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Will

Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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  1. Avatar Bo
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    says:

    Did you see that up in the banner area, right between the stories about Israeli nuclear espionage and vaccination, was a story titled, and I’m not making this up, Is the New Shakira Song With Lil Wayne Any Good? And that it has Jonah Wilder, the same critic defending Creed, wondering if he hooked up with Shakira, she’d be the dom from “She Wolf” or the sub from this song?

    I wonder if Jonah Wilder has decided on his own to parody Slate on their own pages, and the editors just haven’t noticed yet.Report

  2. Avatar Joe Carter
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    says:

    I’ve never understood the animus against Creed. Sure the music can be a bit schmaltzy. But Scott Stapp can sing, unlike, say, Robert Plant from the inexplicably overrated Led Zeppelin. What is the standard when a horid band like Zeppelin can enter the pantheon of rock while Creed is considered an embarresment?Report

    • Avatar Will in reply to Joe Carter
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      says:

      This comment is just an incredibly meta joke-within-a-joke, right? Right?Report

    • Avatar JosephFM in reply to Joe Carter
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      says:

      Creed are just ehh. The problem is roughly the same as with Oasis, say, or the Killers (bands I enjoy but acknowledge to be derivative and sorta mediocre): they have a sense of self-importance wholly unconnected to the actual quality of their music, and are self-righteous jerks about it.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Joe Carter
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      says:

      I’ve never understood the animus against Creed.

      Nor I. He is the funniest character on The Office.Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to Joe Carter
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      says:

      Since Led Zeppelin is far and way my favorite musical act of all time, I often find myself defending the group from casual listeners who are more or less sick of classic rock radio stations overplaying Stairway to Heaven, one of the band’s more mediocre songs (although Led Zeppelin definitely has no duds) and probably the easiest to understand.

      From the start, Led Zeppelin cared more about its own artistic mission than impressing critics. Originally called The New Yardbirds, the band, like Democritus and Siddhartha Guatama, was born into royalty, which it soon forsook. The group could have ridden its name to commercial success, but chose not to. The group changed its name following a famous dig by famous pervert Pete Townshend, who’s band The Who was famous for being loud. Townshend famously said of The New Yardbirds, “this band is going to sink like a lead zeppelin.” The group’s members agreed to change its name as a star-spangled middle finger to the decadent rock establishment.

      Led Zeppelin I and II generally concern the band’s attempts to popularize blues songs it liked rendered in its own distinct, hard style, which is like that of no other band before or since.

      While Led Zeppelin was so way far ahead of its time that it was ridiculed by the mainstream rock press and the 1960s Woodstock establishment, the band developed a cult following, which it then completely forsook with Led Zeppelin III, an almost entirely acoustic album. The band found its voice with Led Zeppelin IV, widely considered one of the most important albums in rock history, and the next album, Houses of the Holy was even better. Just to show that there was plenty more where that was coming from, Physical Graffiti was a stellar double album. This was followed by Presence, featuring the group’s best song, Achilles Last Stand. Finally, In Through the Out Door was chalked full of tracks which we are all still trying to process as a civilization.

      From the start, Led Zeppelin was considered a supergroup based solely on the raw talent of its members. Plant is a vocalist like none other, with a distinctive voice and complete lack of fear. Jimmy Page is on almost every list of the best guitarists of all time, although he has been derided by some for being sloppy. His style is better characterized by nonchalance. John Paul Jones’s distinctive base lines have served as models for aspiring bassists since, and John Bonham’s sheer endurance as a drummer remains unmatched more than thirty years after his death. In a sense, it was an accident of fate that these four musicians came together to produce one of the definitive musical catalogues of the twentieth century.

      Led Zeppelin avoided the respective fates of Jimmy Hendrix and The Rolling Stones in that it neither burned out nor faded away to campy Boomerdom: the group had a sufficient degree of collective metacognitive awareness to call it quits after John Bonham died in a 1980 car accident.

      Whether is came to writing songs about Lord of the Rings, Greek and Norse mythology, love for a pet dog, execution, black magic and the occult, or any number of bizarre, yet truly Romantic and profound topics, the poetry of the band’s lyrics is only equaled by its instrumental skill. If I could go back in time, I would choose to be alive in the seventies, so I could witness twelve-minute Bonham drum solos, four or five minutes of nothing but rhythm and moaning, thirty-minute versions of Dazed and Confused, the fusion of obscure musical styles such as mandolin folk or carousel music or even cowtowing to synth with Zeppelin’s unique rock stylings, playing a double-fretted electric guitar, playing an electric guitar with a bow, playing a double-fretted electric guitar with a bow (which inspired one of the greatest scenes from one of the greatest films ever made, This Is Spinal Tap), the complete departure from and prodigal return to the hard blues-rock style that made the band famous in the first place, the third way of repopularizing blues within the rock program in the face of Pink Floyd‘s drab electronica and the stultifying punk of the Sex Pistols, and the boldest stand since Nat King Cole taken against the new disco fad unfortunately sweeping the Anglo-American music world. Like the Coen Brothers, Led Zeppelin was totally unsafe in the topics and themes it chose to pursue; the band always pushed the limits of what rock music was capable of while successfully straddling the fine line between mainstream and avant garde.

