Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Worst of the Best

Rolling Stone Produces Another Completely Irrelevant List

It’s been a while since The Inky Jukebox had a Rolling Stone rant, so it made perfect sense for the latest issue to really yank our chain. It’s a theme issue, purportedly to showcase “The Best Live Acts Now (The Greats And What Makes Them Great).”

There’s no point, really, in getting upset about their list of “The 50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now” because it’s so predictably and outrageously silly. Sure — there are some undeniably good live acts on the list (#1 is Springsteen, duh, and Jann Wenner would have bust an artery is the Stones had been placed any lower than #3), and we understand that this list is going to be a mix of mega-money makers and smaller acts, but when whole genres of music are shut out the list is meaningless. Who is Tame Impala? Who is Janelle Monáe? Who is The National? Who are the Sleigh Bells?

Where is Kenny Chesney? Where are Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan? Where is Eric Church, for Gawdsake? (He’s #40!) Taylor Swift comes in at #49, just ahead of that “Stadium Slayer” Fiona Apple. I’m calling her that because a few pages later, that’s what Rolling Stone calls Swift. Seriously? Fiona Apple?

What on earth could be the reason behind this grotesque absence of country acts? (And don’t tell me that Rolling Stone is all about rock music which is why they can ignore country — have you seen how much hip-hip it covers?) The answer can be found when you see the line-up of “experts” they polled. Out of 24 people, the breakdown is as follows: Music Industry Execs = 8; Rolling Stone and other journalists = 4; musicians = 12. But let’s take a closer look at the alleged musicians, shall we? There’s extremely relevant Perry Farrell, Pete Wentz, Trey Ansatasio, someone from Fall Out Boy, someone from a long-named band I don’t have the patience to type out, BOTH Tegan and Sara, and always fair-minded Lars Ulrich. It’s a hipster convention. Shockingly, the lead singer of Alabama Shakes was a voter and her band made it to #16.

On page 48, there is a mini-article called “Because Country Is Where Arena Rock Lives” and it has the underhanded slap of an insult. Every single positive thing mentioned is credited to an old rock act, as if country acts have nothing of their own to offer but mimicry. Rolling Stone assures readers that these acts play plenty of rock covers (by the Rolling Stones!), employ stage designers from rock acts, and imply that even Eric Church, whom they evidently admire, borrows heavily from Metallica (thanks Lars!). As long as mainstream media fail to account for the inherent strength of country acts and treat them like pale imitations of the dinosaurs of old, they will never get a fair break.

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