Welcome to the debut edition of what we’d like to have as a new weekly series at Voices of Wrestling – The VOW Q&A! Each Friday, a panel of VOW writers will gather to answer a reader-submitted question on any topic under the sun. We’d love feedback on the column, as we’re definitely open to ideas for the future.
As we said, future VOW Q&A columns will see the staff answer YOUR questions! So make sure you submit a question to us via e-mail at [email protected]! The questions can be about anything in the world of pop culture, whether wrestling related or not. In a perfect world, it’d be indirectly wrestling related – so give us your best!
In our debut, the staff tackles: Which musical act do you love despite knowing they’re terrible?
Alex Wendland (@AlexWendland)
I’ll just get it out – Dave Matthews Band. I will yell from the mountain tops that Dave Matthews Band is an incredible collective of musicians and their catalog is among the strongest of the past 25 years. 1994’s Under the Table and Dreaming is the best album of the 1990s and I won’t hear any different. Their knock? The fans. God, they’re just as bad as wrestling fans, and for so many similar reasons. “I’ve seen them [insert financially irresponsible number] of times.” The holier than thou attitude combined with the always-classic pairing of patchouli oil bathed women and the bro-ist bros from Brosville, Broregon makes for a concert atmosphere that can best be described as hit-or-miss. Conversely, I’ve met some of the nicest, most friendly-for-no-reason people in my life at Dave Matthews concerts. But the rumors are true: a lot of them are godawful enough to disparage the reputation of the entire band. And the poop in the Chicago River, that didn’t help.
John Carroll (@toshanshuinla)
I’m going with a Japanese band I’m embarrassed to admit I really like here in two-thousand and sixteen: L’arc-en-ciel. Look, there’s a million reasons not to like L’arc, starting with their goofy name (why did a Japanese rock band name themselves “the arc in the sky” in French?? Yes, basically French for “rainbow”) and ending with the fact that, objectively, they haven’t put out anything worth a damn since 2000’s Real. 2004’s Smile seemed okay but absolutely does not hold up (especially not “READY STEADY GO”, a song anime dorks everywhere talked themselves into liking just ‘cause it was a Fullmetal Alchemist opening; that show sucks by the way, yeah I said it fight me) and everything since then has been utter garbage with the exception of, like, two songs maybe. Two good songs in 12 years should basically qualify them for Aerosmith status or something. But dammit, Real was really good! I can still go back and listen to “Stay Away” or “Neo Universe” or “Heaven’s Drive” to this day. And I saw them live like a million years ago and they were a really good live act, so there’s that going for them too! But yeah, objectively they’re crap and I shouldn’t let them off the hook. Also let’s not even talk about any of the side projects- Punk~en~ciel is crap and I saw Vamps live once and left 20 minutes in. hyde at least does a damn good Careless Whisper cover though!
Rob McCarron (@ShakeThemRopes)
I scoff at the characterization of terrible in terms of one of my favorite bands, but I’ve been around too many people that have used the word to describe… Weezer. Maybe I shouldn’t hang around those people. Weezer is not terrible. Rivers may not play a wide range of musical notes on the guitar, and yeah, his voice is pretty soft for a rock band, but dammit Weezer rules. Also, if you didn’t know, Rivers is a former internet message board troll, so he fits right in with many of us. Hell, Maladroit’s “Space Rock” in 2002 was a ballad about Rivers dealing with message board haters on the reg. His posts as ‘ace’ on the Weezer forums back in the day are the stuff of legend. And oh, woo-ee-oo he looks just like Buddy Holly.