      By the end of Led Zeppelin‘s run, the possibilities for rock were so completely exhausted that the genre was an effective wasteland comprised of acts trying unsuccessfully to channel Led Zeppelin for the following fifteen years up until the Grunge movement in the 90s. Stereolab‘s Laetitia Sadier famously said at Lollapalooza that rock was dead. If it was, it’s because Led Zeppelin drove it to Nirvana.Report

      • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Christopher Carr
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        says:

        Mr. Carr, an excellent essay, and love your last sentence (Also agree Spinal Tap is one of THE funniest and greatest films of all time!) Zeppelin is a hugely talented band, immense–there is not a rock group in the last 20 years who’d be worthy of shining Zeppelin’s shoes. I really do think they’re that great. However, my vote for the greatest rock song of ALL time is this:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUcAEdkWxXM.

        This is an absolutely gorgeous song—listen to these out-of this-world chord progressions!! The strings! Lyrics! “A sand so white, and sea so blue, no mortal place at all” or, “How many moons and many Junes have passed since we made land”–are you freaking kidding me? This is just a flat out rock masterpiece!! And the opening drum riff at about the .55 mark is just drives me nuts–so, so, great The last verse beginning with “We fired the gun” is the greatest rock music climax ever, ever, ever.
        Naturally, this is just my two cents worth. Hope you enjoy.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Christopher Carr
        Ignored
        says:

        John Bonham died in a 1980 car accident

        Is this the clue that the entire post is a joke? Bonham died in the traditional Spinal Tap fashion for drummers. (Though it was, as far as I know, his own.)Report

  3. Avatar Joe Carter
    Ignored
    says:

    No, I’m absolutely serious. (Well, as serious as you can be about Creed. Or Zeppelin.) I’m really curious what aesthetic standard we collectively use to determine that Creed is crap yet Zeppelin is genius.Report

    • Avatar Will in reply to Joe Carter
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      says:

      I’m not a huge Zeppelin fan, but I think they deserve credit for creating a unique (and incredibly influential) musical aesthetic. Creed, on the other hand, just sounds incredibly derivative. I mean, they’re a cheap Pearl Jam knock-off.Report

      • Avatar Joe Carter in reply to Will
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        says:

        Zeppelin unique? I thought you were making a meta-joke there for a minute. ; )

        The one area I give Zeppelin credit for is that they are one of the greatest rip-off artists of all times: http://www.associatedcontent.com/video/26428/led_zeppelin_rip_off_artists_.html?cat=33

        But I don’t begrudge them that. There’s nothing new under the sun and certainly nothing new in rock music. Zepplin is a knock-off of blues singers, Creed isa knock-off of Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam is a knock-off of . . . ad infinitum.

        But it still doesn’t get to the heart of the aesthetic question. Stapp has a good voice. Creed has a decent guitarist. Their lyrics are better than at least 75% of the gibberish that passes for rock lyrics. I just don’t get why people hate them so much. I can see them falling into the category of “Not to my taste” (a category that Pearl Jam feel into for me after “Ten”). But why the active distaste?Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Joe Carter
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          says:

          well i always like …ad infinitum, they rocked hard, but were a bit of a pale imitation of creed.Report

        • Avatar Will in reply to Joe Carter
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          says:

          Surely we can acknowledge that Zeppelin is both derivative and incredibly influential?

          As far as aesthetics are concerned, Creed’s lyrics are awful, Stapp’s vocals are mind-numbingly bombastic, and the riffage – while competent – is totally indistinguishable from a thousand other Pearl Jam rip-offs.Report

          • Avatar Dave in reply to Will
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            says:

            They both suck. End of discussion. Personally, if we’re going to talk about music, I’d much rather talk about Allan Holdsworth’s incredible sense of phrasing and his killer legato lines than two completely underwhelming bands who have more than their share of derivative horseshit to cause our ears to bleed.

            I have spoken.Report

        • Avatar Bo in reply to Joe Carter
          Ignored
          says:

          That was part of the genius of Led Zeppelin, that they took blues vocals and replaced the traditional backing music of the singer wailing on an acoustic guitar with a wall of noise*. It wasn’t that they were new; it’s that they took something old and made it new. Of course, now Led Zeppelin’s old too, so the whole thing just seems like one old guy ripping off another to the young ones.

          * Well, at least 1 and 2 were. Everything after that was pretty generic 70s power pop.Report

  4. Avatar Ryan Davidson
    Ignored
    says:

    An acquaintence of mine once described Creed as a “theological dry hump.”

    I think that’s about all that needs to be said about them.

    But I also think we’re missing the real question, which is “Why does Jonah Weiner have a job?”Report

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