(This RantZ entry has been slightly updated from its original 2008 publication!)
How to create controversy in one easy lesson: Present your own opinions as incontrovertible facts.
If I were to list each of the following items as "My Favorite [So-and-So]," this would be a nice, innocuous little collection of my musical favorites.
I'm presenting the following list as "The Best Of... " Not only am I courting controversy by doing that, but I'm also taking an additional chance of pissing people off by arbitrarily limiting the scope of my "nominations" and "winning candidates" to pop/rock artists & music from roughly 1960-1980. Why? Just to be an ornery jerk, cuz I can.
This method may cause division among the ranks of the RantzerooZ. "That's not the best [So-and-So]!" you may say (even if you don't leave a comment stating your position). Well... tough. It is now. I wrote it; that makes it real. This method may cause people to argue with me (or each other). This method may cause people to insult me (or each other). It could even start a Third World War... or not.
Well... Probably not, where that last one is concerned.
Anyway, here's my (pop & rock'n'roll) list of "bests" and "mosts" -- which I purposely did not number, since it's not that kind of list -- and let the buffalo chips fall where they may.
- Best Singer: Janis Joplin and Roy Orbison (Let's call that a tie; I don't want to split this into a male/female thing.)
- Best Lead Vocalist for a Rock Band: Freddy Mercury of Queen and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin (tie)
- Best Lead Vocalist for a Rock Band Who Can Actually Act in a Movie or a TV Program Without Embarrassing Himself: Roger Daltrey of The Who
- Best Lead Vocalist for a Rock Band Who Can't Shut the F**k Up During the Guitar Lead to Save His Life: Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company, etc.
- Best Guitarist: (Ohhh, no you don't! Even mine aren't that big!)
- Group with the Best Catalog of Albums to Bring with You to a Deserted Island: The Beatles
- Group with the Best Catalog of Albums to Bring with You to a Deserted Island (Substance Abuse Division) : The Doors (Honorable Mention: Pink Floyd)
- Best Carnival Barker in Terms of Extending the Hype Forever: Ray Manzarek of The Doors ("forever" being until 2013, when Manzarek died)
- Artist I Most Wish Would Shut Up and Retire, Already: Elton John
- Best "Done-You-Wrong Song in Captivity"* : "Can't You See" by The Marshall Tucker Band
- Most Incredibly Talented & Promising Artist Whose Career Lasted Long Enough for Him to Totally F**k It Up and Then Turn It Around: Michael Jackson
- Best Album Cover (not the Best Album. The Best Album Cover): "Weekend Warriors" by Ted Nugent
- Most Influential Debut Album of the Early 1960s (U.S. version) : "Meet the Beatles" by... Oh, you guessed that one?**
- Most Influential Debut Album of the Late 1960s: "Led Zeppelin"*** by Led Zeppelin
- Best British Invasion Group That Actually Sounded British: Herman's Hermits
- Best British Invasion Group That Tried to Sound Like Americans: everybody else
- Best Songwriter with an Overly Recognizable Style****: Jim Steinman
- Best LP Almost Nobody But Me Seems to Know About: "Songs for Beginners" by Graham Nash
- Best LP Almost Nobody But Me Seems to Know About That Also Influenced My Own Personal Singing Style: "Wheatfield Soul" by The Guess Who
- Best Damned Song I Ever Wrote: "The Life You Never Find" (Runners-Up: "Eve's Song" and "Don't Let Me Love You on the Rebound")
- Best Song to Have the Band***** or the DJ Play When You're Dancing with a Woman You Want to "Get Close To" That Evening (1960s): Cherish by The Association
- Best Song to Have the Band***** or the DJ Play When You're Dancing with a Woman You Want to "Get Close To" That Evening (1970s): "Wildflower" by Skylark
- Best Artist to Play When at Home with a Woman You Want to "Get Close To" That Evening (1960s): Frank Sinatra
- Best Artist to Play When at Home with a Woman You Want to "Get Close To" That Evening (1970s): Cat Stevens (WARNING! This is no longer the case!)
- Song That Hits You Harder Every Damned Time You Hear It, As You Get Older: "Same Auld Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg
- Best Line Ever (not the Best Song, and not the Best Line from a Song. The! Best! Line! Ever! In anything! From anywhere!) : "Someone like you makes it hard to live without somebody else," from "Reason to Believe," written by Tim Hardin
See? Instant controversy! And up until this early morning revelation, I thought the only way I could do that was by talking about Sarah Palin. (2008, remember?)
Thanks for your time.
* And I wish I could properly credit the AM radio DJ who uttered that memorable phrase, over 30 years ago!
** Of course, their odds of "winning" this category were doubled, since in the USA, The Beatles actually had two debut albums, on different labels!
*** And no, it's not "Led Zeppelin I," or "Led Zeppelin One," or anything else but "Led Zeppelin!"
**** During 1983, three different songs entered the pop charts in relatively short succession: Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," Air Supply's "Making Love out of Nothing at All," and Barry Manilow's "Read 'Em and Weep." Upon hearing each of these three songs for the first time, my response was along the lines of "Hey, I'll bet Jim Steinman wrote that!" I was right in all three cases. Best known as the songwriter behind Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell" albums, Steinman's style was and is unmistakeable.
*****And just for the record, I mean "the band," and not "The Band." S'awright? S'awright!