Friday, July 07, 2006

Biggest Sell-Outs in Rock History

I thought today it’d be fun to start a list of the biggest sell-outs in the history of rock’n’roll. With Piccu and Bratch on board, and to a lesser extent merlin, we should be able to build quite an extensive list.

I’m going to start out old school with a band that completely sold out.
Chicago – Anyone familiar with Chicago’s great old songs like “Saturday In The Park,” “25 or 6 to 4” and “Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is” who then compares that with their music of the 80s and 90s like “Look Away” will see my point. The man to blame is of course, Peter Cetera. His high octave crooning ruined the band’s direction and made them hit makers. But their music was completely radio friendly and poppy after being refreshing and different in the 70s.

Aerosmith – Even though I’ve never been an Aerosmith fan, it’s pretty easy to see that they’ve really toned down from their early days of “Dream On” and “Back in the Saddle Again” to the modern stuff. Sometimes bands just get old. After 25+ years of rocking, you probably run out of things to say.

The Eagles – I’m an Eagles fan. Ok, I’ve said it. But on the “Hell Freezes Over” CD it was obvious that they had aged and were no longer capable of writing great songs. It’s difficult to characterize the Eagles as having sold out when they were always on the fence that separates rock and country, but there used to be a tiny bit of an edge there. No more.

Everclear - Even though they have recently reformed with a nearly entirely new lineup, Everclear sold out in the late 90s. After great songs like Santa Monica, they pretty much sang every other song after that about someone's daddy. It got old quickly. The sound was still pretty good, but the lyrics were oh so tame.

The Offspring - Whether or not you were ever a fan of the Offspring, you noticed the obvious selling out. Pretty Fly for a White Guy is one of the most annoying songs in the history of rock. Then follow that up with the nearly equally annoying "Get a Job" and you've got sell out material. It's a shame after the band had some great songs on their first couple albums like "Gone Away" and "Self Esteem." That's a long fall.

Green Day - Hard to say they've sold out? Please. Selling out for a popular political message to me gets you on the list. Punk is always supposed to be bucking the establishment, but Green Day plays that card straight to the bank. Never been a fan, and have become even less of one recently.


Orelinde_03 said...

Ok, I'm going to start off with your post has me torn. :-)

The Eagles: I too was once a fan and have seen them perform once, and Joe Walsh solo once. Hell Freeze's Over was their last hurrah, showing they don't have anything new to say, they're still kicking though and they still want to rape their fans for their money.

Green Day: When they burst on to the sing, they were young, hungry, and didn't give a damn what they said and what people thought. Now they are soooo commercialized, and want to make their statement. But they're trying too hard.

Everclear: loved them. But it's all the same song....different title.

Aerosmith: DON'T GO THERE!!! Those be my boys! Yes...they have been around for ages. But they appeal to so many different generations. And they're still touring, so that says something. Granted we'll never get a new 'No More No More' or 'Mama Kin'. But they try to adapt.

I feel the need to point out you missed including Bon Jovi on your list though.

Travis said...

Can you sell out if you're Bon Jovi? I guess I'd have to say they have to an extent. They certainly aren't making music like Wanted Dead or Alive anymore. But it's a minor sell-out because I don't think they're music is radically different than it was in the 80s.

BRATCH said...

Aerosmith did sell out as soon as they started writing the "one word" songs. Cryin', Amazin' and Crazy. Huge commercial success but terrible songs that MTV made sure were successful.

However, don't confuse selling out with evolving and expanding musically. You can call Green Day sellouts, but they are better musicians that any punk band there has ever been. Their last album was unbelievably good and I don't even like them.

Frankly, I'm more apt to listen to Green Day's messege because they are talented musicians that are good at what they do. Most "punk" bands just make noise. Sid Vicious never even knew how to play an instrument and for some reason he's practically a rock god simply because he was punk.

Everyone said that Metallica soldout with the black album, but honestly they just decided to try something a little different, but still their style.

The bottom line is that few legit bands ever go into the studio to make a commercially successful album. They make the music they like and then the public makes them sellouts. Because once the public deems them successful, they are everywhere on every station and then they've officially sold out.

I wish I was a sellout because sellouts are usually fabulously wealthy.

BRATCH said...

Now that I think about it, Billy Squier is probably one of the biggest sellouts.

He was slowly but surely positioning himself to be a guitar great and then he did the video for, I believe, Rock Me Tonight and was dancing around like a little fairy boy.

And was never heard from again.

Piccu said...

Let's not forget about Foreigner. As soon as they did I Wanna Know What Love Is, they sold out and jumped the shark all at once. They had some great rock songs. Actually that may be one of the few cases in which selling out pretty much ended their career.

