Paste Magazine got some attention on the interwebs this week for naming The National‘s Boxer the best record of 2007, but contributing editor Jeff Leven got in on the list making with “The Greatest Riffs of the 21st Century (So Far)”.
“To make its way into the canon of great riffs alongside, say, ‘Purple Haze’ or ‘Smoke on the Water,’ a riff has to be more than just acrobatic, fierce or played at high volume,” Leven says. “It has to become ubiquitous, a touchstone, a shared reference point for guitar freaks and casual fans alike.”
And what reference points does Leven offer?
- “Seven Nation Army” ~ The White Stripes
- “Take Me Out” ~ Franz Ferdinand
- “No One Knows” ~ Queens of the Stone Age
- “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” ~ Jet
- “Float On” ~ Modest Mouse
- “American Idiot” ~ Green Day
- “Talk” ~ Coldplay
- “Last Resort” ~ Papa Roach
- “Hate to Say I Told You So” ~ The Hives
- “Circle of Cysquatch” ~ Mastodon
Ignoring the fact that Leven says “Float On” has a “feel good riff for the ages,” I am bugged by the idea that he openly acknowledges in his notes that Coldplay “borrowed” their riff for “Talk” from Kraftwerk’s “Computer Love.”
I suppose we can’t call it “ganking” so long as Mr. Paltrow & Co. admit to their theft in the X&Y liner notes. But beyond that, Jon Buckland has never struck me as a particularly skilled guitarist â€” at least not on the level of Jack White, Josh Homme or some of the others on this list. I mean not to pick on the poor man, but his playing is the antithesis of everything Leven says a good riff should be. Besides, there’s a lot to be said for the fact that Buckland’s only on this already shaky list because his band had the good sense to lift a riff from a relatively obscure group that isn’t exactly praised for its innovative guitar work.