The approaching 30th anniversary of Guns N’ Roses 1987 album, “Appetite for Destruction”, and the accompanying fanfare around this event, has pushed me to my limits. I don’t think I have a larger media related pet peeve than the overhyping of the cultural relevance and musical significance of GN’R. I was a teenager in 1987; I remember the record coming out very clearly. How it was received at the time by myself and people I knew was that it was a better than average hair-metal album; superior to Poison, let’s say, but certainly less good than Motley Crue.
The cultural impact of the band was approximately nil at the time. “We’re Not Going to Take It” by Twisted Sister, which came out a few years previous, created about 100 times the stir in my school than anything Guns N’ Roses ever did. A year after “Appetite” was released, “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A. hit us. It would be hard to overstate just how much edgier at the time N.W.A., coming from the same city, seemed as compared to Axl Rose and Duff McKagan. Perhaps because they had a song called “Fuck the Police” while Axl was making lame double-entres comparing his dick to a snake.
What makes the retrospective worship of GN’R all the worse is that the band has had no influence on almost anyone who followed them either. I never hear some new thing on the radio and think, “I can hear the ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ in that”. Never. They came, created little hype, and left in a storm of pancreatitis and unnecessary double albums. They also don’t sound edgier now than they did in 1987; all I hear is 80s hair metal, no more, no less.
I don’t hate GN’R. I am not, for the record, comparing them to the worst of 80s hair metal, something like Warrant or White Lion, say. Axl’s voice has always grated on me, but less so than for instance, that guy from Cinderella’s pipes ever did. I just think making them sound like the Sex Pistols if “God Save the Queen” had sparked actual revolution and ousted the British monarchy is really, really over the top and does any retrospective look at the band no real favours. There was a clip I saw on TV this week in a show about how the influence of GN’R eclipsed the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined times a million, in which the talking heads speculated upon what would have happened had “Appetite for Destruction” not gone mega-platinum. Some rock critic said something about how they would have then done something “politically dangerous” instead. No, I think Axl would probably have moved back to Indiana and waited tables, or become one of L.A.’s numerous bad lifestyle victims if GN’R had never made it, not written a modern day version of Candide.
Just as a reminder, the album the guys on this programme were discussing, as if it were The Anarchist Cookbook set to a hard rockin’ soundtrack, contains such profound nuggets of philosophical wisdom as:
“Got a rattlesnake suitcase under my arm, said I’m a mean machine/I’m drinkin’ gasoline and honey you can make my motor run.”
GN’R were Kiss with a better rhythm section and a worse singer; a less cheesy Whitesnake. They were not – and no one in 1987 would have asserted any differently – some new dawn for rock and roll. I realise than in 2017, almost anything from the 20th century that is pop culturally related can seem wondrous given we live in an age where people watch videos of cats falling out of buckets 43 million times on YouTube, but some proportion still seems necessary. Guns N’ Roses were never anything special. There are better bands from the 80s if you want to place people on pedestals – it wasn’t all Huey Lewis and the News, you know. Like Black Flag, or the Replacements, or Run DMC. All of the aforementioned bands were thousands of times both more influential and just all round better than GN’R. The first two there never even had any real commercial success back then, and thus deserve to be resurrected all that much more. Guns N’ Roses, strangely, have become the most overrated band in the history of popular music. I still struggle to understand how this happened.
You are asshole 🙂 Bla bla bla
Thunderthighs lover says
Kiss were much better than guns n roses actually.
Heh – I actually agree with you 100% about something!
Do you really believe that you possess the musical knowledge to judge Axl Rose as a singer? The man has been praised by great musicians, such as Elton John and Brian May. There is actual evidence of his vocal talent everywhere. For instance, listen to his vocal performance and his vocal range towards the end of this song, especially from 01:45 until the end. Such a breathtaking shift from baritone singing into wailing. Incredible. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o8cbBxDC4M
Vince Choy says
Haha – Elton John and Brian May as the arbitrators of rock music? Seriously? Elton John, and Queen, were, and remain, Princess Diana associated, gay-balls, appalling radio pop. Moron.
And yet he sucks and I can’t stand listening to his faggy voice.
Totally agree 100%. The most overrated band ever. I never understood what so great about this band. Totally overhyped. And back at the time I remember it as you said: “…better than average hair-metal album; superior to Poison, let’s say, but certainly less good than Motley Crue.” I totally agree on this, because as I recall this was the overall reaction from my friends. My own personal opinion was a little bit different though, because I did prefer Poision over Guns n’ Roses.
Then I would say that just about anyone possess the musical knowledge to judge Axl Rose, and I would say that his voice is pretty annoying.
So where is this hype coming from, who is creating it? I can think of 100 bands that I rather listen to than Guns n’ Roses.
Vince Choy says
which song? the link is malfunctioning.
