the line”
          DLR: “Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love. Just like I told you before”
          Sammy: “Only time will tell if we stand the test of time”
          DLR: “Hey man, that suit is you! Class dismissed.”

  3. Voted for Van Hagar. Though I thought Sammy’s book was entertaining, I indict them on the basis of the “Right Now” video alone. Bless, you Michael Anthony, wherever you are….

  4. Well, OK, Sting it is. The Police were such a good band in so many ways, it just shows how far he’s fallen. The others didn’t have that far to fall at all. I’m continuing my tactic of voting for the worst offender.

  5. How long is voting open for each pod? I missed voting on this, well I missed nothing it seems. 🙂

    • Usually two or three days. In this case it was a mercy rule situation almost from the beginning, so I figured we’d move on to something with a little more drama.

      • I kept looking for new post and just realized I have been looking in the wrong place. Instead of looking at featured or under latest on the sidebar, I was looking at the white part of the FP, so I was seeing them after they were over. lol Tina