“I’m a real fat city
I’m an aero delight”
– Aerosmith, “Let The Music Do The Talking”
It’s difficult to call a legendary band that has been around for over four decades underrated. Considering how ubiquitous they were throughout the entire 1990s, it’s very easy to snobbishly dismiss them as overrated. You wouldn’t be completely wrong – most of their stuff during that decade was not… to put it kindly, not their best stuff. To be more blunt, they sold out to become the world’s oldest teeny-bop bubblegum pop band. To their credit, they went back to their hard rock roots in the 21st Century, but the damage has been done to their reputation.
But I’m not here to bury Aerosmith. I’m here to praise them. Forty seven years in the business, and they have had their original lineup for most of them. And they are still going strong in their concerts.
Anyone unfamiliar with the band’s history can easily go their Wikipedia entry. In the fewest words possible – years of hard drugs and hard living took its toll on lead singer Steven Tyler and lead guitarist Joe Perry, that by the mid 1980’s, they were on the verge of breaking up and were considered irrelevant just when hard rock / glam rock / heavy metal had crossed over the mainstream and dominate the radio and MTV airwaves. Then, Run DMC collaborated with Tyler & Perry to do a rap version of “Walk This Way,” and Aerosmith received a second wind.
To get back to the “overrated” reputation; if you listen to a classic rock station, you will hear the same five Aerosmith songs over and over, with little to no variance. They are; “Dream On,” “Sweet Emotion,” “Walk This Way,” “Rag Doll,” and “Dude (Looks Like A Lady).” In essence, it’s more akin to say that because their biggest hits are so overplayed, the casual fan can not appreciate the band’s versatility. But it gets worse if you listen to an Adult Contemporary, Easy Listening, “Best of the past few decades” station. These stations bombard you with the band’s power ballads: “Cryin’,” “Crazy,” and “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.”
The fact that these power ballads, which are clearly the band’s “Kangaroo Men” moment, didn’t completely derail the band’s career, is a testament to their greatness.