Music is amazing. I know my brother and I don't talk about our musical preferences on the podcast as much as we do comics and movies, but my whole life I've loved the music of just about every genre and today as someone who enjoys making music there's been several musicians who I've grown a greater appreciation for. I can name fifty major influences to me off the top of my head - all the way from Queen and David Bowie to Bruno Mars and Owl City - but nobody wants to read fifty so I'll just cut it down to ten.
In this blog post, I will be going through and discussing all my favorite bands/musicians in descending order giving reason to why I love them so much, the contributions they made to music history and my favorite songs and albums out of their careers, some concluded some still active to present.
10 - Kirby Krackle
Years Active: 2008-present
Genre: Nerd rock
Consistent Members: Kyle Stevens (Rest change over the years)
Best album: Kirby Krackle (2009)
As legendary nerd rock pioneers out of Seattle, the band Kirby Krackle has released several amazing albums all packed full of these awesome pop rock-esque songs including a variety of instruments about comic books, video games, movies and all things geek related. I've obsessed over the world of pop culture my entire life, I remember being really excited when I heard there was a band that made songs about all the cool stuff I was into and now as a songwriter who's unable to write a song without a single pop culture reference working it's way into the lyrics, I find this band's work to be a major influence on mine.
They've written a lot of good songs about hilarious scenarios such as being a loser superhero forced to join the Great Lakes Avengers because no other team will accept you, attending a pool party with all the X-Men characters, and a parody of Baby It's Cold Outside about Han and Leia on Echo Base to name a few! I really like when they do first-person narratives from the perspectives of various characters like Moisture Farm (Luke Skywalker), Another Castle (Mario) and One Of The Guys (Ben Grimm/The Thing).
I feel like their albums are perfect all the way through, especially that first one. Whenever I'm working on art or schoolwork and I don't know what to listen to, I put on a Kirby Krackle album. They're a cool, creative and influential band and a huge inspiration to me, so for those reasons and many more, I'm a huge Kracklehead!
9 - Flo Rida
Years Active: 2007-present
Genre: Pop rap, party rap
Consistent Members: Tramar Lacel Dillard (a.k.a. Flo Rida)
Best album: Either Wild Ones (2012) or My House (2015)
Mister Flo Rida may be incredibly different from everyone else on this list but I honestly feel weird about putting him so low on here (get it?!?) since he was very influential to the pop music scene of the 2010s. Raised in Miami, Florida, Flo persevered through losing a family member in an inspiring manner by becoming a rapper to honor their memory and putting out several hit singles like Low, My House, Whistle, Club Can't Handle Me and Right Round.
Part of why Mr. Rida was so influential was because he, Pitbull and Luke Ross found this sort of pop rap sound developing in Miami that had influence from a variety of cultures and took it around the world to make record breaking popular music and record a variety of top 40s. However, neither Pitbull or Luke Ross is remotely as awesome as Mr. Flo Rida.
I love every song Flo Rida's recorded since the choruses and beats are all super very catchy. All the team-ups he's done with artists like Taio Cruz, Cody Simpson and Lady Gaga are awesome and if I'm ever gonna throw an epic party there's gonna be more Flo on the mix than there is anything else. I'm such a fan of Flo's work, he's just so awesome!
8 - Daft Punk
Years Active: 1993-2021
Genre: House, electronic, dance, disco
Consistent Members: Guy Maniel, Thomas Bangalter
Best album: Discovery (2001)
One of the biggest factors connecting my musical taste with my brother's is our common affinity for the robot-mask wearing, epic beat-making electronic duo known as Daft Punk, who both blew our minds the first time we heard One More Time. Guy Maniel and Thomas Bangalter first started out by trying to make it as punk musicians, but when critics called their work "daft punky trash" they took the insult and turned it into a household name by starting from scratch and releasing the hit album Homework from 1993. They followed this with three more awesome albums and the soundtrack for the 2010 film Tron: Legacy.
Everything they did was awesome; all the way from the pop/funk hit Get Lucky with Pharrel Williams to the electronic dance classic Around the World not to mention the in-between stuff like Digital Love and the underrated album Human After All. I also love the weird, brave and artistic creativity they brought to the universe of all their music videos and their Gorillaz-style animated story for Discovery. Daft Punk rules and has always been a top fave of mine.
7 - Dio
Years Active: 1982-2010
Genre: Heavy metal
Consistent Members: Ronnie James Dio (other members constantly changed)
Best album: The Last In Line (1984)
On his own, front-man Ronnie James Dio was a highly influential metal musician. Not only was he partially responsible for getting the group Rainbow going but he also took Black Sabbath to a whole new ground and he even created the iconic devil horns hand motion that's thrown around by rockers of all subgenres till this day. However, in spite of all the amazing work RJD did at his previous groups, he really made the biggest impact on music as a whole with his own project, Dio.
