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How To Decide Who Is “The Best Band”

People will always debate which band is better than another.  Those opinions are entirely subjective.  To truly figure out who “the best bands” are, you take things down to a common denominator and work from there.

Hulton Archive, Getty Images

There is one true common denominator with bands and that is “to get their music heard”.  That is truly it.  You could ask any musician and that is what they want.  Now, album sales, merch sales and ticket sales are a huge by product of that (along with other things that are a little harder to calculate like t.v. appearances and amount of groupies).  Now remember bands are not just an outlet for creative expression, they are also a business.   Pearl Jam wouldn’t have had the freedom to release their eleventh album, if Eddie Vedder had to work in a skate shop to make ends meet. So at the end of the day, you can slice things into “best new band”, “best musicians”, “best band with a “G” in their name, but the true measure of a band, is absolutely, positively their success because they got their music heard by the most people.

Let’s look at some examples and here’s a great one.  Van Halen with Sammy Hagar was a better band than Van Halen with David Lee Roth.  Sure, now it seems that the bands legacy is the Roth years, by the band sold WAY more albums and tickets with Sammy at the front.  Here’s one you’ll hate.  Creed was a better band than Pantera.  Once again, as you look back, Pantera will have a longer legacy, but Creed clearly meant more to more people, at the time.  So, let’s slice that down to “Best Metal Band”.  Sorry, Pantera still doesn’t rate, your winner their would be Iron Maiden.

So who’s the best overall rock band of all time?  Easy, it’s The Beatles.  No band every got their music into the ears of more people than the Beatles.  Even then, if we change this to best “artist” and include solo acts as well as bands, The Beatles lose badly to Elvis.

How about the “best hard rock band of 2013″ (2014 isn’t over, so we never know what’s coming)?  That band would be Avenged Sevenfold.

I kind of bring this up because some twonk was arguing with me over the lineup at the Asking Alexandria concert.  I believe he thought August Burns Red was a “better” band.  The answer is NO.  They may be harder, or more technically proficient or more able to balance on one leg, but they’re not “better”.  They simply aren’t getting their music out to the people as well as Asking Alexandria are.  It doesn’t matter if you look at it from a creative or dollar aspect, they are being outperformed by the headliner.  You may “prefer” them all you want, but you would be among a much smaller group of people than the ones who are Asking Alexandria fans.

Michael Buckner, Getty Images

Here’s another great one from our own FMX Purple Party.  The bands all wanted to play, but they wanted to jockey for their time slots (I personally don’t think time slot=prestige but a lot of bands still do). Well apparently Hellyeah’s manager (or someone) took exception to them playing before The Toadies.  Well, it was our hero, Vinnie Paul, who stepped in and kept things from going sideways and told them to quit kicking up a fuss, that in Texas, The Toadies are huge.

Now, before I close out let’s look at what people will throw out.  It’s known as a “straw man” argument. It’s when people through in a factor that isn’t entirely relevant to prove their point.  They will say something like, “well then you’re saying One Direction is a better band than Avenged”.  Actually, in that context, it would be mostly true.  The fact is, I would not include them in an argument because they are not rock and they are technically not a band, but rather a “singing group”.

The problem with critics is ALL opinions are subjective.  The only true way to measure about is how well they get their music out to the world.  Until everyone starts giving it away free and plays free shows, what the audience puts their dollars up for, truly makes the recipient “the best band”.

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