Wednesday 27 August 2014

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time
"Music isn’t like it used to be" is something only old people say, and so if you say stuff like that, you are an old person and should listen to more music, grandpa. However, it does seem as if more and more people (at times, even legitimate respectable music lovers) have been initiating the same old debate with me: who will be our heroes? It's easy to look back throughout musical past and pinpoint the exact legends from before our time, but who will our era be remembered for? To which I usually reply: how the fuck should I know? What do I look like, some sort of a psychic? God, I hope so. However, I can speculate, which is why I have taken it upon myself to put together the following predictions, some of which will be obvious to you, others of which you may not even be aware of, but all of which I have faith in, almost certain that their influence shall prove themselves timeless in the greater scheme of the history books. But first (as always) there were some rules put into place for your own safety, and they are as follows:

The Rules
Rule #1: The initial source of an artist's fame (i.e: generally their main band's debut) had to commence no earlier than 1980, because I was born in the 80s, so fuck you. This excludes people like Alice Cooper, Bob Dylan, Brian Eno, Brian Wilson, Bruce Springsteen, Cat Stevens, David Bowie, David Byrne, Debbie Harry, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Iggy Pop, Joe Strummer, Johnny Rotten, Jimmy Page, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Lemmy, Lou Reed, Ozzy Osbourne, Patti Smith, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Prince, Robert Smith, Steve Tyler, Stevie Wonder, Tom Waits, all of them types.

Rule #2: The artist must still be alive. This excludes people like Amy Winehouse, Elliot Smith, Jeff Buckley, Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson, The Notorious B.I.G., Richey Edwards, Tupac, all of them types.

Rule #3: Artists must be a standalone name (i.e: not reliant on a band to be recognised). This excludes groups like Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, At the Drive-In, Beastie Boys, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Converge, CunninLynguists, Death Grips, Depeche Mode, Flaming Lips, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Insane Clown Posse, The Knife, La Dispute, Massive Attack, Mastodon, Meshuggah, Metallica, My Bloody Valentine, The National, Neutral Milk Hotel, Oasis, Pavement, Prodigy, Public Enemy, Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead, R.E.M, The Roots, Sigur Rós, Slayer, Slint, Spice Girls, Stone Roses, The Strokes, U2, Vampire Weekend, Violent Femmes, Wu-Tang Clan, all of them types.

Rule #4: There is also the "too soon" card, which rejects some seriously high contenders who haven't quite proven themselves yet and still leave too much room to fuck it up. This rule excludes people like Adele, Ed Sheeran, Frank Ocean, James Blake, Janelle Monae, St. Vincent, Bon Iver, all of them types.

With that in mind, here comes the list, are you ready? Ordered purely by legendary potential with a bit of personal taste spun in the mix, it begins now, just for you:

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 30. Nikki Sixx

30. Nikki Sixx

"Sometimes when people can't speak English, they hum the melody instead of singing along. Having 20,000 people humming your song is incredible."

Figured I better start with a bang, but let it be known I was THIS CLOSE to using Tommy Lee instead, purely because that sex tape pushed me into premature puberty. But as the primary songwriter of Mötley Crüe (a band who have sold more than 100 million records and heavily influenced other names you may know of, such as Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, System of a Down, Guns N’ Roses etc), Nikki was the more logical choice. However, please note that it’s not their music which appeals to me whatsoever (it doesn't), but rather, their lifestyle which was so rockstar it physically hurt me. The Crüe’s unhygienic sex, intravenous drugs, and glammed-up rock ‘n’ roll was second to fucking none, and thankfully, all documented in their gloriously debaucherous autobiography The Dirt, as well as in Sixx’s own book The Heroin Diaries, which is all about, uhm, heroin. But unlike his band mates, Nikki has seemed to have kept his cool, quitting drugs, hosting his own radio show, becoming a photographer, producing other people’s records (like Alice Cooper and Meat Loaf) as well as somehow turning into quite a decent role model, in the most twisted fucked up way possible. God bless, onward.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 29. Mark Kozelek

29. Mark Kozelek

"When I get compared to artists like José González or Bon Iver, I can't help but think, 'I've been doing this since they were in third grade.'"

This one could be neglected as "personal taste", but I prefer to call it "a blind prediction", as I regrettably feel like Kozelek will only find his due respect in death, because I'm morbidly romantic like that. For you see, Mark is not nearly as famous as everyone else on this list, and yet his records are massively adored by those who have heard them (Sun Kil Moon's debut and most recent beauty, Benji, reaching 84% and 85% on Metacritic respectively), which is why Slant Magazine once begged the question "How many other artists can boast as many near-masterpieces?" which is fair. So, naturally, you'd think he'd be front-page NME gold by now or something, but noooo, Kozelek's deserved glory has ducked under the covers and been largely overlooked by everyone except those of us who are permanently haunted by his baritone vocals sharing their melancholic stories. We could never forget him even if we tried, and it’s because of that exact same reason: Mark is a storyteller, above all else. Deep narratives are intricately braided to reveal intimate memories from his life without trying to be poetic or smart, and despite the immense body of work he has been involved in since he opened his mouth, he has never run out of tales to tell, kinda like your dad. Yeah, kinda like my dad. Wow, that makes me want to cry.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 28. Michael Gira

28. Michael Gira

“It was a kind of sado-masochism. I would take the things that were painful to me and elevate them and, through the mantra of music, make them into a release.”

