by Dan Snierson
For those about to hard rock, we salute you. And by you, we mean everyone tough enough to make a five-night commitment to VH1 the week of Dec. 29, when the list-loving network unveils a loud-and-proud countdown: 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs. (Do not confuse this with the network’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock or 100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll.) Hosted by a man who wants nothin’ but a good time, Bret Michaels, the celebration will feature such eardrum-pummeling bands as Metallica, Motley Crue, Nirvana, the Who, Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. When I heard that VH1 was airing this special, I immediately rang up my good friend/EW’s own Dalton Ross, and the two of us started guessing which song would wind up at No. 1. Led Zep’s “Black Dog”? Sabbath’s “Paranoid”? Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”? Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? Pretty quickly, we agreed that AC/DC’s “Back in Black” will likely reign supreme. If there were a Mount Rushmore of Hard Rock Riffs, “Back in Black” would be carved into it.
Then we got into a less than harmonious discussion about which Who song would make the cut. I argued that “My Generation” is a logical choice, what with the dangerous lyric “I hope I die before I get old” and that brutal, chaotic finish. Dalton, meanwhile, insisted that “Baba O’Riley” would win out because it “rocks harder and longer” than “My Generation.” With neither of us able to persuade the other to abandon his cause, we had no choice but to make a high-stakes bet about which song would chart higher. (Loser had to refer to the winner as the King of Rock for one full day.) Too impatient to wait for the verdict, I put the squeeze on the peeps at VH1, who gave up the following spoilers: “My Generation” anchors the No. 37 spot, while “Baba O’Riley” checks in at… No. 0! That’s right—it didn’t even make the list! In your face, Ross! (Now, one could argue that I didn’t win either, because they also told me that a different Who hit, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” actually cracks the Top 10. Of course, I choose to ignore this tiny technicality, and will make Dalton respect my royal authority. (I also could say that it’s a regal matter, baby—you know, if I spent my time coming up with underwhelming Who puns.)
But enough about our predictions—which fist-jacking anthem do you think will be named the Greatest Hard Rock Song? Better yet, which one should be? Which hard rock staples must be included somewhere on the countdown? Which song by the Who most deserves to be on this list? And, of course, which Poison tune will make the cut (and you know that one will, given that Mr. Unskinny Bop is serving as emcee)?