Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spin's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time = Hilarity

A lot of people feel a sense of outrage over ranking lists. And usually the people making them aren't musicians or are fairly ignorant about anything which isn't mainstream. But this is the first time I've ever come across a list that was so bad it was actually hilarious. I want you to check it out before reading any further.(http://www.spin.com/articles/spins-100-greatest-guitarists-all-time).

OK, now that you're back, let's take a look at the greatest guitarists ever! I want to point out that some very good musicians were actually mentioned on it. John Mclaughlin was ranked 30 spots below one of the guys from Run DMC, and Frank Zappa somehow wandered into the top 20 ... just a little behind Kerry King and The Edge. Yeah, I really just fucking typed that.

Some people are really upset by these lists because their favorites aren't included in them. Well, I'm happy not to see some of my favorites anywhere near those talentless hacks. Oh, and it's not like I care about some guy who can sweep pick cleanly and rearrange Bach pieces, either. Worshiping technique is for amateurs. But with that aside, a great guitarist writes music that can, at least, stand on its own as an instrumental piece. And even Yngwie has done this with Black Star.

You know you're really in for it when the first guy to be listed isn't even known to play a guitar. The whole list reads like a bunch of hipsters googling the names of the guitarists from their favorite bands, occasionally throwing a lesser known, non mainstream, solo guitarist for credibility, and then adding someone who completely doesn't belong — to break through the fascist, confining shackles of the list's criterion.

And the reasoning behind the picks are just as hilarious as them. They remind me of the scene from American Psycho were Patrick Bateman talks about Huey Lewis and the News. A lot of this shit is pedantic sounding gibberish, with most of the descriptions not being translatable to anything remotely musical, in meaning, or relevant to guitar playing. Here, I'll write one and translate it back into actual English about a band I really hate and make their guitarist sound impressive. Oh, and I'm using fake names as to not give this crap any publicity.

100 x10^100.  Jarmond Philtrix (Arial Old Dutchmen)
A sonic genius, Jarmond does what other guitarists simply don't: Play. His raw emotional output and fusty boutique sounds are a remnant of days when rockers didn't apologize for being loud. His manipulative mastery over white noise ambiance, combined with his unique, unbridled rhythmical accentuation, continuously fold into one another creating a Sierpinskianesqe structure of complex, cerebral textures and hauntingly resonate tones.

A complete noob, Jarmond plays exactly like 99 percent of people who own a guitar: Shitty. He doesn't care about the rules of music, at all, and it sounds like the speaker in his amp / cab is blown. His recordings have a lot of distortion and noise on them, combined with really sloppy playing, it creates a (fake word based on a mathematical term) wall of cacophony that nearly blocks out all musical elements and sounds like listening to a guy taking a dump next to you, in a public restroom.

Now, back to the list. And I know they think they're being really eclectic by naming Chuck Schuldiner and the guy from Carcass, but I'd be more impressed to see someone like Jari Maenpaa or any other talented metal guitar player that doesn't show up in the first Google search result for "top death metal guitarist."

The number one spot ultimately goes to two guitarists, facepalm, of Sonic Youth, double facepalm. At that point I was surprised it wasn't Lil Wayne or someone else who sounds like a left handed person playing a right handed guitar. And clearly this is whomever-was-in-charge's favorite band and has no basis in reality. Yeah, music is subjective ... but not that subjective. The gap between someone like Steve Vai vs. Lee Ranaldo is an ocean, nay, a universe of knowledge and talent. But OK, so barely anyone knows Vai. But what about George Harrison!? Oh, he's not obscure enough and too mainstream / normal sounding.

The general incompetence displayed gave me a ton of laughs, however. And despite guitar being one of the most mainstream and overplayed instruments in the history of the human race, the greatest players aren't anywhere near household names even to gen X hipsters!


  1. First, I LOVE that scene in American Psycho. I aspire to that kind of enthusiasm. Second. Spin is trolling us...?

  2. I really hope so.