Andrew Rich (@AndrewTRich)
This is about a specific song rather than a band as a whole, but my answer is “Roll the Bones” by Rush. If you haven’t heard the song, it’s essentially taking the modern (90s to present day) Rush sound – Geddy Lee’s slightly subdued, yet still robust vocals, Alex Lifeson’s powerful guitar riffs, and the thunderous technicality of Neil Peart’s drumming – and sticking a rap verse in the middle of it. In 1991. And if there’s any band that is the antithesis of cool, early 90s hip hop, it’s Rush. We’re talking about a trio of incredibly skilled white Canadian rock musicians who write songs about Tom Sawyer and Xanadu. And they have decided to step – ever so briefly – into the world of hip hop. This is not Aerosmith redoing “Walk This Way” with Run-D.M.C. This is not Public Enemy redoing “Bring the Noise” with Anthrax. This is Rush doing an ORIGINAL HIP HOP COMPOSITION ALL BY THEMSELVES. The end result is as cheesy as one would expect; something tells me Eazy-E didn’t rhyme “polyester slacks” with “gluteus max” and “parallax” while hanging out with Dre and Cube. References to a “night of a thousand saxophones” and “almanacs” don’t help matters. And I don’t care if it’s in a rap verse or not, the word “homeboy” should be nowhere near a Rush song. YET… I love it. As cheesy and awful as it is, I not only enjoy listening to the song, but I sing along to the rap verse as well. And the majority of the song, the actual rock part, is pretty great, dammit. Label me uncool, I don’t care. If I wanted to be cool, I wouldn’t be listening to Rush, now would I?
Warren Taylor (@WarrenETaylor)
I don’t pretend to have great taste in music. Grunge is and always will be my favorite rock sub-genre, but I’m not going to extol the virtues of Alice in Chains here. I’m here, at the risk of losing whatever credibility I have with VOW, to admit that I enjoy the music of one Katy Perry. Her songs hold little to no substance, but they are fun and never let me down; strangely enough, just like an episode of ROH TV.
Sean Flynn (@spiffie6123)
I’ve always had a soft spot for over-the-top gothic-tinged, sort of supernatural things. I loved Undertaker being levitated to heaven at Royal Rumble 1994. I tolerated spooky Bray Wyatt longer than most. So it makes sense that I do in fact own and listen to the Original Cast Recording of Phantom of the Opera. The story is somehow both bland and unrealistic. The songs are on the nose and manipulative. And Raoul is just the dirt worst. But it gets me every single time. “All I Ask of You” makes me want to engage in grand romantic gestures that would drive me into bankruptcy. I want to write and play the music of the night and wear capes and be able to appear and disappear at will. I want to live in Webber’s world of outsized emotions and sociopathy disguised as love.
Jeff Hawkins (@Crapgame13)
Oddly enough for Andrew, “Roll the Bones” made me beg off Rush for years before coming back. My answer is Steve Winwood’s solo career. Had I started with Back in the High Life, gone backwards, and stopped, I’d have been okay. 1986 was a murderer’s row in pop music with, among others, Whitney Houston’s debut, Peter Gabriel’s So, and Genesis’ Invisible Touch albums. For Winwood, Arc of a Diver, Talking Back to the Night and his self-titled debut show a strong self confidence in his musicianship, as he played every instrument on those albums but it had also exhausted him fighting between commercial viability and artistic merit. That said, his weakness was always his reliance on lyricists who produced material that never quite lived up to Winwood’s musicianship. With the success of BITHL came the cynically marketed Roll With It which tried to project the late 30’s Winwood as cool in a world of Guns and Roses and rap music, but the Southern blues influences helped his blue eyed soul again overcome hit and miss material on the Adult Contemporary charts. Refugees of the Heart tried to bridge BITHL and Roll With It and re-teamed him on tracks with Traffic bandmate Jim Capaldi, but Capaldi had lost something on his fastball for writing lyrics it was a pop failure. After a reunion album under the Traffic banner and death of Capaldi, Winwood tried to reinvent himself again with Junction 7 with Narada Michael Walden, a slickly produced, heavy on synthesizer flop. His last two solo outings were self produced: the jam-band craze inspired About Time and the Memphis inspired Nine Lives which were high on musicianship but low on catchy hooks and got little radio play, selling poorly.
The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Go, Blind Faith and Ginger Baker’s Air Force show Winwood as a prodigy. The first half of his solo career shows him as raconteur. The latter half find a man who can’t find his way home, but I still love his voice, his guitars, and his Moog.