Agreed. The early lineup, which people usually hold on to for some reason and that’s what their hype is based on, didn’t even last long. And it wasn’t like other short lived bands like Nirvana or The Doors, because in those bands someone died. Not in GN’R. The first album was pretty good, but after that too many ballads and bloated music videos. I’m more of an Aerosmith fan. Bigger catalogue, longer spanning career, and way more influence and importance. And their just one example. Another problem with Guns N’ Roses is too much of a “cool” factor, which is overrated logic when judging music. They became popular again with modern youth culture for some reason, you see their merchandise at hot topic and Spencer’s for example. Most kids now probably don’t even know most of their songs, strange since their catalogue is rather small.
Media hype in general is rather ridiculous. A lot of stuff gets overhyped and if exposed enough then people will follow through and get into it whether it’s good or not, or just mediocre. That’s how marketing works in the American consumer culture. Then everyone tries to cash in and wet their beaks a little.
I was a ups driver in Akron oh in late 80s, when g n r hit the airwaves. 12 hour days every day. I would carry a small radio in truck and g n r stood out from the other 50 hair metal rock bands in rotation, not as something new or different, just that their songs had more dimensional sound and a this is how the street feels, like being in a truck on a hot 90 degree day and running in and out of office buildings with 70 lb boxes downtown in a hot brown uniform every 3 minutes, keeping my mouth shut, saying thank you. Yeah, I liked all the bands in rotation, hair bands ,stones, classic rockers, but it was always a plus if I punched the pedal , turned the knob , and g n r was on singing sweet child or jungle. I was in my mid 30’s pounding the hot pavement , but when g n r came on I was back in high school cruisin’ for chics in a big brown ups truck. The other bands seemed more scripted while g n r seemed like they were playing there hearts out, blowing the other bands off the stage in a battle of the bands.
Trent Archibald says
Walker- that is what u r. Show me a band from the 80’s (other than Metallica) that can still fill a stadium with 100000 people, you argument is flawed -Trent Arcinald
Bro i can name a shit load of bands that could fill a stadium with 100,000+ people
AC/DC (back in black released in 1980 which really put them mainstream)
Ozzy Osbourne (solo career)
Red Hot Chilli Peppers
bitch shut your mouth up
you probably get home everyday from your shit job after working a 9-5 and wank to a picture of axl rose taking dick from every gnr memeber there ever was.
Ever hear of iron maiden dummy
GNR was 80’s (which was an extension of 70’s) mediocrity with some low brow attitude but when you have millions worshipping Kiss or Metallica as gods, who cares? Only 5 percent of anything matters and you need to lower it to 2 percent when you are discussing popular music. Just remember there are some damn good Hispanic accordion players out there that you are overlooking. Bands that mattered: Steely Dan, Traffic, Derek & the Dominoes, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Rolling Stones (1965-74), Police, Black Crowes, James Gang with Walsh, Black Crowes, Beach Boys, Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield Better Days. No gimmicks or hype just quality.
Fabio Fantastico says
personally I think their music and image have aged badly. Everything about them was so over the top and exaggerated to the point of parody. They were more spinal tap than spinal tap.
Fabio Fantastico says
Yes they are overrated . And over the top but no in a good way.
Agree.gnr were just a normal 80s hair metal band with some influence of brirish classic rock and punk rock but MTV massivly primoted them by video clips because.and we cant ignore that they had just on good album you cant copmare them we legends like rolling stons,beatles,queen or pink floyds
Also when talking overrated bands. The band “Ghost” is another one, but that’s another discussion.
Hair-metal wasn’t a term until Nirvana hit big.
Lol Nothing cheesy about Run DMC. ?
Wrndea Mitsh says
Ur a dope
John H Hancock says
You are clueless, simply clueless. Gnr had the world in their hands in the 80s, if you didn’t know that I doubt you were there. I wasen’t their either but I was younger in the 80s and I recall the hype and airtime they got.
This is so simple, it boils down to you hating Gnr because of perfect Axl Rose (ASK ANY woman being a teenager in the 80-sone if they recall names like Bon Jovi and Axl Rose, and every guy wanted to be like Slash) the latter has been praised by BB King amongst others.
You are a fool, a damn fool if you think Gnr and Metallica didn’t literally own the late 80s.
They were huge in every single country.
Do research, check newspaper prints, check old TV news clips, look at attendances, look at albums sold and money earned bewteen mid / late 80s to early 90s, ask anyone born in the 60s who they were.
You simply have no clue and you’re just childish.
I’d grow up if I were you.
This guy has no taste and doesn’t appreciate Slash’s expert guitar playing and legendary guitar/amp tone. While everybody else in the 80’s was shredding playing fast with their fingers, he was melodic, soulful, had great power and ability. This was a Blues/Classic Rock based approach that had been absent for a number of years. Gibson wasn’t even making a Les Paul guitar at that time. Slash had to go get a clone custom made by a Luthier. Seymour Duncan designed the pickups for it and you can still buy them. The first time he plugged it in it changed the game back to the raw power of 60’s and 70’s.
