In Defense of Bush
Had you going for a second there, didn't I? You were thinking of the wrong Bush. I'm not referring to the President who has no use for the rule of law.
I'm referring to this now-defunct British grunge band headed by Gavin Rossdale. When Bush first hit it big in the mid-90s with Sixteen Stone, they were derided as Nirvana wannabes. Rossdale was condemned as a pretty-boy poser who wanted to be, but never could be, Kurt Cobain. Rock critics and too-cool-for-school alternative fans proved the bona fides by bashing Rossdale.
Similar treatment awaited their American counterparts, Stone Temple Pilots. Scott Weiland's arena rock band was "positively vilified" as "fifth-rate Pearl Jam copycats." Whenever Weiland made one of his frequent trips to drug rehab, some of his harsher critics actually gloated at his misfortune. Like Bush, STP was wildly popular on rock radio but passionately condemned by those who considered themselves the pure guardians of the alt-rock revolution.
Only after their bands broke up have Rossdale and Weiland begun to get any respect. Partially, that's because the late '90s-early 2000s pulled hard rock into the Limp Bizkit/Kid Rock garbage heap. In comparison, the earnest post-grunge of STP and Bush seemed positively charming and pure. But even as rock radio slowly rose from the depths in the last few years (thank you, White Stripes, Strokes, System of a Down, etc), Rossdale and Weiland have begun to be recognized as carriers of the hard-rock, post-grunge flame. Weiland formed Velvet Revolver with the disgruntled Axl-less members of Guns 'N Roses. VR was correctly hailed as the reincarnation of the kind of muscular hard rock that once filled stadiums and showed rock radio what a guitar solo is. Rossdale's new band, Institute, has not fared as well - but as he stays true to the guttural, start-stop, angst-filled sound of Bush long after it has ceased to be popular, critics are finally realizing he "was one of the few post-grunge rockers to really, truly believe in this stuff."
This is a good thing. I've been listening to STP's greatest hits album and to a Bush "greatest hits" mix CD that Mike made for me (brilliantly entitled "Silence Is Not The Way"). I've come to realize how consistently these 2 bands created solid rock songs. No, they weren't revolutionary rock geniuses like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. But neither were they the no-talent corporate posers their critics labeled them. They were simply damn good rock bands. What's so wrong with that?
I've had it up to here with self-styled guardians of artistic purity. If an artist makes music which sounds like someone else's music, maybe it's because they LIKE that kind of music. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Why can't bands be judged on their own merits? If the next Gavin Rossdale's gravely vocals reminds you of Kurt Cobain, perhaps it's not a calculated attempt to make money.....perhaps it's because, like me, this new Rossdale/Cobain wannabe has been playing Nevermind or Sixteen Stone incessantly and dreaming of following in their footsteps.
I remember a Strokes concert I went to once at River Stages concert festival in Nashville. Singer Julian Casablancas remarked that Puddle of Mudd was playing at a nearby stage and some fans started booing. Casablancas cut them of "none of that. I'm not going to disrespect them for doing what they like. Like all those people who hate us because we don't sound like Metallica. F--- that!"
My sentiment exactly. Enough with "artistic purity." Enough with "street cred." I love new and creative bands as much as the next Nellie McKay fan, but that's no reason to be elitist about good solid rock 'n roll. I may have music I hate (i.e. cruel, misogynistic songs like Puddle of Mudd's "Control" or Nickelback's "Figured You Out"), but it's sure as hell not because I think of them as "corporate sell-outs."
Which inspires my question to all of y'all, assuming you read this far: What popular, yet critically despised act do you think will be better respected in a decade?