Two Decades of Spin
Despite the title, this is not a post about politics. But boy, am I running late on this one. As I was browsing the newsstand today, I realized that I haven't been haunting it like I have at other times. I saw the twentieth anniversary edition of Spin, and only after looking at it for a while did I realize that another new issue was due very soon, maybe even tomorrow. Nonetheless, as untimely as it may be, I can't help myself from commenting on what I saw. There's probably several hundred other rants like this one, but you'll have to find them yourself, because I'm not Googling for them now.
As part of Spin's fabulous celebration, they interviewed twenty "innovators" of the last twenty years. Unfortunately, they seem to have a different definition of innovator than I've gotten used to. A few people they featured made sense to me. I don't know if anybody would argue with Chuck D or Bjork, for example. But Billy Joe Armstrong? Fine, I've come around to liking Green Day O.K., particularly after they went political with American Idiot, so I won't argue that the band doesn't have some significance, but innovative? About the only thing they did that hadn't been done before was hit the Top 10 with a Jam-inspired formula. Yes, not even the Jam was able to do that in this country, so I'll give them their due, but innovator? Billy Joe's about as innovative as Noel Gallagher, who's also on the list. Now, the Beatles did hit the Top 10 with Beatles-influenced material almost thirty years before Oasis ever did, so he doesn't even have that going for him. I won't deny his or his band's popularity (although I find it hard to follow--are they big again, or is it just hype this time?), and, although I don't think I'd ever want to get a beer and hang with them, I do enjoy the music (even if I'm odd man out in thinking (What's the Story) Morning Glory? is a better record than Definitely Maybe), but what innovations have they offered?
Still, I won't even begin to complain about Noel or Billy Joe if somebody (anybody) can convince me that Brandon Flowers belongs anywhere on the list. Perhaps Brandon and the Killers' innovation is that they come out of Vegas--lots of entertainers and entertainment concepts go to Vegas, but I'm not sure I know of any that emerge from the city. Is that the innovation? I'll admit that the music's kind of catchy, but since when is catchy a synonym of innovation? I'm even at a loss to make jokes about this--I can't think of anything particularly distinctive enough about the Killers to pull out as a lame excuse for innovation. (Borrow New Order riffs? What else is there?) Surely Spin could've come up with twenty people (and they don't even have to be musicians--Tim Burton, Trey Parker, and Matt Stone [the latter each counting as a half, apparently] all made the list, so anywhere in entertainment would be possible) who actually innovated something.
Another not particularly innovative person on the list is Chris Martin. I'm not going to continue this riff of "how is he innovative," but I will mention one of the comments he makes in his interview. In talking about music from twenty years ago, he said, "For me, 20 years ago was crucial--1985 was Echo and the Bunnymen and the Cure and Joy Division and a-ha and U2 and Kate Bush." What's wrong with that picture?