Music/Popular Culture

Tournament of Rock IV: the Alanis Morissette pod

Tournament of Rock IV: Monsters of Corporate Rock!In our previous smackdown #12 seed Boston just barely nipped Bob Seger in our closest match yet. Congrats, boys – you’re moving on to the Sweet 16.

Up next, pod #5, where we anticipate some righteous indignation. Because, you know, it’s not fair. Let’s say hello to our contestants:

  • #15 Seed: Alanis Morissette
  • Bad Company
  • Maroon 5
  • Poison
  • Don Henley

Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette was one of the most unlikely stars of the mid-’90s. A former child actress turned dance-pop diva, Morissette later transformed herself into a confessional alternative singer/songwriter in the vein of Liz Phair and Tori Amos. However, she bolstered that formula with enough pop sensibility, slight hip-hop flourishes, and marketing savvy to become a superstar with her third album, Jagged Little Pill.

Lex: I remember Alanis hitting it big, vaguely. She’s Canadian and depressed, right? Is it an ironic Canadian depression or earnest?

Jim: One of many talents who caught lightning in a bottle. And it’s an open secret that Glen Ballard may have been her Svengali.

Dr. Sid Bonesparkle: Robin Sparkles gets a restraining order.

Bad Company

Formed in 1973, the British hard rock outfit Bad Company was a supergroup comprised of ex-King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell, former Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs, and singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke, both previous members of Free. Powered by Rodgers’ muscular vocals and Ralphs’ blues-based guitar work, Bad Company was the first group signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song vanity label.

Me: In many respects, Bad Company illustrates the very best of the CorpRock possibility. They were unarguably creatures of the machine, but they also did some seriously quality work. My grandfather hated it when I’d close the door and crank “Rock and Roll Fantasy” to 11, so it must have been worthwhile, right?

Jim: Actually, not CorpRock at all – you have the guitarist from Mott the Hoople, King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell, and singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke from the oft lamented Free. When those bands fell apart, they formed BC.  While it turned out they were inconsistent writers, they did give us the wonderful “Silver, Blue, and Gold.”  One can forgive them a lot for that gem….

Maroon 5

A mix of polished pop/rock and neo-soul made Maroon 5 one of the most popular bands of the 2000s, with songs like “This Love,” “She Will Be Loved,” and “Makes Me Wonder” all topping the charts worldwide. Previously, bandmates Adam Levine (vocals/guitar), Jesse Carmichael (keyboards), Mickey Madden (bass), and Ryan Dusick (drums) had spent the latter half of the ’90s playing in Kara’s Flowers, even releasing a debut album for Reprise Records while still attending high school. The record tanked, however, and Kara’s Flowers found themselves dropped from Reprise’s roster. After briefly attending college, the bandmates regrouped as Maroon 5, adding former Square guitarist James Valentine to the lineup and embracing a more R&B-influenced sound.

Me: I had such high hope for Kara’s Flowers (The Fourth World is still one of my favorite Power Pop CDs of the ’90s). And the first M5 disc was intriguing (I loves me some neo-Soul, after all). But then Adam starting unbuttoning his shirts halfway to the crotch and hanging with LA’s elite fashionmongers. Now the band is like his hair: 99% product.

Lex: I don’t know who Maroon 5 is … I’d bet my next paycheck that’s a really good thing.

Jim: Paul Weller dumbed down….


In a decade fueled by party anthems and power ballads, Poison enjoyed a great amount of popularity, with only Bon Jovi and Def Leppard outselling them. While the group had a long string of pop-metal hits, they soon became just as renowned for their stage show, and continued to be a major attraction long after the ’80s came to a close (bringing the commercial downfall of pop-metal with it). Meanwhile, frontman Bret Michaels reinvented himself as a reality TV star in 2007, and his involvement in several TV shows — particularly Rock of Love, Celebrity Apprentice, and Life as I Know It — helped maintain the band’s popularity in concert.

Bonesparkle: Aside from Nelson, Poison was the five hottest chicks on MTV.

Lex: Poison gave even hair metal a band name with its bubblegum bad boy image; hell, what’s-his-face is still trying to cash in on it. Like Mötley Crüe without the umlauts and with less self-respect.

Jim: I think the name is apropos, don’t you?

Don Henley

Out of all of the Eagles, Don Henley had the most successful solo career. After the group initially broke up in 1982, Henley released his first solo album, I Can’t Stand Still. Although it wasn’t as successful as an Eagles record, the album performed respectably, launching the number three single “Dirty Laundry” and going gold. Building the Perfect Beast followed two years later and established Henley as a solo star in his own right. Featuring the Top Ten hits “Boys of Summer” and “All She Wants to Do Is Dance,” as well as the Top 40 singles “Not Enough Love in the World” and “Sunset Grill,” the album sold over two million copies and stayed on the charts for over a year. Henley’s third album, 1989’s The End of the Innocence, was his most ambitious record yet, as well as his most commercially successful. The album sold over three million copies and stayed on the charts for nearly three years, launching the hit singles “The End of the Innocence,” “Heart of the Matter,” “New York Minute,” “How Bad Do You Want It?,” and “The Last Worthless Evening.”

Me: Pro – “this tired old man that we elected king.” Con – whoring for the RIAA. Advantage: Con.

Lex: Don and Bad Company are the kind of classic rock that get me to spin the dial for fear of malignant ear worm.

Jim: Millionaire rock star who preaches progressive ideals while he tries to ream his fans. Feel the love…that he feels for himself….

Click to vote.

The Rules.

Image Credit: AOL Music Blog

4 replies »

  1. Have to go with Henley. The Eagles represent everything that went wrong with music, and he’s the one most responsible–sure, it was a group effort, but still, he’s the main offender.

    • I’m exercising my right not to vote on this one. I think these are all abysmal corporate rock fails in my book.