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By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
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By Tom Murphy
Runners-up. 3. "Bungle in the Jungle" (1974): Enough to make you hungry for some endangered species. 2. "Locomotive Breath" (1971): We've got smokestack envy. 1. "Living in the Past" (1972): The classic-rock mantra.
The Winner. "Aqualung" (1971): It's sodden, drawn out, bombastic and doesn't make a lick of sense. In other words, a classic-rock landmark.
8. THE EAGLES. The reunion by these millionaires has prompted classic-rock music directors to pump them even harder than before. Damn the luck.
Runners-up. 3. "One of These Nights" (1975): Nearly twenty years later, proof that this song isn't like fine wine. 2. "Life in the Fast Lane" (1977): Another traffic-update soundtrack. Innovative! 1. "Take It Easy" (1972): The closest thing to country music in classic rock.
The Winner. "Hotel California" (1977): When we first heard Don Henley singing the line, "You can never leave," we thought he was joking. The truth is a bitter thing.
7. AEROSMITH. At least they rock harder than other musicians who can qualify for the senior discount at Denny's.
Runners-up. 3. "Back in the Saddle" (1977): Gene Autry's still pissed about this one. 2. "Walk This Way" (1976): Of course it's not the rap remake with Run DMC. Thanks to Jimi Hendrix, classic-rock stations already have one African-American's music in their archives--and apparently they feel that's enough. 1. "Sweet Emotion" (1975): It would sound sweeter if it weren't played so frigging often.
The Winner. "Dream On" (1973): A nightmare's more like it.
6. BAD COMPANY. Even if Paul Rodgers rejoined this band, it wouldn't draw flies. But for some unexplainable reason, it keeps drawing airplay.
Runners-up. 3. "Bad Company" (1974): That they are. 2. "Feel Like Makin' Love" (1975): Not after hearing this neanderthalic clunker, you won't. 1. "Rock `N' Roll Fantasy" (1979): It'll have you fantasizing, all right--about switching to talk radio.
The Winner. "Shooting Star" (1975): The tale of a rock star who rises to fame, then overdoses and dies. Likely to have you wishing it were autobiographical.
5. ERIC CLAPTON. With his comeback still in full swing, Clapton's a regular on many different brands of rock station. So you can get sick of him all over the dial.
Runners-up. 3. "Cocaine" (1980): Do onetime indulgers realize this isn't a pro-drug song? Snort! 2. "After Midnight" (1970): Used as a beer commercial while Eric was a chronic substance abuser. Close your eyes and touch your nose. 1. "Layla (Acoustic Version)" (1992): How do classic-rock stations pretend to play something new? They broadcast a wimpy remake of something old.
The Winner. "Layla" (with Derek and the Dominos, 1972): The most impressive thing Clapton ever wrote--or probably ever will. And by now, hearing it (or its unplugged twin) is like Chinese water torture.
4. LYNYRD SKYNYRD. Redneck wisdom dispensed against the backdrop of three guitars spewing empty musical cliches. Pass the Boone's Farm, Bubba!
Runners-up. 3. "Saturday Night Special" (1975): Most of the NRA-boosting yahoos who love this are too dense to realize it's an anti-handgun song. 2. "Tuesday's Gone" (1973): Actually, Tuesdays are shorter than this song. 1. "Sweet Home Alabama" (1974): A single that makes Hank Williams Jr.'s odes to the South seem cerebral by comparison.
The Winner. "Free Bird" (1974): At almost any concert, you can hear pranksters shouting requests for this endless exercise in puerility. Classic-rock programmers obviously don't get the joke.
3. PINK FLOYD. Now we're coming to the big boys. This band is faceless. Dour. Self-important. And a maker of songs protracted enough to allow jocks to eliminate every speck of human waste from their systems before returning to the studio.
Runners-up. 3. "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" (1975): A tribute to a drug casualty. Presented in a casually druggy way. 2. "Great Gig in the Sky" (1973): Soulfulness has never sounded so soulless. 1. "Comfortably Numb" (1979): What do you know! More drug references! In an anti-drug song that sounds great on headphones when you're on drugs!
The Winner. "Money" (1973): Which, thanks to classic-rock stations, they're still raking in.
2. THE DOORS. In the pantheon of classic-rock blowhards, the Doors are kings. The act that laid the groundwork for a thousand interminable organ solos.
Runners-up. 3. "Hello, I Love You" (1968): Another pick-up line whose time has passed. 2. "Light My Fire" (1967): Come on, baby, change the channel. 1. "L.A. Woman" (1971): More effective than Proposition 187 at making people hate California.
The Winner. "Riders on the Storm" (1971): Played whenever the weather turns foul. No rain! No rain! No rain!
And the champion is...
1. LED ZEPPELIN. It's no surprise that Zep rules classic rock (you already knew that, didn't you?). But the shock is the margin of victory. This group is played more often than any other in each of our surveyed cities. Listen to a classic-rock station for an hour and you're apt to hear at least one Led Zeppelin song. And it will probably be one of these.
Runners-up. 3. "Whole Lotta Love" (1969): Mr. Plant wants to give you every inch of his love. But beware--some of it may be padding. 2. "Immigrant Song" (1970): Not exactly the band at its peak. But that hardly matters to this crowd. 1. "Kashmir" (1975): Thanks to the new Robert Plant-Jimmy Page MTV cash-in platter, this is also available in a handy Moroccan mix that simulates freshness.
The Winner. "Stairway to Heaven" (1971): The most overrequested song in rock history long ago established the classic-rock prototype: It features a quiet introduction, flighty, mock-poetic lyrics (excuse us, but what was in the hedgerow?), a buildup to an electric guitar frenzy, several chest-thumping rock moments and a hushed conclusion meant to convey depth and timelessness. And, as an added bonus, it's either unintentionally funny or boring as sin, depending on your point of view. That's classic rock at its best.