Monday, March 12, 2007

alphabet of greatness

So, for whatever reason, I started thinking about making a list of the greatest artists and/or bands at each letter. Below is what I came up with. Bare in mind that it is an extremely biased list and I’m happy to hear your own thoughts on anybody I might have missed. Before I begin, I have to point out the tragedy of letters like B, J and T which had, to say the least, stiff competition.

At letter A we have Aretha Franklin. This is a popular vote, for obvious reasons, but I chose her because of an aria I once heard her sing on short notice. She was unbelievable and I knew that night that she was among the greatest singers in the world. Having said that, honourable mention goes out to Al Green, Annie Lenox, and AC/DC. Somebody will want to mention Alanis Morresette here and, while it’s true that Jagged Little Pill is one of my all time favourite albums, Alanis has had only a handful of good songs since.

At letter B I’ll break my own rule and choose an artist who was actually in a band, Brian Wilson. I went with Wilson simply because he was The Beach Boys. He wrote all the songs and did all the arrangements. It wouldn’t have mattered who the other members of the band were, they’d have sounded just like The Beach Boys did. That band might as well have been called The Beach Boy. Having said that, honourable mentions go out to Barry Manilow (completely underrated and the KING of sad songs), B.B. King, Billie Holiday, Billy Joel, Billy Idol, Bob Marley (if only for his political importance), and the Beastie Boys.

At letter C I’ll go with Curtis Mayfield and throw shout outs to Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, Coldplay, and, the greatest voice in modern day rock n’ roll, Chris Cornell.

At letter D I’ll take a relative newcomber, but one whom I think will probably be recognized as the new Frank Zappa, and that’s Danger Mouse. I do have to throw out honourable mentions to Dire Straights, however.

E for Elvis.

At F we have none other than Fleetwood Mac. Sigh. Why can’t these guys just get along?

G is for Guns N’ Roses.

At H I’ll risk abuse and take Hall & Oates, another couple of underrated song writers. Honourable mention goes out to Hank Williams and, in my opinion, the greatest female group and one of the most underrated groups of all time, Heart.

Next I took Isaac Hayes. I’m not an Iggy Pop fan.

And then there was J. Sigh. Let me start off by saying that I’m not going to pick John Lennon. To me Lennon and McCartney were never as good as when they were in The Beatles. A few others I really considered were Johnny Cash and James Taylor. I’m also a Jackson Brown fan, a Jerry Lee Lewis fan, a Joni Mitchell Fan, a Journey fan (Steve Perry is Chris Cornell’s only competition), and I recognize Jay Z’s skills. But you really can’t take anybody over James Brown can you?

At K I went with Kermit the Frog, and if anybody mentions anything about KISS in the comment section, your comment is getting deleted!!! If Heart is one of the most underrated bands of all time, KISS is absolutely THE most overrated bands of all time!!! Kermit wins hands down!!!

At L I’ll take Little Richard but throw props to Led Zeppelin and Lauryn Hill. I’m not a big Lou Reed fan. Props to LL Cool J.

At M I’ll take Marvin Gaye on principle, but admit that Michael Jackson is clearly the front runner, followed by Madonna. Special shout outs to Mariah Carey (remember when she wasn’t crazy and slutty?), Mary J. Blige, Mindy Smith, Metallica, and, of course, MC Hammer.

At N I’m actually going to shock the world and take Neil Young. As big a fan as I am of Nirvana, we’ll never know just how good they were. Kind of like Jimmy Hendrix, in my opinion. Honourable mentions go out to Nas and Notorious BIG.

At O I just don’t know enough about Otis Redding so I took Oasis. I might just be a slacker for that pick.

At P I just have to take Pink Floyd. Ridiculous. But I really wanted to take Pearl Jam. As a child of the 80’s I also have to mention Phil Collins, the Pretenders, and Prince. I’m also a big Pete Yorn fan but don’t think he quite qualifies yet.

At Q I struggle because I’m not actually a big Queen fan, but couldn’t think of anybody else besides Quincy Jones, who’s solo music I don’t actually know a whole lot about.

R is easy with Ray Charles but I will mention both Radiohead and Run-D.M.C. I don’t actually think that Run-D.M.C. were that good, but I loved them as a kid and they did usher rap into the suburbs.

S is another easy one with Stevie Wonder but Sam Cooke is no slacker. I also loved Sting, and, of course, Stryper!

At T you have The Beatles. Enough said except that you also have The Beach Boys, The Eagles, and The Rolling Stones (in that order!).

U2. C’mon.

At V I couldn’t think of many artists besides Van Halen, so I’ll go with them but only during the Sammy Hagar years.

At W I’ll take Willie Nelson. The guy just has too many hits as both a solo artist and writer for other people. I’ll also mention the White Stripes, the Wu-Tank Clan, and Waylon Jennings.

