Sunday, November 1, 2020

Best Rock Band

Let's talk about what this is, and what it is not. 

This is an effort to mathematically determine the "best" rock band of my early childhood, which spans from the late 1970's through the entire decade of the 1980's. 

For this challenge, I selected 15 top mainstream bands, and each were allowed to submit their 10 best songs.  All 150 songs were then ranked best to worst through a process of continuing to split the segmented list into halves.  Note that rock bands are allowed to sing (love) ballads and some have been included in their top 10 songs and are judged by their overall quality, not as a pure rock song.

Exclusions (not meeting the inclusion guidelines)
  1. Excluded from this list are bands that were more pop than rock.
  2. Single artists are omitted who fail to meet the criteria of being a band
  3. Bands that could not compile a list of 10 competitive songs were excluded, even if they had several power anthems.
An included band then received two scores:
  • Total score for all of their songs which represents the overall dominance of the band to have multiple hits
  • Total score for a bands top 3 songs which represents the power of band to have mega hits 
Scores for each category were ranked and summed to produce the overall order of best rock band. Yes, I understand that these two categories are mathematically correlated (the top 3 is part of the top 10) but this is how I chose to represent longevity while giving points for substantially big hits.  I understand that this was a mathematical effort but that it still contains a large amount of subjectivity with how I selected the bands, the songs and ranking of the songs.  Life is not perfect. 

The best part about my list, is that it is my list.  While you may appreciate what I have assembled, you will likely disagree somewhere along the way.  The uniqueness of each person in this world is one of the many things that fascinates me. It's what makes lists of this nature, so much fun.

Going into this project I also had speculated how the results may look and have noted that as a preblog ranking.  So, enjoy the results and feel free to debate.

15. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band - A Detroit based artist, Bob Seger was part of several groups before putting together the Silver Bullet Band in 1973.  Their songs deal with things that the everyday, blue collar worker can relate to.  Most of their mega fame came in a 4-record span from 1976 to 1982 with ten top 25 hits.  In total, Seger would have 7 studio albums with the Silver Bullet Band, with the most recent release coming in 2017.  Their last big hit would be a chart topper as Shakedown from Beverly Hills Cop would peak at #1.  Seger is one of the world's best selling artists of all time, with record sales in excess of 75 million and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.  Preblog rank: 15

14. Chicago - Chicago was formed fittingly in Chicago in 1967, originally going by the Chicago Transit Authority.  With a wide range of members over the years, they have released 37 albums over the last 6 decades.  Of this total, 11 would reach the top 10 in the US and amazingly four #1 albums in a row in the mid 1970's.  Along with album success, they have had 31 singles that reached the top 10 in the US and three that reached the top.  While they did have success before my childhood, they still reigned supreme well throughout the entire decade of the 1980's.  They have sold 40 million albums and were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.   They are second only to The Beach Boys in Billboard singles among American bands and have had 20 top ten hits, including 3 number ones.  Preblog rank: 7

13. Aerosmith - Formed in Boston in 1970, this band would grow into enormous fame, being billed as the America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band.   Lead vocalist Steven Tyler is pop icon for his energy on stage as well as his sense of fashion. Along with Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer and Brad Whitford, Aerosmith have released 15 albums between 1973 and 2012 and own two number one albums with Get and Grip in 1993 and Nine Lives in 1997.  With eight top 10 singles, it took them until 1998 to reach their only US #1 single with I Don't Want to Miss a Thing from the Armageddon soundtrack.  Pump stands as their most successful album with three top 10's with Love in an Elevator, Janie's Got a Gun and What It Takes.  They have been on 34 tours including a current residency in Las Vegas. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Preblog rank: 9

