Overrated Albums: Poll Winner
I finally closed the poll. And the winner of the coveted prize for most overrated album is:
Now, I'm sure there was some rigging of the vote by one single person who is so offended by the sound of the White Stripes that he alone counted for 225 of the 226 votes. But that's the nature of polls (see, American Idol last night, for proof of that) and those are the results we shall go with.
That's not to say I disagree. Somewhat. I think. The whole White Stripes/Strokes/Hives thing baffled me. I suppose one could make the argument that the embracing of garage rock was in direct response to the proliferation of overproduced teeny bopper bands and flaky, yet hot, blonde singers and/or the rise in popularity of 30 year old men in nu-metal bands writhing in agony, still angry at their mothers for grounding them when they were 12. Who knows?
The thing is, after bitching and moaning for months about how much I hated the Stripes and that whole stripped-down-rock sound, they kind of grew on me. Not so much that I started to actually sing their praises, but enough so that I didn't turn "Seven Nation Army" down when it came on the radio. In fact, songs like "Ball and Biscuit," "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" and "The Hardest Button To Button" remind me of what I first liked about rock and roll all those years ago and yes, the sound is quite reminiscent of sitting in Pat Henley's garage on summer evenings in the 1970's, listening to the band with no name play the same songs over and over again, but enjoying every chord, every beat. The simplicity of "Seven Nation Army" is it's beauty; there's hardly anything to the song, but yet it makes me want to do something - dance, or drum my pencil on the desk or tap my foot at least, much like the repeated chords in the Henley garage did. The band with no name's sound was born of pure desire to just play some music, and that's what I get with the Stripes.
However (there's always a however with these things), White Stripes are not the saviors of rock and roll. They are not the greatest thing since MC5. Elephant isn't so much a triumph of the simple sounds of rock and roll as it is a triumph of style over substance. The album is too simple to be anything more than a big, fat candy bar. Jack White's efforts to be everything to everyone in the re-emergence of pure rock bands is admirable; but his reliance on Meg White's mediocre drumming skills and his penchant for trying to do too much with too little overwhelms the sincerity within. It's a good, fun album. It's good background music for cleaning the house or pretending to do yardwork while you're just drinking beer and neighbor-watching or driving through rush hour traffic with one hand out the window and one hand on the horn. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's good music. It's rock and roll. But it's nothing that's going to change the world. Not even the music world.
I don't think Elephant is the most overrated album of all time. Not even close. But I just surprised myself here by what I wrote about it. I didn't know I liked the album so much until now.
You learn something new every day, even about yourself.
[Just because the poll has ended doesn't mean I'm done - I'll be "reviewing" some of the other overrated albums later today]
Update: Again, don't shoot the messenger! I'm only doing these albums because you people nominated them! If it was up to me, I'd just list every Dylan, Beatles, Eagles, Nirvana, Madonna and Stones album and be done with it. Maybe we should be doing underrated albums instead? Or just underrated bands in general? Anyone?