At Y the only band I could come up with was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I’m a moderate fan at best.

Z was tough because I’m not actually a Frank Zappa fan and would be embarrassed to go with ZZ top. Discuss this one amongst yourselves.

And finally there are the bands with numbers in their names. For this I went with 10,000 Maniacs. How awesome was Natalie Merchant?

So there you go. Your thoughts?

Comments on "alphabet of greatness"


Blogger Becs said ... (1:25 PM) : 

This comment has been removed by the author.


Blogger Becs said ... (1:26 PM) : 

1.) You can't count "The" when it's before?/part of? the band's name. You must treat them as Beatles, The; Used, The; etc.

2.) I was sad that R.H.C.P. didn't even get MENTIONED in the "R's."

3.) Kermit?? I mean, I love that frog as much as anyone who grew up on Muppet Babies; but there are other artists who aren't KISS. What about Kanye? Or The Killers?

4.) I'm sure I have more bones of contention...just give me time to think.


Blogger phondjo said ... (1:52 PM) : 

v: Vigilantes of Love..maybe not the best but worth a mention.

z: obviously, Zamfir

David Wilcox..under D and W.
but you are a hater...i guess he and John Gorka would both be in the "not yet" category with Pete Yorn


Blogger Tim said ... (1:59 PM) : 

Ok...first of all, it's just like a 21 year old to say "how 'bout The Killers", a band that's two albums into their career. Becca, this is the very reason why we don't let you talk at home. Having said that, I am a Killers fan and they are DEFINATELY better than kiss. I nearly mentioned Kanye but, again, he's two albums in. Plus I knew I'd offend Drew.

John...Zamfir? Why are you talking? However, John Gorka is my favorite artist of all time. How I left him off my list can only be attributed to all of the pot Becca must be smoking up in her room. Second hand smoke is the only way to explain it. I still wouldn't give him the nod over James Brown, but I certainly should have given him a mention.


Blogger shaun said ... (6:38 PM) : 

Four things...

First of all, nice job on the Neil Young pick.

Second, Bob Dylan...c'mon man!

Third, you really need to get over the David Wilcox hatred, but there is always David Gray.

Lastly, Hall & Oats!? Hall & Oats!?...sigh...Although I know the fact that I am even saying anything will bring up some sort of Boston comment but seriously, how many fake hand claps in the background can one band use? Hall & Oats!?...


Blogger Tim said ... (7:12 PM) : 

Hey, I stepped up on Hall & Oates. Not many guys would be willing to go there, but I did. I'm very comfortable with my masculinity. I mean, for the most part. Pretty much.


Ok, the fact that I left off Bob Dylan is a point of embarrassment for me. I don’t even know what to say. Again, Becca’s second hand pot smoke is messing me up!!!

Here’s one other thing. I have to confess to not really knowing David Wilcox. I’ve heard the name, but don’t really know much about his music. I’m online right now, however, giving it a listen and both of you are right, he’s gold. I’d be happy for either of you to recommend any specific songs or albums of his.

I did consider David Gray, but do you really think he’s up there with “greatest of all time”? I mean, I love David Gray, but “greatest of all time”? The truth is, he’s only had one good album (White Ladder) and he used a drum machine on it. That’s against the rules and, like Alanis, really takes him off the list in my opinion.


Blogger Larry said ... (7:39 PM) : 

What you all need to do is visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Can't believe we are not discussing bands like the Clash and the Ramones.

If you want to talk about revolutionary, what about SemiSonic?

You definitely did get the U2 thing right.


Blogger Trent said ... (8:33 PM) : 

KISS unbelievably average, but with a gimmick. It ticks off my Middle Schoolers when I say that but they know I am right.

Maybe sentimental but Kansas is a band that I think should get an honorable mention.

If you are going to include Hall and Oates why not Chicago or Air Supply?


Blogger Olyvia Adalet Miller said ... (8:47 PM) : 

This comment has been removed by the author.


Blogger Tim said ... (8:49 PM) : 


The Ramones probably should have gotten a mention, but I don’t know about the Clash man. They had one album and Sid Vicious (who replaced the original bass player) couldn’t even play! I tend to think that they got a lot of credit that probably should have gone straight to Johnny Rotten.


You’re right, Kansas is definitely a sentimental vote. Chicago probably should have gotten a nod, but not Air Supply. Those guys drove, and still drive me crazy. Graham Russell’s voice is hideous.


Blogger shaun said ... (1:27 PM) : 

Deep down inside I semi-respect you for having the courage to admit to Hall & Oates. The truth is (if it will make you feel better) I still like Men At Work and sing along every time I hear them play over the intercom in department stores...
Drives Danielle crazy...

