The ‘best band in the world’©

March 26, 2009

Every fan thinks that ‘their’ band is the best band in the world. It is of course subjective and there isn’t, or could there ever be, a musical Olympics to determine who the best band in the world really is. Popularity can’t be a measure either – imagine the dross that would grace the podium.

However, I do believe that there are bands, who for fleeting periods have whatever ‘it’ is that makes them ‘the best band in the world.’ The ‘it’ is indefinable, but when a band has ‘it’ you know. If I was being pretentious I’d claim that certain bands, at certain times are conductors of the Gestalt. But I’m not pretentious. So I won’t.

Being the best band in the world doesn’t last for long – whatever the Rolling Stones (who did have ‘it’ briefly before Brian died) may believe. Most bands who are it, aren’t it for long, then spend the rest of their careers (usually unsucessfully) trying to rediscover their ‘it’.  Call it zeitgeist, or mojo, but they rarely, if ever do and eventually become a cabaret version of their former selves.

A royal lineage of ‘the best bands in the world’ from year zero (ie the birth of punk) would look something like this:

The Sex Pistols – (the 1977 version, not the recent vaudeville version)

The Clash – for the first two albums (and you can have two ‘best bands in the world’ simultaneously – my rules)

(The Jam didn’t have it – whatever the Weller legions say)

Buzzcocks – up until What Do I Get

Stiff Little Fingers – between Alternative Ulster and Suspect device

Magazine – briefly

PIL – Lydon scores again with Metal Box

Joy Division – possibly the only band who can lay claim to the title forever, for their two perfect albums. Death does change the rules, leaving a band’s perfect moment forever frozen in time (see also Nick Drake for best singer/songwriter in the world)

The Birthday Party – ‘a flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long’ isn’t that from Blade Runner but it’s very apt for the boys from down under

Theatre of Hate – only for a moment, and maybe just for Kirk’s hair

New Order – between Ceremony and Blue Monday

Echo and the Bunnymen – from Crocodiles to Ocean Rain (like I said there can be more than one at any given time)

(begrudgingly) The Smiths – never really liked them but they filled a gap

(never The Cure)

The Jesus and Mary Chain

The Fall (Brix era)

The Wedding Present

Pixes (the American are coming)

Sonic Youth

My Bloody Valentine

Public Enemy

James (anyone who was on the stage at Kentish Town knows)

Happy Mondays

Stone Roses

Primal Scream

Nirvana (but not as much as people say)

Pavement (more than people say) 

Pulp – between Babies and Common People (never Oasis OR Blur)



The (Dust) Chemical Brothers

DJ Shadow

Belle and Sebastian (Indie takes the baton again)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (and they may still be)

The Strokes

The White Stripes

Franz Ferdinand

Arctic Monkeys

And today – I’d say the Killers really do have ‘it’, but maybe I’m just sweet on Brandon Flowers, who certainly does have ‘it’. I’m sure the hip young things out there already know who the next ‘best band in the world’ is.

And the bands who really thought they were ‘the best band in the world’ but never, never were:







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