Joe Daly opened his “Five Bands I Should Like, but I Don’t. At All” piece by noting there is no accounting for taste.

Steve Almond responded by recommending five uber-obscure bands for listening pleasure, which might have worked without the additional discussion of Daly and his piece, but I think there’s a more important corollary.

Notably: if there are, as Joe suggests, bands we should like a lot—by dint of reputation or acclaim—but don’t, there are probably, conversely, bands we shouldn’t like but do.

Taste seems to have a lot to do with it. The idea that taste and quality are subjective seems to be a popular argument.

I’m not saying that’s not true, but I will say this: like Joe, I don’t like the Beatles, but it has turned out I like their songs and music on the condition they be performed by other musicians. Between The Wonder Years and Across the Universe, I think Joe Cocker may be the best thing that ever happened to the Beatles.

***

There are lots of reasons to love a band other people don’t. Some are just obscure; my own favorite band is Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, who hail from Tempe, Arizona and call rock and roll home. Clyne and his former band, the Refreshments, had a mid-nineties hit called “Banditos,” but their label dropped them after their second studio CD and the band broke up, but Clyne continued on and eventually formed the Peacemakers. I’ve heard their music called alt-country, but it’s more full of dust than twang, and Clyne may be the greatest songwriter in the history of rock (if such a thing could ever be legit declared, anyway). Imagine if Springsteen, Dylan, and Bon Jovi all got drunk on tequila and wrote some shit together, and you begin to get an idea of Clyne’s stuff. Better yet, support a great indie band and pick up some schwag (and music) here.

But there are as many reasons to hate a band as there are reasons to love them, and many are equally as nebulous. Maybe it’s a bad memory. Maybe it has nothing to do with the music; I can’t stand Creed, but that’s mostly because I can’t stand Scott Stapp based solely on what he’s said during interviews. Now, most people would note that they’re sure he’s actually a nice guy they’d like to have a beer with, but I won’t. Who wants to drink with Scott Stapp? That’s like the circle of Hell reserved solely for bad musicians.

On the other hand, let’s be clear: I love Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Guns N’ Roses. I love Tinted Windows, Audioslave, and Justin Timberlake. I love Belinda Carlisle for “Heaven Is a Place on Earth,” and I never minded a good Rickroll because I could never imagine anyone didn’t actually love “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which is almost as great a song as “Together Forever.”

I don’t think I’m in any danger of anyone thinking I’m a music snob.

So of course there are lots of bands I like other people don’t. So I thought I’d respond to Joe’s Five Bands He Should Like, but He Doesn’t. At All. with Five Bands I Should Hate But I Don’t. Even a Little.

***

5. Butch Walker

Lately, Butch has been producing. Chances are, if you think there are any artists who are “what’s wrong” with music, he’s worked with them. Avril Lavigne. Katy Perry. Fall-Out Boy. Kelly Clarkson.

Truth is, he’s probably helped those artists rise just a little above mediocrity.

Except Katy Perry. Calling her mediocre would give her entirely too much credit.

Like Clyne, Walker was in a band—The Marvelous 3—that had a hit, “Freak of the Week,” during the mid-nineties. During label mergers following their next CD, the band broke up, and Butch went solo.

And kicks ass.

He’s one of the greatest singer-songwriters of straight-up rock and roll in music (see: “Lights Out”). His lyrics are fantastic, and he consistently puts out great CDs.

Just avoid his clients, with the notable exception of:

***

4. P!nk

Why should I hate her?

You mean besides that she “stylizes” her name with an exclamation point?

Besides that she’s the voice of “I’m Comin’ Up” and spelled one of her CDs Missundaztood?

Besides that she started with R&B, then moved on to Rock and Pop with digressions into Poptronica, like she doesn’t have much direction and just blindly follows trends her record company thrusts upon her?

Besides all that?

Because besides all those things, I can’t think of a single reason.

But I don’t hate her because of her voice. Now, admittedly, we’re not talking about an operatic voice, but I think that’s okay, mainly because I don’t really know anyone who listens to opera, anyway. P!nk’s voice is a chuckling rasp with hints of bourbon, leather, and late-night athletic sex that carries you through the morning after. And while some of her songs have been questionable so far as quality goes, she makes up for the clunkers with great rock pipes and a gravity-defying live show during which the only thing she drops is your jaw.

***

3. Hanson

They’re basically a boy band who never quite drove girls nuts and whose first single was called “mmmBop.” N’Sync had phatter beatz and at least Justin still kicks ass.

Except they’re not, which I didn’t realize until I bought Underneath immediately after I heard their song “Penny and Me” for the first time. “Penny” is a brilliant song, the sort that makes you wish you had a convertible so you could put the top down and turn it way up, the sort that makes you wish you knew a hot blonde you could invite to be a passenger on a roadtrip to the middle of nowhere, where you’d crack a few beers and light a bonfire and make out like teenagers under stars shining down.

Also: they’ve got balls. They left their record label after a bunch of mergers got them stuck with suits who simply wanted more of the same, and they’ve been releasing CDs independently. Underneath, as an independent CD with absolutely no major label support, sold 350,000 copies. Which may be not much when P!nk sells five or six million at a shot, but shit, I would love to sell 350,000 copies of a novel.

