[Originally posted on September 17, 2008.]
Monday, I listed, in order, the band of the decade for the entire rock era through 2000. Elvis, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, and Metallica, with The Rolling Stones being the band of the era.
But notice there really isn’t a “band of the 2000’s.” Why is this?
Some of it is the Internet. A lot of it is MTV and corporate radio. The coming of Clear Channel, CBS (aka Infinity in the pre-Viacom days), and Radio One destroyed local radio, which built Elvis and The Beatles and…
Much of it has to do with the sheer fragmentation of rock music in the last 25 years. Led Zep may have invented heavy metal. Metallica seems to be confined to it.
And let’s be honest. Rock as we knew it from 1964 through the end of the grunge era is a fading form. It’s one thing to see Mick Jagger and Keith Richards bouncing across the stage at 64. (Hell, Mick is more limber approaching 70 than I am leaving 40 behind.) It’s kind of embarrassing to watch Vince Neil of Motley Crue get a facelift on a reality show because 50’s coming and that’s hell on a former party boy.
I’m sure there are some who will argue, from a purely commercial standpoint, that Coldplay would be this decade’s band. While I like Coldplay, I would disagree, and many people would howl in agony at that suggestion. In fact, the sheer number howling in agony convinces me this is not the case. They are successful, but hardly earth-shattering. Their sound has too many echoes of Oasis, Radiohead, the post-Fish Marillion, and some of the poppier sounding U2. While honoring and using what came before is all well and good, being the band that “sounds like those other guys” negates any claim to band of the decade status.
Radiohead, on the other hand, probably has a bigger claim. And indeed, they were the first major act to bypass the big labels and go direct to the fans. Still, too many people my age and younger hear the name Radiohead and go, “Huh?” Is it an American thing? Or is the Pink Floyd of the Nineties label more appropriate for Radiohead? (Not a bad title, considering they don’t suffer from the instabilities of a Syd Barrett or, more mercifully, Roger Waters in his bipolar phase.)
But one band has kept its collective head down and forged on, putting out better and better albums year in and year out since their inception as a side project for one member of Nirvana: The Foo Fighters.
The Foos, or more specifically Dave Grohl, have been one of the hardest working acts in music since Kurt Cobain died. Every move is well thought out, and between commercial success and sheer creative prowess, The Foo Fighters in all its incarnations have been second to none, particularly on 2005’s In Your Honor. Whereas Elvis became The King, The Beatles leaders of a cultural revolution, Led Zeppelin the first true rock gods, U2 a political force, and Metallica an industry, The Foo Fighters simply have been pwning. No bravado. No boasts. Just great music played well and connecting with their audience like few other bands.
And perhaps that’s what makes The Foo Fighters the band of the 2000’s. They just do their job, do it well, and tell you this might be the last Foo Fighters album. They’re not threatening to break up. They’re only telling you they’re not going to indulge in post-creative suckage (A lesson learned by The Beatles and irrelevant to U2, but sorely needed by Elvis, Zeppelin, Metallica, and for a few years, the Rolling Stones).
So what about it? Am I right? Do the Foos own the New Millennium?