Friday, September 3, 2010

Latest Poll Results

Well, the rssults of the "Most important/influential band of the past 25 years" poll were surprising, to say the least. I sort of half-expected The Pixies to rank fairly high; The Jesus and Mary Chain's strength was shocking. Frankly, I haven't seen the influence of J&M Chain resonate through the years; in my opinion, there haven't been a lot of bands that followed in their wake that have successfully coopted and/or improved on their sound. They're a great band, mind you - I just feel that they were too unique to be imitated.

My personal pick for this poll would be The Smiths. I feel that, despite the brevity of their union, the influence of Morrissey, Marr & Co. has resonated throughout popular music for the past 25 years. Their rise clearly marks the end of the New Romantic, synth-pop era of the early 1980s, and the rise of British guitar pop beginning in the late 1980s. After they disbanded, other acclaimed bands like The Wedding Present and The Stone Roses immediately picked up the Smiths' banner and sound. And it's hard to imagine that bands like Oasis, Cast, Sloan, Suede, and all of those other one-syllable-name English bands of the 90s would have existed without The Smiths ever happening.

But, you're welcome to disagree, and I invite your comments regarding this. For everyone who voted, thanks for participating. A new poll will be posted soon, just as soon as I think of a good topic.


  1. I agree with a lot of what you say about the Smiths inpact on British music over the last 15 years. But I have to say, I am not at all sure having a major influence on bands like Oasis, Suede, Cast and Sloan can be regarded as a legacy to be proud of.

    At least bands like JAMC, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo and the Pixies have left a legacy that can be seen to have been positive, compared to the impact of the Smiths who have seem to have inspired bands to emphasise style and image over content and a take an extremely retro approach to creating new music.

  2. That's an interesting point, but look at the majority of popular British bands who dominated the scene prior to the emergence of The Smiths - Duran Duran, Adam & The Ants, Bow Wow Wow, The Human League and Eurythmics, to name a few. I would counter that these bands were even more ardent practicianers of "style first, music second", and as a result, creativity and development within British music suffered. All of those synth-pop/New Romantic bands began tending to sound the same. And for every one of them with some level of competence and/or ability, a hundred more bands appeared that lacked this quality, and were even more completely image-driven: a-Ha, Kajagoogoo, Johnny Hates Jazz, A Flock Of Seagulls, to name a few.

    I think The Smiths' new-retro, "back-to-basics" approach was not only successful, it was crucial in saving English rock at that time. It stripped away the excesses of all of the early 80's bands described above, and showed a legion of fans and subsequent followers that you didn't need synthesizers or hairstyles to make interesting, melodic music. What I said above is true: as The Smiths' wave rose, it engulfed all of that synth-pop foolishness. By 1986/87, most of that stuff had disappeared - perhaps not solely due to them, but The Smiths should be awarded a large share of the credit for that.

    I am a big fan of all of the bands you mentioned above - The Pixies and Sonic Youth in particular. In terms of creativity and individuality, they have all pioneers, blazing their own musical trail. But with the exception of The Pixies, none of these bands have had many others following that trail they blazed. They are innovative and rightly renowned, but they are unique, which is possibly part of their mystique and legacy. None of them could be said to have spawned dozens or scores of popular bands in their wake, as The Smiths have clearly done. Now, you may not like what The Smiths' followers have accomplished, but there's no denying their impact or success.

    That's why I stick to my belief that The Smiths are the most influential band of the last 25 years.

    Thanks for your thoughtful, well-written comment. I look forward to your reply.