The Perfect Music

I think the reason so many people have loved The Beatles over the last forty-something years is that they were, objectively, perfect at what they did. Harmonies, chord progressions, love songs that were clearly written with no one in particular in mind, it was all the perfect bundle of pop-rock.*

My homie L hooked me up with two CDs full of metal mp3s and, while doing the grocery runs this morning, I got to listen to Black Label Society in the car. BLS, the band Ozzie's guitarist started in the late 90s, is perfect metal. Wailing guitars, hulking viking of a lead singer/guitarist, lyrics about death and drugs and all-purpose pathos, it's all there.

There's something to this. When bands are great not because they're doing anything particularly new, it's just that they're exemplary at their genre. For instance:
  • The Hives: late 90s pop-punk.
  • Minor Threat: early 80s hardcore punk.
  • Ladytron: spooky synthpop.
  • Motley Crue: dirty 80s hair metal.**
  • Adam and the Ants circa their first album, Dirk Wears White Sox: new wave.
  • Toots and the Maytals: late 60s skinhead reggae.
  • The Specials: two-tone ska.
  • Bush: 90s radio pop that makes you want to kill yourself because it's so bad.
  • Death From Above 1979: whatever it was that genre was.
I can't think of any other examples, but I know they're out there.

* This does not stop me from hating The Beatles, of course. I think it's the insincerity of the love songs that bothers me - I'm fine with love songs, but I want there to be some verisimilitude.
** There are a lot of contenders for dirty 80s hair metal exemplars, but for my money, The Crue are where it's at.


ransom said...

Gary Numan: more new wave
The Sisters of Mercy: that particular brand of goth rock with lots of references to harsh stimulants
Devo: Devo
I'll stop here, lest my own small intestine reach up to throttle my brain in a desperate bid to save the Interwebs...

first thing said...

you know, growing up in the immediate aftermath of the Beatles was kind of fun. I feel like I got to witness the last throes of Beatle-hood as they grew out of adolescence and into adulthood (mainly through Wings and John Lennon's solo career).

A certain history professor would say that the insecurity one sees today in Beatles' songs was a product of the early 1960s and 1950s, when they first came together. I mean, I don't think at any point any of them "rocked", and never would, but I always got the feeling that within their context and genre, they were just barely more complex and awesome than what they were up against.

Of course, now that I have written this out, I am realizing that this is kinda what you said.


kungfuramone said...

I should add that my "hatred" of The Beatles is about halfway inspired and sustained by just being contrary. This will be surprising to precisely no one.

hardcori said...

Pulp - 90's brit pop

Chrissy said...

I'm pretty sure the Pixies belong on that list somewhere...