12. Motley Crue - Formed in Los Angeles in 1981, the peak of the Crue coincided with the big-hair-glam-rock-era of the latter part of the decade.  With 9 studio albums and 34 tours, they are part of the 100 million album sales club.  They may only have had 4 hits in the US top 25, they had more success with nine top 10 Billboard albums.  Their biggest hit song would come in 1989 with Dr. Feelgood, which was certified as gold.  They would put on an amazing live show, featuring such firsts as an elevated, rotating drum set where drummer Tommy Lee would play upside down.  They have had several break up and reunions with the most recent reunion coming in 2018. The band recently recorded new material for the Netflix rockumentary The Dirt.  They were set to co-headline a tour with Def Leppard in 2020 before COVID-19.  Preblog rank: 3

11. Queen - A British rock band formed in 1970, Queen was fronted by Freddie Mercury.   With some initial success in the late 70's, they would go on to be one of the biggest stadium rock bands of the 1980s, which was highlighted by an epic performance at Live Aid in 1985.  Queen has over 200 million record sales and where inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.  All 15 of their studio albums have gone gold or platinum with 7 of them reaching number 1 in the UK.   They have had 21 top 10 singles in the UK, including three number ones. Their biggest hit was Bohemian Rhapsody which went to number one twice; 1975 and 1991.  Sadly, the band lost their lead singer Mercury in 1991 at age 45 due to complications from AIDS.  Preblog rank: 10

10. Journey - Formed in San Francisco in 1973, this band would go on to be ultra successful after hiring lead vocalist Steve Perry in 1978.  They would take a hiatus from 1987 to the mid 90's before making a comeback with their last album featuring Perry in 1995, who would have to leave the band a few years later with health issues.  Journey would produce 14 studio albums, including 3 albums that made the US top 10 and have a single chart topper with Escape in 1981.  With 14 top 25 hits, they never had a #1 single, finishing as high as #2 with Open Arms that held that position in the charts for six weeks. Journey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the class of 2017.  The current version of Journey still tours and features a front font man Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, who was found on YouTube and sounds amazingly like Perry.  Preblog rank: 4

9. Heart - Formed in 1970 in Seattle as White Heart, this band would turn into the one we know in 1973 when sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson took center stage sharing lead vocals.  The band has had 16 studio albums including 4 that would be top 5 in the US from 1980 to 1990.  They did have a string of three albums in a row that peaked at #1 (Heart in 1985), #2 (Bad Animals in 1987) and #3 Brigade combining to be 15x platinum in sales.  They never really had that much singles success as they only had eight top 10 singles, but did have two 1's in 1986 (These Dreams) and 1987 (Alone).  With over 35 million records sold worldwide, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.  Preblog rank: 14

8. Van Halen - Formed in California in 1972, Van Halen would go on to have success with two different lead singers from David Lee Roth to Sammy Hagar and back to David Lee Roth.  The Roth Years had a little more pop to their sound while with Hagar on lead vocals it would be more true rock.  Overall they have 12 studio albums which have sold 56 million copies in the US, which ranks them in the top 20 of all time.  Amazingly their last 11 albums have reached the top 6 in the US, with four in a row going to the top from 1986 to 1995 with Sammy Hagar. Like Heart, Van Halen had more album success than single success as they only had two top 5 hits, one with David Lee Roth (#1 Jump in 1983) and one with Sammy Hagar (#3 Why Can't This be Love in 1986).  Anecdotally, most people consider their best album to be 1984 which went diamond, but only peaked at #2 on the charts because it was up against Michael Jackson's Thriller which spent a record 37 weeks at number one on the Billboard 200.  The world lost a great guitarist -- maybe one of the best ever -- recently with the passing of Eddie Van Halen.  He was only 65 years old and fought a long battle with throat cancer.  The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.  Preblog rank: 13

7. Bon Jovi - With their famous roots in New Jersey, Bon Jovi was officially formed in 1983 and rose to fame during the MTV generation.  They would go on to sell 100 million albums and continue to be a household name today.  Their 15th studio album is expected to be released later this year, of which 11 reached the top 10 and six were chart toppers.   They have had equal success singles with 10 top 10's and four #1's ("You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' on a Prayer" in 1986, "Bad Medicine" in 1988 and "I'll Be There for You" in 1989).  They have not had a top 100 charted hit since 2009 but their popularity is still there as proven by the $250M their 2013 tour grossed.  They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.  Preblog rank: 5