Who I hate instead: bands who call themselves (or are called) indie who aren’t. Lots of bands who blahbittyblahbittyblah about stuff like “artistic integrity” and the “scene” but who couldn’t write a damned song you could fucking dance to if their lives depended on it.

Basically, anyone Pitchfork Magazine likes.

***

2. Vanessa Carlton

I love Bon Jovi and Def Leppard and Guns ‘N Roses, which means I enjoy what many people perjoratively refer to as “cock rock,” and Vanessa Carlton is probably exactly the opposite. Her first video for her first single, “1000 miles,” featured Carlton playing a piano on a wheeled platform on a beach, which means if you didn’t already think I’m gay for liking Hanson, you may well now.

I think Carlton existed among a wave of female artists following the one that included Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and others. Michelle Branch was a Carlton colleague. I can’t think of any others, mainly because I never thought any were as talented as Carlton, which surprised even me; she has a voice euphemistically described as “unique” and dysphemistically described as “weird.”

I don’t remember what made me pick up her first CD. I might have found a listening station and liked the latter half of it, which included a cover of “Paint It Black” I am probably alone in believing surpassed the original, but then, I was never a Stones fan. I’ve bought her subsequent CDs sound unheard.

***

I don’t know why revealing the number one band I should hate but don’t seems so difficult. It feels like a confession. Even more so than the other four.

Okay, here goes:

I like Nickelback.

Did your head just involuntarily fill with images of Ed Hardy and Affliction and giant belt buckles? Spray tans and The Jersey Shore?

Which is why I should hate them. Also because, while I’ve never seen them live, I’ve heard they’re awful, crass, and misogynistic. My sister saw them at some fest or other, where they kicked someone out and were scummy/sleazy.

I know! Nickelback? Scummy/sleazy?

Believe you me, I am as surprised as you.

I wouldn’t argue they’re a great band. They’re no E-Street. Hell, they’re no Def Leppard/Bon Jovi, who might not be, like, artistes or whatnot but sure know how to rock a stadium (which I for one consider an art in itself).

But “How You Remind Me,” despite how overplayed it was, has to be a modern classic. If Plato and Aristotle ever had a dialogue concerning the ideal of the Power Ballad, they could do worse than to choose “How You Remind Me,” and it would have to be included in the discussion (other contenders: “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “November Rain,” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” at least).

I didn’t think Nickelback was good until I heard Chad Kroeger’s collaboration with Carlos Santana, “You & I.” Due to some label thing, Kroeger couldn’t appear on the single version; instead, Alex Band from The Calling did those vocals. Listening to both songs was revelatory; Band is bland, with lackluster vocals and no charisma.

The version with Kroeger, on the other hand, rocks.

Santana knows his way around collaborators, including Rob Thomas and Dave Matthews, and while his choices aren’t always terrific (I’m looking sideways at you, Michelle Branch), they’re generally very fine.

Santana is not the only rock god with whom Chad Kroeger and Nickelback have worked; the guy who produced their most recent CD was Robert John “Mutt” Lange, an uber-producer behind some of the greatest—not to mention commercially successful—albums ever, by artists including AC/DC, Shania Twain, and the consistently mentioned Def Leppard.

I think it says something about how good your band is when your Mutt Lange-produced album is not actually your best.

***

I half want to backtrack here—I don’t love Nickelback, wouldn’t go out of my way to see them live, never bought one of their CDs—but you know, back when I was corporate, back when I was an editor, I was once a “featured employee.” The featured part included a badly lit Polaroid picture next to an office-printed survey. One of its questions asked for a guilty pleasure, and my response was “response redacted for public consumption.”

I wish I’d gone with: “I refuse to feel guilty about anything that brings me pleasure.”

I remember I put “How You Remind Me” on a mix-CD I played when I drove up to Montreal with a then-girlfriend for a weekend getaway, and we rolled down our windows and we sang that song as badly as we could as loud as we could (“Kind of like Nickelback,” being the obvious joke there).

What I think always strikes me is that there are certain bands—like the Beatles—or writers—like Shakespeare—whom we are supposed to acknowledge as great even if we don’t particularly like their work. It becomes about more than the work; it becomes about what it changed, and its legacy, and whom it influenced. One common thing I’ve been told is “It’s fine, you don’t like the Beatles, but just look at how they started and how they changed, and how quickly they did so.”

Which is interesting, but still doesn’t make me want to listen to them. Unless someone else is singing.

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Will Entrekin is a writer, professor, and Eagle Scout from New Jersey living in the New York metropolitan area. A novelist and screenwriter, Entrekin earned an MPW from the University of Southern California and is finishing an MBA from Regis University while pursuing what happens next. He can be found at his web site, willentrekin.com, and he has a self-titled collection available here. He hopes you'll check both out.

75 responses to “Bless Me, Zeppelin, for I Have Sinned”

  1. Becky says:

    I want to grab Chad Kroeger by his stringy, sleazy hair and beat his head against a solid object, preferably brick.

