Rather than delve into the delusion that currently is supposed to oversee this country (and trust me, thereâ€™s plenty to call the Tangerine Ignoramus out on simply from this last weekend alone, such as his press secretary Sean â€œSpicyâ€ Spicer trying to rewrite history that Hitler never used chemical weapons and that Jews went to â€œHolocaust centersâ€), Iâ€™ve decided to start something that will be much more fun. Since college basketball just recently completed the NCAA Basketball Championship, I thought it would be fun to do the same but in a different arena â€“ the genre of hard rock/metal music.
What are the criteria for consideration? First, the band/singer would have to have some sort of longevity to their career â€“ you donâ€™t see many bands or singers that are considered â€œlegendaryâ€ if they were only around for a couple of albums (Amy Winehouse is a rare exception, but thatâ€™s a discussion for another time). Second, the band/singer would have to have an impact on the genre â€“ did they do something particularly noteworthy or notorious that put them into the annals of the genreâ€™s history, a song or â€œbehaviorâ€ that was historic. Third, just how popular were they when they were in existence â€“ a band or singer that was wildly popular with the fans might get some leeway over a critical darling OR vice versa (depending on tastes). Fourth, what accolades did they receive â€“ awards, gold records, and recognition by the industry (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, hello?) are all under consideration here. Finally, was the band/singer influential on future generations of music â€“ have they helped shape the genre since they have left the sphere?
Weâ€™ve gotten down to crunch time â€“ the Sweet Sixteen. With these competitors, you could probably make a solid argument for any of them to be the eventual winner of the tournament. But the thing is, weâ€™re not looking for sixteen winnersâ€¦weâ€™re trying to determine who is the best. As such, weâ€™re forging onward by working one side of the bracket â€“ the 1960s/70s and the 2000s/10s â€“ down to the four competitors who will vie for two of the Final Four seats. Who do you think should be there?
Letâ€™s start with the 1960s/70s bracket:
Led Zeppelin (1) vs. Judas Priest (4)
Itâ€™s almost as if these two were destined to meet at this point. In looking at the two competitors, both have left legacies that are unmatched. Both have iconic singers (Robert Plant for Zep, Rob Halford for Priest), both have iconic guitarists (Jimmy Page versus two for the Priest, K. K. Downing and Glenn Tipton). The backbeat is where thereâ€™s a notable difference as Zeppelin had John Paul Jones on the bass, a better player than Ian Hill. Drumming is also where the two bands separate as Led Zep had the powerful John Bonham on the skins while Judas Priest had a revolving door of drummers (they were the inspiration for the drummer du jour in This is Spinal Tap). But Priest has longevity on their side, still being a viable act on the road today. Zeppelin ended with the death of Bonham, although the other members went on to quite successful solo careers.
What might make the biggest difference is that Led Zeppelin are the better musicians overall than their counterparts in Judas Priest, but that is also highly debatable and there are legions of Priest fans who would love to debate it! Itâ€™s going to be a tough choice. Who do you see moving on?
AC/DC (2) vs. The Who (6)
The Who has been surprising the opposition to this point (perhaps underseeded?). After going through Jimi Hendrix and Deep Purple, they have the audacious task of taking on the behemoths from â€œDown Underâ€ in AC/DC. Both have inspired their fair share of musicians and singers in their times, theyâ€™ve received accolades for their lengthy careers and both are recognized as Hall of Famers. You can bring up the musicianship here, but what is tougherâ€¦taking three chords and making a 40-plus year career out of it (AC/DC) or creating the â€œrock operaâ€ (Who)? Â
Now letâ€™s follow it up with the 2000s/10s:
Disturbed (1) vs. Godsmack (5)
As much as I love Halestorm, they are still on their way up to rock immortality. Godsmack has already been at the pinnacle of the game and serves to inspire todayâ€™s hard rock fans and musicians to perform. The problem is that one of those two bands had to run into Disturbed, who are at the peak of their powers now and arguably the most dominant force in hard rock/metal music today. Against anyone else, Godsmack might have been able to move onâ€¦I donâ€™t see them pulling the upset over David Draiman and Co.
System of a Down (2) vs. Slipknot (6)
Iâ€™ve got to be honest here. Because of the paucity of their recording and touring output, System of a Down should lose this contest. Although I am not a huge fan of their work, Slipknot has been the most visible of the two groups, consistently churning out quality music and serving as the inspiration to teenagers who want to be rock gods in the next decade. If I had my druthers, Iâ€™d see System of a Down to the next round. But the real choice here should be Slipknot.
You can ponder these selections for a couple of days, but weâ€™ll have to move on soon. The Sweet Sixteen matchups in the 1980s and 1990s are just around the corner and, after they have played out, weâ€™ll bring it down to the Final Four, probably next week. By the end of the month, weâ€™ll see who is the greatest hard rock/metal band of all time.