With fellow-former-Sabbath-member Vinny Appice and a variety of other musicians who changed from album-to-album almost, Dio put out a motherload of incredibly revolutionary heavy metal tracks including Holy Diver, Rainbow in the Dark, Don't Talk to Strangers, We Rock and my personal favorite The Last in Line that all hold up phenomenally.
If it wasn't for me discovering Dio shortly before the crazy Covid pandemic of 2020 taking off I don't think I would've ever become as big of a metalhead as I am today. Since this group's work made such major contributions not only to rock as a whole but to my personal taste in music, they no question land in my top ten any day of the week.
6 - Tenacious D
Years Active: 1994-present
Genre: Comedy rock
Consistent Members: Jack Black (a.k.a. Jables & JB), Kyle Gass (a.k.a. Kage & KG)
Best album: The Pick of Destiny (2006)
The story that I have about how I became a D-Ciple happened in the spring of 2020. The world was an absolute mess having been absolutely split into pieces in the crossfire of Covid 19, the Australian Wildfires and a whole bunch of other crazy stuff. There was also a great period of time where I thought I was never gonna see any of my bestest bros again, so I needed an escape. That's when I discovered this band Jack Black, an all-time favorite actor of mine was in before he was in the movies I loved. Since this particular band made songs about all kinds of ridiculous stuff such as demons, bigfoots and car chases, it was the band that saved my life.
For several weeks there it was the wacky, ridiculous masterpieces about performing the best song in the universe but forgetting what it was, having an epic rock off with Satan and winning, hiring a nerd to build you a Death Star so you didn't have to live on Earth anymore and a whole bunch of other classics that were there for me when I needed them and they've been there for me since. Whenever I have a bad day, I go up into my room and play The Pick of Destiny album from start to finish on my headphones. After I've laughed at Papagenu, cried at Dude (I Totally Miss You) and gotten the chills at Beelzeboss: The Final Showdown, I'm all better. I've taught myself that as long as there's a couple of angry fat guys going crazy on their acoustic guitars, then everything in the world would be a-okay.
What Jables and Kage do with their music, combining all the best elements from bands/musicians such as The Who, AC/DC, Dio, Nirvanna, Van Halen, Ozzy Osborne and Meatloaf, stripping it down to just awesome acoustic guitar stuff with Jack Black going out of control with extreme vocals and weird crazy rock-scat while making it about funny, stupid and idiotically hilarious stuff is absolutely genius. I love the D and they truly live up to their reputation as one of the greatest bands in the universe.
5 - Jack Johnson
Years Active: 2001-present
Genre: Soft rock, acoustic pop, easy listening
Consistent Members: Jack Johnson
Best album: In Between Dreams (2005)
Jack Johnson is simply amazing. He's a master songwriter with very clever and well woven lyrics on every song he's put out, his voice sounds amazing in mix with his acoustic guitar and since age four he's always been one of my favorite musicians. The entirety of the In Between Dreams album is one perfect song after another and so many of his biggest tracks like Better Together, Upside Down, Banana Pancakes, Constellations, and Breakdown hold a special place in my heart.
Heaven probably sounds like Jack Johnson music if I had to guess. Johnson's work is perfect to hear both after you wake up in the morning or before you go to bed at night and genuinely puts you into a chill at any point in your day-to-day life. It's incredibly hard for me to narrow it down to just one favorite Jack Johnson song because he's just made so many good ones! Flake, Angel, My Mind is For Sale, Washing Dishes and more are all amazing and with his latest single Meet the Moonlight living up to its predecessors, Jack Johnson is still the master. For a grand variety of reasons I've always been a fan of Jack Johnson's.
4 - The Beatles
Years Active: 1960-1970
Genre: Rock, pop, beat, psychedelia
Consistent Members: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
Best album: Revolver (1966)
If there was any band ever with music so amazing that it could unify the entire planet and end all war and poverty like Wild Stallions did at the end of Bill & Ted Face The Music, it would be the Beatles since their music brings people together. I've seen it with my own eyes when I just recently saw Paul McCartney in concert. There were probably 40,000 people in the arena in which Paul played and there was only one thing all those people had in common: they all loved the Beatles, and while I was in the very high back of that arena I witnessed all those people enjoying beautiful music together as the world moved one step closer to universal peace.
Just the amount of stuff these guys cranked out over such a short career is extraordinary. They were only producing records as a quartet for seven years, but they made thirteen amazing albums while recording a formidable 232 unskippable songs in under a decade. That's more than most bands will do in their entire careers and I have the hardest time picking favorites when it comes to the fab four. If I had to narrow it down it's probably Getting Better followed by Something, but there's just so many classics. Birthday, Twist & Shout, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Here There and Everywhere, Baby You're a Rich Man, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Blackbird, Yesterday, Here Comes the Sun, Hey Jude and a couple hundred more (literally!) are all super amazing songs.
Paul, John, George and Ringo all tried a variety of musical styles but every creative pool these geniuses dipped their artistic feet in they made a big ripple for the better. The philosophy from the Danny Boyle film Yesterday is one I can totally relate too - "A world without the Beatles is a world I don't want to live in." - so for their artistic genius and creative brilliance on top of the magical, unstoppable power of their music, the Beatles are hands down one of the greatest bands ever.
