Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Just Don't Get It: Kiss

 OK, so I have been thinking about other types of posts that I could include on this blog and then Kiss came on the radio and the light bulb went off: I could talk about bands or artists that I just don't get why people seem to like them so much. I am sure these entries will insight a few opinions. I am very opinionated when it comes to music and although that is not the main theme of this blog, I thought it would be fun to stir the pot a bit. As always, if you have a band or artist that you don't understand their popularity, let me know and we can banter either for or against each other.

So Kiss is definitely one of those bands I just don't get. I a have several reasons for this as I will explain.

  1. I was young when they were popular and my dad was not a fan so I did not hear them much. I do remember the cheesy show they did. I was scared of Gene Simmons the first time I saw him spit blood on stage. Kind of freaked me out.
  2. While in high school (before I started playing music) I was a Zeppelin freak and had several arguments with this idiot who thought that Kiss was the biggest band ever because they dressed up on stage and might have made more money. But I kept on him saying, yeah , but what about the music. He tried in vain to convince me that Kiss had better songs. Like I said he was an idiot. I will bet money that if you asked any member of Kiss and ask them who has better music they would probably all say Led Zeppelin.
  3. Once I did start playing drums, I never had the urge to play any Kiss. To me they were a basic rock band that was all about the show (which they did very well). I could appreciate a few of their songs (God of Thunder is cool), but for the most part I can't leave them on the radio to this day.
  4. Another irritation I have about Kiss is the whole collectable crap. Don't get me wrong, I like band shirts, but Kiss caskets and Kiss condoms, really!? They are such money whores now that the music is an afterthought. My wife is amazed at the amount of collectables that she used to sell at her store (Spencer's).
  5. Finally, the whole Kiss Army thing. Do you really need to name your fans? I liken this to Lady Gaga calling her fans her little monsters – lame.
So there you have it. Kiss isn't all bad, they do have a few good songs but for the most part I just don't get it. Do you?


  1. Brett,I well get where you're coming from. Led Zeppelin were individually more accomplished musicians and their music is more diverse, complex and thought-provoking than anything Kiss could hope to achieve.They rock just as hard,and were no slouch at turning a coin themselves. Let me suggest that Kiss are high achievers in another way that bears a bit of respect. They recognized their limitations, located their target audience and produced the type of basic rock that evokes an emotion in the listener.They then proceeded to give the music business a how-to clinic on promoting a band ,while coming up with more than a few memorable hooks. Crass?Yes. Over-the-top cynical? Again yes. But they produce simple,loud,catchy music that just happens to speak to the visceral,rather than the cereberal.It's kind of like a comparison between Led Zeppelin and Yes. Kiss is a business,first and foremost,but aren't most bands to some degree?

  2. I think another part of KISS's appeal was that as musicians they didn't take themselves too seriously. Their music was/is fun and is generally about having fun.

    There's a time and place for being serious and having one's thoughts provoked and then there are times when we don't want to think. We just want to relax and have fun. KISS is entrenched in the latter category.

    Led Zeppelin excelled on some level at being able to do both although I'd argue that because they were more talented and accomplished musicians their music tends to require more active listening than KISS. KISS you can listen to a little more passively because the music is more basic and fun.

    I'm not really a KISS fan, but there are bands out there that I dig that play "fun" music and don't take themselves seriously. Sometimes I want to be WOWed by the music I listen to and other times I just want to relax and have fun. When I want to think or be impressed I listen to prog, when I want to have fun I listen to stuff like Def Leppard or even old school (70s era) REO Speedwagon (anything up to and including Hi Infidelity-- after that they were far too poppy for my tastes).

  3. john, you make some very good points. They were far and away the best at promoting themselves. But my point is that after a while it just gets old when the music they are putting out sucks. I guess I have to give them credit for being upfront about what they truly are, a business, but I still am not a fan of their music. I also have a tendency to over-complicate things and it shows in the way I play music and the kind of music I generally prefer.

  4. Perplexio, I am all for having fun with music. I could have easily (and may in the future) written a post on AC/DC as well. I call it "no-brainer" music and you need that sometimes after all the DT and Rush stuff. I get that. But for me, the majority of the time it is about the music and I just don't think Kiss is that good. They have several iconic songs but if you take their catalog as a whole there is much more bad than good (as opposed to LZ or Rush). Just for the record I love REO Two (although mine is scratched now). Amazing album.

