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The best rock artist ever

Published: 20.09.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
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It seems like mission impossible to compare and rate music and artists in an all-time big sum-up of rock music over the last 50 years. There are numbers of different ratings around – best albums, best vocalist, best album cover and so on. The result of such ratings will of course depend on the criteria and the audience who will respond to these ratings.

Guitar Guitar  The trend-setting music channel VH1 has now, by the help of its expert panel of experienced musicians, put up the ultimate list of the best rock artists ever. Anyone with a more than average music interest will of course be curious to see whether this is just another rating or if this really is the conclusive list of rock music.

The list was published on September 6, 2011 and of the 100 entries there certainly are some influential artists and bands. This list is an indicator of what really counts in rock music.

Let’s take a look at some of the artists in the top ten:
 

  1. The Beatles are at number one, which really should be no surprise. Their influence is indisputable even today, 40 years after their break-up. (John Lennon and Paul McCartney are also on the list as solo artists at 31 and 36.)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrkwgTBrW78  
  2. At number two we find Bob Dylan – like it or not. A career span of nearly 50 years and still on the road and producing albums speaks for itself. His contribution to modern rock is unquestionable.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RPkJeziNyI 
  3. Number three is Michael Jackson. Eccentric and vain – but a huge musical talent, no question about that. A trend-setting artist in stage performance, dancing, and music video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG6oy46qKE4 
  4. Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix follow at the next three places. Zeppelin and Hendrix had fairly short careers, whereas The Stones have been active for nearly as long as Bob Dylan. Metal rock, rhythm and blues and heavy guitar would never have been the same without these three.
  5. Further down the top ten we find Prince, Elvis Presley, James Brown and Stevie Wonder.


So whether we agree or not, the experts have spoken: These are the best and most influential rock artists ever.

For the full list, check this link: http://www.stereogum.com/495331/vh1-100-greatest-artists-of-all-time/list/ 

Note: Compare with the 1998 list (see link in the introduction) – which similarities and differences can you spot?

TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION

  1. Why is it difficult to create a list of the 100 best rock artists ever?
  2. Do you agree that there are some criteria of art (music in this case) that are over and above personal taste? If so, discuss which criteria they are.
  3. Choose one or two of the top-ten artists and give a description of his / their music style, and what you think is their primary contribution to rock music.
  4. The top two (The Beatles and Bob Dylan) have not published many videos. Why do you think that is so?
  5. Would such a list be the same if VH1 had asked its viewers and not the experts? Is quality equal to popularity?
  6. You will have to go some way down the list to find “new” artists, most of the top entries origin from the sixties. How can this be explained?

What would your personal top-ten list be like? Make a list, compare and discuss with a friend.

LANGUAGE

  1. Explain the difference in the use of apostrophe: “a viewers’ poll or someone’s favourite taste…”
  2. Discuss the use of speaks (and not speak) in the sentence: “A career of nearly 50 years and still on the road and producing albums speaks for itself.”
  3. Scan the text and find examples of the use of the prepositions at and on – and explain the examples you find.
  4. Find the sentences: “…to see whether this is just another rating” and “…whether we agree or not…” and discuss the use of whether instead of if.
    Key
    1. The S in viewers indicates plural, so it cannot indicate genitive at the same time. Someone is singular, so the s indicates genitive with the apostrophe in front of the S. Therefore the apostrophe has to come behind the s in viewers.
    2. Usually speak connects to a subject in plural. This may look like a plural subject with many elements. But they are combined into one fact which “speaks” for itself.
    3. Examples: At number one / on the list. The use of prepositions is complicated in English, since we often compare to Norwegian use (in this case “på”) On usually refers to something which is physically on top of something else (on the wall, on the table, on the list) whereas AT will indicate something that is in some location (at the hospital, at number one, at school)
    4. We use whether and not if (Norwegian “om”) when we get some alternative (indicated by or) – “whether we agree or not” – but: “I don’t know if they will agree”
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