As far as selling out, I think that term is a little overused. Usually when a band “sells out,” they may have just happened to have written a song or produced an album that for some crazy reason crosses over into the mainstream. This usually happens after a few albums that have been bought by a small cultish, but loyal fanbase. As Bratch said sometimes a band just wants to produce new music, they want to grow. I am not sure a band should be punished for that. So instead of selling out, what we may want to say is when a band jumped the shark.

However, Travis is on the money with Chicago. I think that after Aerosmith had their big hit with Angel and Janie, they kind of became a formula more than a band. The Eagles just tour and do not attempt to create any new music, I think that is the biggest definition of a sell out, they are just collecting cash and not really working for it. I love the Offspring and I even love their novelty songs because there are only one or two per album and the rest just rocks. They have been doing this since Come Out and Play. I have never been a huge fan of Green Day, but I loved American Idiot and I didn’t even care if it was a political statement, the guitars were extra crunchy. This has gotten too long and I need lunch. I may return with more.

Travis said...

Green Day might be more of a personal pick that I'm just wrong on. We all (orlinde excluded) agree that Aerosmith sold out.

The Eagles did make more music and it's not good.

Piccu said...

That's why the Eagles just tour, even they realize their new stuff is crap. I have had my affair with the Eagles, but I am so over them. I still love Joe Walsh and do not think he should be blamed for any new Eagles material.

I think Rod Stewart sold out. He made one cd of standards and it sold more albums than his past 6, so he just keeps on singing the standards because they sell and his new rock material does not. And we should not forget If You Think I'm Sexy, talk about sell out, even though I love the song.

Kiss and the Stones doing disco songs, that was selling out in a big way, even though I dig both songs.

Travis said...

But KISS and the Stones both rectified themselves. The Stones moreso I suppose.

Rod Stewart...a GREAT choice. And I even like the standards, but that is majorly selling out.

Piccu said...

They somewhat rectified themselves, but it took them quite a while. That was a low period in Kiss history, ask Sebastian Bach.

I think punk rock in general has sold out. Blink 182, Sum 41, Avril Lavigne, that is considered punk rock now. Ashlee Simpson describes some of her songs as punk rock. They should all be shot or at least tied up and kept in a room while being made to listen to the Ramones for a week. Ashlee Simpson should be made to fight Brody Dalle of the Distillers in a stell cage death match. I love you Ashlee.

Music in general is in sad shape.

Travis said...

Is music in that bad of shape, or is good music that hard to find? Obviously good music isn't mainstream. People now care more about a good beat than they do about any discernable talents. Most popular music is created my computer and drum machine loops.

But I don't believe music stinks. I think Alternative Country is a good genre, if not very hard to find. I like artists like Pete Yorn and Son Volt.

Surely there is good music somewhere.

Piccu said...

There is good music somewhere, but you have to wade through the crap to get there. I find myself listening to more and more alternative and underground type music.

Alt Country is good because it is more like true country music, not country pop that could be played on pop radio as well as country radio.

Orelinde_03 said...

Bon Jovi: "Have A Nice Day" and "Captain Crash And The Beauty Queen" is no where near "Bad Medicine" or "Wanted". In my book Bon Jovi = sell out. Although I do have to admit to naming my dog (as a kid) after JBJ's dog...and Bon Jovi being my 1st concert I ever went to.

Rod Stuart: I do not know if we can classify him as a sell out. Granted he is now on the umpteenth standards album. But perhaps he needed to change the kind of music he sings because of his throat problems?

Aerosmith: Ok...ok...I'll relent on Aerosmith. I'll pick my fight for another day.

Green Day: I don't listen to them enough to fight that fight either. But I do think they're leaning to sell out. I do have to say I like several of their new songs though.

Which brings me to: U2. Where do we slot them?

Chicago, Foreginer, and Firehouse....bad, bad.

Travis said...

I like how you slipped in Firehouse. If you've listened to enough Firehouse to readily identify them as a sell-out, then you need to hit yourself. Often.

I considered U2. But to be frank, whether you like them or not (After the Joshua Tree, catergorize me as "not.") they still make some pretty aggressive music. And while their style has changed, it has never really ceased being U2.

Piccu said...

I am not a huge U2 fan, but you have to admit, they have a lot of great songs. I am not sure they have sold out, although they may have for a year or two with the Pop Mart Tour. I think they make just as good music now as they ever have, even though it has changed over the years. We are already seeing the beginning of a thousand bands that have been primarily influenced by U2.

What about Kool & the Gang? They go from one of my all time favorites, Jungle Boogie, to Celebration and Joanna? That reeks of sellout.

Piccu said...

I have one more that I must admit I saw in a Maxim mag. The Sex Pistols sold out for their Filthy Lucre tour a few years ago, although they pretty much broadcasted that fact.

One of the problems with this tour, pointed out by Maxim, was that the Pistols actually played their instruments well and the songs did not have that same aggression and energy as they did when none of them could play worth a damn.

With all that being said, I never liked the Sex Pistols, I was always a Ramones guy.