6. Metallica - Labeled as a heavy metal band, Metallica was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles by James Hetfield Lars Ulrich.  With 10 studio albums over the last 40 years, they have sold over 125 million albums worldwide.  Their last six albums have all gone to number one and are all platinum or multi-platinum in sales.  They are 35th on the list of best selling music artists of all time.  Being heavy metal, they never had any luck on the Billboard Hot 100 list but did have 10 number ones on the Mainstream Rock chart.  They have won nine Grammy Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.  Preblog rank: 6

5. Poison - Formed in 1983 in Pennsylvania by Brett Michaels, Bobby Dall and Rikki Rocket, Poison would rise to immediate stardom with their first studio album in August of 1986.  Though releasing 7 total studio albums, it was on the power of their first three (Look What the Cat Dragged, Open Up and Say... Ahh! and Flesh & Blood) that they would have most of their success over a four year period.  All three albums reached at least 3× Platinum in the US and were all in the top 3 of the US charts.  Based mostly on the strength of those three albums, the band has managed to sell 45 million records worldwide.  They also had major success with singles, posting eight top 15 marks in the charts, including a single number one in 1988 with Every Rose Has Its Thorn.  They reach this level in our ranking on the pure strength of a small number of monster hits that carried the rest of their entries.  Ironically their second highest chart placing single, Unskinny Bop (#3 in 1990) is considered one the bands worst songs.  Little known tidbit that when looking for a guitarist in 1985, Poison auditioned Slash (Guns 'N Roses) but selected C.C. DeVille instead.  Preblog rank: 11

4. AC/DC - Formed in Sydney Australia in 1973 by two Scottish-born brothers, AC/DC has been rocking for almost 50 years with new material currently underway.  Though they have had several lineup changes, including a brief period where Axl Rose replaced Malcolm Young who was forced into retirement due to early-onset dementia, the AC/DC heavy metal brand remains strong.  They have sold more than 200 million records worldwide with 17 studio albums, scoring 8 US top 10's and two number one albums (For Those About to Rock We Salute You in 1981 and Black Ice 37 years later).  Back in Black has sold 50 million copies worldwide, making it the highest-selling album by any band. They have also had success with singles, posting 14 top 10's and four times their singles have topped the charts in the US.  AC/DC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.  Preblog rank: 8.

3. Foreigner - This British–American rock band was originally formed in 1976 between London and New York City.  Another band that has had changing members over time, only Mick Jones remains from the original Foreigner lineup.  They have released 9 studio albums between 1979 and 2009, with their first five albums reaching the Billboard top 5.  Their 4th album, named 4, was their only LP to reach number 1, but at 6x platinum, ranks only behind Double Vision which is 7x platinum.  Worldwide they have sold more than 80 million records.  They have had 13 top 25 singles and reached #1 in the US with "I Want to Know What Love Is" in 1984.  They still have not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, something that seems to baffle a lot of people.  Preblog rank: 12

2. Guns N' Roses - The newest of all bands making the list, Guns N' Roses was formed in 1985 as a hard rock band from Los Angeles.  They hit the ground running with their debut album, Appetite for Destruction (1987) that would go on to sell 18 million copies (18x platinum) and still rank as the 7th most sales of a single album in history.  With only 6 studio albums (2 of which were released simultaneously) they don't have the most content, but all their albums have reached at least the top 4.  They have topped the charts twice (Use Your Illusion II was at #2 because Use Your Illusion I was #1).  Overall they have over 100 million in album sales.  Being hard rock, their singles did not have the same success as their album sales, but they still have six top 10 singles.  People argue that if they had released Welcome to the Jungle first, that they would have had two more top singles as "It's So Easy" and "Mr. Brownstone" (UK Only) were released first.  "Sweet Child o' Mine" would be the bands only #1 hit, coming in 1988.   GNR was the ultimate stadium rock concert band as they played hundreds of shows with their album tours.   The light shined very brightly for this band, but was short lived as they could never reproduce the success of Illusion and Slash would leave the band in the mid 90's.  Fans thought that the differences were too great to ever see GNR together again but were rewarded as GNR got back together for the Not in this Lifetime tour in 2016.  The tour wrapped as the third-highest-grossing tour of all time with sales over $500 million dollars.  They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 in their first year of eligibility.  Preblog rank: 1

