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Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal About the Meaning of Life

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,349 ratings  ·  271 reviews
Steven Hyden explores nineteen music rivalries and what they say about life in this "highly entertaining" book (Rolling Stone) perfect for every passionate music fan.

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
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 17th 2016 by Back Bay Books
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Spencer Darr You don't really need to be familiar with the rivalries in order to enjoy this book.…moreYou don't really need to be familiar with the rivalries in order to enjoy this book.(less)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  2,349 ratings  ·  271 reviews

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Carmen Petaccio
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Axl Rose is commonly perceived to be a tough guy. But Axl Rose is not a tough guy. Axl Rose was once beat up by Tommy Hilfiger." ...more
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am a total sucker for the whole music criticism/slightly memoir-y genre, and who hasn't been passionate about an artist enough to immediately dislike something else out of loyalty? Hyden does a nice job of picking rivalries from practically every walk of life, from genre to level of engagement from the musicians themselves. Ultimately it says more about us as fans why we imbue our picks with such meaning and power, and Hyden doesn't shy away from sharing his own personal experiences here.

I kno
May 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: music, nonfiction
Often interesting, frequently funny, largely enjoyable reading covering the same ground as Steven Hyden’s usual essays and podcasts on music. I read much of his stuff and listen to his podcast occasionally, he’s exactly my age and shares a lot of the same perspectives on music as I do.

Each chapter is a meandering music + [whatever seems relevant at the time] discussion framed in the context of some kind of a rivalry between the artists. Some rivalries are real--like, they were popular at the sam
Laila (BigReadingLife)
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gen X music fans
Recommended to Laila (BigReadingLife) by: Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
My music geek heart loved this book of essays, ostensibly about some of the biggest rivalries in popular music - Oasis/Blur, Nirvana/Pearl Jam, Madonna/Cyndi Lauper, Tupac/Biggie. But he connects those rivalries to things bigger than simply that, like what it means to be a fan, why men have a hard time making friends with other men, anxiety about getting older and relaxing into being totally "uncool." You don't have to know a lot about these rivalries to enjoy this engaging, funny, smart book.

Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Well, you should probably take this review (or at least that fifth star) with a grain of salt because, as a Bearded White Dude Who Loves Pop Culture, I'm pretty much exactly this book's target audience. Google Image Steven Hyden, who wrote this book, for evidence of what I'm talking about.

Anyway, this is the second book from a former Grantland writer that I've read this year (the other one being Shea Serrano's hilarious/essential The Rap Year Book), and, at the risk of seeming like some sort of
May 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
don't get me wrong, i thoroughly enjoyed this book. and i actually learned a lot from it, particularly in the chapter on neil young v. lynyrd skynyrd. i had no idea skynyrd was from florida????
the thing is, it's a fun piece of ephemera. i enjoyed it, i learned some stuff, but ultimately there was no point to most of what he was writing. he was reaching quite a bit on some of the larger themes he was trying to draw upon. some of his references were too self-congratulatory.

also, considering that t
Peter Colclasure
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Blur vs. Oasis: he writes about how this was primarily a British feud based on class rivalries that didn't translate well in America, where most people only knew Blur for "Song No. 2." The author is a huge Oasis fan and therefore abstained from listening to Blur or any of Damon Albarn's other side projects. He finally sits down and listens to Albarn's first solo album, and decides it's okay. He concedes an argument made by the Blur faithful — that Blur's overall discography was more consistent t ...more
Matt Lohr
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
With "Your Favorite Band is Killing Me," regular AV Club contributing writer Steven Hyden has written a better Chuck Klosterman book than Klosterman himself did this year (and he might possibly agree, given that he provides one of the blurbs for the book's back cover). Hyden's book digs deep into several of the signal music rivalries of the last half century of music, and though he does work some well-trod territory (do we really need ANOTHER Beatles vs. Stones piece?), he nevertheless lives up ...more
May 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this more than I did. Music rivalries are an interesting topic to me, although I don't quite get that mentality. I'm kind of all-inclusive when it comes to music and I don't think you have to pick one when it comes to artists. The age-old question is Beatles vs Stones (a chapter is devoted to that one). I'm a Stones girl but that doesn't mean that I don't love the Beatles, too, and understand their impact on music. For that matter, I love the Kinks, as well! Criminally under-app ...more
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, music, essay
So like this book, I'm going to ignore the actual topic and digress into a personal anecdote. I really loved Grantland. In the wake of its closing, I try and support as many of its writers as possible, because I thought they were making something special there. Steven Hyden was one of my least favorite writers on Grantland (I probably only read Rembert Brown's reaction-gif pieces of the latest Kanye West tweet less), but I inevitably read a piece here and there because he talked about bands I ca ...more
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I don't know when, but at some point Steven Hyden started recording my thoughts and conversations. That seems the only plausible reason why a majority of ideas about music (including hyper specific references and examples) end up in his writing. It's either that or we grew up with so many freaking things in common that our shared (but not shared at all) life experiences created the same understandings of music and pop culture. In all seriousness, Hyden finds easy and coherent ways of stating thi ...more
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Steven Hyden has a brilliant way to tie in all things awesome with popular music. I'm talking about the NFL, Saturday Night Live, the 1992 VMAs, politics, and more. It made me nostalgic at times and has led me to dusting off old CDs that I haven't listened to in years. This book has also inspired me to make a mix CD of strictly Kanye West and Taylor Swift songs...

