Ranking: Every Lollapalooza Lineup from Worst to Best

Rank and File finds us sorting through an exhaustive, comprehensive body of work or collection of pop-culture artifacts. This time, we celebrate Lollapalooza by determining which installment of the festival was the greatest of them all. The dog days of summer mean that Lollapalooza is just around the corner, and thousands of music fans are about to descend upon Chicago’s Grant Park. It’s hard to believe that, in 1991, Perry Farrell created the festival as a showcase for Jane’s Addiction‘s last hurrah. Of course, many things have changed since its initial heyday in the ’90s. In the US, Lolla has grown and evolved drastically from its touring festival roots, having survived a hibernation from 1997 until 2003, in addition to its canceled 2004 installment. Since then, Lollapalooza has settled down in the Windy City, gradually expanding from two to three to four days. (Though, one could argue the fest’s touring spirit lives on through its international counterparts, which have sprung up in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, and Sweden.) Throughout its history, some of the most iconic acts in music have performed at the festival, from Paul McCartney to Kanye West to Arcade Fire, in addition to up-and-coming talent that have […]

32 Years Ago, Guns N’ Roses Blow Up the Rock World with Appetite for Destruction

Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was the darker, grittier response to Sunset Boulevard’s glam-rock scene. The LP’s unique sound helped move it away from the sea of spandex and hairspray in which it was spawned and make it a staple found in nearly every hard rock fan’s collection, alongside classics like Led Zeppelin II or Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. Released on July 21st, 1987, Appetite for Destruction features the bluesy hard-rock ethos of Aerosmith blended with an aggressive punk undertone amid splashes of metal and ’70s bar rock — a concoction that owes itself to the unique blend of musicians who made up the band. While not as technically proficient as some his contemporaries, Slash’s guitar playing was fluid and full of feeling; Axl Rose’s unique voice and amazing range was unlike any other singer at the time; Duff McKagan’s punk-inspired bass playing gave the music a raw sense of urgency; Izzy Stradlin’s rhythm guitar cleverly weaved in and out of Slash’s leads; and Steven Adler’s workmanlike drums let the other members shine. Amazingly, Appetite for Destruction was not a huge success out of the gate. In fact, the album took more than a year to top the […]

Why It’s Finally Time to Get Rid of Music Charts

I discovered record charts in junior high school. Trying, yet again, to be cool, I started listening to Z-100, the local New York City Top 40 station. I was shocked to learn that all of pop music could be reduced to 40 songs. It seemed way too small. At the time, it felt like Madonna must have had 50 top-10 hits all by herself. I eventually found my way off of Top 40 into the heavy metal parking lot that was suburban Queens in 1988, but I remained fascinated by the idea of record charts and how something as personal and as expansive as music could be distilled to a chart position. It’s why I read with interest about Rolling Stone delaying the launch of their own music chart, which was supposed to use an algorithm to figure out and weight what people are actually listening to nowadays. Music charts used to be simple things. (And they sure as hell didn’t get sued by pissed-off DJs.) People either bought a single/album, or they listened to it on the radio. Now, as Rolling Stone has learned, it’s gotten more complicated. There’s streaming. There are online radio stations. There are podcasts. And […]