If You're the "Greatest Band in the World", Why Not?

Now, for the first time in this space, I'm writing an article directly calling out a couple of artists, because I think they're just sour grapes, personally, and I can't let them get a free pass on this unnecessary and uneducated criticism of a band that is phenomenally better, and (in every case but one- i.e. Gene Simmons) more successful.

As per Stereogum yesterday, Oasis is complaining about Radiohead.  Also cited in the same article, there's jealousy abound in the music industry over the past year- see The Hold Steady, Silver Jews, plus Lily Allen, Gene Simmons, and OASIS AGAIN.  I do, of course, support the freedom of speech, so these artists have the right to criticize Radiohead, as I have a right to criticize them for saying anything.  The problem is how unabashedly self-centered most of them come off in their interviews.  With that in mind, I'll be going around the horn with these folks, to pick apart their arguments.

Oasis (take 1 & 2): Starting with the most recent blast of Radiohead, why do you care so much about what they're doing?  Radiohead, and MANY other bands are trying to use their status as icons to promote some sort of change about the world.  Though I usually don't agree with people using celebrity status to promote politics, it is your right to do so.  With an argument like "They (fans) paid for my swimming pool.  I'm not fucking challenging anybody," you've just made a pretty concrete statement as to why you formed your band.  Money.  News to Oasis, some people are still in music for the love of making music.  Yes, everyone does enjoy money, and I'm sure Radiohead would be included in that, but don't get angry because they've got more of it than you do.  On top of all that, Liam Gallagher, Oasis' frontman declared that the band's next album will be given away for free "over his dead body" back in November.  Point made?  I think so.

The Hold Steady: We've complimented the band in this space, so remember, this is in no way a reflection upon what we think of them as artists.  But seriously, who cares what you have to say, Tad Kubler (THS' guitarist)?  He claims that "I don't get it anymore".  Isn't that the beauty of Radiohead, that if you're expecting more of the same, it won't happen?  I think so, and many would agree.  He continues, "I like them as a rock band, all the buttons and sequencing and stuff like that I really don't care for.  I'm a fan of rock music and what they're doing now I don't think is very good."  Improper sentence structure aside, Kubler proves to us in this statement that he is, in fact, a huge fan of The Bends and Pablo Honey,  and is just sharing his misguided take on them as a band, rather than the genius way in which they do business.  He further adds to the punishment in this space by finishing out this interview proclaiming his love for Oasis and calling their work "ernest" and "honest".  As you can see in the space above this, can't say I agree with you there, Tad.

Silver Jews: David Berman says the least, but has the most damaging words about the new album.  He sums up the record with "...things are miserable, don't try, things suck.  And it's all gray.  There's nothing there."  Tell the millions upon millions who bought that album that there's nothing there.  And, to be honest, I find it difficult to find a point on In Rainbows in which what he says holds true.  He closes with this statement, the inspiration for the title of this article, and part of the reason why his argument fails: "Never before has the greatest band ever had so little to say about anything."  Obviously you weren't listening, Dave.  Plus, points off for you, for hating on the obscurity and inaccessibility of much of what Radiohead says.  Once again, that's part of it, so you fail.

Lily Allen: Ms. Allen calls Radiohead "arrogant" and says, "they've devalued recorded music."  What the hell do you mean by the second part, to start?  Value is not just something monetary, except to you and the rest of the artists being lambasted here, who only see it as such.  I value all of the music I own, regardless of whether it was a purchased CD, or a song passed over from a friend.  When I've made music at various points in the past, the value in it to me as an artist was in the fact that SOMEONE, ANYONE wanted to hear it.  Allen continues her misguided, juvenile rant with "...they've got millions of pounds.  It sends a weird message to younger bands who haven't done as well."  Nail in the coffin, as far as trying to portray herself as NOT about money alone.  The fact that younger bands are so concerned about how much cash is in their pockets is precisely the problem with the current music scene.  The best artists today are the ones that fail to aggressively pursue large contracts, large concerts, and mainstream sounds.  You can make money (see- Radiohead), but it's more respectable if you don't announce to everyone it's the reason you're in the business.

Gene Simmons: Simmons gets off talking about KISS box sets that only 40- and 50-somethings will be buying.  Then proceeds to talk about suing every freckle-faced teen off the earth.  News to Gene: they're not buying your music anyway, so you probably shouldn't be this angry about illegal downloading.  Your overpriced tour, cliche t-shirts, and other ridiculous memorabilia will be enough to sustain you, I'm sure.  He finally gets to Radiohead, claiming (of the "Radiohead business model", "...And that's not a business model that works.  I open a store and say 'come on in, pay whatever you want.' Are you on fucking crack?"  Yes Gene, it would appear that Thom is, in fact on crack, as are the millions who acquired the record, and the band did make a profit off of the album- about $5 per digital download.  This number doesn't seem all that bad, when you consider the number is probably far lower for most albums when illegal downloads are taken into consideration.  The band also released a physical copy, which, by the way, was at the top of the Billboard charts for months.  Gene, sorry, but you, like all of these money grubbers, fail.

What have we learned here?  Radiohead's probably smarter than everybody in the music industry thinks.  These people have no clue what they're talking about.  And to top it all off- many of the artists today are out just to make money.  Great.  

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