I was talking with some friends, and we were discussing/debating who are the greatest popular (i.e., non-classical) musicians working today. Granted, one would have to start this type of discussion by first establishing criteria (e.g., technical abilities, songwriting skills, popularity, etc.) and so forth, but I have to assume that some websites have already done this. Any recommendations?
FWIW - I asserted that, weirdness and whatever else may be wrong with him aside, that Prince was the greatest popular musician alive (my friend thought it was Thom Yorke of Radiohead). Again, this post is NOT about debating that point, I am merely providing that for background.
I am not a musician, so I’m not qualified to analyze the technical skills of prominent musicians. heck, I’ve been fooled many times, when listening to music, into thinking a particular piece was very difficult to play… only to hear my brother (a good but not great guitarist) play it on his guitar with ease. Conversely, he’s shown me how tricky some SEEMINGLY simple, straightforward pieces can be.
But before I let the REAL musicians offer their takes, I must point something out, something that SHOULD be obvious, but often isn’t:
There’s a LOT more to being a great musician than technique. And there’s a LOT more to being a great musician than speed and dexterity.
To put it crudely…
Would most people agree that Andres Segovia was a better guitarist than George Harrison? Sure, even George would have admited it.
Would most people agree that Buddy Rich was a better drummer than Ringo Starr? Sure, even Ringo would readily admit that.
Now, the big question: would “Ticket to Ride” have sounded ANY better with Andres Segovia on guitar and Buddy Rich on drums?
The big difference, and it is a big difference between Segovia/Harrison & Rich/Starr is that the former of each pair had at least some “classical music training” while the latter of each pair were more or less self taught.
This sort of thing gives more freedom to those who don’t have “classical” or any musical training because they don’t think/know that there are “rules” that are supposed to be obeyed. This clearly comnes across in the case of The Beatles who were constantly in a battle of sorts with the engineers at Abby Road because the engineeers were along the lines of "You can’t do this because it won’t work musically, while The Beatles were more, “Just try it and if it sounds bad, then we’ll change it, but let’s just try it.”
Good thread Wordman. In answer to your original question, regarding good music websites - I personally am very fond of the Foo Fighters website - known as www.foofighters.com - and now, with the utmost respect I shall explain why.
I, personally, am getting in my late 30’s - sadly no longer a young gun - but I still love my quality driving rock music - with the following provisos - it must be tight, it must be strong from a melodic point of view, it must have a sense of humour, it must be well produced, and it must be well performed.
Over the last 10 years I found myself kinda despairing about ‘popular music’ - especially classic band oriented music. But about 2 years ago I went thru an epiphony when I discovered one Mr Dave Grohl - formerly the drummer for Nirvana, and now lead singer and songwriter and rhythm guitarist for Foo Fighters. I loved the song “Breakout” so I started showing more interest in the band. I bought their last album and was really impressed with the tunes. Very Beatles meets Led Zeppelin meets a dash of Pete Frampton.
Eventually I discovered the website and THEN I discovered a glorious little thing. For some really weird reason, Foo Fighters the band seems to appeal to people of ALL ages from 16 to 60. There are fans on that website from all over the world from all different cultures and age demographics, and by and large, they ALL GET ALONG and crack jokes with each other.
It’s like some ALTERNATE UNIVERSE where people are nice and treat each other with respect and actively help one another find new music and help each other out with old music etc etc.
And why is this? Well it’s Dave Grohl himself actually. It seems he’s a real fan of classic music - stuff from the late 60’s and 70’s etc. He absolutely loves waxing lyrical about great moments in rock history and his fans tend to run with it. The young ones start out as fans of Dave’s good looks, but then they realise it really is all about the music and the mood washes over them.
I really recommend taking a look. Just don’t mention Britney Spears, Creed, or 'NSync - it seems they are universally regarded as musical BLACK HOLES it would appear!
Astorian - your example makes sense - that is why I stated in my OP that some criteria would have to be defined to rank/rate musicians, and it should NOT just be about technical ability. Too many shredders are emotionally empty, and some lame-ass muscians seem to evoke the right emotions (e.g., the Sex Pistols couldn’t play, but they were effective, if you know what I mean)
Boo - I will check out Foo Fighters’ site - I really like their songs - great power pop (I mean that in a complimentary way in their case) with a punk edge.
So far though, I haven’t gotten help with my OP, which is more about whether any respectable critic/commentator or whatever tried to develop a list or rating for musicians. To be candid and simplistic about it, if I wanted to defend my position that X is the greatest living musician working today, what site/cite could I point my fellow debators to make my point? Some place that offers criteria, ranks or rates musicians and is considered a respectable source.
Granted - beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all art is subjective, so by definition this is a rhetorical issue, but I assumed that there was such a site out there that I was having trouble finding…