1. Def Leppard - Sitting on top of the list as Best Rock Band is Def Leppard.  This British band was formed in 1977 in Sheffield, England.  With only moderate success of their first two albums in the UK, it was High 'n' Dry,  their third album and hit "Bringin' On the Heartbreak" that gave them a presence in the United States to the MTV generation.  But the explosion of popularity for Def Leppard came with the release of Pyromania in 1983.  The album would peak at #2 (behind Thriller) but would sell ten million copies.  The album would have four top 10 singles including two charter toppers in a row with rock anthems Photograph and Rock of Ages.  Their follow up release, Hysteria, would have even more success as it did reach #1 and would go 12x Platinum in sales.  The album took three years to hit stores as the band was also dealing with Rick Allen’s accident that resulted in the loss of his left arm.  Woman, Animal, Love Bites, Rocket, Armageddon It and the title track Hysteria all charted in the top 10, but it was Pour Some Sugar On Me that would become the hit that most people would remember them by.  Their 5th album Adrenalize would also rise to the top of the charts in 1992 proving their sustained success.  To date, they have five #1 singles, two #1 albums and have sold more than 100 million records worldwide.  They are one of only five rock bands with two  studio albums selling more than ten million copies each in the US.  They were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.  Preblog rank: 2

Post script
  • After compiling the list I realize that I overlooked Huey Lewis and the News and Duran Duran.  
  • I did miss a few Aerosmith singles in my research that may have made their top 10 but would not have moved the needle on their overall ranking, which included Livin' on the Edge and Amazing
  • You will see that I have omitted The Eagles and Kiss, who had the majority of their popularity prior to 1980.
  • The Police probably should have been considered.  
  • My perception was that U2 had more success in the 90's and were not included in this research, even though later realizing that Joshua Tree was released in 1987 and Rattle and Hum in 1988.  This does not change the fact that I don't like U2.  Remember it is my list.   
  • Only a single band was removed after the initial analysis as their score was so far below the nearest band and that was REO Speedwagon.
Individual Song Rankings 

1. Pour Some Sugar on Me - Def Leppard
2. You Could Be Mine - Guns N’ Roses
3. Wherever I May Roam - Metallica
4. You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi
5. You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC
6. Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
7. Nothin' But A Good Time - Poison
8. Kickstart My Heart - Motley Crue
9. Jump - Van Halen
10. Juke Box Hero - Foreigner

11. Livin' On A Prayer - Bon Jovi
12. Thunderstruck - AC/DC
13. Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N’ Roses
14. Rock of Ages - Def Leppard
15. Dude (Looks Like A Lady) - Aerosmith
16. Urgent - Foreigner
17. Talk Dirty To Me - Poison
18. Dr. Feelgood - Motley Crue
19. Enter Sandman - Metallica
20. Never - Heart

21. Photograph - Def Leppard
22. Head Games - Foreigner
23. Foolin' - Def Leppard
24. Nightrain - Guns N’ Roses
25. Back in Black - AC/DC
26. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
27. Stranded - Heart
28. Ride The Wind - Poison
29. Separate Ways - Journey
30. Hot for Teacher - Van Halen

31. Cold As Ice - Foreigner
32. Mr. Brownstone - Guns N’ Roses
33. Look Away - Chicago
34. Rocket - Def Leppard
35. Radio Ga Ga - Queen
36. Love In An Elevator - Aerosmith
37. Turn the Page - Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
38. It’s So Easy - Guns N’ Roses
39. When It's Love - Van Halen
40. Fallen Angel - Poison

41. Bringin' On the Heartbreak - Def Leppard
42. Money Talks - AC/DC
43. Double Vision - Foreigner
44. Alone - Heart
45. Paradise City - Guns N’ Roses
46. Wanted Dead Or Alive - Bon Jovi
47. I Want it All - Queen
48. Whiskey in the Jar - Metallica
49. Any Way You Want It - Journey
50. Turn The Page - Metallica