    His nasal, pleading voice makes my eardrums ache and his insipid lyrics offend every thinking part of my brain.

    Except that one song about getting really drunk and breaking stuff.

    I think that appeals, somehow, to my affinity for punk ethos and my history as a child of 80s hair metal. Also, I’ve got a touch of the white trash. AND that metronomic, super-hard-driving drum part + riff is positively infectious. It will not be denied.

    But with that exception, my thoughts about Nickleback are mostly violent.

    I feel essentially the same way about Nicolas Cage, incidentally.

    • “Except that one song about getting really drunk and breaking stuff.”

      Which is pretty much every other Nickelback song, right? It’s like a formula. You’ve got the ballads like “How You Remind Me” and “Someday,” and then you’ve got the song you just mentioned. I’m not sure they have a third song, but then I’m not sure they need one.

      Oddly, the same formula potentially applies to Nic Cage’s career.

      • Becky says:

        I am happy to say that I haven’t heard every other Nickelback song, so I couldn’t say.

        I’ll take your word for it.

        What was that photograph song? That was the song that first made me hate them.

        God, that song fuckin’ sucks.

        Maudlin, nasal, whining, endless radio play…*grumble grumble grumble*

        ICK.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Huh. Weird. I read this, thought ‘scummy/sleazy’. That’s just how Becky described Nic Cage today.

          Then bam! Coincidence to the face!

  2. Matt says:

    Yeah, I was nodding along and getting into the vibe of this until I came to Nickelback. That one just derailed the train completely.

    I had the “pleasure” of seeing them live at a concert my then-girlfriend dragged me to before they had hit it big. Their stage show was terrible, and they were indeed scuzzy douchebags, who were utterly and completely ripping off Alice in Chains. They’re the flip side of the same coin (nickel?) Creed is on: would-be grunge rockers trying to pick the scraps of meat off the music movement of the 90s and serve it up as the musical equivalent of freshly grilled steak. And they’ve cheerfully jumped on the bandwagon of whatever is the hottest trend in rock at any given time in the hopes of pandering to the lowest common denominator and selling as many records as possible.

    A top-notch producer working on your album is not automatically an endorsement of your quality as a musician. It might just means you–or your record label–had enough cash on hand to pay for that producer’s services.

    I will back you, though, on Hansen. They played once at the nightclub I worked at in grad school, and I remember thinking at the time that once they’d all gone through puberty, they might produce some interesting material. And hey, one of them ended up in a side project with Wayne Coyne and James Iha. That’s pretty cool.

    • Do you know the Creed story? Apparently, a band called the Wrens was in development and had put some stuff together and went to, like, a president of A&R or something. The pres wanted them to change something–they’re sound or a song or I don’t know what. The Wrens refused and the A&R guy said, “Fine, but I am going to make ridiculously famous the next band who walks through that door regardless of talent, and I’m giving them your deal.”

      The next band who walked through the door was Creed.

      It’s mentioned in passing on the Wrens’ Wikipedia page. I’d link it up, but last time I did that I broke the formatting of the post.

      I’d love to see Hanson live. They really are more terrific than most people realize.

      • Matt says:

        I saw Creed in 1997. They played a $5 show at the campus pub where I was getting my B.A. (the university, not the pub. I’m not James Irwin). If their performance that night was any indication, that A&R guy told them “copy Pearl Jam’s stage show in every way possible” because that’s exactly what they did. And pretty much have been doing ever since.

        Hansen put on a good live show (this was about ’02-’03), especially the little one on the drums. Who knows, twenty years from now he might be known as the next .

        • I thought there was some hope for the future of rock music when Creed split up years ago. Not that there isn’t any, but that seemed a hopeful sign.

          I’d blast Stapp for his megalomaniacal psuedo-messianic complex, but I think Goethe said we hate in others what we wish were otherwise in ourselves. Or something like that. Seems a Goethe-ian thought. Fun fact: for the “With Arms Wide Open” video, he demanded the director shoot more shots of him than had been shot for the previous video.

        • Matt says:

          Creed didn’t exactly “split” per se, if I remember correctly–the others fired Stapp, hired some new members, and began calling themselves Alter Bridge, whatever the fuck that means.

          Of course, Creed got together again recenty, so I guess we’re all doomed.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I’ve made my feelings regarding Scott Stapp abundantly clear in the past, I think. I did however purchase a Creed ticket many, many years ago. Our Lady Peace was opening for them and I wanted to see their show. I watched OLP and Oleander perform and then I left.

        • Becky says:

          NOT GOETHE AGAIN!!!

        • Going to see Our Lady Peace exonerates any Stapp viewing, Slade. Not that liking Creed requires exoneration; I’m sure a lot of great people do enjoy their music.

          I’ve vaguely heard of Oleander. I remember wanting to like them, but think I didn’t.

          I don’t even remember the last time I mentioned Goethe, Becky. But truthfully, I only refer to him with that quote or the one about expecting things from others. I love both, and try to be mindful of them. Sometimes too mindful, apparently.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I’ll field that one, I think Will. I put up a Goethe quote on FB and discussion descended.

