Gaps in My Cultural Knowledge Volume Three– Critically Acclaimed Bands I’ve Chosen To Ignore

I’ve been working on shoring up some of the gaps in my cultural knowledge, starting with movies and then getting to books.  Next up is music:  Below you’ll see three critically acclaimed and popular musical artists I know very little about.  That there are popular artists I know little about shouldn’t be surprising, I can’t follow everyone.  There are tons of perfectly good bands who I just don’t care enough about to follow closely but the three below fall into another category. Unlike the other gaps in my knowledge I haven’t just missed these, I have heard them and chosen to avoid them.  I didn’t listen to them mostly because when I first heard of them I liked another band who I perceived as similar and I couldn’t split my loyalties.  This personal policy may sound silly but when I was very young I believed in divisiveness when it came to music; it was Beatles or Stones, party or go home etc…so for many years when it came to music I make a choice and stuck with it.

Did I make the right choice?  I think so but you can judge for yourself. Here are the acts I avoided and the ones I preferred.

U2– I know that U2 are no longer critically acclaimed but there was a time when they were practically beloved but by that time I had cast my lot with REM and I no amount of radio airplay was going to change that.  Actually, if you want to get technical I originally chose The Alarm over U2 but then ditched them after I discovered REM and that was that.  the lesson here is that I really liked as a kid REM and I could never stand U2.

Black Flag – I’ll take SST label mates Husker Du and The Minutemen over Black Flag every time.  The ubiquitousness of Henry Rollins only serves to reinforce this belief.

Radiohead – Honestly I like anything better than Radiohead.  I’ve just never understod the appeal of these guys so name any band who released records between 1995 and today and I’ll take them.  Whenever I have heard them I think of Grouch Marx in Animal Crackers;  as Chico struggles with a tune on the piano Groucho leans over and says “If you get near a song, play it”.

Over the years I’ve considered breaking my personal ban on these artists but so far I haven’t done it.  I suppose there is time but I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

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29 Comments

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29 responses to “Gaps in My Cultural Knowledge Volume Three– Critically Acclaimed Bands I’ve Chosen To Ignore

  1. you broke your personal ban on meat and it led you to bacon. need i say more?

  2. I really liked Radiohead’s first album but none of the subsequent stuff did much for me. As for U2, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to meet someone else who is not enthralled. I like a couple of their songs from the 80s but overall, meh. And it’s been approximately forty-five seconds and I’ve forgotten who the third band was, so obviously I am a big fan of theirs.

  3. I am completely with you on Radiohead.

  4. ’68 guns’ will be played at my funeral.

  5. No U2 for me, either. Or Radiohead.

    Will is a HUGE Arcade Fire fan, tho.

  6. betheboy

    @slackmistress – liar. I tried to like Arcade Fire but I couldn’t grow a shitty enough ironic beard to fit in with the rest of the fanbase. Plus they bore me to tears.

  7. I love R.E.M. more, but do like U2 a lot. I loved them in the 80s, but was not too thrilled with some of their 90s stuff. Seeing them on their last tour and in their recent 3D tour movie, my love for them was confirmed. I dunno, your choices and likes/dislikes are up to you. I may point and laugh, but do not feel the need to change your mind. As for Radiohead–I can’t name one of their songs and franky, don’t care to.

  8. Joseph J. Finn

    If someone could ever explain to me how a rather OK album like OK Computer became the “great” album everyone seems to think it is, they would get a cookie.

    And U2 still rocks. Bono and The Edge are about the only real Rock Stars (and I mean to capitalize that) we have left, guys who still look eleven feet high on the stage, like The Who back in the day.

  9. Whatever on U2 and Black Flag- I mean, they’re good but you can totes live without. Radiohead, however… WHAAAAAAAA? Maybe you need to smoke some pot and lie on your couch while listening to OK Computer. Just try it.

  10. Ever try Stereophonics? I love those guys.

  11. If you need drugs to like a band, no thanks; they should be able to stand on their own merits (Pink Floyd, I’m looking at you).

  12. Wait, I like Arcade Fire…should I grow a beard? I’m so unhip when it comes to these things.

  13. Kerry

    I can get behind your sentiments regarding U2/REM and Black Flag, but Radiohead… they just speak to me. Wish I could explain it beyond this, but it’s just a visceral thing. Like Mike Doughty. I can listen to anything that man does and be pulled in for hours.