And, your right, David Gray can't really make a "great" claim yet although I think you might have underestimated his latest album. It is well written, creative, and well produced (in my view). Plus, I think "say hello, wave goodbye" is one of the best sad songs ever.

Lastly, if you are going to check out David Wilcox, here are my favorite songs:

Young Man Dies
Show the Way
Burgundy Heart Shaped Medallion
Let Them In (which is a cover of a John Gorka tune...thought you'd like that)

Maybe his best ever for me though is "Last Chance Waltz" but I'll have to warn you particularly that this song will get under you skin. And when I say under your skin, I mean I think it will really get under YOUR skin. I have to keep a hankie nearby any time I let it play (over and over and over and over...)


Blogger phondjo said ... (2:14 PM) : 

Tim- the master of the pan flute will not be denied!
As for David wilcox...anything off of "Big Horizon", "How Did You Find Me Here?", or "Live:Songs and Stories"

Larry-The Ramones, yes.


Blogger shaun said ... (2:47 PM) : 

phondjo - Big Horizon is a great album. I'm a big fan of Underneath as well.

There is also a track at the end of Underneath that you might find pretty interesting Tim. It is called "sex and music" where he writes a running comparison between, well, sex and the music industry. A little crass at times, and the music is not his greatest, but the lyrics are pretty creative.


Blogger Bill said ... (3:22 PM) : 

I believe that you missed:

Frank Sinatra (yes, I am)

Just a few that I like and enjoy.


Blogger Cari said ... (12:54 AM) : 

Heart!!! Yeah, babeeee!!!


Blogger danielle said ... (1:11 AM) : 

b is for bon jovi.


Blogger jsi said ... (8:09 AM) : 

A playlist is fodder for physcological evaluation - your courage and bravery are commended! Your J section - how can you truly make a choice from those all there?
1. Kudos for not going ABBA.
2. U2, hands down.
3. Glad you didn't give into the obvious alphabetic pressure of Z and just reach for Zombie Nation. But you overlooked Zero Mostel - a fiddler on every roof he would put if it could help you keep his name in your memory bank.
4. Now everyone knows the sentimental you - Kermit the frog? - and can identify with you that it ain't easy being green in thet Rainbow Connection. You even passed up Keith Green for Kermit, whatta guy! There is a deep soul, I'm telling you.
5. For me, Louis Armstrong - him and his horn forever, what a wonderful world it would be.
6. Why do I know all the lyrics to Hall&Oats, explain that to me!?. But my H section has to include, at least in mention, Harry Connick Jr.
7. And I don't know which alphabet you want for him - first name or last name - but I can't step away from Garth Brooks simply from "I've got friends in low places"
What a terrific post you have tonight. Best to all those women in your life!


Blogger Roz said ... (9:47 PM) : 

Love the list - not everything on it, 90%...but V for Van Halen when you can have Suzanne Vega?

And I agree with Shaun...where is Bob Dylan?

(I'd also add 3 C's Clapton, Chapman & Cohen - Eric,Tracy & Leonard)


Blogger surrendered said ... (6:43 AM) : 

Y is for YES. C'mon! "Owner of Lonely Heart" !!!!!!!


Blogger Sean said ... (12:15 AM) : 

now, understanding this is all opinion, I do agree with Becca that you can't include 'the' in the band name. Which leaves T open for several options.
Tom Petty
The Turtles
The Troggs
Tears for Fears
Third Eye Blind

all of which, while possible Choices take a seat in the bacl of the bus driven by


side-note, for all of those who haven't experienced some of the greatest studio tightness check out Toto, they rock. The keyboard solo in 'Rosanna' says it all.

by the way.. Little Richard?
And Sammy Haggar didn't sing Panama, you do realize that don't you?


Blogger Tim said ... (12:48 AM) : 

Ugh Sean, your knowledge of music is impressive, but your taste in it makes me think you don't actually like music at all. I don’t want to argue about the “the” in front of a band’s name, but I do want to argue with your list of “t’s”. Tears for Fears? Seriously? Listen, I love Tears of Fears, and by “I love Tears for Fears”, I mean, “I love Songs From the Big Chair”, the only good album they ever had. Justin Timberlake? Two albums in? Talk to me in ten years. Tom Petty? Greatest T of all time? Third Eye Blind? See “reasons why Tears for Fears are not the greatest T band ever". Tupac? MMMmaybe. The Turtles and the Troggs? Who?

Then you list Toto, yet argue with my Little Richard pick. ??? How many artists do you think Little Richard influenced? I’d say every artist since his day. One day he’s going to die and then everybody is going to jump on that bandwagon. Completely underrated artist.


Blogger anniebuck2 said ... (4:23 AM) : 

What about CCR?


Blogger Truth Wears Pants said ... (7:24 PM) : 

So this might be late, but I believe the O'Jays need some sort of recognition.


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