3 - "Weird Al" Yankovic
Years Active: 1976-present
Genre: Musical comedy, parodies, polka, nerd rock
Consistent Members: Alfred "Weird Al" Yankovic
Best album: Dare to be Stupid (1985)
Taking influence from musical comedian Dr. Demento, the parodies of musician Allan Sherman and the work of polka star Frank Yankovic, Weird Al is nerd royalty who became one of the most influential people on the musical comedy genre after the storm of hits he had in the '80s including songs such as Eat It, Fat, I Love Rocky Road, I Think I'm a Clone Now and more. All the way from James Brown to Eminem, Al's parodied just about every famous musician while he was releasing albums that would capture the interest of two generations of Higgins.
My dad and uncle both became fans of Al's during his hay-day in the '80s while my brother and I grew obsessed with Al's later songs such as The Saga Begins and Ode to a Superhero at the ages of four and two. Ever since I was four and heard these awesome songs about Spider-Man, Star Wars and all these other things I loved, I've been one of Weird Al's biggest fans literally landing in his top 1% of Spotify listeners in the year 2020.
Every polka, parody and original song Weird Al's ever made is pure gold, his film UHF is by far one of the greatest movies ever released and although he hasn't released a new album in nearly eight years, he's still more relevant this year than ever with the upcoming debut of the Daniel Radcliffe-starred Weird: The Al Yankovic Story and the Illustrated Al graphic novel. The guy has a brilliant sense of humor, some amazing accordion skills that have maintained appeal to generations of fellow nerds and weirdos since the '80s. The legendary "Weird Al" Yankovic is easily one of my favorite musicians of all time and easily lands up here in my top three.
2 - Ramones
Years Active: 1974-1996
Genre: Punk rock
Consistent Members: Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone (other members constantly changed)
Best album: Ramones (1976)
Ramones were a big deal for punk rock. They took that sort of energy, power and loudness from bands like the Who and combined it with the speed and coolness of artists like Iggy Pop to create a basic formula that inspired several punk bands to this day such as everyone from the Clash and Social Distortion to Green Day and Blink-182. They consistently toured together and released albums for nearly 22 years. They also made a lot of songs that both mocked and celebrated teenage culture and eventually even got into more serious issues with tracks like Bonzo Goes to Bitburg and The KKK Took My Baby Away.
Not only were they a big band for the world, but they mean a lot to me personally. In the summer of quarantine, I rekindled my love for video games so every day I would run upstairs to my room and play a ton of Mariokart until my brains turned into poop. Because I needed some cool backing tracks to this, I decided to just put on some Ramones albums until I eventually grew incredibly fond of everything this band did, eventually getting more into punk rock as a whole.
The awesome frontman energy Joey brought to stage with every performance he did is what I try to do whenever I perform in my band and the formula these guys made for their music has a strong impact on mine. All the way from Blitzkrieg Bop to I Don't Wanna Grow Up, Ramones made a lot of fantastic punk masterpieces and it's really hard to imagine the punk genre if it wasn't for this band's contributions.
1 - Thin Lizzy
Years Active: 1969-1983, 1994-present
Genre: Hard rock, blues rock, heavy metal (originally folk rock before third album)
Consistent Members: Phil Lynott, Scott Gorham, Bryan Downey (rest constantly changed)
Best album: Jailbreak (1976)
With fourteen amazing albums and only a couple hits out of songs like The Boys Are Back In Town, Whiskey in the Jar, Jailbreak and Dancing in the Moonlight (It's Caught Me In It's Spotlight), Thin Lizzy is easily one of the most underrated rock bands of all time. Combining music with poetry Bob Dylan style, fusing it with the guitar styling of Jimi Hendrix while mixing in celtic and blues elements that had never really been a part of hard rock before, Thin Lizzy influenced several great bands to come such as Def Leppard, Smashing Pumpkins, Henry Rollins and Metallica.
I was in fifth grade when I learned that Jailbreak and The Boys Are Back In Town, two of my favorite rock songs were by the same group so I listened to the entire album on Spotify and was blown away. The awesomeness didn't end there either; Bad Reputation, Chinatown, Renegade, and Fighting are all flawless albums that I recommend to all my friends till this day and I've never dug a band more than I dig Thin Lizzy.
I'm not sure what it is - perhaps the crazy double-lead-guitar act mixed with the fast paced rock drumming, the blending with poetry about serious stuff or Phil Lynott just being such a killer performer but everything post-Johnny the Fox having simply one amazing rock masterpiece after another is what blows my mind so much. Thin Lizzy is easily one of the most underrated rock groups of all time, so if you haven't listened to too many of their songs I couldn't recommend them enough.
So there you have it, my top ten favorite bands and musicians of all time!! Who are your favorite bands and musicians? Let me know in the comments below what your take on this post was! Thank you all for reading, I'm stepping off my soapbox now, but I hope you have an amazing week.