I was there and am also a lifelong guitar player and music nut. Slash’s guitar playing didn’t magically disappear either. Listen to Boulevard Of Broken Hearts. FYI I always thought Motley Crue, The Clash and The Sex Pistols sucked as the author seems to praise them. You can’t argue with that madness and try to reason with him. He has no ear for tone, melody, sense of emotion, power, harmony or anything close to that. AFD sold over 28 million copies for a very good reason. Gibson, Seymour Duncan, Marshall, Ernie Ball and a whole host of other vendors all know what Slash did to the guitar playing world.
John: Holy Kool-aid drinker. Open your ears. Slash shredded…a lot! His solos were less song oriented than many of his peers. His playing was way pver-the -top in many of their songs. Hell, Mick Mars and Richie Sambora had better melodic, bluesy instincts.
.. So did George Lynch, Mark Kendall and Warren DeMartini! (BtW: They have great sponsors, too).
John: You’re a 🎩 licker. Slash’s playing is a hot mess livd. And he should upgrade his wardrobe, He looks like he just walked out of an ’80s time machine.
GnR were a critics wet dream because they weren’t pretty like Bon Jovi (like that should be a crime). Remember, “critics like Elvis Costello because they look like Elvis Costello.” – David Lee Roth
I like GnR, but outside of Nirvana they are by far the most overrated rock band ever.
Def Jim says
I was a hard rock fan in this era, too and I fully agree. G ‘ n’ R were better than their sunset strip peers for sure, but those bands weren’t that great. A huge peeve of mine is when a band that has ONLY ONE STRONG LP gets rock n roll hall of fame status. You gotta do much better for much longer imo.
Happiness is not possible says
Guns n Roses ridiculously overblown, sexual machismo was already outdated in the 1980s . For example ‘Come on bitch I have a use for you” to . These days their attitudes seem positively reactionary. Their music has not aged well at all. Guns n Roses were always shocking in a very deliberate and cheap way, with not a lot of thought or intelligence put into it.
Mikael wunderfull says
Boz Scaggs is better than Guns N Roses, the man is a genius.
No doubt, Guns and Roses suck ass!
I still wonder how they reached such ethereal status. Slash is a great guitarist and added a new dimension, but by my count, they really only put out 4 albums. Illusion counts as two of them. They were really only together about 5 or 6 years too. I mean, had they maintained that for at least a decade and a few more albums minimum, I’d say they were HOF status. They treated their fans like crap and only showed up half the time. I know rock n roll is irreverent but…come on guys. Metallica they are not. And not even remotely in Maiden or Priest’s world.
666 the Number of the Beast says
Jimi Hendrix only put out 3 albums, I guess by your logic he doesn’t belong in the Rock Hall of Fame (not that I’m saying Guns is at the same level as JHE). Which itself is kind of a dumb thing to argue about, because a “rock n roll hall of fame” is about the most UN-rock’n’roll thing there is. Like, it would be an honor to turn down that offer. Nothing says young and virile like belonging in a museum. Very anti-authoritarian to appeal to a group of stuffy, up-tight “experts.”
Yeah, Guns are not Metallica, Maiden, or Priest. Guns N’ Roses was blues-based hard-rock. Metallica is thrash metal, and Maiden and Priest are NWOBHM. They’re different genres; obviously they’re not the same sound, look, or theme. (Although Priest and GnR probably were not that different thematically in late 80s, except maybe Priest used more synths at the time). and I love Judas Priest, but there’s a lot of really simple (yet great) songs they’ve made. (Breaking the Law is one of the goto riffs for newbies) Guns ’n Roses’ music is a lot more complex to play on guitar than a lot of Priests’
Felonious Junk says
They epitomized a type, of cock, rock sexual machismo that was already ridiculous back then and just designed for juvenile shock value “Turn around Bitch I have a use for you”. oh God how dumb.
some guy says
I fully agree that GNR has aged badly and I simply don’t see it as relevant music 30+ years later. The music doesn’t sound relevant to the world as it is today. As a teenager, I was a big fan. But right now, somehow almost all of GNR is really cringey and cheesy to me. It possesses a strictly period quality, not a timeless quality.
(I found this old article through google search, but thought I’d leave a comment, as this is something that came across my mind the other day and stuck with me.)
Andy M. says
Could not agree more, they have “nothing” that makes them stand out and have tried so hard to be more than they really are and to sound like some of the greats but fail miserably. How much shit can I thrown in one song like Welcome to The Jungle, a disjointed and poor attempt that they were clearly TRYING to make as some sort of “classic” rock song Thanks to sporting events, it gets play time, but otherwise is crap.