It made me laugh (Jack White's pettiness in the White Stripes vs. the black Keys), it made me cry (the Michael Jackson vs. Prince chap
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I really enjoyed this book, probably because I share very similar views on music with Steven Hyden. He's also very funny. His fundamental premise is that music rivalries (real or perceived) are interesting because what people think about music has less to do with actual music than it does with how they see themselves and the world.

The best and most surprisingly poignant example of this concept is an anecdote about NJ governor Chris Christie. Christie is a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, and as two
Brett Rohlwing
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a fun read. My only problem is that it had me thinking of all of the pop music rivalries I wish he had covered. Here is my list of rivalries Hayden should have covered that I could think of off the top of my head (in no particular order):
1. Yes vs. Genesis
2. Adele vs. Amy Winehouse
3. Beach Boys vs. Jan & Dean
4. Bob Dylan vs. the Byrds
5. The Smiths vs. The Cure
6. The Replacements vs. Husker Du
7. John Lennon vs. Paul McCartney

But I suppose he had an editor...

Still, Go! Read!
Sep 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book for two main reasons:
1. I love the subject matter - popular music is very important to me, and
2. Hyden is genuinely funny. So funny, in fact, that he kept me interested even when talking about musicians and bands that I either don't like or haven't listened too.
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it

Beatles or Stones? Michael Jackson or Prince? Tupac or Biggie? Oasis or Blur? The Who or Led Zeppelin? One of the pleasures of musical obsession, and which applies to fans of any art form, is arguing about which band is better. The possibilities opened up by musical rivalries are endless, wide ranging, and can lead to fights or epiphanies, depending on the company you keep.

I have friends, for example, who swear by the unsurpassable excellence of The Who but find Zeppelin to be unlistenable gar
Nathan Albright
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: challenge2017
Although I don't consider myself someone who participates in a great many feuds, I must admit that I am clearly very aware of them as they relate to the pop music scene [1].  Whether the feud exists because of genuine dislike or because of the feeling that the pop scene isn't big enough for two people/groups, or because of marketing, or because of fundamental differences in perspective and approach, feuds are a fairly common if lamentable aspect of the world of music.  Although the author in alm ...more
Joshua Buhs
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Is Steven Hyden, author of “Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me,” friends with Chuck Klosterman—or are they rivals? Klosterman blurbs the book, and Hyden thanks him in the acknowledgments. But then, in one of this collection’s essays, Hyden says he doesn’t really have any guy friends. Are they secretly enemies? Frenemies? I’m not saying they are, but there’s a case to be made: both about the same age, both from the Midwest, both wrote for the late, lamented Grantland, both obsessed with pop culture ...more
Tom Quinn
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Armchair psychoanalysis of collective pop culture criticism, pitting one band's fandom against another's? Yes, please.

