Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The End of Defining Rock Anthems?

I was looking through the list of Rolling Stones 500 Best Songs, and many of those songs are more than just good songs. They define their respective generations hopes, fears, thoughts, and generally mean more to society than just being a decent song on the radio. But have we seen the last of the defining rock anthems? I can't think of anyone who has successfully pulled one off in years. I even consider myself a pretty good songwriter, and I have never attempted to write a song that captures a special meaning to society (I'll get right on that...)

But what am I even talking about? What qualifies? Well, off the top of my head:

The Beatles have many of them. "All You Need Is Love" would be one. "A Day In the Life" would be another one. "Revolution" also counts.

Bob Dylan has a few as well. "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and "Like A Rolling Stone" both qualify.

Basically, it needs to be more broad than just a love song, cover a societal feeling, and be really, really popular. U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)" is the most recent song I can think of that covers this criteria. There could be more that I'm missing (comment away) but realistically, songs have been getting more complex and in one sense, better- but maybe it is our society that does not easily grasp onto songs anymore. Here are some candidates that might be able to pull it off:

Radiohead - so many great songs! Not one of them meets the above criteria. They have been called this generation's Pink Floyd, yet I'm not sure any of their really popular songs can be called a defining rock anthem. "OK Computer" is full of almost anthems, but none of them quite cut it. After that, they went fairly electronic and lost enough of their audience keep them from producing a true anthem. Their music may be better because of it, but that is not my argument here.

Coldplay - "Viva La Vida" is so damn close to what I'm talking about. It is catchy, a huge hit, large sound, strong meaning behind it but Chris Martin is talking in metaphors that refer to medieval times. You could make an argument that he's talking about modern issues (perhaps President Bush's imminent end to his presidential term?) but it's easier to argue against it. I'm not ruling Coldplay out though- they have potential to pull it off.

U2 - While having written anthem songs in the past, they currently flounder with songs like "Elevation" and "Beautiful Day." Pop hits? Yes. Anthems? No. Bono might have one left up his sleeve, but we haven't seen him reach his potential in years.

John Mayer - "Waiting on the World to Change" is even closer than "Viva La Vida" to anthem status. I'm disqualifying John because I once heard him rant at a concert about how it is "inappropriate for musicians to preach about their own beliefs..." etc., etc. In fact, it's a musicians duty to preach about their beliefs. It is when a musician's own beliefs galvanize a song that relates to the masses that creates a great anthem. I might be being picky though- this could be an [whiney] anthem.

Bright Eyes/Wilco - Both write very relevant and poetic songs, but neither are popular enough to create a full blown anthem. Both are loved by critics and smart people, but neither have enough popular appeal to create the anthem society is looking for. I suppose they could accidentally become hugely popular if they wrote an anthem, but I'm not sure if that means the chicken or the egg is coming first...

Look, I know this blog could get turned into a term paper for an awesome History of Rock class. I'm oversimplifying this whole thing and did not mention a lot of musicians that could be capable of writing/performing an anthem. However, the overall feeling I have is that the Rock Anthem is dead. The musicians capable of making one are not popular enough. The ones on the radio seem pretty watered down and singing about "Californication" (seriously, RHCP? You guys made that up, and that song is ridiculous.)

I guess because I was born after John Lennon was killed, I'm looking back and longing for a time when our popular musicians were also counted on to not only put out great music, but challenge and summarize modern society. It seems like the 60s and 70s had lots of bands and artists like that, and now you can only find those bands on College Radio Stations, if at all. The biggest question is: Are the musicians or society worse? Who knows? Yet, I think you can argue that both musicians and society are better as well...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Back-Up Quarterback

Who's excited for the 49ers to face the Cardinals tonight? Anyone? Seriously, somebody has to be excited... Really? No one?

Oh well. Let's talk about the rest of the league, starting with my favorite inconsistent team:

The Bears lose to the Titans in a frustrating game. So why is it that every time I watch the Bears on TV, they frustrate me? If they lost in a way that was less maddening, I swear I could deal with it. However, the Titans (who totally rely on the run) had 20 total rushing yards. 20! Yet Kerry Collins had 289 yards passing. Compare that to the 251 total yards the Bears earned on offense and you have a terrible football game. With Brian Griese throwing for over 400 yards against the Bears defense, and now Kerry Collins throwing for an effective 289 yesterday, the Bears have officially allowed two members of AARP to look like young Joe Montanas.

And I haven't even gotten to Sexy Rexy. I think I've been his biggest Bear fan supporter throughout the years. Guess what Rex? I'm off the bandwagon. I may have jumped off after your wagon began it's decent down a canyon, but at least I'm not hitting the ground with you. Rex looked good in the first drive, the proceeded to throw for no passing yards for the rest of the first half. Just terrible.

As far as the Titans go, I'm going to have to cheer for them to go undefeated now because I still hate the 1972 Dolphins. Especially Mercury Morris. When is that guy going to rear his ugly face on TV. Shove it Mercury. An 8-8 team today would destroy your Dolphins and their 13-0 regular season record (16-0 total.)

PS: Jevon Kearse's 9-0 jersey thing was pretty funny. Even I can appreciate that.

Giants are the team to beat in the NFC East - Thank goodness I'm not an Eagles fan as well. There's another frustrating team to watch. Donovan McNabb never seems to get the job done.
Whether he is losing NFC Championship games, throwing up in a huddle during the Super Bowl, or allowing his team to flounder in mediocrity- McNabb just doesn't seem like the championship caliber quarterback people once thought he could be.

The Raiders are going to get their NFL team status taken away. Seriously, they are that bad.

Other notes: Patriots are still pretty good without Tom Brady, the Lions are AWFUL, I can't believe the Colts beat the Steelers at home, the NFC North is lucky the NFC West exists, and the Jets are overrated.

It's also good to have the NBA back, except the Cavs have already proven that they are way better than the Bulls, and with the trade of Allen Iverson to the Pistons, the Bulls have no shot in that division this year. It's exciting to see Derrick Rose out there, but it is a buzz kill to know your team is an 8 seed at best. Oh well, let me sooth myself with memories of 6 championships from the 1990s.