TV show ‘List’ sparks debate, call for recount

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 9, 2000

I don’t watch much television. As a matter of fact, the list of shows I watch on a regular basis is pretty short. I try not to miss &uot;The West Wing.&uot; And when I get the opportunity, I watch MSNBC’s &uot;Hardball&uot; with Chris Matthews, MSNBC’s simulcast of Don Imus’ morning radio show and CNN’s &uot;Larry King Live.&uot;

And, I’d stop clicking the remote for a &uot;Cheers&uot; or &uot;Seinfeld&uot; re-run, given the opportunity.

And then there’s VH1’s &uot;The List.&uot; What a great show. I don’t know when it is scheduled to air, but I’ve discovered it on late at night occasionally, and it inevitably spawns good water cooler talk for the next day.

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For those who have not seen the show, the basic format is for members of a celebrity panel to list their top three choices in categories set up by show producers.

Depending on the panelist’s background or taste, the lists can vary widely from what you might expect.

For instance, how can a group of musicians not rank Elvis Presley as the No. 1 rock artist of all time?

And how can they not know &uot;Stairway to Heaven&uot; is the best rock ‘n’ roll song? &uot;Respect,&uot; the R&B song by Aretha Franklin, is a classic, but it’s not the No. 1 rock ‘n’ roll song of all time as voted recently by an obviously confused panel.

I should note here, that a later panel corrected the error by voting &uot;Stairway to Heaven&uot; as the best song of all time, followed by Don McLean’s &uot;American Pie.&uot; I couldn’t agree more.

And, as for rock ‘n’ roll bands, everyone knows The Rolling Stones are the top rock band of all time, not Led Zepplin. And certainly not The Beatles. Don’t get me wrong, The Beatles were great, but The Stones were making hit rock ‘n’ roll records when The Beatles came along and are still touring and, occasionally, making hit records today. And what’s this about Keith Richards being the top rock ‘n’ roll guitarist? Eddie Van Halen didn’t even make the list. How is that possible?

If you don’t agree with everything you just read, you understand why the show is a conversation starter. Here are few examples culled from a few recent episodes of &uot;The List.&uot;

See if you agree with them.

4Most significant moment in rock ‘n’ roll – No. 1, King Tut’s Tomb; No. 2, The Beatles; No. 3, David and Nigel’s playing together for the first time. Keep in mind, the panel which composed this list were members of the band Spinal Tap. Perhaps they missed Woodstock.

4Greatest music video of all time – No. 1, Michael Jackson’s &uot;Thriller&uot;; No. 2, Korn’s &uot;Freak on a Leash;&uot; No. 3, Duran Duran’s &uot;Hungry Like the Wolf.&uot;

4Best TV theme song – No. 1, Cheers; No. 2, The Jeffersons; No. 3, Friends.

4Battling out recently for best song lyrics were: Elvis Costello’s &uot;Almost Blue,&uot; Bruce Springsteen’s &uot;Born to Run,&uot; Rick Nelson’s &uot;Garden Party,&uot; John Lennon’s &uot;Imagine,&uot; Bob Dylan’s &uot;Like a Rolling Stone,&uot; and Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s &uot;Your Song.&uot; Conspicuously absent from that list was Don McLean’s &uot;American Pie.&uot;

4In the running for Best Songwriter were: Marianne Faithful, Radiohead, Leonard Cohen, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, Metallica, Ani Difranco, Stevie Wonder, Bernie Taupin and Elton John, John Lennon and Paul McCartney and Lionel Richie. If it were up to me, I’d dump Metallica, Radiohead and Difranco and add Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Then again, perhaps Willie Nelson made the list? Perhaps those voting for Radiohead actually intended to vote for Nelson. I’m in favor of a recount. No right-thinking American really believes the band Radiohead is one of our best songwriters, do they? Surely we can find a dimpled chad or two. Let’s keep counting until we get this thing straightened out.

Todd Carpenter is publisher of The Democrat. You can reach him by calling 446-5172, ext. 218 or by e-mail at