  3. Will, I like your style! I’m constantly apologizing to my friends for liking what they consider to be bad music. I actually recently made a play list called “when friends visit” that has the music I’m supposed to like on it so they’ll leave me alone about my “bad” taste in music. I, too, have the guilty pleasure of listening to (and liking!) Nickelback, P!nk and Hanson. I also listen to country music, which is where the real shame comes into play. I’ve never listened to the other two, but I guess I’ll have to give them a try, given that I’m already on board with the others.

    • If you listen to country, you definitely need to check out Roger Clyne. He’s not nu-country like Toby Keith et al.; he’s the real deal. They’re really, really good, and their live show is as good as P!nk’s even if it doesn’t defy as much gravity.

      I love that you made a new list to play when other people are around. How very accommodating of you!

      • Yes, iTunes does wonders for accommodating the music tastes of all. 🙂

        I clicked on that link for Roger Clyne but my work computer is ancient and was taking forever to load it so I’m going to have to remember to check it out when I get home tonight.

  4. Nancy says:

    I actually agree with you about Hanson. I bet if I put Underneath on or The Walk, most of my friends would not recognize the band as the kids that put out MMmbop. Great Divide off of The Walk is an incredible song, and the drummer really steps up as a lead vocalist on the track Go. Most of my friends would be horrified to know I listen to Hanson, especially considering I spent many years in Rock radio.
    I also have a very soft spot for Josh Groban.
    Diversity in musical taste is what makes the world go round.

    • Josh Groban! Have you seen him on Kimmel? He’s hysterical. They had one sketch years ago with Snoop Dogg, who was having a bake sale, and selling brownies. Groban was in line, but when the camera found him, he sheepishly admitted, totally deadpan, he’d been waiting to use the “bizzathroom.”

      • Nancy says:

        Ha, really? That’s awesome. I never saw that. Off to hunt it down on u-tube.
        I saw Groban live in Ottawa. My record rep at the time knew I was a fan and had tickets and asked me if I wanted to go with her. I jumped at the chance. It was an amazing show. His voice is crazy good.

        Really enjoyed your list. I, too, am someone that listens to pretty much everything. Pink is also amazing. I can’t agree with your Nickelback choice, however, as much as I’m Canadian. lol I understand why they are so popular. Every song is about drinking, sex and drugs. Now, pretty much every rock band is about the exact same thing you say. Well, what Nickelback excels at is making their lyrics completely literal. When Chad sings about liking “your pants around your feet”. He’s not trying to be clever. He knows that is what your average redneck North American relates to. What do people hoot and holler to when you’re at a bar? A swear word…a sex reference…the lowest common denominator. Chad has his USB key tapped into that constantly and as much as I don’t like their music, I have to appreciate his evil musical genius.

        • I totally love the idea of Kroeger as an evil musical genius, like Dan Brown or James Patterson might be an evil writing genius, or Sarah Palin is an evil marketing genius.

          Hate ’em all we want, but boyhow do they know how to juice it, you know?

        • Nancy says:

          Yes, Dan Brown, EXACTLY!!!! I read The Da Vinci Code. Recall enjoying it while I read it. But, at the same time I was reading it, I was thinking…there is a reason why I’m flipping through this so quickly and easily. It was because it was soooo formulaic and predictable I didn’t need to think. Just like when Nickelback released the 8th single (I wish I was exaggerating that number, but that’s what they are up to in Canada, I hope you Americans have better taste, well, except for Will, by admission) off of Dark Horse, I just knew the song was going to be about drinking all night until the girls are drunk enough to sleep with anyone.

          OMG… I may have just cracked the last ultimate puzzle. I think Dan Brown and Chad Kroeger are the same person!!!!

  5. JM Blaine says:

    I’d like to be the evangelist
    for the notion
    that it’s OK again to like whatever
    you like.
    Ironic cool-ish faux superiority
    needs to die
    No one should have to apologize for
    their musical tastes.
    (Except Nickleback fans.)

    Kidding. I wrote a TNB post about two years ago
    about how much I loved that summer song of theirs
    about how great it would be if everyone cared.

    Have you ever met anyone
    who didn’t like AC/DC?

    • I found life so much easier (not to mention more enjoyable) when I gave up trying to seem cool.

      I’m going to check out your post now. I haven’t read all the archives yet.

      And no. No I have not.

      Also? I’ll go with you as that evangelist. I think we need one. We need more evangelists who preach, you know, as long as you’re being cool, whatever you want is fine. Like what you want. Love whom you want. Just don’t hurt anybody else and find your bliss.

      We need more of that evangelism in the world.

  6. Irene Zion says:

    Will,
    I hate to not comment on your pieces so here’s a comment.
    I don’t know any of this music.
    I like very weird and varied music, but I don’t know much that came after the 1960s.
    Except Dylan, of course, he still makes music and there is nothing I don’t like of his.
    Sorry, I try to be more entertaining, but I just have nothing to say here.
    It’s in no way a reflection on you.

    • Judging by your Zydeco post, you like good music. Wait. That was you, right? With the Zydeco in the Church basement essay? I loved that.

