Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week Pop Shots is hitting you with a special column on legendary bands. In music we tend to have a reverence for the past while turning a blind eye to the history we’re creating. Everyone lauds The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Who, etc., and rightly so, but a lot of great music has been made since then and people seem to be unable, or unwilling, to give bands that came out after 1970 the kind of respect that resembles that which we give the legends. New legends exist, though. What makes for a legendary act? Sometimes it’s an iconic song that lives on from generation to generation. Sometimes it’s longevity. There’s something special about a band that can continue to pump out great music decade after decade, especially in today’s pop world where the average lifespan of an act is about as long as that of a fruit fly. With those things in mind, this week I’m taking a look at three bands you might not think of as legendary, but definitely deserve to be considered as such.
Some people still look at No Doubt as just a fun group, but in 2011 that fun group reached the quarter century mark as a band and that’s an accomplishment few have attained. Gwen Stefani still looks nearly as young as she did when she first sang “Just A Girl,” and although that was the song that broke No Doubt into the mainstream, “Don’t Speak” is the single that will live on forever as it’s easily one of the top five, if not the number one, break up song of all time. It captures every emotion a person feels when they know a relationship is over. The fact that she was singing it about bassist Tony Kanal made it all the more spectacular.
If you’re looking for a band for No Doubt to pass the torch to, stop, you’re not going to find one. People have tried to make a case for Paramore, but Paramore is a totally different kind of band. No Doubt had a unique sound. They could do ska, reggae, pop and rock, and there isn’t a band around that can duplicate what they’ve done and continue to do.
What do you do when you’re a punk rock / alt metal band that scores a huge hit with a summery pop song? If you’re Sugar Ray you run with it and have a career that’s currently in its 23rd year. “Fly” put Sugar Ray on the map, and for as much as Mark McGrath and crew may have loved performing songs like “Mean Machine,” which was reportedly about a Hartford Whalers player, they knew a good thing when they saw it with the reaction to “Fly.” Their newfound pop rock vibe led to a string of hits that are still played on the radio today; “Every Morning,” “Someday,” and “When It’s Over” being three of the most memorable.
Having seen them live, and knowing how fantastic their show is, I feel safe in saying that Sugar Ray will continue on as long as they want to, and they’ll always be performing to a packed house. That’s the mark of a legendary band. McGrath will also kick anyone’s ass in Rock Jeopardy.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
I know some older heads may raise an eyebrow to what I’m about to say, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Stones and The Who. Their career has spanned nearly 30 years (28 to be exact) and they’re still making great music. They have an iconic song that will live forever in their heroin balled “Under the Bridge,” and they have not one, but TWO greatest hits albums, one released in 1992 titled What Hits!?, and one released in 2003 titled Greatest Hits. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a third greatest hits album in the not too distant future.
The Chili Peppers, just like Sugar Ray and No Doubt, created a vibe that is uniquely them and is almost impossible to imitate. We haven’t heard another band like the Chili Peppers because there’s only one Anthony Kiedis and there’s only one Flea. Sure, there’s been a revolving door of members when it comes to some of the other positions in the band, but with those two there you’ll always get that Chili Peppers sound, and that’s a beautiful thing.
And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.