Standing as the only permanent member of experimental rock band Swans, what fascinates me most about Gira is not the amount of time he has dedicated to making repetitive (borderline torturous) music (their first of thirteen albums released in 1983), but rather how much better he seems to have got at it over time. Point proven when considering his last three albums are actual living breathing monsters, unlike anything I have (or anyone has) ever heard, each going on to score over 80 on Metacritic, this years To Be Kind reaching the nauseating rating of 89 despite having absolutely no commercial appeal whatsoever. But even this isn’t the end of it, as Michael has tried his hand as an author too, his collection of short stories (titled The Consumer) covering such topics as "incest, identity loss, murder, self-hatred, rape, and both mental and physical decay". So read that, listen to his music, and then agree with me that Gira isn’t well and there probably is a demon living inside of him. I’m more worried it’s contagious, myself.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 27. Enya

27. Enya

"The success of Watermark surprised me. I never thought of music as something commercial; it was something very personal to me."

With a vibe as spiritual and serene as Enya’s, it’s easy to understand why even your parents like her so much. Her calm fashion is so original and unique to her, that if anyone else tried to do anything similar, they would rightfully be discarded as a subpar copy and I would personally ask them to leave my house. Because I see a higher power when I listen to Enya’s music, it lifts me to a level completely different to anything else I’ve ever heard, and I reckon I’m not alone, as her 75 million worldwide album sales would indicate. She has won four Grammys, she was nominated for an Oscar, she is Ireland’s best-solo selling artist, and an asteroid was once named after her, so she’s done alright for herself. Better than you, anyway.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 26. Burial

26. Burial

"Only five people know I make tunes."

When Burial first came onto the scene, rumours went flying that this was yet another Aphex Twin project. I mean, it wasn’t, but in my opinion there is no greater compliment in the electronic community. That said, even if his 2006 debut album was on almost every Best Of list for the year (including The Observer at #18; Mixmag at #5; and The Wire at #1), and even if his second album met much the same fate (the second-highest rated album of 2007, according to Metacritic), and even if he was once up for a Mercury Music Prize ... the dude is still criminally under-recognised and deserves much higher props, which I will give him right now, take note! Because (in my opinion), Burial is the dubstep pioneer, but not that Skrillex type of dubstep you are thinking of. I’m talking about the original type of dubstep. The good type of dubstep. And if his recent EPs are anything to go by, he only seems to be getting better with age.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 25. Alanis Morissette

25. Alanis Morissette

"It's a joke to think that anyone is one thing. We're all such complex creatures. But if I'm going to be a poster child for anything, anger's a gorgeous emotion. It gets a bad rap, but it can make great changes happen."

I have an issue with Alanis, which developed within the pages of this very blog, because I have written about her so many millions of times that I am actually sick of her face. But regardless, nobody can deny her modern day impact, especially when considering 1995’s Jagged Little Pill which is often regarded as the commercial classic of the 90s, selling more than 33 million copies whilst topping every chart and essential critical list worldwide to this very day, placing the Queen of Alt-Rock Angst crown on top her pouting head. Of course, as we know, it all went downhill for Morissette after that (even though Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie is the far superior record, in my opinion), but I know you haven't forgotten the time you first heard this release. You felt mad for no reason and you liked it, didn't you?

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 24. Fat Mike

24. Fat Mike

"I have a daughter, so [I'm] being a dad, and golfing, and gambling, and drug-taking, and I just made a fetish film with my girlfriend. I did the soundtrack to that, too. All kinds of shit."

Fuck Green Day, fuck Blink-182, fuck all your modern day rock heroes who don’t seem to grasp the basic fundamentals of what punk is supposed to mean. Just compare them with Fat Mike: the type of motherfucker who rejects MTV’s requests; who has never signed to a major label (placing NOFX as one of the most successful independent bands in history); who hardly ever does interviews; and who has achieved his victories whilst maintaining a fast lifestyle of drugs and partying without losing his sense of humour. He started his own label (Fat Wreck Chords) who have released material for acts such as Rise Against, Less Than Jake, and Anti-Flag, to name a few. He is a member of the cover supergroup Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (featuring members from Lagwagon and Foo Fighters). He sings about important topics such as politics, homophobia and hookers, in styles ranging from skate punk, melodic hardcore and ska, sometimes getting his message across in 32 seconds (I Gotta Pee), and sometimes taking 18 minutes 22 seconds to do so (The Decline). But most of all, he reminds us of what real punk is. It’s about DIY. And not giving a fuck.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 23. Laurie Anderson

23. Laurie Anderson

"I've never really had a hobby, unless you count art, which the IRS once told me I had to declare as a hobby since I hadn't made money with it."

I can think of many words to describe Anderson (weird? smart? experimental?) but the one which hooks me the deepest is: inventive. How inventive, you ask? Well, to the point that the girl actually invented her own instruments. Like that one time she created this tape-bow violin thing which uses recorded magnetic tape rather than horsehair. Or that other time she once developed a talking stick, basically a MIDI controller baton which replicates sounds. Furthermore, she was known to use the vocoder before it was cool, adapting it to deliver her spoken-word performances, telling humorous apocalyptic stories which never fail to scare the shit out of me. However, if you are still not convinced, eat this cherry: she married one of the most undeniably influential figures in music history, Lou Reed, and was next to him as he took his last breath. That’s got to count for something.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 22. Sia Furler

22. Sia Furler

"I'm sort of a gay man trapped in a woman's body when it comes to music sometimes - it's crowded in here!"

