The Music That Is Good Web Page

Let's face it. You're a student. Therefore, you are probably subjected, by peer pressure or very bad taste, to most of the music that is produced for mass consumption nowadays.

As your parents are undoubtedly fond of telling you, the music for mass consumption now is nowhere near as good as the music for mass consumption that they listened to when they were in high school. And, for the most part, they are right. But they are not entirely right. Some of them really, really like the Rolling Stones, for example. The Stones are fine, but they are not the godsend that many make them out to be. You are much better off listening to Counting Crows. So, you may need to show this web page to your parents to straighten them out.

You see, everyone thinks that they know good music when they hear it. Some intellectual snobs will tell you that it is a matter of opinion as to whether one song is better than another, one band is better than another, etc. And they would be right in the absence of objective metrics. I'm here to help. I provide that objective metric.

The Paley Metric is very simple. I tell you which music is best. For me, that is subjective. But you can make a factual statement about what I like, and so you are simply reporting facts. Thus, the metric, to you, is objective. We need objectivity when it comes to evaluating music, so this is a useful service. (Note: This process works really well for political pundits of all persuasions.)

So, as the resident expert at Gunn on Music That Is Good, I am pleased to present a Top 20 list (with honorable mentions) of artists to whom you should listen. (Note the "to whom" in the last sentence. It is such quality that ensures that this list is as good as it gets, and it satisfies English Department Standards for Indirect Objects.) Also note that the songs of interest and best album are small samples; all of these choices offer a lot more. No one-hit wonders here.

