The complaints about the July issue continue to fly in fast and furious, and I’m here to deflect, reflect, and eject the big names that were missed and the ones that should’ve never been brought up in the first place. On with the show.
Green Day: Dookie landed at No. 44, but there have been an alarming number of responses insisting that we dropped the ball on American Idiot. While I love that album and am consistently amazed at its ability to exist both as a vessel for singles (all of which have been great) and as an honest-to-goodness album (and a concept album at that), I am hesitant to put up a fight for an album so new. Sure, it sounds tremendous now and reflects a current state of affairs, but will people still think it’s incredible once we’ve distanced ourselves from George W. Bush’s America? I’m not so sure. To tell the truth, I’m not so sure about any of the newer albums on the list, especially Kanye West’s The College Dropout. The guy has been the victim of a bit of backlash lately, so I know it’s sorta cool to hate on him, but I was a defender of that album since it dropped last year and even now it doesn’t sound as great as it did a year ago (or even six months ago). Also, as many readers have pointed out, West is only a moderately talented MC, and the fact that he has heavy hitters like Jay-Z, Mos Def, and Twista on his record only highlight that fact more intensely. Perhaps we’ve cracked a case, though — West has said he’d love to do an entire album with Bad Boy also-ran Mase, a rapper who could probably be put to shame by a low-level No Limit Soldier. But anyway, back to my point: American Idiot is too new, but I’ll be willing to bet that in ten years I’ll still be spinning it (though that’s mostly because I have a hard time letting go, if you haven’t already noticed).
Hole: I am absolutely astounded at the amount of bile people have reserved for Courtney Love. The inclusion of Live Through This at No. 19 has been called a mistake, a travesty, and a disaster. Come on, guys, I know she’s not the most likable person in the world, but she did put out at least one great album (and while it has no business on the list, Hole’s Celebrity Skin might sneak into my personal 150). Live Through This is an album with tremendously powerful songs that are lyrically piercing and sonically epic, and is as important in the grunge cannon as Pearl Jam or Alice in Chains. So really, what is the big deal? Do people hate Courtney because she’s a media whore? Do they hate her because they think she killed Kurt? Do they have a thing against plastic surgery? Whatever it is, one thing is for certain: Live Through This belongs exactly where it is on the list, and if anything should be higher. I have also noticed that a similar amount of bile has been aimed at Liz Phair and the inclusion of Exile in Guyville at No. 15. Love or hate what they have become, but Liz and Courtney have both contributed greatly to the musical landscape of the past twenty years, paving the way for strange, angry women everywhere. There would be no Fiona Apple without Liz and Courtney, and without Fiona Apple there’d (probably) be no Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, and I don’t want to live in a world without either.
Spacehog: Okay, so I’m the only one who is complaining that there’s no Spacehog records on the list, but they’re my favorite band of all time, so I have to endorse them somehow. If it were left up to me, 1998’s The Chinese Album would have fallen somewhere in the bottom fifty (probably at 65, to pick an arbitrary number). It’s ostensibly a concept album about a woman who becomes a rock star and then gives it all up to become an Asian prostitute, but really it’s just a bunch of excellent glam rock songs that foresaw the Great Glam Revival that lasted about twelve minutes in 1998. Their cover of “One of These Days” is awesome, and “Beautiful Girl” is the kind of poetry I cribbed in high school to get me laid; it never worked, but girls always seemed flattered and impressed. I understand that Royston Langdon is a bit of an acquired taste, but once you get past his bizarre rubber-band cadences, you can let it wash over you. Any fan of guitar rock would do well to give the Hog another shot. All the albums are good, but The Chinese Album is their masterpiece.
Marilyn Manson: I will say there was a pretty big debate in the office about whether or not we should include Mr. Manson on the list, if only because he’s such a recognizable character and became the definitive rock and roll reactionary figure at the end of the twentieth century. I love love love all of Manson’s records, but it was ultimately decided that Antichrist Superstar was too uneven and Mechanical Animals was too insignificant, and I basically agree. But when you compound the fact that Manson was blamed for school shootings, suicides, a rise in teenage Satanism, and the fall of civilization as old white Republicans know it, you have to give this guy credit where credit is due. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Mechanical Animals make the list, as it’s got better production and arrangements, but for sheer power and rage, how could we look past “The Beautiful People,” “The Reflecting God,” and “Irresponsible Hate Anthem,” all of which are contained on 1996’s still-jarring Antichrist Superstar? I guess nobody’s perfect.
That’s all for today, but feel free to visit the forums (click here) to shout back at A-D. What’s with your hatred of Courtney and Liz? Which Manson album should have been made the list? And what’s with my obsession with Spacehog?