In late 1997, a song called "My Own Prison" started burning up modern rock airwaves. The band, Creed, was an earnest sounding rock band with a vocalist who sounded like an overly-polished Eddie Vedder and the music had a steady beat that wasn't that far removed from the grunge that was so gauche earlier in the decade. Even the lyrics seemed a tad scruffy, dealing in religious conflict and familial strife, which are all too universal in any era. It seems for a good five years the band could do no wrong, at least financially. They would end up selling thirty-five million albums worldwide and become a lucrative touring act. Now twelve years later after three original albums, a greatest hits compilation, and a tormented break-up the band is back together and hits Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion tonight, with the almost equally polarizing Staind as their opening act.
Over the course of their career, the band has become somewhat of an unidentifiable phenomenon of shear hatred, inciting loathing and aggression from most all of music's perspective tribes. Almost everyone alive in America that is not attending the concert tonight or planning on seeing them this new go-round has a reason they can give why they do not like them. The religious imagery, the heavy-handedness, a lack of irony, the dearth of musical invention, stark unoriginality, and even Scott Stapp's very visage have all been used to dismiss the band.
But the strange thing is that for all those millions of albums sold, you will be hard pressed to find anyone willing to admit to owning one. On a recent trip to a used compact disc store, we didn't find four dozen copies of Weathered or Human Clay. You people have your copies out there somewhere and we are willing to bet you are listening to them, or have listened to them in the past year, month, or God help you, day. You keep it off your iPOD in case a friend or a love interest just happens to scroll through the C's past the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Calexico, and Cold War Kids and find your dirty shame. In the same way that Joseph Stalin summarily executed millions of his own people during his reign, all of you ignore the copy of My Own Prison that is literally or figuratively in your closet.
Before you fold your arms and shake your head in hipsterly disgust, you think long and hard about your reasons you hate Creed. Rocks Off doesn't dig Creed himself, but he'll be damned if he doesn't at least demand a better excuse than "They just suck". The same way we dissected the Hitler that is Nickelback to Creed's Stalin, we offer the same query toward the Creed cults. We deduced from our Nickelback experience that most people hated them because they were geared to people they thought they had nothing in common with. People who were supposedly simple and too unrefined to not see the subtleties in Radiohead or The Shins. Just like Randy Newman sang "We're rednecks and we don't know our ass from a hole in the ground."
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One answer could be lead singer Stapp and his dalliances with drugs and sex that stood in glaring contrast to the religious bent he was feigning. But surely there have been other rock stars that are as crazy beloved as Stapp is hated that have committed the same level of hypocrisy. Stapp's name became short-hand for any and all douchey bare-chested rocker in leather pants with Messiah-like tendencies. Chad Kroeger is slowly earning his wings as well, albeit as some sort of blonde boozy archangel.
Another conclusion that has been posited is that the music fell out of favor in the late century. But even that is in itself false, because there are dozens of gigging bands with original tunes in this city alone that sound like Creed cover bands that have at least attentive followings, and most carry a lead singer with them that postures the same way that Stapp does. Creed's influence is ridiculously still vital to a great deal of the rock music scene, even as the rest of the world changed around them and their fans whose musical tastes have been sealed in carbonite ala Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back. Before you get up in arms about that, realize that that problem is not limited to "Buzz" rock.
Our final conclusion isn't a popular one. Creed is quite simply one of the most influential bands of the past two decades, in the sense that they singlehandedly birthed an entire new genre mired in earnestness and questionable tuneage. As we have been told from birth, influences can be bad and good. Good influences can make you finish college and quit drinking, and bad influences can also make you wear leather pants and make the Jesus Christ pose, while writing pop-metal jams about the goodness of said deity. The value of Creed is in the eye of the beholder. Rocks Off is just wincing at the thought of one day them turning into Journey, wherein people like them anew for all the wrong ironic reasons.
Nirvana. Pantera. Green Day. Pearl Jame, Metallica. Refused. Radiohead. Creed. Sad but true.