I stand by my belief that Sia is perhaps the greatest pop writer of our generation. Even if you don’t recognise her name, you will recognise her work, as she has provided commercial gold for such heavy-weight names to the likes of Christina Aguilera, Eminem, Beyoncé, Kylie Minogue, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, and Maroon 5—to name a few. And yet like any genius writer, she has somehow managed to preserve her best compositions for herself, her brilliant solo albums winning many awards (most notably in her home country of Australia, because, well, patriotism) and her recent single Chandelier standing as one of the best songs I’ve heard (and best videos I’ve seen) this decade, easily. Mark my words: as time goes on, her influence will become more and more apparent to you, and then you’ll say "oh, Jared was right, again".

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 21. Courtney Love

21. Courtney Love

"I used to do drugs, but don't tell anyone or it will ruin my image."

Controversial! But here’s the thing, Courtney has already gone down in musical history for an array of reasons whether you like it or not, and I’m here to talk to you about them. She paved the way for many female rockstars (being cited as a major influence to Brody Dalle, Shirley Manson, and Lana Del Rey) for leading "the most commercially and critically successful female-fronted rock band in history", Hole. She felt no fear to scream her blood out whilst sticking her middle finger up to the world and sticking a needle into her arm. She is a fashion icon, massively popularising the Kinderwhore movement. She was once in Faith No More. She can act (lest we forget her Golden Globe nominated performance in The People vs. Larry Flynt). She has written books. And finally (and perhaps most importantly), without her inspiration, Nirvana’s songs would have sounded very different, and she may have even killed Kurt Cobain, so there's that.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 20. Beck

20. Beck

"Especially in music, you wonder, okay, should I still be doing this? Like, are you overstaying your welcome at the party? But I don't know."

I could go on about the 16 million records Beck has sold, the six MTV Video Music Awards he has won, or even the three Grammy Awards he has been granted on top of that. I could mention how he recently proved his artistic originality by releasing an entire album in sheet music form alone, or that his dedication to Scientology doesn’t even put me off. But what I really want to give the dude props for, is that he managed to find that very delicate line between being distinct and quirky without losing his commercial appeal. He is outlandishly versatile, casually creating fun surrealistic numbers in the same stride of seriously melancholic ones, tugging at heart strings and tickling ribs with the same hand he strums his guitar with. No album sounds alike, no album sounds bad, and he does almost everything all by himself, which is why I tip my cowboy hat and say something profound.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 19. PJ Harvey

19. PJ Harvey

"I firmly disbelieve that one has to be a tortured soul to write good music."

Every artist makes mistakes, but no, they don’t, because PJ Harvey hasn’t. Each of her albums are not only consistent in regards to quality, but also inconsistent in terms of delivery, never playing it safe, never repeating herself, always changing her sound (and fashion sense) per release, and doing all of this without any regard to anyone else. She is yet another fine example of a genius who can write an infectious, commercially viable tune, yet shoves it so far sideways from the ordinary that it’s confusing as to how she doesn’t end up alienating weaker listeners. Even more impressive, is that I consider 2011’s Let England Shake as arguably her finest hour despite being so far down her career path, which is a testament to her talent as well as breeding mass anticipation for what is still to come. It’s no wonder, then, that she is the only artist to win the Mercury Prize twice, in the whole history of the Universe.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 18. Kanye West

18. Kanye West

"I don't even listen to rap. My apartment is too nice to listen to rap in."

Love him or hate him, you still talk about him and you have an opinion. Maybe it's an opinion about his production, providing not only the beats for his own material, but also for other mass superstars like Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and Janet Jackson. Maybe it’s an opinion about his own albums, five of which hit #1, all of which went platinum (and then some), and already earning him 21 Grammy Awards (more than anyone his age). Maybe it’s an opinion on his influence, leading a "new wave of artists", an admitted influence on Kid Cudi, Lupe Fiasco, Drake, and even Adele. Maybe it’s an opinion on his personality and controversy, like interrupting Taylor Swift, calling Bush a racist or just generally being a narcissistic asshole. But regardless of your opinions, you cannot deny that it takes a lot to call yourself a God but still deliver the goods. Think: if any other artist threw tantrums like Yeezy, would their career survive? No, it would crumble, and yet his sales continue to flourish in direct proportion to his ego inflating (arguably the biggest ego in music history, I might add), and this should not be possible.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 17. Trent Reznor

17. Trent Reznor

"To me, rock music was never meant to be safe. I think there needs to be an element of intrigue, mystery, subversiveness. Your parents should hate it."

