Lists, we all love lists. We’re encouraged to list our goals for the day, wives have “honey-do” lists for husbands, we have top 10 this-or-that lists, and there is even a book of lists! MSNBC has been running a series of articles called 5Top in which they list the top movies, books, music, movie trailers, cheerleader songs and more! (as they advertise it). One of their lists is Five singers who ruined pop music. Jim Morrison is one, and the reasons cited for this honorific are (I should list them, shouldn’t I?): his crooning “surrounded poetic pretensions and simplistic chords,” his legacy is bellowing, and that he encouraged self-important rock singers who use deep intonations to sound “profound.” Offenders in this group are (here’s the list) Eddie Vedder, Scott Stapp, Michael Hutchence, Bono, Dave Gahan, and Bob Geldof. What? No, Mark Lanegan?
Lists are shortcuts for a journalist to fill out a daily column and the lists themselves exist at the pride and prejudices of the listmaker. There are a couple of fallacies in this list; the first is considering Morrison a crooner and lumping him in with such milquetoast singers of lilting ululations such as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Counting Jim Morrison as a “pop” singer is another. The is no depth to pop music; it’s a sugary confection for those looking for a snap, crackle, “POP” in their music, with no nutritional value. If Jim Morrison ruined pop music, good. The results are better than if he hadn’t.
What did Morrison say about his own singing? Here’s a part from his autobiographical poem “As I Look Back”, written while he was in Paris. “Elvis had sex-wise/mature voice at 19./Mine still retains the/nasal whine of a/repressed adolescent/minor squeaks and furies/an interesting singer/at best-a scream/or a sick croon. Nothing/in-between.”
The other four singers who ruined pop music are David Bowie, Whitney Houston, Paula Abdula, and Steve Marriott.
Originally published October 7, 2009.