Here's the review I want to write:

It's a fun bit of mental masturbation that was recommended to me because I adore Chuck Klosterman's pop culture analyses, but it lacks the oomph of grand-daddy Klosterman's work. It is Klosterman-like, though. Call it Klosterman-lite. Hyden is a touch less witty and reveals less personality in his writing, so while Klosterman's pieces often shine
Wray F
Dec 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Things I took away from this book:

Pearl Jam was music for frat boys? Didn't realize it at the time. Thought they were mountainy, lumberjack hard rockers. Maybe it's because I was raised in the mountains and cut down a tree once.

I'm on the fence with the Oasis/Blur thing, but lean toward working-class Oasis even though they are probably tools. Blur have their moments, but they pretty much speak for England. "Park Life" will never resonate in California.

I appreciate artists who are experimental
Petty Lisbon
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a nice read. I guess you'll get more out of it if you're more trivia inclined but I feel like even if you don't actively know most of these people's backstories, you can get something out of it. There are enough snort worthy moments where you don't feel like it takes itself too seriously. Although sometimes when he would compare something to something else, I would lose the analogy for a second and forget we're in a music book, I think he generally proved his points. While I wouldn't mi ...more
Trevor Seigler
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wouldn't you know, another re-read? This is actually the second time I've re-read it, and it's one of those books that rewards re-reads (especially after you've been foolhardy enough to tackle James Joyce). Steven Hyden uses some of the most notable (and some of the most obscure) pop-music rivalries to really dig down deep into aspects of life that we can all relate to (especially those of us who are starting to feel too old to care about pop-star feuds or even pop stars). From the obvious (Beat ...more
Nov 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a breezy read, and the mix of music rivalry history and author commentary is pleasant throughout. Unfortunately, the editorializing is simplistic and blunt without being particularly funny or insightful. Hyden is an affable guy as evidenced by the podcast "Rivals" which he co-hosts with a fellow music journalist. The show does get into the "meaning of life" aspects that the book's subtitle indicates, but the focus on the rivalries themselves is certainly more fun, and listening to him ha ...more
god, finishing this book took me literally forever

it was kinda heavy in the way that you couldn't really marathon it and some things he talked about didn't really interest me at all (or i was too young/not american enough to get them, i suppose). other parts of this book i actually really liked, i laughed out loud at some things and i really found myself musing over stuff and learning things about popular culture that i didn't know before.
Leigh R
Funny, thoughtful essays about perceived rivalries in the music world. Sometimes the point got off track in the essays, but they were still pretty interesting.
Anton Iokov
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Funny and unpretentious longread-turned-into-book. Listened in a single day.
Aug 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
I wanted to like this more than I did, but out of 282 pages only one and a half chapters deign to discuss women musicians.
Aug 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Oct 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
i liked the concept of this book and overall i enjoyed it, but for me there were too many other stories and anecdotes. chapters went on for far too long
Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Okay, I know we have The Ringer now, and The Ringer has brought us Actual National Treasure Sam Donsky. Is it wrong that I still miss Grantland, though? They had an incredible stable of writers with a particular gift for writing about important things through the lens of seemingly unimportant things. Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me, from Grantland alum and UpRoxx writer Steven Hyden, reminded me of what was so special about Grantland’s glory days.

And yes, okay, the subtitle is a little grandios
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“If you're reading this book, there is probably an artist or band whose music you have an intense personal relationship with. I would also guess that this artist or band came into your life during a time when you were highly vulnerable. if this is the case, this artist or band might be the closest thing you had to a confidant. in fact, he, she, or it was better than a confidant, because his/her/its music articulated your own thoughts and feeling better than you ever could. This music elevated the raw materials of your life to the heights of art and poetry. It made you feel as if your personal experience was grander and more meaningful than it might otherwise have been. And naturally you attributed whatever that music was doing to your heart and brain to the people who made the music, and you came to believe that the qualities of the music were also true of the music's creators. "If this music understands me, then the people behind the music must also understand me," goes this line of thought.” 5 likes
“In 1902, a sociologist named Charles Horton Cooley devised a concept called the looking-glass self, which posits that s person's sense of identity is shaped by interaction with social groups and the ways in which the individual thinks he or she is perceived by others. Cooley believed this process involved three steps: •You imagine how you appear to other people. •You imagine the judgment of other people. •You base your feelings about yourself on how you think [you] appear to other people.” 3 likes
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