Saturday, September 11, 2010

VH1's Greatest Artists Ever (Plus My Favorites)

So I just finished watching the fifth hour of VH1's special on the 100 greatest musical artists of ALL TIME (a.k.a. since the 1950s). Yes, I'm a loser, and no, I don't have anything better to do with my time than watch five hours of pointless commentary from stupid people about bands I--for the most part--don't even like all that much. Regardless, I watched it, and, seeing as it's a list, I wanted to share some of my thoughts...

It's a dumb idea for a list in the first place. I mean, best artists ever? Well to be fair, in VH1 terms, "best artists ever" means "best rock/pop/soul/hip-hop artists since 1950"--which is still a stupid idea for a list. In addition to it being a bad idea (way too broad), it was poorly curated. VH1 asked over two hundred musicians (many of them bad) to make half-assed ballots of their favorite artists and then compiled them into a largely nonsensical list. I could go through all 100 and state my beefs with each, but I'd rather watch another VH1 special.

All that said, the top ten, though safe, is hard to argue with. It, along with some of my favorite artists, is posted below and the whole VH1 list is, uh, on VH1. So watch it!

10. Stevie Wonder
9. James Brown
8. Elvis Presley
7. Prince
6. Jimi Hendrix
5. Bob Dylan
4. The Rolling Stones
3. Led Zeppelin
2. Michael Jackson
1. The Beatles

Anyone who wants to seriously argue The Beatles at #1 is an asshole. As far as the rest of the top ten goes, it's pretty bulletproof. While I wouldn't necessarily have those same ten, one can't deny each one's impact on modern music.

Now that I've badmouthed the whole notion of a best artists ever list, I've compiled my own, albeit in a sloppy and unordered fashion. I've used VH1's guidelines, which means no jazz or classical and no artists that had their hay-days before 1950. Here are, as of right now, my thirty favorite musical artists "ever". (All bands include solo/side projects if they're good ones.)

Animal Collective
The Beach Boys
The Beatles
David Bowie
James Brown
Captain Beefheart
Leonard Cohen
Nick Drake
Bob Dylan
Brian Eno
Guided By Voices
Jimi Hendrix
Howlin' Wolf
Joy Division/New Order
Little Richard
My Bloody Valentine
The Ramones
Arthur Russell
Sly & The Family Stone
Sonic Youth
The Stooges
Talking Heads
The Velvet Underground
Tom Waits
Scott Walker

So there you go.

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