What's with the Styx hate?

Another point (also as somebody who likes Styx): a lot of popular musicians take flak not for their own quality, but due to their fanbase.

Huge bands, especially ones at the edge of a subgenre, are often seen as mainstream acts appropriating style and their fans seen as “posers” or just lazy. Even if the acts themselves are darn talented.

See also: Marilyn Manson and goths, NIN and industrial, 80s pop-metal and “real” metal.

I think a lot of Styx hate comes from people who believe that the band’s earlier albums are much better than their later ones, with The Grand Illusion being the turning point.

Good, then we can blame you.

Commence the Acts of Revenge!


I may be pummeled with disdain, but two of the songs from ‘Pieces of Eight’ are pretty damned good.
The Message and* Lord of the Ring* together are better than other songs from that year.

When I first heard it, I thought it was about Donaldson’s Covenant character,
Of course, I was a little bit high at the time, but even so.

Well, that’s a bit unfair to early period Chicago. Yes I was a fan of theirs as an early teen, until Cetera took over and drove the band off the cliff.

Since I’ve got most of their original (non-compilation) albums I guess I’m considered a fan. What I find interesting in this discussion is the repeated observation that Styx was a mindless sell-out band. In spite of the criticism, Styx rejected commercialization of their music for a long time, with DeYoung proudly noting in a 1990’s interview that there would never be a TV commercial with the adapted lyric “The Best of Fries” as a jingle and Shaw contrasting in a later interview that they would never be like Barry Manilow [who is well-known for his Pop ballads and having started as a jingle writer for many successful products].

I found Styx appealing not only for their considerable musical skill but for also for their habit, during the height of their success, of putting out theme albums with strong social commentary. That included Paradise Theater (mentioned before) and Kilroy was Here* – which basically jumped the shark and was a reason for Tommy breaking away.

An even greater appeal for me was the social observations in many of their songs – albeit not usually the most radio-successful of their singles. Castle Walls and Pieces of Eight are excellent examples of great social commentary that the average radio-listener has never heard, and both Renegade and Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) gain different meanings in the context of the album (Pieces of Eight) as a whole. FWIW I like Rush for their social commentary, as well, but Styx had better vocal harmonies.
Progressive Rock (e.g. ELO, ELP, Kansas, Yes, and even Styx) has been criticized by the subsequent musical splinters – Rap/Hip-Hop, Punk, New Wave, and Heavy Metal – as pretentious and showy, exceedingly and senselessly complex, etcetera. But this is kind of a sour grapes attitude: Since it is difficult to reach the technical levels of Progressive instrumental expertise, they reject that element. Rap and hip-hop either drop everything but the drums or substitute in sound samples – even forgoing actual singing. Punk and Heavy Metal emphasize basic power chords (but keep the harmonies and soaring vocals), while New Wave and Dance Music (aka disco-resurrected) rely on synthesizers and synthesized drums. [There are, of course, notable exceptions, but the generalization serves its purpose here.]

While the Album-Oriented Rock format was fine for 12" vinyl and great for selling whole albums to existing fans, radio stations typically ignored the key songs of an Album’s conceptual story in favor of mass-appeal singles. Thus, the programming managers’ selections would favor singles from the Pop end of the spectrum and give radio listeners the impression that the Progressive bands were pumping out mindless drivel with obscure references. The post-Progressive generation points to that ‘mindless drivel with obscure references’ in order to reject concept albums and musical story-arcs as pretentious intellectual snobbery. [I have faith that anyone smart enough to tune a radio is smart enough to notice and understand shared themes or references between two or more songs; if critics find that preposterous then they’re denigrating their own intellect.]

The latest DeYoung-less incarnation of Styx has mostly done greatest hits and cover albums (including concert captures) and Cyclorama wasn’t that incredible. While it had some decent tracks and even some social commentary, I would venture to say part of the album’s problem may have been lack of DeYoung’s influence in instrumental arrangements and sound-engineering quality and maybe even that their signature tri-tone harmonies are generally missing.
*As crazy as the idea seemed, the concept was not robots and prison ballads, but the future of musical censorship and right-wing totalitarian governments which DeYoung predicted correctly – the Moral Majority, Tipper Gore and censorship of lyrics, the media ratings board (now also the ESRB), and even political imprisonment in America.