      I’ve just started getting into Dylan. A hot gal I know loves him and got me interested. I’m not much interested in the live stuff (of which there is apparently a ton. Like, every show he’s ever done ever over 40 years), but I’ve liked his studio stuff. I’ve got to listen to his more recent stuff.

      Back when I was corporate, I worked for a clinical psychosocial nursing journal, the editor of which was a head of public health in New Jersey. She invited me and my supervising editor on a trip to Greystone Hospital, so one day, for work, the three of us drove up the turnpike to visit the hospital, where we met some of the administrators and even some of the clients at the institution, which used to be huge. Some areas of it have fallen into disrepair, but much of it is still not only functional but even good at it (though I don’t think you’d confuse any of it with state of the art).

      Included in that tour were two musical points of interest. The first was a spontaneous playing of the Beatles’ “Back in the USSR” by some of the staff.

      The second was the tree under which Dylan first met and played for Woody Guthrie. Which I thought was pretty awesome.

      Years later I encountered Dylan again at USC; our director, Jim Ragan, was to have done a CD of poetry and music with him as one of the first artists to visit the USSR.

      Have you seen the biopic? I think it was called I’m Not There? Did you like it?

      • Matt says:

        “A hot gal I know loves him and got me interested.” Exact same story with me and Tori Amos, thirteen years ago now.

        Conversely, said hot girl was also destroyed any interest I had in beck for about seven years.

        • Tori came really close to being on this list. I love her. She’s so unbelievably sultry. Have you watched the video of her covering Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire”? She about melts that mic.

        • Matt says:

          I’ve seen her do that song live, man.

          While I still love her, I think she’s gotten a little self-indulgent on the last couple of records. Too insular in the way she creates her music, with her home studio and producer/engineer husband. Rick Rubin reinvigorated Johnny Cash’s career by taking Cash completely out of his comfort zone, wiring up his (Rubin’s) living room with recording gear, and handing Cash an acoustic guitar and making him fucking play. The result was the American Recordings series, which is brilliant from the first note the last.

          Someone needs to do this with Amos. Take her away from everything she comfortable with, set her up in a back-to-basics approach, and see what happens.

          I will say though, movements in the direction of musical mediocrity aside, she remains a stellar live performer, and absolutely worth seeing.

        • Yeah, I’ve seen her half a dozen times. Once with Alanis, once with Ben Folds, and a few times all on her own.

          My favorite was shortly after I moved back home after September 11th. At Camden’s Tweeter Center (which now goes by another name, I think). She played “River,” by Joni Mitchell, and I lost it. Just completely became a blubbering mess, which felt odd, bein’ all sobby and silly and a dude at a Tori concert.

          She followed that with “The Wheels on the Bus,” which was perfect relief.

          To Venus and Back really captures her live show.

          Oh, and I don’t know if you’ve caught my collection, but “A Million Distant Shores” is what I think “1000 Oceans” would have been as a story instead of a song (there are a couple of those sorts of stories in there).

        • Nancy says:

          I don’t think Tori will ever be able to touch Little Earthquakes. That was just pure brilliance. I have never had the pleasure of seeing her live, but she is on my list.

          Someday….

      • Irene Zion says:

        @ Will, bcs I’m about four yards away now!

        You will love Dylan. He’s been so many people with so many styles with so much incredible poetry with cellos which break right into my heart.
        yes.
        I’ve heard everything.
        I’ve seen everything.
        He must live forever.

  7. Amanda says:

    Having given them a good, fair listen, I can honestly say I hate every note ever recorded by Nickelback. (And, I will never judge you for loving them.) But, even if they’d been the best band on earth, we just didn’t get off to a good start together…not after the first time I heard them on the radio and thought the DJ was calling them “Nipplerack”.

    Yeah. It’s tough to love a band called (or a band that leaves the door open to be mistakenly called) Nipplerack. Sorry, Nickelback, it was over for us before we even started.

    • I thank you for never judging me. I mean, I can certainly see why people don’t like them, and all.

      Nipplerack should totally be a band name.

      In fact, they should be Spinal Tap meets the Pussycat Dolls.

  8. Enya. There’s a woman I would lose street cred on if I said I enjoyed her music. (Sort of like you, Will, with Nickelback) But I do. It soothes me. Same for Ace of Base. I used to like Ace of Base when I was a kid. I hope no one here thinks less of me for admitting this. I still like them whenever I hear their songs… which actually doesn’t happen anymore but still. I give Ace of Base credit for leading me toward the world of jamaican ska and reggae years later actually. Their beats actually had a reggae underbelly. I found that appealing. And my favorite song of all time, “We Built This City on Rock ‘n Roll” by Jefferson Starship. If you want to pump me up, put on “We Built This City on Rock ‘n Roll.”

    • Enya! Nice. “Memory of Trees”?

      Isn’t the new Lady Gaga song essentially an Ace of Base cover? I thought I heard that.