We all want money and we all want recognition, but Trent seems like he is on a different branch all by himself. From the very beginning, Nine Inch Nails was his baby and his baby alone, and from the day of its birth, he has been openly at war with the industry, publicly feuding with his labels and criticising the Grammys whilst refusing to compromise his ideals or water down his product. He once made his own record label, which just so happened to be the first to sign Marilyn Manson. He also once released 36 tracks online for free. All the while, he continued to gain a cult following, maintained radio play, and even won an Oscar. These are just some of the reasons as to why no one could doubt this dude as a visionary, ahead of the curve and up-to-date with technology, in it for the right reasons, and with an instinctive grasp on what the fans want. Hell, he even started the band How to Destroy Angels just so his wife could have a turn, which is an admirable move in my opinion. I guess that’s why Spin magazine described him as "the most vital artist in music," because maybe he is.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 16. Pharrell Williams

16. Pharrell Williams

“I am overly ambitious, because I realise it can be done.”

Pharrell shits hits. He shits hits for himself, and he shits hits for other people. He’s already shit hits for Kelis, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Prince, Jay-Z, Garbage, No Doubt, Gwen Stefani, Snoop, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, and Britney, bitch. Yet despite achieving so much in the last two decades, in the last two years alone, he shat three of the biggest hits you heard (Get Lucky? Blurred Lines? Happy? You know of those songs?) which shows he is still shitting hits, no problem. It’s like there’s a diarrhea hit factory up his ass or something. He is also known to have shat his own footwear, jewelry, sunglasses, and even a record label this one time, scooping up a bunch of awards along the way. Add all of this up with the fact that he can reportedly "see music" and doesn’t age whatsoever, and we must all come to terms with the fact that Pharrell Williams isn’t real. He is a made up person.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 15. Kim Gordon

15. Kim Gordon

"When I came to New York, I’d go and see bands downtown playing no-wave music. It was expressionistic and it was also nihilistic. Punk rock was tongue-in-cheek, saying, 'Yeah, we’re destroying rock.' No-wave music is more like, 'No, we’re really destroying rock.' It was very dissonant. I just felt like, wow, this is really free. I could do that."

I struggled with this entry, because all I could manage to write for hours was "there’s just this thing about Kim, you know? I dunno, an indescribable thing, like ... a thiiiiing, you know what I mean?" over and over. I think I just love her too much, and for so many reasons. It’s like, I consider her the godmother of present-day noise punk, my modern feminist icon of the entertainment industry, somehow staying feminine in the midst of some really raw chaos, redefining contemporary rock with Sonic Youth, obliterating critics and selling records despite living as a very painful blade to swallow. It’s like ... she was right there with Nirvana, playing shows together when they were both still underground, eventually running with scissors at the forefront of the 90’s punk scene, man. It’s ... she just inspires me, you know? She is, like, just soooo fucking cool, there’s this ... thing, you know? I dunno.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 14. Damon Albarn

14. Damon Albarn

"I can't be bothered anymore about giving songs titles."

It would be enough for some people to stand as the co-founder and frontman of arguably the pioneering britpop band of all time (winning 10 NMEs, five BRITs, six Qs, as well as earning two Mercury Prize nominations and a Grammy nomination as he did so), but oh no, not Damon Albarn. Instead he went on to create Gorillaz, cited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Successful Virtual Band Ever" (earning nine BRIT nominations, winning three MTV Awards, and finally earning Albarn that elusive Grammy) even though he was the sole permanent musical member anyway. Add this with his recent solo album which smashed critics’ faces to pieces, and it’s obvious as to why he is here. It’s because he is still at the top of his game, dishing out the innovative hits and maintaining mass relevance, whilst never surrendering to any trends yet leading so, so many.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 13. Jay-Z

13. Jay-Z

"Hip-hop has done so much for racial relations, and I don't think it's given the proper credit. It has changed America immensely. I'm going to make a very bold statement: Hip-hop has done more than any leader, politician, or anyone to improve race relations."

Jay-Z’s legendary status can be summed up in four stages: (1) He was born into poverty, surrounded by gunfights and selling crack just to survive. (2) He started rapping and quickly rose to the top, always cited as one of the most influential and landmark emcees of all time, eventually selling more than 75 million records worldwide, winning 19 of his 59 Grammy nominations (to mention just one award ceremony ffs), and pretty much evolving into the most successful hip hop star ever. (3) He has somehow stayed at the top, not only on musical terms, but also as an entrepreneur, owning a club and clothing lines, as well as once standing as the president of Def Jam, co-founding Roc-A-Fella, and founding Roc Nation; all of which places him as one of the most financially stable artists in America, estimated at a $500 million net worth. (4) Motherfucker married Beyoncé! He married Beyoncé, you guys!!

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 12. Axl Rose

12. Axl Rose

"Thanks, but I'm not God. If I were God, three quarters of you would be girls, and the rest would be pizza and beer."

Axl has earned himself an interesting reputation, from some praising his contribution to reviving rock into the mainstream (standing as the sole original member of Guns N’ Roses, who still hold the best selling debut album of all time, have globally sold 35 million records, won numerous awards, and have been called "the most dangerous band in the world"), to others fairly pointing out his annoying diva-like personality (from making fans wait hours and hours for their shows, getting into fist fights with audience members, and publicly feuding with his band mates). But whether the accolades or the temper tantrums, he will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most memorable frontmen in recent times, with a recognisable style and the immense vocal range to back it up. Who cares if Chinese Democracy took 15 years to release and wasn’t exactly up to standard? Who cares if he is a renowned a-class asshole? The dude’s a business genius for taking full control of such a prestigious band name, and in conjunction with all the pouting and foot-stamping, he is a rockstar in the purest, most childish form.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 11. Madonna

11. Madonna

"I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art."

