Music fans are selfish. We might act like we only want what's best for our favorite bands, but the truth is that we really just want what will give us the most gratification.
A lot of ink, both real and digital, has been used this year to talk about reunions. And while writers might dissect the motives behind them, those motives don't matter to fans. A reunion is another chance to experience the live show and to hope for new music. It's all about gratification.
There's a flip side to fandom and gratification.
It's the side that encourages acts to stay together for our amusement. It's the side that tells bands to stay on the road doing the same song and dance twice a year, release albums full of filler tracks and to never change or evolve their sound. Why don't we encourage more bands to take a break?
We as fans shouldn't be focusing on bands that should get back together. We should be focusing on bands that should break up.
Some numbers to consider:
13 -- the number of years between the formation of the band that would become Lynyrd Skynyrd and the plane crash that took the lives of three band members, two pilots and the band's assistant road manager.
25 -- the number of years since Skynyrd reunited to start touring again.
1 -- the number of members in the band that are a) still touring under the name Lynyrd Skynyrd b) on the cover of Street Survivors.
There's no question that Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote some incredible music back in the '70s. There's also no question that the plane crash that led to the band's "hiatus" was tragic. And there's no question that the members playing in the band currently are talented.
But Lynyrd Skynyrd they are not.
The reunion made sense back in 1987. There were five members of the band from the '70s era in the group, Johnny was at least related to Ronnie, and it would give fans the sense of closure that they didn't get from the band's abrupt end.
But with Gary Rossington as the only thread between the past and the present and having a career almost twice the length of the band that actually wrote the songs that people like, the whole thing is just tacky. They're the world's most famous cover band who just lucked out in getting to use the band's name.
The Smashing Pumpkins
Every band has a different dynamic. Some bands are a true collaboration where all members are equal partners, while others are made up of one driving member and the rest of the band just along for the ride.
Everyone knows that at the simplest level, Billy Corgan is The Smashing Pumpkins. He wrote the music and in many cases performed most of the instrumentation on the albums. He did the creative heavy lifting and the band was his image.
Then the band broke up, and Corgan went on to do other things. He toured with New Order. He formed a new band named Zwan. He recorded a solo album. The common thread between all three of these endeavors was that none of them captured the listening public's ears the way the Pumpkins did.
Corgan claims he got The Smashing Pumpkins back together because he missed his band and his songs. But if he was the band, then what was there to miss other than the fame that came with the name? The new band is less reunion and more open showing of his creative dictatorship.
Recently he said that the music industry is filled with posers more interested in fame than art. He should put his money where his mouth is and put his name on the marquee.
Tool is an interesting case because it might be the best example of how a band breakup might be the best thing for both the band members and their fanbase.
Tool released their last album in 2006, then hit the road for a major tour. All was well.
Every year since, excluding 2008, a familiar pattern has developed. The band announces a handful of tour dates. Fans buy up tickets immediately. The band plays the same set list from the year before with minor changes. The fans run to the Internet to complain about how the band is screwing them again.
People get older and they change. Maybe the music doesn't light the fire in the band the way that it used to. Maybe the fans should appreciate what they get more than they do. Either way, a farewell tour at this point might be the best thing for all parties involved.
The band would have the freedom to pursue their own interests without the looming shadow of their day jobs, and the fans could finally stop chasing the carrot of new music that might never come. Either way, the Internet will be a slightly quieter place.
The decision to sign Limp Bizkit to Cash Money was a weird one, but if you thought about it long enough, it made a certain kind of sense. If nothing else, it at least increased the chances that the inevitable follow-up to Lil Wayne's Rebirth might not be completely awful.
Then things got complicated. TMZ reported that Fred Durst was going to fire DJ Lethal and John Otto. Wes Borland went onto Twitter to basically say "Stop snitching."
That's a lot of weird press for a band that people largely don't care about anymore.
Remember their big summer tour that got canceled because they wanted to play arenas in the fall? Those arena shows never materialized.
Remember when they released a new album that peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard charts? Keep in mind that Cake and The Decemberists both have had No. 1 albums in the last few years, and neither of those bands ever had an album ship platinum in their first week.
It's easy to make fun of Korn for going dubstep, but at least they tried something new to stay relevant. Limp Bizkit have only sustained on internal feuds, and unlike Aerosmith they don't have the catalog to back it up.
If Cash Money was smart, they'd ditch Durst and use Bizkit as their house band. Hell, lock them in a room with Kevin Rudolf and see what happens -- at least he's had a hit in the last five years.
Queen are easily one of the most beloved bands in music history. "Bohemian Rhapsody" is one of the rare songs everyone knows, their Live Aid performance is one of the most iconic performances of all time and we all miss Freddie Mercury dreadfully.
Twenty years ago, the band came together with some of the biggest names in music to hold a tribute concert for Freddie Mercury. It was the perfect way to close the door on the band.
Now, no one is suggesting that the members of the band never tour or write music again. They have just as much of a right to continue their careers as anyone.
That said, this whole "Queen + (Guest Vocalist)" thing is just weird. The band wasn't "Queen + Freddie Mercury"; the band was Queen.
Adam Lambert is a good guy. If you absolutely had to have a Queen reunion, then he's a pretty good pick for the lead-singer role.
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But short of Brian May or Roger Taylor having unfathomably large debts, there's no reason to hold shows billed as Queen.
If they want to go out and play, then they should. People will show up no matter how they're billed. But don't pretend that they're Queen -- that band only had one lead singer.