      I used to watch this show called Love Monkey, with Tom Cavanagh and Jason Priestley, based on the book of the same name by Kyle Smith. Cavanagh plays an A&R rep who meets and flirts with a co-worker at his label. They’re having lunch one day, discussing their faves, and she names a few really good songs, then finishes her top five with “We Built This City.” At first, Cavanagh thinks it’s a joke, but she says the song “just does something” to her, and I swear to God the face she makes melted all the ice in her class.

      Made me want to do something to her, too. Or at least see what that something the song did to her was.

  9. Lorna says:

    Why oh why does everyone hate Creed and Nickleback? I still love Creed’s older stuff and bought the new album but was hugely dissapointed and have removed all but Rain from my iPod playlist. I love Chad Kroger’s raspy voice but also prefer their older music verses the newer stuff.

    I too perfer to hear the Beatles when performed by other artist.

    Bon Jovi will forever remain my first band crush. I’m a huge fan and can’t foresee that ever changing.

    My favorite band that nobody has ever heard of would have to be Needtobreathe.

    Pink’s new song Glitter in The Air brings tears to my eyes.

    Love the read, Will. Thank for sharing.

    • I have no idea! I think for Creed it has more to do with personality than the music, but Nickelback? Totally with you.

      As well as your other choices. I love Needtobreathe. Daylight‘s a great CD. I think I found them through Pandora. Great band.

      And thanks for reading!

  10. Greg Olear says:

    I’m avoiding all band/music arguments — unless they involve the genius of Weird Al — but I will say this: I want a T-shirt with “I refuse to feel guilty about anything that brings me pleasure” on it. Wise words, Entrekin.

    We really need a TNB store…

  11. “Imagine if Springsteen, Dylan, and Bon Jovi all got drunk on tequila and wrote some shit together, and you begin to get an idea of Clyne’s stuff.”

    Sounds perfect.

  12. Erika Rae says:

    I KNEW IT – Knickleback! HAHAHA

    That took guts, man. Serious guts. Hugs.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Now that should go down in the typo Hall of Fame. Knickleback. Let the record show I hate them so much I refuse to spell their name properly.

      (I want to high five you on P!nk, though.)

      • And that’s a pretty awesome typo!

        I think it may worry a little that you knew it? I can’t be sure.

        Totally high fives on P!nk though. Have you seen her Aussie show? It’s amazing. They’ve been playing it on HBO or Palladium or somesuch. I’m reasonably sure it’s out on DVD, and probably somewhere on YouTube.

  13. Dana says:

    heh. You’re a brave man Will.

    I like Pink and Hanson and LOOOOVE Roger Clyne — his live show is not to be missed. For those of you that don’t remember Banditos think of the theme song of King of the Hill… that’s them too. Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy may be the perfect party album.
    Butch Walker is interesting. I remember reading somewhere that he’s the hardest working touring artist these days, and that made me want to get to know him. So I follow him on twitter. I have since I first signed up. Oddly enough I STILL haven’t listened to any of his songs. But Nickelback I just can’t get behind. I hate them with an unnatural violence. I hate Creed, but I super duper hate Nickelback.

    Embarrassing fact: Ever since I saw this weeks Glee episode, I can’t get Safety Dance out of my head. And I like it.

    • Walker’s shows are almost as good as Clyne’s, and his CDs are terrific; Letters is a great place to start, as I’m not sure there’s a weak track on it, and there are several that are just egregiously great.

      Story about Clyne: I had a chance to see the Refreshments at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan in, like, my junior year. Now, I was a huge fan, but I was either at home or doing something else, and I skipped it.

      And they broke up. I was so sad. Devastated.

      Years later, I found out Clyne was playing an acoustic show at Martyr’s in Chicago. A good buddy of mine was studying at Loyola Chicago School of Medicine there, so I called him out and arranged to go, and I flew out just to see Clyne. And for any other artist, this would be an anti-climactic story, but Clyne played, by himself and with only an acoustic guitar, from 9:30 until the ugly lights came on; his set break was the Mexican hat dance. I’ve never seen a human being consume so much alcohol at one time–like, literally a full bottle of tequila over those hours.

      Who wouldn’t like “Safety Dance” in their head? We can dance if we want to!

  14. Okay — so even after you gave me the spoiler to this piece over drinks the other night — I still think you’re awesome. Life is short. Love the music you love. If it makes you happy for no other reason than you feel something, if it makes you tap your hands on the steering wheel and sing loudly and badly off key or grab the hand of a stranger and begin to dance then all the better. Nicely done, Will. xx~ r

    • Thanks, Robin. I was going to point out I don’t really love Nickelback, but like you said, if it makes someone happy, whatever, right?

      Badly off key? I hadn’t realized you’d heard me sing. I think you’re giving me entirely too much credit there. But I have a running theory singing in front of a crowd at the bar is less about well than it is about fun, and getting the crowd going is a more important talent than hitting keys.

      I’m sure many would disagree. This is why I’m not a singer.

  15. Jessica Blau says:

    Okay, if you’re willing to admit you like Bon Jovi and Justin Timberlake, then I’ll admit it, too. I’m saying it here, I’m saying it proud, and I’m saying it out loud, dammit! I love BJ and JT! (Oy, that was scary.)

