The 10 Biggest Band Beefs Of 2011
Back in the day, when two artists didn’t like each other, they’d deal with it in relatively low-profile ways: A snippy backstage comment, or a pointed interview comment. Maybe they’d toss in a lyrical jab, the way Lynyrd Skynyrd did toward Neil Young on “Sweet Home Alabama,” but that would be just about it. That’s all changed. If, say, the Kurt Cobain/Axl Rose VMA-backstage kerfuffle had happened today, the resounding Twitterpocalypse would have the over-capacity whale showing up for three solid days whenever you tried to reload the site. And every time an artist is even vaguely annoyed at something another artist says or does, they seem to get on their blackberries to air it out. Impulse control, after all, is a tough thing to master when you’ve got a computer sitting in front of you and a few hundred thousand followers eager to soak up whatever you might give them. Meanwhile, sites like ours live for these instantaneous bursts of conflict because, honestly, who doesn’t love reading about this stuff? So here we are: The unranked list of 2011’s biggest, dumbest, best inter-band squabbles.
AVALANCHES VS. BON IVER. As you'd imagine, this one started with Twitter. Specifically, it started when whichever Avalanch controls the Aussie DJ collective's Twitter account took Justin Vernon and his band to task for appearing in a Bushmill's ad: "endor$ing a product with proven devastating health risks is ok? a product which kills 100k p/a in the US alone..man kids look up to you. # rememberwhenitwascoolNOTtosellout" Vernon, for his part, made sure to point out that he wasn't mad and did his best to launch an actual discussion with the group, but that part is way less interesting.
COMMON VS. DRAKE. Nobody really saw this coming: Common, a man who built his name on being one of the sweetest and most thoughtful and generally softest men in rap, taking Drake to task on his track "Sweet" for singing too much and for being soft. Common threw a couple of soft-batch subliminal jabs at Drizzy on "Sweet," then admitted that Drake was his target in an interview a little while later. Gossip-sleuth types quickly figured out that Common might be pissed about Drake getting too close to his ex-ladyfriend Serena Williams, making this one of the most fascinating rapper/rapper/tennis star love triangles ever. Still, it's a bit sad to see Com reduced to this level of TMZ-bait nearly two decades after he stood toe-to-toe with a peaking Ice Cube on "The Bitch In Yoo."
GALLAGHER VS. GALLAGHER. This one has presumably been going on since long before any of us ever heard of Oasis, and it came to a head when Noel stormed out on his little brother and his band in 2009. But as both bros embark on their post-Oasis careers, the eyebrow-fur continues to fly, and both Gallaghers are absolutely looking back in anger. (See what I did there?) This year, both Gallaghers filed legal action against each other, mostly as a way to call each other assholes in the most public way possible. Because when Twitter turns out to be too cerebral, there's always the legal system.
SARA QUIN VS. ODD FUTURE. Tyler and his Odd Future buddies rose from Tumblr obscurity to actual, factual fame with ridiculous speed, and that was partly because they were the rare shock act that actually shocks: Smart, talented kids who throw around homophobic slurs and rape jokes with demented glee. Naturally, they didn't sit right with everyone, and one half of Tegan And Sara posted a poised but passionate attack on the group and, more specifically, those paying positive attention to the group on her duo's website. Tyler didn't help his case when he offered Quin "some hard dick" on Twitter.
CHRISTOPHER OWENS VS. LANA DEL REY. Another quickly-snuffed Twitter debacle kicked off when Girls frontman Chrisopher Owens, annoyed that hype-cycle darling Lana Del Rey appeared on the British show Later With Jools Holland before his band had been booked, voiced his frustration online: "Yo, you fucked up Jools." Within a day, Owens apologized and explained, claiming both "I got jealous" and "I don't hate you." That jealousy might have some merit. Owens made our favorite album of the year, but LDR is still the one who got booked on the first Saturday Night Live episode of 2012.
?UESTLOVE VS. BON IVER. Amazing that a notoriously nice dude like Justin Vernon could be one of the two people to appear on this list twice. Of course, he wasn't the aggressor in either case. This time around, Roots bandleader and late-night-TV MVP ?uestlove got heated when Rolling Stone ran a list of Vernon's favorite rap verses while leaving his own list unpublished. ?uestlove, an absolute scholar of this stuff, had reason to be pissed. As it turned out, so did Vernon, who quickly claimed that his own list had been jerked around and watered down. And so the dispute, quickly squashed, became a musicians-vs.-Rolling Stone thing, the way God intended.
LIAM GALLAGHER VS. RADIOHEAD. Here's a Gallagher interview comment on Radiohead's The King Of Limbs: "A thousand year old tree? Go fuck yourself! You’d have thought he’d have written a song about a modern tree or one that was planted last week." Oddly enough, that was also the complete Pitchfork review.
STEVE ALBINI VS. SONIC YOUTH. Considering that Albini and Sonic Youth are both veterans of the scuzzed-out postpunk '80s, this one must've been simmering for a while. It went public when Albini, the notoriously curmedgeonly Shellac frontman and recording engineer (don't say "producer") claimed in a GQ interview that Sonic Youth fucked things up for indie rock when they signed to DGC in 1990. Thurston Moore's pretty great riposte, translated back to English from a Spanish magazine interview: "Steve has opinions based on a myopic point of view which of course does not extend to the manufacturers of his pants." It's way more fun to assume Moore said those exact words verbatim.
LADY GAGA VS. "WEIRD AL" YANKOVIC. For a brief period of time this year, Lady Gaga joined Coolio and Billy Joel on a tiny list of humorless motherfuckers who didn't want "Weird Al" to parody their songs. Gaga, or at the very least her representatives, initially vetoed Yankovic's "Born This Way" spoof "Perform This Way," but Al posted it on YouTube anyway, and suddenly that veto was somehow overruled. Lesson learned: You do not fuck with the guy who made UHF.
THE CRUEL RAVAGES OF TIME VS. AXL ROSE'S FACE. Remember when Axl shut himself up in his mansion and didn't appear in public for 40,000 years? That was nice.