We’re in the Sweet 16, but if you’re just catching up, click the “Milam’s March Madness” label to see the results so far.
Let’s pick things up in the…
1) Green Day vs. 4) Counting Crows
Battle: I’d love to wax nostalgic about everything the Counting Crows have been and everything they used to be. I’d love to remember the good times, the times when they were a pop band of mystical and effortless impact, making something new out of something old. I could talk about their immeasurable gift for finding every song’s moment, its truest sound, its distilled power. I could talk about their past catalog filled with songs that are inspired, vital, winning, and incredibly gorgeous. I could do all of this, and make it a fitting eulogy. Green Day put out American Idiot; the Crows put out Saturday Nights, Sunday Mornings. The only way those two could be more disparate in quality and relevance is if SNSM was, in fact, written by a raffle-winning third grader (as I suspect) and only purchasable as an eight-track.
Winner: Green Day
2) Foo Fighters vs. 3) Weezer
Battle: Here’s the wisdom of Dave Grohl: simple wins. If you had asked me in 2000 which band had the higher ceiling, and which band would produce the better records in the 00’s, I would’ve cited Weezer’s affinity for successful concept-album pop, and their genre-transforming aspirations, and would’ve guessed Weezer. Since 2000, Weezer has released light, enjoyable records bogged down mostly by their own earnestness and irony, two dozen “Beverly Hills” that are fun and funny but, uh, probably not a joke. In other words, they haven’t transformed anything. In truth, they might’ve regressed. The Foo, on the other hand, has always kept it simple: great, accessible rock. Because Grohl’s such a gifted artist, that has varied interestingly album-to-album, a development that has grown with its fans and kept the band honest and relevant. They affect the landscape in ways Weezer hasn’t because they’re not necessarily trying to; by keeping it simple, they’re a much more interesting–and successful–band.
Winner: Foo Fighters
Elite 8 Matchup (ON THURSDAY):
1) Green Day
2) Foo Fighters
–The second-tier bands from 1995 are the first tier bands in 2009. Were the 90’s this great, or are the 2000’s this dull? What do y’all think?
1) Radiohead vs. 4) The Strokes
Battle: Since their arrival in 2001, the Strokes have always seen themselves as one of rock’s best new bands, the heir-apparent to the 90’s throne. Their records–solid and occasionally great, if not consistent–are remarkably self-assured. They tour almost exclusively with Pantheon bands, rightly adopting their swagger. But for all their ambition as a musical entity, they’re not nearly as ambitious as musicians; each record might sound more mature, but it’s not necessarily new. Compared to Radiohead, a new band at every release, the Strokes sound one-dimensional at best and amateur at worst. It’s not that they’re a bad band–they’re very good. They’re just not Radiohead.
2) The White Stripes vs. 6) Franz Ferdinand
Battle: I’d really, really, really love to make this interesting, making the case for Tonight versus Icky Thump, and how Franz Ferdinand’s neo-new-wave could be more relevant and (down the road) more influential than blues-derivative rock, but I wouldn’t believe any of it. If any of you would like to have this discussion, please. Let’s do it. I’ll put on a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches and we’ll discuss the potential relative merits of Franz Ferdinand versus the White Stripes. But for here and now, and for people with ears to hear and a soul to move, that debate is academic. Franz Ferdinand just isn’t there. Yet.
Winner: The White Stripes
Elite 8 Matchup (ON THURSDAY):
2) The White Stripes
–The White Stripes write (mostly) self-contained blues-derivative rock, sharp and focused pop songs, limited in sound but big on ideas. Radiohead writes whatever the hell they want to write, and does it better than practically anyone. What they lack in narrow artistic focus they make up for in era-defining experimentation. Would you say definitively that Pink Floyd was better at their best than, say, The Ramones? Who can do more: the big “small” band or the big “big” band?
What do you think? Let me know!
Also, I plan on having a polling feature for the Elite 8 and Final 4, so be sure to vote!