They Might Be Giants Don't Let's Start, Birdhouse In Your Soul, Doctor Worm, James K. Polk; Flood, Factory Showroom, Lincoln This is a truly incredible band. They could release a greatest hits compilation with over 100 songs and still leave off great material. They are an acquired taste, but they are brilliant and quirky, with high-brow humor. Gigantic is a worthwhile DVD to own.
The Beatles Eleanor Rigby, Strawberry Fields, Yellow Submarine; Revolver, Rubber Soul A great thing about the Beatles is that their music sounds like it was produced in the 1990s or 2000s instead of the 1960s and early 1970s. Individually, Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison had lots of outstanding songs. Many people feel that Abbey Road is The One Beatles Album To Own; they are wrong.
The Who Behind Blue Eyes, 5:15, Love Reign O'er Me, Pinball Wizard; Tommy, Quadrophenia, Who's Next Just listen to Tommy. Suzanne and I were lucky enough to see the Broadway production live, and it was outstanding. Most concerts with an orchestra blink lights to alert the customers that the concert is starting. No such nonsense here; just kick into booming sound to cue people that they can start paying proper attention.
Barenaked Ladies Brian Wilson, Jane, Testing 1 2 3, Quality; Gordon, Stunt Gordon may be the album I would have to have if I were stranded on the hypothetical desert island. It is that rare album where every song is really good. Breakfast In America by Supertramp comes to mind as well. This is a great live act--these guys are well-educated and it shows in their presentations.
Elton John Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Where to Now St. Peter?, Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word; Goodbye Yellow Brick Road If I could steal a singing voice from someone, it would be Elton John, James Taylor, Jeff Lynne, Steven Page, or Lars Ulrich, depending on my mood. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is arguably the best album ever made.
Fleetwood Mac Go Your Own Way, Gypsy, Landslide, Second Hand News; Rumours Lindsay Buckingham may be the best guitarist I have heard live, and that includes a lot of big names. There's a reason that the Dixie Chicks covered Landslide.
Steely Dan Kid Charlemagne, Do It Again, Deacon Blues, Caves of Altamira; The Royal Scam As a former colleague of mine once noted, "Keep in mind that they did this despite the pressures of the disco era."
Matchbox 20 Bent, Disease, Unwell, If You're Gone, Push; Mad Season I've brought this band up with students who have no clue, and sometimes our discussions ("arguments") have gotten out of control. That's why I'm a teacher and they are students. They are still learning about stuff like this.
Beach Boys God Only Knows, Sloop John B; Pet Sounds Listen to Pet Sounds. That's all you need to hear.
Stevie Wonder If You Really Love Me, Superstition, You Are the Sunshine of My Life; Original Musiquarium (I and II) It's like this. He's best of genre, his stuff stands the test of time, and if you want a melody, it's hard to find better. He also has a superb voice. Now would somebody PLEASE get the pep band to play his stuff at football games? Get some Earth, Wind, and Fire in there, too. That's why they make horns, for crying out loud. Grouse, grouse, grouse.
The Cars Let The Good Times Roll, Heartbeat City, My Best Friend's Girlfriend; Candy-O This is one band that I will never get to see live and I wish I had. They continue to have a very distinctive and unique sound.
The Housemartins The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death, Flag Day, Happy Hour; London 0 Hull 4 Just because you haven't heard of them doesn't mean that they don't belong on this list. They had two albums released in the US, and both are great. Great enough to warrant this placement in the Top 20. Their lead singer went on to The Beautiful South which is also immensely popular in the UK.
"Weird Al" Yankovic Amish Paradise, Eat It, Bob, Genius in France; Bad Hair Day Why not? All sorts of people try to do spoofs and satires. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone better at the craft. His band is a very, very good supporting cast.
Pretenders Show Me, Kid, Brass In Pocket, Human, Don't Get Me Wrong; Pretenders This is how you know you are old: you remember first hearing the Pretenders and thinking that the band was hard rock. Punkish, though, and very good at it.
Utopia Road to Utopia, Libertine, Crybaby; Road to Utopia, Utopia And this is one more reason this list is here. Todd Rundgren is a musical genius, and this band of his understood what experimental music meant. Plus, I once worked three cubicles down from Roger Powell when I was at Silicon Graphics.
Midnight Oil Blue Sky Mining, Beds Are Burning; Diesel and Dust I asked Suzanne for the best Australian band (what with her being Australian), and her choice fits fine in a Top 20 list. AC/DC is more famous, but Hell's Bells isn't half the song that Blue Sky Mining is.
Alan Parsons Project Games People Play, Psychobabble, Turn of a Friendly Card; Turn of a Friendly Card Be careful on this one. Every album up to and including Vulture Culture was really good. Everything after that it seemed like the muse had abandoned Alan Parsons. Lots of people prefer Pink Floyd in this genre. Pink Floyd was very good but put me to sleep.
Elvis Every Day I Write the Book, Pump it Up, Alison, Accidents Will Happen; My Aim Is True He has a straightforward punk sound that is most excellent, and he keeps churning out good songs.
Secret Primper Here Comes the Chess Team; Closet Drama Check this out. Our own Mr. Deggeller has received a review in which he was compared to Elvis. Needless to say, if he compares, he belongs here.
Tom Lehrer New Math, Pollution, Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, George Murphy, Who's Next; That Was The Year That Was Once again, the comedy genre brings us a Top 20 artist. Lehrer was years ahead of his time. That Was The Year That Was was the year 1964, and there are lyrics in there which were at least twenty--if not forty--years ahead of their time. The word "prescient" applies.

Honorable Mention: Metallica (best of genre), James Taylor (probably deserves to be in Top 20; such is life), Counting Crows, Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Santana, Al Stewart

Greatest Hits: American Pie (Don McLean), Blue Sky Mining (Midnight Oil), Year of the Cat (Al Stewart), Dead Man's Party (Oingo Boingo), Bizarre Love Triangle (New Order), I Don't Like Mondays (Boomtown Rats), Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin), Alice's Restaurant (Arlo Guthrie), If You're Gone (Matchbox 20)

Best Musicals: Wicked (), Tommy (The Who), Jesus Christ Superstar (Andrew Lloyd Webber), Rent (Jonathan Larson), Hairspray, Chicago,

Other Albums To Own: Rockapella 4: Vocobeat (Rockapella), Breakfast In America (Supertramp)