  5. I remember when I first heard there music on the radio. I thought is was good music and I do like some of there music then I went to get the album and I seen it and I thought I was looking a some clowns. I did buy the album because I like the music.

    Then about six years ago my son came to me and told me I have to listen to this new band he liked. It was Kiss and I told him I listen to there music growing up. He said no way they just came out. We argued for about an hour and I finally went on the computer and showed him how long they have been out. My son goes to the concerts when they come out this way. He loves Kiss. He has all the albums and last Christmas my boyfriend and I bought him a real thick comic book of Kiss.

    You are right about them being a business and them being more of a show then caring about the music they do sing. That is what I don't like about Kiss. Kiss could never out do Zeppelin that I so know for sure. To me Kiss is at the bottom.

  6. Tender Heart Bear, thanks for the reply. I know that it all boils down to what you like and sometimes what you're in the mood for (see the other replies). I have to laugh about you and your son arguing. I did that too but it was about discovering music that was new to me but "oldies" to others. I always looked at Zeppelin that way. When I first started listening to them it was all new and exciting but my parents had heard them for years. Its all relative I guess. I wanted to add a clip of the stupid movie they did back in 1978 but I had issues with my laptop last night.

  7. Ah yeah...I remember that movie, "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park" CHEESY is the word I'd describe the movie. I was 12 years old at the time, and being a die hard KISS fanatic back then and just HAD to see it...

    That was then. The passing phase I went through at the time. While growing up, my folks listened to mostly country and easy listening, so my exposure to rock and roll didn't come till my early teens. So KISS served as a "gateway" to the music I love today.

    Looking back, I have no regrets being a KISS fan. Sure, they're crass and they rehash their music album after album, but they are fun! If and when Ace Frehley and Peter Criss rejoin KISS, I'd go see them in concert. (The show they put out?-Why not?)

    As for KISS being better than Zeppelin? No way, not even close. (Heck, I'd give up my worldly possessions to see Zeppelin).

    For more reading on KISS, check out my review on KISS Alive!.

  8. drewzepmeister, I can see how Kiss could be that "gateway". I did the same sort of thing with Rush and Dream Theater (or prog in general). We all start with the classics (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Who, Doors, etc) and as we learn more we explore more and our tastes change. So I suppose that creates a sort of "warm fuzzy" place in our heart for that particular band even though we may not listen to them as much as we used to (like LZ with me; still love them, just don't listen to them 24/7 like I used to back in high school).

  9. Asia was my gateway band for prog music. From Asia's debut I went to John Wetton's solo material and Yes's Drama album (as it featured both Steve Howe & Geoff Downes) to King Crimson (due to John Wetton's involvement) and from King Crimson I went to Emerson Lake & Palmer due to Palmer being in Asia and Greg Lake being in King Crimson (not to mention standing in for John Wetton in Asia when he left the band briefly in 1983). John Wetton also toured with ex-Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett back in 1997 and Wetton's work with Hackett was my gateway to Hackett's solo work and his work with Genesis (Nursery Cryme through Wind & Wuthering).

    Oh and from ELP and John Wetton I picked up an ELP tribute CD that featured John Wetton providing vocals on a couple tracks and a certain Mike Portnoy drumming on a few tracks... And that ELP tribute CD (and the recommendation of a couple of Chicago and Toto fans who were also Dream Theater fans) that got me into Dream Theater.

  10. Perplexio, its amazing how those prog guys get around isn't it? I can only take ELP and King Crimson in small doses. Some of their stuff is just too far out there for me. I have learned to appreciate Gabriel-era Genesis now and quite enjoy some of it.

    Its funny how things work out. Even when I listened to classic rock (LZ, DP, Doors, etc), I always gravitated toward the longer or more complex songs. I guess I was just born to be a prog guy :)

  11. You're right Brett, with Kiss,all marketing aside,you really either buy what they're selling or you don't,yes? You almost have to adopt a certain attitude about things in general to really get into them. I can appreciate their role in the big picture,so to speak,although I tend to prefer music that is a bit more challenging. I suppose there can be times when Kiss offers the medicine for what ails you from time to time. Cool subject for discussion,this is.

  12. john, I am glad you get what I am saying. I don't dislike Kiss, I just don't understand why so many people make such a big deal out of them. Like I said in previous replies, "no-brainer" music has its place and that is where I will put Kiss.