Joe Gagne (@joegagne)
A dozen hair metal bands could fit this bill (you’re reading someone who proudly owned Winger’s debut album on cassette tape), but I’ll go with White Lion. White Lion were actually a socially conscious rock band, which made them extra lame. While their contemporaries sang songs about sex, partying, sex, drugs, and sex, White Lion released singles about Greenpeace and literally children crying. No matter – the band knew their way around a hook, guitarist Vito Bratta had some chops, and frontman Mike Tramp had the perfect 80’s name. I stumbled across their greatest hits album a few years ago and was surprised how well it held up. And at least they had the good sense to call it a day after three albums
Joe Lanza (@LanzaUnfiltered)
I’ve been on a “90’s European alt rock bands with a female lead singer” kick lately, which means a lot of groups like Elastica, Sneaker Pimps, Garbage, and my new favorite band (at least for the next ten minutes or so until my next short lived fascination takes over), Republica. You’re probably familiar with Republica’s 1996 hit “Ready To Go”, but did you know that the song has at least 13 different versions? I didn’t either until a few weeks ago, but as the official #RepublicaSuperFanJoeLanza, I feel like it’s my duty to spread this type of useless knowledge. With a heavy electro dance influence (yuck) thanks to lead singer Saffron (who fronted the late 80’s shitty electro dance group N-Joi), most of Republica’s songs stink. But when they rock, they ROCK, highlighted by the 2010 re-recorded heavy guitared version of Ready To Go, and their reunited 2013 single Christiana Obey. I have a massive crush on Saffron, who has slowly and mysteriously morphed from a cutesy bob haired caucasian into a stunning bob haired Asian MILF over the last 20 years (seriously, Google this woman, she is a legit race shifting sorceress), to the point that I can’t take my eyes off of her. I nearly melted into a puddle when she responded to one of my creepy Tweets a few weeks ago while at the peak of my new found Republica fandom.
Aaron Bentley (@AaronBentleyVoW)
I’d like to believe there isn’t any music I enjoy that is actually terrible. Of course, there is plenty of music that I enjoyed many years ago that I now realize is maybe not that great but I still listen to and enjoy anyway. Since everyone (except John) went with pretty well known acts, I’m going to go off the beaten path. Back in the early 2000s, I listened almost exclusively to what is lovingly referred to as tough guy hardcore. Today, I maintain a curated collection of albums from that time and genre that still get decent rotation. But the one I have the hardest time convincing anyone else why I ever listened to it is, undoubtedly, Terror. Terror is the brainchild of Scott Vogel, the angriest man in hardcore. It’s not particularly that the music is even that bad; it’s just that it is entirely non-descript. Three friends and I could get together on a weekend and put together a rough approximation of the next Terror album. Still, if you’re ever feeling hopeless and enraged, nothing quite hits the spot like Vogel’s poetry: “I am alone. No regrets, no shame. So stay the f—k away from me. Nothing but enemies.” Cheers!
Rich Kraetsch (@VoicesWrestling)
This is going to be a two-parter for me: New Radicals and The Mowgli’s. The former is famous for the oh-so-90s hit “You Get What You Give”. Their tenure was short-lived (1997-1999) and is largely propped up by that song but the rest of their catalog is interesting. Is it good? Not really. It’s actually bad, I know it’s bad but I don’t care. There’s something about the booming sound of lead singer Gregg Alexander that brings me the warm fuzzies. “You Get What You Give” is in my mind one of the more stereotypical 90s songs and I can’t hear it without immediately being brought back to that era of my childhood. Given my growing discontent with my life since said childhood, hearing that song makes me remember the good old days and that’s worth a lot. I have an instant connection to playing N64 at my friend Dave’s house and not worrying about a thing. The latter (The Mowgli’s) also has a distinct attachment to me as their initial hit “San Francisco” came out right around the time I made my first time to, ironically enough, San Francisco. I’ll spare you the details but getting to San Francisco the first time was a total nightmare, I didn’t sleep, my then-girlfriend/future fiance Michelle didn’t sleep, flight sucked, had issues when we got to the airport, it was awful. Instead of hanging out at the hotel for a few hours and getting a nap in we just keep going, running on pure adrenaline as we made our way to AT&T Park for a World Baseball Classic game. Michelle fell asleep fairly early into the game which gave me time to sit in relative silence and take in the game. It was then that The Mowgli’s “San Francisco” blared over the PA system. It’s hard to explain but everything just felt so right at that time. Here I am at AT&T Park (one of MLB’s most beautiful stadiums), staring at the Bay Bridge in a city I was already falling in love with and of course, the love of my life who I would ask to marry me two years later in the very same city resting on my shoulder… and I’m watching baseball. It was as close as I’ll ever get to a utopia and that song and band has always had a connection to that brief utopian feeling.
There you have it! What are your musical loves that just don’t stack up with the greats? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter @voiceswrestling, or online at the VOW Forums!