Rivals: Music's Greatest Feuds

Rivals: Music's Greatest Feuds

Beatles vs. Stones. Biggie vs. Tupac. Kanye vs. Taylor. Who do you choose? And what does that say about you? Actually, what do these endlessly argued-about pop music rivalries say about us? Music opinions bring out passionate debate in people, and music journalists/critics Steven Hyden and Jordan Runtagh know this firsthand. They’re both obsessed with the biggest (as well as the most obscure) rivalries in music history. Each week, they’ll break down the details of a different colorful feud, and attempt to figure out why many of our favorite pop and rock stars can’t seem to get along.

Episodes

February 2, 2021 2 mins

The series premiere of 'Off the Record' explores the life — or, rather, lives — of David Bowie by examining each of his iconic personas. Major Tom. Ziggy Stardust. Aladdin Sane. The Thin White Duke. Taken collectively, these faces form a portrait of a one-of-a-kind rock legend. Follow his transformation from lonely London boy struggling to find his way in the Swinging Sixties to cultural innovator, whose relentless drive and daring...

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Elvis Presley was the man to beat when Jerry Lee Lewis made the drive from small-town Louisiana to Memphis in 1956. The piano punisher had come for the King of Rock’s crown and was determined to show him up at every turn. Jerry Lee scored a deal on Elvis’ onetime label, employed the same management, and even some of the same songwriters. The pair duked it out in the charts in the late ‘50s, but the image conscious Elvis remained a ...

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Our series on The Eagles concludes with a look at the business dealings and lawsuits that took place behind the scenes and the man who helped to shape their early career, David Geffen. A Brooklyn kid whose mother called him King David, Geffen moved to L.A. in the sixties and swiftly became a mover and shaker. By the time he met The Eagles, he was a kingmaker in the local rock scene. But as The Eagles themselves became kings, their ...

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Our special series on The Eagles continues with their post-"Hotel California" years, in which the band was more popular than ever, selling one million albums per month while also falling apart. There was tension between the band's twin leaders, Don Henley and Glenn Frey, who fought for control of The Eagles. But most of the ire was focused around Don Felder, the talented guitarist who wrote the music for the song "Hotel California....

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Welcome to our epic three-part series on all of the beefs, feuds, and simmering resentments that occurred inside one of the most successful bands in history, The Eagles. In part one, we cover the band's early years, which included multiple battles inside the band and out. First, there was the feud with Glyn Johns, the super producer known for working with the best British bands of the era who resisted Glenn Frey's urge to rock. The...

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December 30, 2020 49 mins

Back in the late 1980s, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E were members of N.W.A., one of the most important and iconic hip-hop groups ever. But in the wake of their historic 1988 album Straight Outta Compton, the two fell out over business disagreements. Once Dre went solo, he proceeded to rip Eazy apart on diss tracks prominently featured on his blockbuster LP The Chronic, forever fixing Eazy in the eyes of millions of pop fans as the clownish "...

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December 23, 2020 52 mins

This is an especially personal one for Steve — back when he was a Britpop-loving teen in the nineties, this was one of the first rock rivalries that he cared about. Which is odd, because in America, nobody really cared about Oasis vs. Blur the way people did in England, where they were the two biggest bands in the land. Blur were the knowing chroniclers of posh British society, and Oasis was the scrappy pub-rock band of the working...

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December 16, 2020 54 mins

Before there was Megadeth, Dave Mustaine was the guitarist in a promising San Francisco thrash metal band called Metallica. And then he was fired for being an obnoxious drunk, a slight compounded by the fact that all the other members of Metallica were also obnoxious drunks. From then on, Mustaine was obsessed with getting his revenge, and he formed Megadeth with the purpose of dethroning Metallica from the top of the thrash metal ...

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December 9, 2020 58 mins

Two burgeoning musical geniuses came together in the mid-60s to form the Velvet Underground, a group that expanded the definition of what a rock band could be. Lou Reed’s literary ambitions led him to craft lyrics steeped in the gritty language of the streets, while John Cale called upon his background in the avant garde music scene of downtown Manhattan. Their unique talents coalesced on tracks like “Venus in Furs,” “Sister Ray,” ...