    BTW: you’re a very good dancer and the wonderfully talented novelist Greg Olear said something very funny to me the other night when we were dancing at the New York TNB bash. It went something like this: “The chances that Will Entrekin wouldn’t be a good dancer were point Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh one.” In other words, he wasn’t surprised.

    • Is it different for a guy to admit liking JT than it is for a girl? I mean, of course girls love JT; he’s a good singer and a good dancer, but he’s also good looking and has great style. I’ve wondered if he’s not too good looking for guys to like, if that makes sense.

      And you’re a great dancer too pretty lady! That was so much fun. We all need to do that more often. If TNB literary experiences were as known for their dance floor as for the reading . . . well, I think that’d be a fine position to be in.

      Speaking of Greg Olear and dancing, I can’t wait to hear his wife play live. And it’s awesome he said that. He mentioned the same to me later. And it’s worth pointing out we had a very good dance floor between the seven or eight of us.

  16. Ryan Day says:

    Does Joni Mitchell count as a guilty pleasure? How about Jim Croce?

    • You know, part of what I wondered as I was writing this was what constituted a band one shouldn’t like. Hootie and the Blowfish and Alanis Morissette nearly made it on, but neither’s had anything good in a while, really (even though their early stuff is awesome).

      Like, Joni Mitchell: “The River” is a great song. I mean, she might get cred on the basis of that one alone.

      I’m trying to think of Jim Croce. I’m going to have to look him up.

  17. Lenore Zion says:

    omigod i like pink, too. she’s so cool. i bet she can throw down with the best of them, too. but i also will admit right here to actually OWNING an avril lavigne album, so my opinion is sorta worthless. but avril is so cute and angsty, i can’t help myself. plus i like that song about so much for her happy ending. in the video she’s wearing a really cute outfit and the guy breaking her heart is like 45 years old.

    • The band who played at the TNB Book Bash (Madame X, with Susan Henderson’s husband on guitar) covered a P!nk song. And pretty awesomely. But yeah, she could definitely throw down. I mean, have you seen her? She’s got a crazy amazing body, and maybe the best musculature I’ve ever seen on a girl. She’s got inguinal muscles (the ones on her hip) like whoa. I want to bite them.

      Avril’s apparently taken up drumming lately. I saw her drum on some show or other not long ago. Well. I saw her hit a drum with a pair of sticks.

      And your owning an Avril CD means you helped support Butch Walker. So right on!

      • Lenore Zion says:

        seriously, that chick is cut. i want her personal trainer. so that i can tell him to leave me alone all the time and then complain that i don’t look like pink even though i have her personal trainer.

  18. Marni Grossman says:

    In addition to taste, I think your generation has something to do with your musical palate. In particular, the music you shouldn’t like but do.

    Because I was 12 in 1998, I have a lot of affection for Jewel. I always sing along with “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind. “The Freshmen” by the Verve Pipe? Makes me super-emotional. I love Hole. And the Lemonheads. And don’t get me started on the Goo Goo Dolls or Sarah MacLachlan. Also: Sugar Ray. Embarrassing but true.

    Basically, if a song was played on “alternative” radio during 1997, 1998, or 1999, I’ll probably be hopelessly, helplessly in love with it. And, as a P.S.- Garbage rocks.

    • You totally just described college for me. Like, every damned artist and song you mentioned. I was a freshman when “The Freshmen” came out. I admit I always disliked Third Eye Blind solely because Jenkins picked a feud with Rob Thomas around that time and I was already enough of a matchbox twenty fan I’d seen them live twice by then. But Jenkins went on to produce Carlton’s CD because they started dating.

      There’s a novel by Nick Earls called Perfect Skin in which the main character is a big Lemonheads fan. It’s a great book.

  19. Gloria says:

    I was going along with you until I hit Hanson. I was lucky enough to have a young child when Hanson’s “Mmmbop” was popular. Nothing – and I mean nothing – can get stuck in your head quite like that.

    That said, I’m not a music snob either. “Appetite for Destruction” is as much a part of my musical repertory as is Davis’s “Kind of Blue.” And if you give me two beers and a microphone, I’ll sing the crap out of “Living on a Prayer.”

    Yes, there’s no accounting for taste.

    • That’s one of the reason I like it so much, Gloria. It doesn’t just stick in your head; it sticks hard and deep.

      I thought about Guns ‘n Roses being in here. I wasn’t sure if they had quite the amount of ill will against them that the others had, but they’re definitely a favorite band. And I loved Chinese Democracy.

      Um. I definitely think we’re going to need a TNB karaoke at some point.

  20. angela says:

    ack, not nickelback! a, a, a, a – that’s a great rhyme scheme!

    i do however love mmm’bob (sorry gloria) as well as P!nk (though i had no idea the “i” was an exclamation point) and Vanessa Carlton.

    and i really shouldn’t bash you about nickelback since my ipod is full of Christina Aguilera, JT, Britney Spears, and tons of Madonna. TONS.

    • I love Christina Aguilera. My only complaint about her is that she should sing more. She spends a lot of time demonstrating what a great voice she has by “Whoooooaaaaaa”ing and “Yeaaaaaaaayeahhhhh”ing when she could be singing the song. I hate that. Lord knows she’s got the pipes to change that. She could totally be, like, a rock goddess if only she worked with the right people. I’d love to see that.

