Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It gets better with age

When I was in my teens and early twenties, like a lot of young guys, I was pretty passionate about music.  I still enjoy music and have more passion about it than a lot of people I know, but I don't quite have the same feelings that I did when it was all still so relatively new to me.  After all, I still love The Beatles, for instance, but I'm never going to re-experience what it was like to REALLY listen to them.  It all holds up, but I rarely find myself surprised with it anymore.  (If any band sometimes does surprise me even now though, it would be the Fab Four.)

This, however, is not going to be about the bands that I loved and still love.  It almost was.  I have a blog entry about The Who that's gestating in my head, but I don't feel like I'm quite ready for that.  What I want to write about is stuff that at one time I thought was horrible and would consider passing laws against people who liked it.

The one genre of music that I absolutely detested was glam rock.  No, not the authentic stuff from the 70s, but the endless supply of interchangeable bands from the late 80s where I now realize that I was mistakenly calling them "glam".  You know, Bon Jovi, Poison, Def Leppard, Warrant, Firehouse, White Lion, Whitesnake, White Tiger, White Albino, White Caucasian, and White White White.  (I may have made a few of those up.)  Basically the thing that united them was that they were hard rock bands that weren't really all that hard.  Also, a common theme among many of them was to take a cliche and then write a song about it.  Either that, or they'd write a song about how they'd die for somebody.  Or they'd write a few about that.  (Lookin' at you, Bon Jovi.)

You won't exactly find that stuff in my collection nowadays, but when I hear it on the radio, I have to admit to myself that it's really not all that bad.  Just a little while ago, I heard Poison's "Nothing But a Good Time" and I was forced to admit to myself that while hardly an incredibly original piece of music, it's really not all that bad.  Sure, you might find something offensive in its inoffensiveness, but then you're just looking to be offended.

A big part of what got me to change some of my thoughts about this stuff is the series of Rock Band games, which included a lot of this stuff.  One thing that I had to admit was that Bon Jovi actually didn't deserve to be put in the same category as many of those other bands.  Sure, Jon Bon Jovi never met a cliche that he didn't like, and they eventually turned into a parody of themselves when he sang some stuff about needing somebody like roses need the rain, but I'll be damned if "Bad Medicine" isn't catchier than herpes.

And while we're talking about self-parody, Def Leppard was actually a pretty damned good band at one time.  Now, we might disagree as to exactly when they became a bad, high-school tribute to themselves.  I'd say that it was at the time when they did "Pour Some Sugar on Me" but I'd respect anybody who disagreed with me.  However, if you're still defending them when they did "Let's Get Rocked" then you are a ridiculous Def Leppard apologist, and you need therapy.  Anyway, Photgraph is a damn good song.

I could go on and on, and I wonder if there's some stuff out there now that I can't stand that I might like in the future - or at the very least, not think is nearly as annoying as I do now.  I'm not quite so sure.  I can't imagine my teenage self thinking that stuff like Lady Gaga, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, etc. is anything less than annoying, but I've been known to turn up a few of their songs when I hear them on the radio.  There isn't much that I hear now that I absolutely can't stand, although there's some stuff every now and then where I have to ask my wife to change the channel if I hear it.  Most of the time, I don't know what's what, but I know that I've been irritated with songs by Katy Perry and Kesha (I refuse to use the dollar sign) and some other singers who are basically designed to sound a lot like them.

I can't see myself necessarily changing my mind about them.  After all, there's some stuff that I used to think was crappy that I will go to my grave with the continued insistence that it's foul evilness.  Examples?  Milli Vanilli (no matter who sang those songs), Michael Bolton, and pretty much anything that fell under the banner of "Young Country".  Google that stuff yourself, but I will leave you with a bit of the Milli Vanilli.  Some bands age like wine.  Some like a Twinkie.  And some like a turd.  The Beatles fit the first, Bon Jovi fits the second, and this crap...ugh...


Nolan said...

Can't believe I missed this. I still wonder how much I "like" those hair metal bands and how much I still just like them for nostalgia's sake, because they were what I listened to in junior high. But I do think you're right- some bands like Poison (the pinnacle of the genre, basically) hold up (at least for what they were), while others (whose albums I owned and loved at the time...Trixter, anyone?) have rightfully faded to the dustbin of history.

"Photograph" is a great song. Know how to make it even greater? I'll just leave this right here...

Lance Christian Johnson said...

I'm having flashbacks of Celine Dion's "You Shook Me All Night Long".