OldStand: Kerrang!, July 4, 1998

Take our ink-stained hands and join us at the OldStand, where Jon McMillan goes to remind everyone what an honest-to-goodness music magazine is supposed to look like.

Okay, I’ll admit it: I fell for the cover trick. It’s Kerrang!, right? Of course their list of “100 Coolest Rock Stars” is stupid and subjective and laughably packed with bands whose long-forgotten names elicit cringes of embarrassment among the people who admit to having spent $15.99 on a Limp Bizkit album back in the day. Don’t be so hard on yourself, man: you were thirteen.

But despite the fact that Kerrang! was engineered in a lab to resist careful scrutiny and common sense in equal measure, it’s an easy magazine to like. There’s an insider-only, cultish vibe that seems to reflect those arbitrary passions of youth; the way a band like Coal Chamber (Coal Chamber? Seriously?) can dominate the imagination to the extent that three of its members end up in the top 100. Unless the list is meant to be read as “100 Coolest Rock Stars We Can Think Of Off the Top Of Our Heads,” in which case I’ll stand down.

Warning: You will get worked up for absolutely no reason. And yes, I’m saving the good stuff for after the jump (hint: #1 is…somewhere on the cover). It’s true, however, that Kerrang!‘s independence day special sets up nicely for nostalgists (namely: Scott and me and you, if you’ve made it this far). It’s a perfect time capsule of the post-grunge, pre-nu-metal scene in 1998, which is to say: muddled and unfortunate-in-retrospect. A few goth-y, industrial types; a few electronica stars; some nods to old-school heavy metal gods, and a few ska/punk/skacore dudes to keep things well-rounded. To paraphrase Spinal Tap: “Nobody knew … who they were … or … what they were doing.”

Okay, I can’t resist. Here’s a taste:

28. Mark McGrath
Sugar Ray

Rare indeed is the man who can admit to shitting himself onstage and setting fire to his own pubic hair, and still possess the ability to charm the knickers off a nun. Motormouth vocalist Mark McGrath is such a man. It helps that the guy is sex on a stick, has the most wicked sense of humor in rock and has solc a couple of million albums — but y’know, it’s not right, is it?

For reference, Lemmy from Motorhead is at #71. I take back what I said — Kerrang! is the best.

The rest of the magazine is filled with breathless hype, “news” of dubious provenance, and a thorough set of live reviews. Rocket From the Crypt’s RFTC gets five K’s, which I can only assume is good, and Courtney Love goes off on Billy Corgan. (Also, by popular demand: Click the pictures and, where possible, they will grow!)

How to lose instant credibility: put Kim Gordon five spots behind the chick from Whale.

Although she is kinda slobo humping.

Another good list trick: bury the real list in the mid 40s.

I know, I know: it’s ridiculous.

The top 5: 5. Shirley Manson (Garbage); 4. Jonathan Davis (Korn); 3. Liam Howlett (Prodigy); 2. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana).

I love that Courtney went after Billy in a letter to the “American magazine USA Today.”

Can somebody please translate this letter into the Queen’s English?

Does anybody else find it odd that Lars Ulrich’s pregnant wife gets a callout here?

Notice that Green Day’s Dookie is still hanging around at #26 — a full four years after it was released.

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