I don’t really view Madonna as a musician or even an artist, but rather as an entrepreneur; a business woman; the smartest performer alive. By cleverly utilising her genitals as a weapon, she lined up important peoples’ heads and then stepped on top of them one-by-one like a staircase, modeling her shape like clay to the trends as she did so, until the crown swiftly landed upon her head and she became the Queen of Pop. I mean, it would be impossible for me to detail the 270 awards she’s won, the generations of musicians she has influenced, or the 300 million records she’s sold to date (the best selling-female artist and/or solo artist ever, is probably worth noting), but what I will say is that she pushed the boundaries as to what’s acceptable. She used controversy as her pedestal. Her impressive ventures have extended into acting, writing, fashion designing, and producing. Fuck, she even co-founded Maverick Records, which means she made money every time Alanis Morissette, Deftones, or Prodigy sold a record. I mean, the girl is beyond famous, and there can be no arguments against her inclusion, or off with your head (is something a queen might say).

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 10. Marilyn Manson

10. Marilyn Manson

"In any story, the villain is the catalyst. The hero's not a person who will bend the rules or show the cracks in his armor. He's one-dimensional intentionally, but the villain is the person who owns up to what he is and stands by it."

You know his name. The whole world knows his name. Your granny knows his name, and there is a good reason for that. He is the embodiment of celebrity entertainment and fame culture, standing as the sole permanent member of his band, firing colleagues as fast as he snorts lines. He is the god of shock rock controversy; spitting on religion, advocating drugs, and holding up a mirror to society via complex album concepts, fiercely intelligent one-liners, and highly publicised lawsuits. In his heyday he was a monster, and to be every parent’s nightmare/misguided child’s prophet can’t go unnoticed (the scapegoat for teenage suicide, Satanism, and high school massacres), which is why he has sold over 50 million records, has two #1 albums, received four Grammy nominations, and features on almost any shameless metal list you can locate. But even beyond this, he is a true artist, highly praised as a painter, a filmmaker, an actor, an author, a fashion icon, and almost any other creative venture you can think of. His life is the show, and even if his recent work leaves a lot to be desired, his position in history is already as good as permanent.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 09. Aphex Twin

09. Aphex Twin

"It sounds really arrogant, but my music's my favourite music ever. I prefer it to anyone else's."

As the above quote illustrates, here is a guy so innovative and weird that he can’t help but be a fan of himself and himself alone, essentially disregarding every other musician on the planet. It's almost as if he lives in his own pretend world, one where he's the only artist in existence, working as his greatest admirer whilst playing under so many countless pseudonyms that there isn’t really enough space for anyone else anyway (FYI, Aphex Twin is: Blue Calx, Bradley Strider, Brian Tregaskin, Caustic Window, The, Smojphace, GAK, Karen Tregaskin, Patrick Tregaskin, Martin Tressider, PBoD, Polygon Window, Power-Pill, Q-Chastic, Dice Man, The Tuss, and Soit-P.P). And yet while he is alone in this world, there are plenty watching, being praised by all genres and mediums (from examples like Radiohead, David Firth, John Frusciante and Wes Borland), ultimately dubbed "the most inventive and influential figure in contemporary electronic music" by the Guardian. His reputation is fueled by rumours (like he doesn’t sleep, or he only composes in his sleep), his videos fuck me up, but above all else, it was his smile that visited my nightmares recently, threatening my safety if I didn’t include him on this list. Is this ok, Richard? Please don’t hurt me again.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 08. John Frusciante

08. John Frusciante

"Rock music is electronic music, dependent entirely on electronic circuitry and amplification."

When you’ve quit the biggest band in the world twice, it’s pretty obvious that you’re not in the game for money or fame, but rather because (as a severe drug addict) it is the only thing keeping you alive. And Frusciante is all that, an artist to the most productive degree, not only as the ex-guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers during their best work (having won six Grammys, six MTV Awards, a Billboard, a Brit, as well as being inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), but also for his extensive work with various other VIPs you may have heard of (such as Mars Volta, Wu-Tang, Ziggy Marley, and Johnny Cash, to mention a few). Furthermore, we should also talk about his prolific solo career, which boasts 11 LPs and four EPs (releasing three albums and two EPs in 2004 alone), none of which settle on any genre yet all of which feature his falsetto vocal technique which is technically more proficient than Kiedis’. He is one of the most inventive guitarists of our time in my opinion, as well as in the opinions of Rolling Stone Magazine, Gibson Guitars and the BBC, but mine more.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 07. Björk

07. Björk

"Singing is like a celebration of oxygen."