  14. Loved U2 from the moment I heard Boy in 1980, ’twill ever be thus. Like the Radiohead guys, too. Don’t really get the “either/or” thing when it comes to music.

    My list like this would go:
    — Metallica
    — Bright Eyes
    — Joni Mitchell

  15. betheboy

    Jim- The either/or thing is a relic from youth mostly. I don’t do it today but I’ve never gone back to hear the bands I skipped back then.

  16. Yeah, I personally don’t think that you’re missing anything by skipping Black Flag, who were spotty at best after “Damaged.”

    I would argue that the best thing they did was keep SST going as a viable entity, as a lot of great bands passed through those portals.

    That said, I doubt that going back and listening to the first three U2 records are going to make you like them any more than you do now.

  17. Per Black Flag, I am with you. Husker Du always seemed more interesting than the Flag; though they have some good jams.

    I love the Radiohead.

    While those early U2 albums were admitedly pretty good, their latter career efforts, coupled with the cult of personality known as BONO, have tainted even those. Pity.

  18. Andrew

    Ummm…can someone explain Coldplay to me? Because they would top my list, I mean way higher than Radiohead, which I agree with.

    Crappy songs, crappier baby names, and the best answer to the “You know how I know you’re gay” sequence in 40-Year Old Virgin. That’s about all I know.

  19. Mike B.

    Completely agree on Radiohead. Outside of Fake Plastic Trees I can’t think of a Radiohead song I truly like. I used to really enjoy U2, especially their early work along with Achtung Baby (I never could really get into The Joshua Tree), but lately I’ve tired of Bono.

    I never really got Pink Floyd or Rush. They just don’t do it for me and I can’t understand why people find them so great and amazing.

  20. bk

    Agreed on the Black Flag. Not to mention Rollins just grates on me with all the spoken word crap.The one I could never get into (which always gets me a collective gasp of horror and disdain when mentioned) is The Who. Just don’t feel it. On a different note, no posts on the Jets, football and/or the Brady situation? And here I thought this site was piloted by a Jets fan.

  21. Good Lord, my cultural knowledge of music is more of a chasam than a gap. Bands whose wagon I never jumped on, in addition to those you mentioned:

    REM
    Nirvana
    Pearl Jam
    Pink Floyd
    Rush
    Beck
    Metallica

    Basically anything after 1987…

  22. You know who I can’t stand? Dave Matthews. But beware admitting that crime in the wrong company. HOW? HOW COULD I NOT APPRECIATE THIS MUSICAL GENIUS??? I dunno, it’s just sort of whiny and boring I guess.

  23. betheboy

    Miss Grace – I refuse to even acknowledge DMB.

  24. DMB is like Will’s version of a jam-band Billy Joel.

  25. Re: The Alarm. Forgot to mention this earlier, but perhaps the most embarrassing thing I have ever written was a rave review of Declaration I did for my college radio station fanzine back when it came out.

  26. pacolongisland

    My personal dislike of “critical favorites” include Elvis Costello, Beck, Dave Matthews, Tori Amos(Paul L. knows my true dislike of her), and sorry to say this to you Will but Bob Dylan. Although I do like a couple of songs by Dylan & Costello I just can’t get into them. Musical taste is so subjective it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks especially critics. Why do people assume critics have better taste than they do?

  27. Tag

    @MissGrace – LMAO! Yeah..I’m with you.

    U2 – Kicked ass like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys kicks my ass today…at least the U2 did up to Joshua Tree…after that its all crazy shit.

    Black Flag – I agree for the most part. Speaking of flag go see Anti-Flag. That’s da shit I can get behind 100%.

    Radiohead – GO to a show. You’ll get it.

    Music is like TV and movies for me. I have a chasm when it comes to that pop culture stuff (which seems to be what we are discussing here)…I live with Muddy Waters, Devil In A Woodpile, Sage Francis, Fugazi, P.O.S., Jets To Brazil, Dinosaur Jr. Atmosphere, Minor Threat, Lagwagon, Swingin Utters, Swollen Members and so forth and so forth and so forth. I should probably get out from the underground more I s’pose! LOL!

  28. Tag

    @pacolongisland….The last time I saw Tori Amos was at Grant Park in Chicago (2004?) and wow. Amazing show! One of the best I’ve been to in my life. She’s still pretty damn hot as well. With that particular kind of sound, I do prefer Dar Williams’ albums to Tori’s though.

  29. Tag

    Oh and chicks that rock…Sleater Kinney!! MEeeeoooww……….

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