Monday, September 7, 2009

iTunes Running Diary – Monday, September 7 - The Best of Steve's Worst

This week's artists.

In case the theme of this week's diary isn't obvious, I'll just come out and say it: Songs I listen to even though they are not critically acclaimed in the slightest. In fact, most of them downright suck, and if you want to judge me, well, I can't really blame you. Admitting you have a problem with pornography is more acceptable than being a Limp Bizkit fan at this point. (And yes, I do enjoy them, but they didn't come up in the playlist Genius spit out.) Anyway, let's get this over with...

- "Mudshovel" by Staind. Prepare to see a lot of nu-metal / grunge / heavy rock / loud music on this list. I think just about every guy gets the impulse to listen to grinding guitars and hard rock at some point. Others who are luckier than me will find their heavy metal muse in something critically-liked, such as Metallica or Pantera, or at least in cheesy fun, like Kiss or Poison.

However, because I grew up in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it means certain tracks are burned into my psyche, like "Mudshovel." First, from a literary standpoint, I feel like that should be two words. Second, this is the only Staind song I can remotely tolerate.

If I am following my stated goals with this entry though, it definitely fits the criteria. The guitar breakdown leading up to and into the chorus is excellent. And, although the song is loud and nu-metal, there is some harmony and melody, as the lyrics are synced up to the pulsating guitar at points.

- "Bullet With A Name" by Nonpoint. There are several bad things about this band. For starters, they're from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Since they're not old or supermodels, that means there is a strong chance a member of the band is on meth.

Second, the chance of this is increased because this song is on the soundtrack to, not just a video game, but a wrestling video game, Smackdown vs. Raw 2007. It's kind of like if I told you my friend had a drug problem, AND he was moving to Harlem or Compton.

Final bad sign: Wikipedia keeps track of the chart positions for pretty much any single released in the past two decades. Even though "Bullet With A Name" was featured in a popular video game, it still only hit #22 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock charts. Even worse is that it's still there most popular song. They've managed to have 10 singles that placed between #22 and #40 on the charts, but no higher. That's the sort of middling mediocrity that is equivalent to Troy O'Leary or Tim Thomas or Ron Coomer or Xavier Nady.

- "They Say" by Scars on Broadway. Similar to the first two, this is a heavier song that features a good melody despite its heavy sound. It was pretty popular last summer, I believe, but seeing as I don't listen to a ton of new music, there is a good chance it actually came out five years ago.

The weird, synth guitar that comes in especially hard toward the end of the song really helps "They Say" out in my estimation. Also, its short length (that's what she said) helps it from becoming super repetitive and effed out. By the time it's over, I've moved on to another couple of songs, and I wouldn't mind hearing it again because the chorus isn't really dragged out.

- "Peace of Mind" by Boston. I believe there is a rule out there that bands based on cities suck, and Boston does not dispel the trend to me. (Confession: I don't mind Chicago.)

They have, to me, one unquestionably awesome song, which is "More Than A Feeling." In every other aspect, they are beaten by arena rock brethren Journey. "Peace of Mind" is a decent little 1980s rock song, but it's not nearly as good at rocking as "Anyway You Want It." The best of Boston can't touch Journey's more somber offerings, like "Open Arms", or the cheese value of "Wheel In The Sky" or "Don't Stop Believing."

- "Lick It Up" by Kiss. I believe this is Chuck Klosterman's favorite song, but it kind of sucks. There, I said it. Then again, it's not like Kiss shows a lot of musical diversity, and I do always rag on other bands for straying too far out of their comfort zone.

To make another baseball comparison, "Lick It Up" is a .275 rock song. Is it an incredible, life-changing experience? Not really. Is it so bad that you change it every time it comes on? Not really. It fits the bill if you're trying to round out a Top Five for your favorite Kiss songs, or if it was one of the first hard rock songs you ever heard, which I believe is why it ranks high on Klosterman's list. Hey, I can be the same way - You shant talk me out of my love of Green Day, Everclear, Billy Joel, Counting Crows, Soundgarden and Sublime, despite their radically different sounds.

- "Only Women Bleed" by Alice Cooper. I'm apparently closing this entry out with some of the worst / most dubious songs by rock legends. While Alice Cooper has some great songs, this is not one of them. Adam Carolla cited it as one of the worst songs to play at a wedding, and I happen to agree with him.

To be honest, I giggle like a 12-year-old at the chorus, so I don't even know that much about the content of the song. The chorus is so blatant and overbearing that the rest of the song's lyrics kind of get swept under the rug, similar to how "Rape Me" by Nirvana isn't endorsing rape in the slightest. Wikipedia says it is a song about a wife in a relationship with an abusive husband, and on second listen, it is a song with a message, and I'm probably going to Hell.


  1. You're right about Boston and "Peace of Mind". A good song, not their best, and certainly not better than Journey. However, Peace of Mind and Anyway You Want It played in Rock that's a close call, based on the "fun factor" at least.

  2. Anonymous, that is true about Rock Band, but what song isn't fun to play in Rock Band or Guitar Hero? I can find myself tapping my foot to stuff like Dylan in those games, even though I'm not normally a huge fan. The only exception would be some of the ridiculous songs, like a lot of the Metallica tunes and "Down With The Sickness."


Try not to be too much of an ass, unless completely necessary. You are subject to tyrannical moderation.


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