If you had to line each of Björk’s albums up in a row, you’d be faced with what looks like a family, all featuring the unique and recognisable genetics of their quirky mother, yet each distinct with their own personalities and ambitions, individually pumped full of ideas (more than most artists’ achieve in their lifetime, I reckon), desperately separating themselves from each other, whilst begging for your attention and the love of their mommy. They are bonded by blood, all of them timeless within the eccentric side of the pop coin, working strong independently but even stronger as a unit, collectively selling 20 million copies worldwide, forcing 30 singles into the top 40, and earning countless nominations in the process (including BRITs, MOJOs, MTVs, Grammys, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, pretty much everything). Consistently acclaimed, visually groundbreaking, fashionably pioneering, and simply fucking strange, Björk is a creature in her own league, and when her last excellent release Biophilia was claimed as the world's "first app album", we can rest easy that she still has a few more cards up her swan dress.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 06. Mike Patton

06. Mike Patton

"Revenge is good. I think revenge is healthy too, and if you can use music in that way, a sort of therapeutic way for yourself, it can't do any harm (...) like the guy who goes into a building, shoots a bunch of holes in the wall and then leaves. He didn't kill anybody."

Do you know Mike Patton? If so, then you’ll know he is not massively recognised, by choice. His band Faith No More flirted with commercial fame, but he rejected it, preferring to spread his diverse musical ability over too many other projects to count (including Mr Bungle, Tomahawk, Fantômas, and Peeping Tom, which hardly scratches the surface). As a result, his influence is everywhere if you know how to look, hailed as the alternative metal godfather, cited as a main influence on Nirvana, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Slipknot, Korn, System of a Down and Incubus (to which Patton poetically stated "I feel no responsibility for that. It's their mothers' fault, not mine"). He doesn’t sleep with groupies, his drug of choice is caffeine, and by starting his own record label (Ipecac), he answers to no one as he releases his own massive yearly productions (as well as music from The Locust, Melvins, Isis, and more), proving his dedication to his passion and not much else. But now, what if you don’t know Mike Patton? If not, all you need to know is this: he is officially the greatest singer of all time, according to a study done by Consequence of Sound.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 05. Jack White

05. Jack White

"We have a secret project at Third Man where we want to have the first vinyl record played in outer space. We want to launch a balloon that carries a vinyl record player."

If your preconceived idea of "legend" falls in favour of examples such as Led Zeppelin or Bob Dylan, then Jack White is probably the filling you’ve been waiting for. Armed with nothing but a distorted guitar and a minimalist attitude, he has gone on to front some of the most memorable bands in recent times, most importantly The White Stripes, whose last three albums each won the Best Alternative Grammy Award and are often credited as the main contender for the noughties garage rock revival scene. Beyond that, he is a primary force in The Raconteurs (who also scored a Grammy once) and The Dead Weather (a supergroup with members from The Kills and Queens of the Stone Age), but it’s his solo work which really earned him this slot on my precious list. In three short years, the two Jack White albums have proven to be some of his best efforts, both debuting at #1 without breaking a sweat, solidifying his simplistic genius as a commercial/critical landmine, suggesting he is somehow only at his pinnacle now. Oh, and don’t even get me started on his analogue worship, his contribution to vinyl ethics already gluing him to history all on their own.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 04. Eminem

04. Eminem

"Sometimes I feel like rap music is almost the key to stopping racism."

How does one even begin when it comes to a name as ridiculously famous as Eminem? Because you’ve heard it all before. He rapped about killing his mom and his ex-wife (with an unhealthy dose of drugs, homophobia, and sexism in between) and then he rose to the top faster than even he could flow. His achievements speak for themselves: 115 million records sold worldwide; the best selling rap artist of all time; winning 13 Grammys; the first artist to win the Best Rap Album Grammy for three consecutive LPs; the first rap artist to win an Academy Award (with Lose Yourself, the longest running #1 hip hop single ever); the most Spotify streamed artist of all time; responsible for two of the top five highest selling albums of the 2000s; creating the fastest-selling solo album in United States history; standing as almost embarrassingly the go-to choice for the Greatest Rapper Alive, AND ON AND ON IT GOES. Love him or hate him, you have a feeling, and you cannot deny his mass influence, his classic albums which stand as milestones of the genre, and that he’s really, really fucking funny.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 03. Dave Grohl

03. Dave Grohl

"In this day and age, when you can use a machine or computer to simulate or emulate what people can do together, it still can't replace the magic of four people in a room playing."

Where to start? Oh, I know, how about NIRVANA, only the most influential band of (and since) the 90s, releasing the most important alternative album ever, maybe, possibly, whatever, nevermind. But when Nirvana splattered apart like Cobain’s headshot, statistically one would assume the remaining members would never work in this town again. But oh wait, what’s this? Dave Grohl rising from the ashes! The drummer of all people! He’s throwing his sticks aside, he’s picking up the guitar, and BAM: FOO FIGHTERS. And, like, Foo Fighters are fucking massive, so independent of Nirvana that later generations probably have no idea of the connection, going on to ("funny" enough) win more awards than Nirvana ever did. And you know he’s doing it for the love of music, point proven with all his endless collaborations (too many to mention, do your homework) as well as once making a fucking documentary about a fucking mixing console (it's called Sound City—and it’s really good!). All these are the reasons why I try to hate Dave Grohl every day, yet I cannot, because he is known as the nicest guy in rock, and I end up hating myself even more.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 02. Nick Cave

02. Nick Cave

"The rock star is dying. And it's a small tragedy. Rock stars have blogs now. I have no use for that kind of rock star."

