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Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal About the Meaning of Life By Steve Hyden

HydenBeatles or Stones?

It’s an age-old question, and a bit of a cliché at that.  However, it absolutely reveals quite a bit about one’s personality, according to music critic Steven Hyden.  Indeed, noted musical rivalries and feuds—be they real, perceived, or unrequited—help us understand human nature.  The desire to create intersects with the desire to compete, and thus the feuds of rock and roll legend are born.  They’re never really about the music, and one has to examine the root causes of these quarrels (young vs. old, commercial success vs. critical appeal, party animals vs. wallflowers).  The way these competitions play out explains a great deal about the artists, their fans, and society at large. 

The 16 essays in this book cover a wide range of musical eras and genres and artists (from Clapton vs. Hendrix, to Biggie vs. Tupac, to Kanye vs. Taylor), so there’s likely to be something for everyone.  Readers will also gain insight into Hyden’s thoughts on sports, movies, relationships, and the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.  These ingredients work together to create an enjoyable and wholly readable account of pop culture philosophy.        

This is the first print book from Hyden, who wrote for the now-defunct sports and culture blog Grantland (may it rest in peace).  He does have the tendency to insert his own opinions and experiences into the essays, which might make some readers feel like they’re getting drinks with an old friend who only wants to talk about himself.  If that doesn’t faze prospective readers, I absolutely recommend it to fans of Chuck Klosterman, Rob Sheffield, or anyone who has argued about music late into the night in bars, dorm rooms, or on long road trips.

- Jake

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