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December 2, 2020 62 mins

In the 1980s, the biggest rock band in the world was The Police. While all three members were blonde and good-looking, they were hardly a conventional success story. The Police was a supposed punk band composed of a prog-rock drummer, a jazzy bassist, and a guitarist who was pushing 40. But their unique chemistry (as well as Sting's trove of catchy pop songs) made them among the first acts to really break out during the MTV era. As...

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In the mid-'90s, no two rock stars struck more fear into the hearts of parents than Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson. These toxic twins started out having a teacher-student dynamic, with Reznor guiding Manson musically to stardom. But Manson's shock-rock antics soon overshadowed his mentor, who was hard at work for years trying to finish his masterwork "The Fragile." In time, Reznor would come to see Manson as a "dopey clown" while ...

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For ‘80s babies, Britney and Christina represent the ultimate fan face-off. Originally friends and co-stars on The Mickey Mouse Club reboot in the early ‘90s, by the decade’s end they were pitted against one another in the press and in the charts. On the surface, the comparisons were obvious. They were two blonde, ex-Disney stars turned pop upstarts, barnstorming Billboard with suggestive ear-candy like “…Baby One More Time” and “G...

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November 11, 2020 47 mins

If you were an alienated teenager in the 1980s — or an alienated teenager during any era who loves the music of the 1980s — then you have probably spent a lot of time listening to The Smiths and The Cure. But the lead singers of those bands, Morrissey and Robert Smith, hated listening to each other. Starting with an interview in 1984 in which Morrisey expressed his desire to shoot Smith, the rivalry between these two mope-rock king...

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Our special two-part series on the battles between Van Halen and their two most famous singers concludes with this exploration of the Van Hagar years. Before he joined Van Halen, Sammy Hagar was a journeyman rock howler with a love of fast cars and mind-controlling aliens. In retrospect, most fans prefer the Roth years, but Hagar was at the head of four consecutive no. 1 albums for Van Halen in the late 1980s and early '90s. And he...

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In tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen, we’re devoting a pair of episodes to the two distinct eras of his namesake band. The first installment explores the guitar virtuoso’s relationship with the group’s original frontman, a karate kicking, spandex wearing, hyperactive rock ’n’ roll peacock named David Lee Roth. More a musical marriage of convenience than genuine friendship, the sparks between the pair both onstage and in the studi...

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In the early '90s, no couple in rock was more notorious than Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. The tabloid circus that followed them wearied Cobain's bandmates in Nirvana, and that tension only grew worse after Cobain's untimely death in 1994. For the next 20 years, Courtney and Nirvana's former drummer and current Foo Fighter, Dave Grohl, engaged in a war of words in songs and Howard Stern interviews. In the process, cultural institu...

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October 14, 2020 59 mins

Marvin Gaye's 1971 masterpiece What's Going On was recently voted by Rolling Stone magazine the greatest album of all time. But one person who was not a fan of that record initially was the head of Gaye's label, Berry Gordy, the visionary founder of Motown. Gordy believed that alienating white audiences and deviating from a proven pop-R&B formula was commercial poison. But even before What's Going On, Gaye and Gordy were at odd...

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Joy Division and New Order are two of the greatest and most important post-punk bands of all time, and at the center of those groups are two men: Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook. For years, they had a fruitful partnership: Sumner was the quiet and introspective one, and Hook was the gregarious rocker. But as the '80s unfolded, and New Order became one of the era's top indie pop groups, their relationship started to break down from cl...

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September 30, 2020 54 mins

Eric Clapton had earned a reputation as “God” in the mid-‘60s for his virtousic guitar work in R&B-inspired British bands like the Yardbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Then an unknown American named Jimi Hendrix hit London in 1966 and changed the game entirely. Hendrix’s unparalleled playing and explosive style forged a new genre and redefined what it meant to be a guitarist — and sent the British boys back to the woodshe...

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Whitney Houston ruled the pop world in the late '80s with a string of infectious hits that included seven consecutive number ones. But when Mariah Carey burst onto the scene at the start of the new decade, America's Sweetheart turned bitter and famously shaded the newcomer in a series of interviews. The vocal powerhouses spent much of the '90s duking it out on the charts, breaking records with their multi-octave ranges. Though they...

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