Is it just me, or does Nick Cave not really seem human? He has this presence which towers above everyone else, not in the performer or the hero sense, but more like a God? His confrontational emotions are like concentrated pieces of prophecy, preaching about religion and death and love and violence, and this is not just via his music. He is a poet, an actor, an author, and a screenwriter, the latter of which has earned him tons of worship, his film The Proposition currently holding an 87% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes (which is something no other contender on this list can boast). But, of course, we must always go back to his unmatched ability of perpetually dishing out the musical hits, which have won many awards amongst the debris left in his destructive path, yet still manages to remain somewhat "underground", never fully earning the recognition he deserves whilst dominating the rest of us like a cult leader (which is probably just the way he likes it). Simply put, he is Australia’s greatest export, and is yet to make a single bad move.
Please note: There was a bit of a qualification issue when it came to Cave. His first band, (The Birthday Party’s) debut album was released in 1980 (just scraping the deadline), but their original incarnation (The Boys Next Door’s) had an album before, released in 1979, which was too early. But then I thought, hey, no one knows of The Boy’s Next Door anyway. Hell, hardly anyone even knows of The Birthday Party, so I let him in, and I feel no regrets.

The 30 Greatest Music Legends Of Our Time: 01. Morrissey

01. Morrissey

"I had meetings with about nine labels - and they all say to me 'Will your new songs fit in with what is popular and what is in the chart?' And I say 'Good God, I hope not!'"

To sum up a legend the size of Morrissey in a word would go a little something like this: unconventional. From his lyrics, to his vocal delivery, to having zero interest in drugs, to his undetermined sexuality; not a single part of the man’s presentation is ordinary. Rising as the frontman of The Smiths (arguably the most influential indie band ever, a perfect four album career, never to be seen again), he has continued to grow out of their shadow with a highly productive solo career consisting of ten well received charting studio albums, as well as forty-six singles (ten of which have hit the top ten themselves). In which lies a problem: why are you people relating to this pessimistic, miserable man so much? Sure, his academically sharp one-liners read like the greatest tweets you’ve ever heard (wittily spitting on the government, tearing into the monarchy, and provoking guilt within anyone who’s ever had meat in their mouth), but this appeal reveals a great sadness in modern society. Why is everyone so gloomy all the time? Why don’t you just go outside and make a new friend or something? Just kidding, I gave up on life years ago.

Near Misses
Anthony Kiedis
Billie Joe Armstrong
Billy Corgan
Chino Moreno
Chris Cornell
Danger Mouse
Dave Navarro
Devin Townsend
DJ Shadow
Dr. Dre
Fiona Apple
Frank Black
Gwen Stefani
James Murphy
Jonathan Davis
Kylie Minogue
Mariah Carey
Maynard James Keenan
MF Doom
Mike Skinner
Sinéad O'Connor
Steven Wilson
Tom Morello

As my luck would have it, I want you all to know that I am very aware NME recently published an article similar to this piece, titled 100 Most Influential Artists, beating my list by mere weeks. I couldn't sleep at night if I didn't assure you that not a single one of their entries influenced my effort, except for Pharrell Williams who I almost forgot somehow?? So, I guess I owe them that. But in all seriousness, I have been working on this blog for almost a year now (and I can prove it too, see this December 2013 news item? "Extension to Top 30 Rock Gawds"? Ya.), which once again goes to show that NME should just hurry up and fucking hire me already. C'mon people, I'll design your magazine covers, maintain your website, and write your content, what you say?

Monday 11 August 2014

Drugs Saved My Life

Drugs Saved My Life
I think it was round about the 26th of June when it started. I was at work and this immense pressure engulfed my heart. It wasn’t sore, but more like someone had my precious organ in their hand and was gently squeezing it, whilst my chest got tighter and tighter. I started to panic, as my palms instantly broke out into sweats, my breathing falling erratic and all over the place, my attempts at getting enough oxygen rendered futile. I shook, my vision became a grey mess, and I assumed someone had spiked my morning coffee. It’s hard to explain, but it was kinda like I wasn’t there, like I was viewing my life from an outside perspective, like I was no longer in my body, with only one thought throbbing through my mind: run. Run as fast as you can. The consequences could never be as bad as this.

In that moment, I was convinced I was dying, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst came when it happened again, about an hour later. And again, an hour after that. It must have happened six times or so that day alone, and always situational, always sudden. Someone spoke to me; my alarm would beep to remind me of a meeting; I would stand up to go have a cigarette ... these day-to-day moments suddenly triggering an invisible piano crashing onto my lungs.

Thinking back, I actually hoped I was dying. Life has been weird for me in recent times. After splitting with my favourite girlfriend in the worst of ways in 2013, yet still living in the same house as her (even after her new boyfriend moved in), whilst surrounded by “friends” who were so hooked up on MDMA that they couldn’t see I was crumbling (that’s a lie, rather they bullied me each and every day, reminding me that I wasn’t fun anymore, informing me that I was a shit human, chipping away at my self worth until I loathed my own person), as well as another brief break-up in the middle of it all … well, let’s just say, I hadn’t exactly been the biggest fan of "living" for about a year now. Which is a fascinating statement for an optimist, and is something I learned the hard way during this long period: depression and optimism are not mutually exclusive.

