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COLUMN: In defense of Greta Van Fleet


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Courtesy of Billboard

Out of all the bands to attract hate from today’s rock scene, why is it Greta Van Fleet?

I don’t understand the almost visceral hate they’ve been receiving since their recent rise to prominence, which has only strengthened with the release of their first album, “Anthem of the Peaceful Army.”

But there are artists and bands that are far more damaging to the rock scene, and the hate may only kill a great music career before it even begins.

For anyone who might not know, Greta Van Fleet is a blues-rock band from Frankenmuth, Michigan. They formed in 2012, having released two EP’s and one full-length record since. That album was released in October of this year, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart, according to NBC News.

The band has received attention for mainly three things: being young, being comprised of mostly siblings and for sounding exactly like Led Zeppelin. This comparison is especially clear with the voice of lead vocalist, Josh Kiszka, sounding exactly like that of Robert Plant, the singer of Led Zeppelin.

If you listen to songs like “Highway Tune” he sounds exactly like them. Instrumentally, it’s clear that the members were inspired by their respective Led Zeppelin members.

Here’s the thing: why does it matter if they sound just like Led Zeppelin? As far as I know, they’re not stealing riffs or melodies from them. Their lead singer just so happens to have a voice matching Plant.

Yes, this makes them far from an original band. But just because one band doesn’t innovate and still becomes popular, doesn’t mean innovation for the genre comes to a grinding halt. 

Look at artist like Ty Segall and Jack White. They are successful and innovative musicians, despite the success of Greta Van Fleet.

Also, bands like Three Days Grace and Falling in Reverse have done far more damage to the rock scene than Greta Van Fleet ever will. Three Days Grace helped standardize the current boredom surrounding rock radio these days. At least Greta is interesting to listen to.

Just because they sound like another band doesn’t mean they aren’t good musicians.

 Even people that don’t like this band will say the musicianship is not the problem. Famed music critic, Anthony Fantano, said in his review of their new album that he thought the musicianship was decent, but their lack of innovation distracted him from the performances.

That's a fair point, but if the musicianship is fine and the songwriting is decent, the reasoning behind not liking this band strikes me as superficial. If the band was a poor imitation of Led Zeppelin, that would be one thing. But they’re not.

I’m not alone with my opinion. According to the Detroit Free Press, Robert Plant himself has given Greta Van Fleet his endorsement.

Also, Led Zeppelin were notorious for ripping off riffs and covering songs without giving credit to the original artists, according to Rolling Stone. So sure, Greta Van Fleet is copying their sound. But at least they’re writing their own music.

Here’s the thing: they’re still a new band, with lots of time to grow their sound. 

Perhaps a couple albums down the line their sound will be more unique. Famed prog-rock band, Rush, started out as a blues-based rock band like Led Zeppelin. Hell, they were even dubbed the “Canadian Led Zeppelin” based off their early song, “Working Man”, according to Rolling Stone.

I’m not saying Greta Van Fleet will become just as innovative as Rush, but I certainly think swiping away good musicians before they can prove themselves could stifle a great career.

Andrew Mullin hosts a weekly rock music podcast called "Soundcheck" that can be found on Spotify, iTunes and Soundcloud.

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