Next phase, new wave,
Dance craze, anyways
It’s still rock and roll to me!
. --Billy Joel
. It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me
. From Glass Houses

narrows eyes

You again. I’m still out here…planning.

I liked Styx up through Paradise Theatre. Excellent mix of prog, rock and pop

The Grand Illusion…GREAT album.

However, Babe is an abomination and it’s creator must be punished.

I’m a Styx fan - but I loathe Babe.

Styx is great in part because with 3 singer/songwriters their songs have a lot of variety. Compare ‘Castle Walls’ and ‘Miss America’, both from Grand Illusion, for example.

I played Too Much Time In My Hands to a friend who has never heard of Styx. He said it sounded like Air Supply playing rock. He was right.

Bite your tongue! :wink: As you may know, Styx pre-dates MTV being around from almost the start of the 1970s and never needed MTV to make it. They were a true rock band making advances in defining American rock while the Brits surrounded us ina second wave of British invasion with Elton John, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin in the 1970’s. (All talented, but not American)

Ok, the USA also had Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kiss, maybe early Bob Seger and what? Beach Boys? (Good for their genre, but not a serious, competitive, mega-rock band!). Styx could hang wth the best of them delivering stellar album after stellar album. Anyone who hates Styx or defines Styx by “Babe” alone does not understand what is Rock and Roll! Any hate for Styx is from misguided fools.

Hey, if it wasn’t for MTV, I wouldn’t know who Styx was! The 70’s were all about the Jackson 5 for me. First dance I learned: The Robot.

I know. I was going to write “Chicago after their first five or so albums” but I thought that was getting a bit off point. Still, you are correct that Chicago was at least somewhat interesting during their early Jazz-Rock period.

While I think they peaked with Grand Illusion, I have to think Equinox is a fantastic album. Lorelai and Mother Dear take me back to my teenage years, and just put a smile on my face.

I’m a Styx fan.

I was just sitting here trying to hum Babe and all I could come up with was Beth by KISS.

Styx had a few bad songs such as “Too Much Time On My Hands”, but that’s true of most every band. I always liked “Babe” though it wasn’t their best. Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight are great albums.

Thanks Grestarian for explaining further than I did about why saying Styx was a commercial sellout of a band is ridiculous if you really look at their work. I get disliking them if you just don’t like the music, but the corporate sellout argument is just silly - yet it sure seems like that’s the answer to the OP’s question of where did the hate stem from.

The real standout on that album is One With Everything. That song is amazing and sounds like vintage Styx to me - it’s the harmonies that do it.

Nowhere to hide though we both might try…

I love Styx and have since the '70s when I discovered them. I don’t really get all the hate either–they put out a lot of good albums. Paradise Theater, Kilroy (yeah, I like Kilroy), Pieces of Eight…I have most of them on vinyl and am slowly replacing them in MP3 version.

I will have to say, though–I was just listening to my Pandora station (Alan Parsons Project, which apparently thinks I like Styx and Steely Dan more than I like APP), and “Lorelei” came on. IMO, that is the *dumbest *song since Steve Miller’s “Take the Money and Run.” Oh, boy, we’re gonna live together! I’m going over there at eight! I’m so happy I can barely contain myself, 'cuz we can have sex all the time!

Nosir, I don’t like it. But most of the rest of Styx’s stuff is great. :smiley:

Oh, and the Dr. Righteous/Jonathan Chance exchange made me grin. :slight_smile:

I LOVE STYX! (favorite songs: Fooling Yourself, Lights). To me, there’s two kinds of hate for Styx.
One group is today’s generation…who think anything from the 70’s and 80’s is “old people/dad rock” music. I don’t have a problem with this group…because it’s simply a generational thing.

The other group is people who DID group up when I did…but only like “REAL” (according to them) groups/musicians like Cream, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc…or a subgroup who take it another to another level: Warren Zevon, The Ramones, Goo Goo Dolls, Lou Reed, etc.

It’s the this 2nd group I can’t stand. They think THEIR version is the definitive version of rock