      I think P!nk only stylizes sometimes, but I find it so egregious I always want to point it out.

      Carlton ftw! My sister forever makes fun of the fact that I like her “Paint It Black” better than the Stones’. It’s like her number one argument if we ever disagree about music. Or anything, for that matter.

  21. Simon Smithson says:

    It was like a religious awakening, the point where I suddenly clicked and went ‘Fuck all y’all – if I like it, I’m going to listen to it!’

    Also: I like how you’ve picked up on the five bands thing.

    How You Remind Me hit Australian airwaves at precisely the same time as Staind’s It’s Been A While and I was getting my heart broken.

    What a fucking summer.

    • I remember that summer. It might have been the same-ish one. I remember we took a buddy of mine out for his birthday and got him absolutely and completely trashed enough that he played that song acoustic in a van on the way to a bar. This is a guy who’s now into Mars Volta, so you can see how out of character that was.

  22. Richard Cox says:

    Yeah, Will. I’m with you on the no accounting for taste. I’ve sometimes been frustrated with your point of view on this because often it seems you go just as far hating esoteric art as the snobs go in hating commercial work. But I think we’re actually fairly close on what we like and don’t.

    I have a Def Leppard post in mind, which defends their artistry of music production and general feel-good rock vibe, but even I could never apologize for some off their lyrics. You don’t have to say anything of value when you write their kind of music, but at least the words ought to be discernible as English syntax.

    And Hanson is here in Tulsa, so I might go see them live based on your recommendation if I could wear a disguise or something. I don’t want to get killed. On a semi-related note, I once saw them when I went to play paintball with some friends, and I soooo wanted them to be put on a team against ours. This was right when MMMMBop came out and they were looking their most teenage douchebaggy. But alas, they played in a different group.

    In the end, for me this debate comes down to whether art is supposed to say something of value or simply make you feel. Or some combination thereof. I will defend the film Titanic until I die. I think it’s a masterpiece. No, it’s not a subtle piece of art. No, it doesn’t say anything we didn’t already know about humanity. But man, it thrilled. And I’m a sucker for stories where the down-on-his-luck guy gets the unattainable girl, however unbelievable or sentimental. Titanic is the film version of the album Hysteria. It accomplished exactly what it set out to do, with a tremendous amount of technical skill, and it appealed to a wide and varied audience that includes people who refuse to admit in public that they enjoyed it.

    Nice post.

    • Oh, you’re totally right on my point of view, but I think it’s because of those ‘snobs’ and the idea that what is commercial can’t be artful. Look at the Beatles. Or Shakespeare.

      As for Titanic . . . I mean, I think that’s the problem that demonstrates that point of view I have that frustrates you. I suppose you’re right it’s not exactly subtle (it’s arguable that $200 million basically ensures a lack of subtlety), but art? Why not? Big themes, solid acting, a simple, archetypal-but-well-executed story . . .

      I’m not sure about Hysteria; couldn’t Titanic be Thriller or The White Album?

      I mean, if Shakespeare were working today, I think one could build a solid argument he’d be more analogous to Cameron than anyone else. Maybe Spielberg, but then again, there’s another guy not exactly known for his subtlety.

  23. Joe Daly says:

    Will-

    I’ve been waiting to read this piece for weeks- stoked to finally get to it!

    Cracked up at your point, which I totally relate to, that somehow when other people perform the Beatles, it can be downright enjoyable. I love the Stereophonics cover of “Revolution,” and listening to the “Hey Jude” repeatedly piped through the soundtrack of “The Royal Tenenbaums” is perfect.

    Your list kicks ass. Guilty Pleasure City!

    >>I think it says something about how good your band is when your Mutt Lange-produced album is not actually your best.<<

    Could be the most insightful comment about music I’ve heard in awhile. Mutt Lange could take two dogs barking, throw in some bass, and make an anthem big enough to fill an arena. You’re dead on, there!

    I don’t know Vanessa Carlton at all, which is why I loved that you put her on the list. Now I’m off to iTunes to see what she sounds like. By any chance, is she covered by any other artists? Just in case. 🙂

    • I’m glad you got to it, Joe! I’d hoped you’d dig it. I hope you like Vanessa Carlton, but be warned I’d put her with, say, Jewel, Alanis, and Tori. Which I don’t think is bad, or anything, but estrogen quotient is pretty high. I was actually just re-listening to her stuff again; it’s all pretty good, and her most recent CD is, I think, independent, like Hanson’s. And I don’t think she’s covered, but start with her “Paint It Black” cover; I’d love to hear what you think of it.

      And you’re totally right about Lange. Seriously, his discography reads like a greatest hits of several eras. Also, he seems to production like Gordon Lish or Maxwell Perkins are to editing.

      I’m not sure that’s a great thing, considering what Lish did to “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” I wonder what Def Leppard would have done without Lange. It’s a question I find interesting that “Slang” is my second favorite song of theirs and I’m pretty sure Lange had nothing to do with it.

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