But of course, these pressures were unrelated to my heart condition, right? The palpitations and borderline fainting spells were a result of my premature death, surely. And I waited for it with open arms, impatiently, whilst I couldn’t look another person in the eyes or even stand on the tube without my soul rising above myself.

Eventually, I decided I needed to know, and booked a doctor’s appointment. My hope was that they’d say something to the effect of “yup, you’re terminal, bro, you have three months to live” and then I’d laugh in the face of everyone who doubted my concerns, promptly fucking off to South Africa, where I’d hide away and frantically write my autobiography, hitting the publish button moments before I vomited up blood and died on the floor of my Daddy’s holiday house. No such luck, though.

Once at the doctor, I was examined and asked a bunch of awkward questions. The one that really stood out was: do you always feel the need to be doing stuff? I laughed. Only, like, my whole life. Since I can remember, I’ve been drowned by the urgency to continuously create; writing blogs and making music and drawing pictures and all the other stuff you would already know if you’ve been here before. In recent times, it has seemed to escalate too, manifesting into weird shit like the mad desire to clean my house regardless of whose mess was whose, almost losing my hair when someone left the cap off the toothpaste. Apparently this isn’t good, and is actually a symptom (along with many other factors) of someone who is severely anxious. That fainty shit? Those were full fucking blown anxiety attacks, man. I mean, I’m nearly 30 years old, and yet now for the first time in my life, my brain is malfunctioning and cracking and not coping? Oh how embarrassing. Oh how hilarious.

The doc suggested I go onto a medication named Propranolol, which to me was very poetic. PropranoLOL? Even this prescription was laughing at me! What’s more, I’ve always been against the idea of “happy pills”, but I gotta hand it to this doctor, she was very convincing. And not only because she was an extremely good looking girl, mind you, but also because the idea of getting my life back after such a long time literally brought me to tears.

So I started taking this shit, and I guess the million dollar question follows: is it working? Well, I haven’t had any spacey panic attacks whatsoever since then, so I guess it must be doing what it’s supposed to. Come to think of it, I suddenly have a lot more to say to people. You know, I’ve actually found myself laughing a lot more. Little things are making me really stoked, I am singing all the time, and those thoughts of impending doom or dying without being recognised or not meeting my own ridiculous deadlines for projects no one will even look at... well, they’ve all just kinda... gone.

At the doc's suggestion, other stuff has been happening too. I’ve started meditation, because I believe many of our problems can be rectified with spirituality (regardless of where “God” fits into that word for you), shutting off our minds and FEELING rather than THINKING for a bit. Even more potent, I have swiftly identified the people in my life who are counterproductive to my recovery, and effortlessly found the strength to cut them off. Those who were poisoning my existence with their negativity are no longer a factor, it’s great. I guess armed with my new bulletproof chemicals, it was rather easy to let them go from my mind, but it didn’t hurt that I deleted them off Facebook too. Sure, my house (note: not my home) is still a dark cloud of tension, but I have taken to wearing headphones 24/7, a beautiful playlist guarding my aura rather than having to hear whatever words of hate may be floating about. And boy, does it feel good. In fact, I feel great. I’m actually happy-ish! For the first time in over a year. Sure, I still have moments when I want to burst into tears because of a Bon Iver song and I know I still have a while to go, but I got this shit mapped out gangster like now, finally.

Ok, so what’s my point? Well, I have two points. The first relates to this blog, for (as a well documented side effect of Propranolol) I have lost interest in my personal projects. I actually don’t really care anymore, I’d rather go out and chat to someone than sit in front of my computer, breaking my fingers to impress the twenty thousand hits I get every month. And that’s awesome, but I’m not entirely sure where that leaves the future of my projects, nor am I sure I'm even bothered. So I guess in a way, this is a warning, but at the same time, my routine (while slower) should continue to run fairly unaffected, and despite everything, I don’t intend to be a pill junkie forevers. Once I am out of this house and in a new more peaceful place, I can start looking at weaning this shit off. And then the anxiety will come back and I’ll frantically work for you again. But it’ll be the good anxiety. The right anxiety. The anxiety I used to have. The fuel.

The second point to this blog, perhaps relates to you. Don’t be stupid like I was. I was fucked up for so long and never even gave myself the chance to think about it. It took my body to actually fail on me for me to notice how badly I wasn’t coping. I probably shaved years off my life because of this stupid crap, when all I had to do was skip down to my doctor and let them do what they do every day for millions of people: help. I always thought depression and anxiety were signs of the weak. That being emo was something to be ashamed of. But now I know, it’s not, and if you feel this way, look at what I just did. I publicly wrote all my pathetic troubles online for the whole world to read. If I can do that, then you can get yourself checked out.

Medication is fake, the easy way out, and it’s not the real you. I still believe this. But being depressed is not the real you either. You were not born to live this way. You were born to be happy, and if you need a little boost to get back to that natural state, well you’re in luck that we live in a modern world where such tools are available. Perhaps it’s the pills making me happy, but this is definitely closer to the real me than where I was at before. Because I remember this version of myself. And he’s much nicer.

UPDATE: Please note the time and date this article was published. Literally hours before Robin Williams died and everyone suddenly became an expert on depression. Thanks for stealing my thunder, funnyman. But just remember, I was depressed and giving self help advice before it was cool lololol.