51. Every Rose Has Its Thorn - Poison
52. Almost Paradise - Heart
53. Hells Bells - AC/DC
54. The Unforgiven - Metallica
55. We Can Last Forever - Chicago
56. Animal - Def Leppard
57. Panama - Van Halen
58. Under Pressure - Queen
59. Feels Like the First Time - Foreigner
60. You're The Inspiration - Chicago

61. Highway to Hell - AC/DC
62. Against the Wind - Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
63. We Will Rock You - Queen
64. I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love - Chicago
65. Sweet Emotion - Aerosmith
66. Why Can't This be Love - Van Halen
67. I Want to Know What Love Is - Foreigner
68. Wheel in the Sky - Journey
69. I Don't Want To Miss A Thing - Aerosmith
70. Blaze Of Glory - Bon Jovi

71. I Want Action - Poison
72. Until It Sleeps - Metallica
73. Open Arms - Journey
74. You'll Accompany Me - Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
75. Will You Still Love Me? - Chicago
76. Girls, Girls, Girls - Motley Crue
77. Another One Bites The Dust - Queen
78. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N’ Roses
79. Hollywood Nights - Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
80. For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) - AC/DC

81. Bad Medicine - Bon Jovi
82. Shout at the Devil - Motley Crue
83. Sad But True - Metallica
84. Faithfully - Journey
85. What About Love? - Heart
86. Hot Blooded - Foreigner
87. Old Time Rock And Roll - Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
88. Nothing Else Matters - Metallica
89. Let It Rock - Bon Jovi
90. Shakedown - Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

91. We are the Champions - Queen
92. Wild Side - Motley Crue
93. Janie's Got A Gun - Aerosmith
94. I'll Be There For You - Bon Jovi
95. These Dreams - Heart
96. Mainstreet - Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
97. Without You - Motley Crue
98. Women - Def Leppard
99. For Whom The Bell Tolls - Metallica
100. Dream On - Aerosmith

101. Rock and Roll Never Forgets - Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
102. Say You Will - Foreigner
103. November Rain - Guns N’ Roses
104. Barracuda - Heart
105. Poundcake - Van Halen
106. I Won't Forget You - Poison
107. Who Will You Run To - Heart
108. Raise Your Hands - Bon Jovi
109. Hard Habit To Break - Chicago
110. Dreams - Van Halen

111. Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.) - Motley Crue
112. Waiting for a Girl Like You - Foreigner
113. What It Takes - Aerosmith
114. Shoot to Thrill - AC/DC
115. My Michelle - Guns N’ Roses
116. Right Now - Van Halen
117. Hysteria - Def Leppard
118. You Really Got Me - Van Halen
119. One - Metallica
120. Smokin' in the Boys Room - Motley Crue

121. Runnin' With the Devil - Van Halen
122. Rocket Queen - Guns N’ Roses
123. Living in Sin - Bon Jovi
124. Let There be Rock - AC/DC
125. Walk This Way - Aerosmith
126. Love Bites - Def Leppard
127. Home Sweet Home - Motley Crue
128. Stay The Night - Chicago
129. I'll Be Alright Without You - Journey
130. Something To Believe In - Poison

131. Nothin' At All - Heart
132. Love Me Tomorrow - Chicago
133. Send Her My Love - Journey
134. Like a Rock - Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
135. Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) - Motley Crue
136. Hard To Say I'm Sorry - Chicago
137. Jaded - Aerosmith
138. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - AC/DC
139. Amazing - Aerosmith
140. Look What the Cat Dragged In - Poison

141. Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
142. Night Moves - Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
143. Always - Bon Jovi
144. All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You - Heart
145. Who's Crying Now - Journey
146. Fat Bottomed Girls - Queen
147. Life Goes On - Poison
148. Along Comes A Woman - Chicago
149. Feeling That Way - Journey
150. Somebody to Love - Queen