Here at Flavorpill, we’re into music. And like any group of music nerds with access to the Internet, we like garnering suggestions from people we trust about the best bands out there. So who better to suggest some great musicians than, well, some great musicians? After all, they should be experts on the subject. Here, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite musicians’ own favorite musicians for your listening — and obsessing — pleasure. After all, if you live, breathe and sleep Frank Zappa (as yours truly admits to doing for a spell in her teenage years), now you know which bands to listen to, just to, you know, complete the experience. Of course, just like us mortals (and probably even more so), musicians’ favorite bands change with their mood, the season and what they ate for lunch, so consider the following a snapshot, or in at least one case, just what John Darnielle would say in front of a firing squad. Ah, obsession.
The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle — The Stockholm Monsters
Of course, a guy like John Darnielle has a million favorite bands (we’ve heard him rave about Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Lifter Puller, and of course Black Sabbath), but he’s said that underrated 80’s band The Stockholm Monsters’ album Alma Mater was “probably [his] favorite album ever.” As for his favorite death metal album? As he told Nerve, “If I was in front of a firing squad and the only way out were to answer the question, it’s Don’t Break the Oath for sure, but this is partly because if dudes were bent on shooting me anyway, ‘Don’t Break the Oath’ would be some kick-ass last words.” This from a guy whose favorite band was Heart until he got to high school.
Frank Zappa — Igor Stravinsky
In 1967, Zappa gave classic hard rock rag Hit Parader a rundown of his favorite albums (see the scanned page here), in which he suggests that aspiring musicians listen to the likes of Wes Montgomery, Cecil Taylor, Pierre Boulez, and Anton Webern. He also implores the reader to “buy everything that you can by Igor Stravinsky and dance to it — especially L’histoire du Soldat, which means Soldier’s Tale, and the Agon ballet, which is a beautiful thing.” Weird geniuses gotta stick together.
The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas — Sam Cooke
It’s hard to deny that Julian Casablancas has good taste, considering his favorite song in the world is “A Change is Gonna Come” by master crooner Sam Cooke. He’s also into more contemporary cool-kid acts like Beach House, Beirut, the Dirty Projectors, and Telepathe.
Kurt Cobain — The Stooges
As we all know, Cobain devoured all kinds of music, from mainstream pop to obscure punk to hip-hop to blues, and frequently catalogued his favorite acts and albums in his journals. He’s sung the praises of the Vaselines, Pixies, Sonic Youth, R.E.M, Leadbelly, Public Enemy, and the Marine Girls, among many many others. However, Raw Power , the 1973 Stooges album, clearly stuck with him – it’s listed as #1 on every one of his favorite albums lists.
Lady Gaga — Iron Maiden
Apparently, super pop diva Gaga is a “massive metalhead” and her favorite band of all-time is the uber-prolific Iron Maiden. Aside from the fact that we could make so many comments about the kind of head she has other than metal, we wonder if she means it — we’ve noticed that a lot of lady celebrities like to rock Iron Maiden gear (Drew Barrymore, Lindsay Lohan) because it makes them seem hardcore or down to earth or something. We’d imagine Gaga being more into Bjork’s weirder cousin or something.
Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard — Teenage Fanclub
Of course Ben Gibbard’s favorite band of all time is Teenage Fanclub. He probably also likes She & Him.
Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus — Lou Reed
As Malkmus told NYROCK, “A good voice isn’t so important. It’s more important to sound really unique. We need more singers like P.J. Harvey or Shirley Manson, Dylan or Lou Reed. They really got their own cool style… Lou Reed is something like a personal favorite of mine… If a voice is just too nice, without an edge, it kinda all flows by.”
Kanye West — The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Kanye likes bands with a strong melodic thrust, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are his favorite band, despite the fact that, as he told the BBC, “Anthony Kiedis wasn’t the best singer in the world.” Well, look who’s talking, Mr. Auto-Tune.
The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn — The Replacements
Though at the time of the interview, Finn’s favorite band of the moment was Titus Andronicus, he traces all of his changing favorites to bands that sound like some reiteration of the Replacements — that is, “bands with great lyrics and also huge guitars.” Pro Tip: if you want to get ripped like Craig Finn, do what he does and listen to Surfer Blood at the gym.
Rihanna — Paramore
Maybe it’s a red hair sisterhood thing, but Rihanna told Vanity Fair that Paramore was one of her two favorite performers. Okay, her other favorite is Jay-Z, so maybe that squashes the theory. And now we’re imagining Jay-Z as a redhead….