my response to a really old theneedledrop video

As much as any nerd and music critic, I’m aware of and generally enjoy Anthony Fantano’s music review videos. I haven’t seen ’em all, and I don’t always agree with him or feel a need to obsess about the music he obsesses about, but that’s to be expected–he’s got hundreds if not bajillions of videos.

However, this video got my panties in a bunch, and now I hate him:

In this video Fantano answers the question “Is popular music typically mediocre?” or more specifically, “Is modern pop music mediocre, at least when compared to bands from the past who were both popular and pretty good, like the Beatles, Doors, Pink Floyd, New Order, Bowie, Queen, et cetera?”

Now, he makes a good point when he says that during all eras of popular music, we’ve had major filler. Queen and Bowie and Sabbath were surrounded in the charts and in popularity by a lot of acts that were popular then but didn’t have their staying power.

But then he crosses the line in his examples of “terrible music” from the past to prove his point. Specifically he mocks two of my favorite bands of all time, the Archies and the Ohio Express!

Anyway, them’s fighting words. This is the response that flew out of my fingers in about ten seconds. Note how I start my argument with cool, lean logical rebuttals of steely eyed rationality):

“Sugar Sugar” is a fucking great song. Come around here with that kind of talk and we’ll slit your face.

Oh shit, and now you’re gonna talk shit about the fucking Ohio Express? Go scrub your dick with a porcupine!

Bubblegum music was the last bastion of solid hook-filled 3 minute music in an era of bloated FM Radio album cuts! Heavily inspired by both the Family Stone and 60s garage rockers like ? and the Mysterians, and finding the sweet spot of preteen amorousness by singing songs that compared love to playing games like “Simon Says” and “123 Red Light,” there’s a reason those bands were super successful–because you couldn’t get them out of your head.

Plus Joey Levine (who sang for half those bands, and who was super young himself) is a vocal god, with snarls for miles.

Plus the bubblegum bands of yore made anti-Reagan and anti-religion songs under the notice of befuddled adults, not to mention a few thinlyveiled sexual euphemisms and odes to getting high, and that’s pretty damned rebellious for music popular with kids. Let’s not forget that the Monkees, the Jackson 5, Paul Revere & the Raiders, and Milk & Cookies were all considered bubblegum bands, and they all have classic songs far better than anything Frank Zappa or Hendrix ever put out (well, maybe not Milk & Cookies, but they could be argued to be more rebellious). Bands like the Cars and the Ramones really loved these bands and used their tricks, too, sometimes verbatim–and the Sex Pistols, a band as prefabricated as any Monkees, literally wanted to compete with the Bay City Rollers.

Okay, I don’t really want you to slit your face or get porcupine quills in your dick. I’m sorry. I was just getting emotional because your opinions on bubblegum music MAKES ME WANT TO PUNCH A COP!

P.S. “I’m Too Sexy” is fucking amazing too.

I forgot to give him what-for about all the cool mind-splittingly avant-garde psychedelia coming out of those bands, too. But I’ll save that for another rant.

D. M. Collins

D. M. Collins is a journalist and writer based in Los Angeles.

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