Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More random music musings: U2 and best-of lists

I saw this comment at The 9513 a couple of weeks ago, re: Dierks Bentley's cover of the U2 song "Pride (In The Name Of Love)":

“the Joshua Tree” is probably in the Top 5 (10?) albums of all time, any genre. 
...and I had to say, "Really? As good as, say, Waylon Jennings' Honky Tonk Heroes, Metallica's Master of Puppets or Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime (or even The Warning if you Queensryche fans are feelin' froggy)?"

I have NEVER understood what everyone thought was so great about U2. I suppose some of their songs are fairly well-written lyrically, but beyond that I just never saw that much to put them on the level on which some people put them. Both instrumentally and vocally I was largely left with this impression: Meh. Bono was never much more than a competent vocalist at best, and I don't recall any of the guitar work on U2's records that made me sit up and take notice. That's not to say that the band was not talented or that their music was disposable on the level that, say, Rascal Flatts' music is; but still, to me they've just always been one of those bands that if you could buy them for what they're worth and sell them for what the critics and the band's fans think they're worth, you could eat lobster and steak every night for the rest of your life.

Beyond that, there's the whole issue of "Top 5 albums of any genre." I suppose every generation has its own tastes and opinions, but it strikes me that to narrow any list like that down to such a low number is incredibly narrow-minded because you're necessarily going to be excluding a train-load of great music from various genres and sub-genres. Is it really fair that bands like Queensryche and Iron Maiden are by and large excluded from any "best albums of any genre" solely because their music didn't get played that much outside of niche programs like MTV's Headbangers Ball (and only then if the songs had videos)? Such is the problem with such lists, I suppose -- they're all ultimately shaped by media exposure. I'd love to see how music fans' perceptions would have been different had things like the Internet and satellite radio existed 30 years ago. Thoughts, anyone?