Many bands can shake an arena for an evening, but according to music guru Jeff Pollack, few can shake the world.
Pollack, founder and CEO of the international media consulting firm Pollack Media Group, spoke to a packed audience in Trumbull College’s Nick Chapel Tuesday afternoon, presenting his list of “10 Bands that Shook the World” to over 60 staff and students. With criteria including multiple commercial successes, lasting influence, quality of lyrics and live performance ability, Pollack’s list included a range of bands, from The Beatles to Nirvana.
“It’s very difficult to get a perspective on great music — it’s difficult to say, for instance, that Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” is a song that people will be listening to years down the track,” he said. “When you have to justify to your kids, parents or friends why a particular band is great, it becomes a difficult question.”
Pollack has been in the music industry for over 30 years and counts MTV, VH1 and Paramount Pictures among his clients. The initial idea of composing a list came from a dinner-party conversation in which he tried to predict what music from today people would be listening to in 100 years.
With photographs projected behind him, Pollack used his Apple iPad to play short audio clips from each of the bands during the talk.
While he was analyzing each of his selections, he discussed his experience in the music industry. Pollack said he has worked on the music of over 30 films and produced global events like Live8 and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. He also mentioned that he has met members of every band he listed.
Describing The Beatles as a group that has “written more 100-year songs than any other band,” Pollack sketched out their ascent but also made the case that they split up when they should have.
“There is something called a creative consensus, a drive comes from other band members, that they were losing,” he explained.
Pollack described Nirvana as the “only band since the 1990s that has had a far-reaching influence, coming as they did out of an appalling decade of music.”
Of the 10 students interviewed at the Tea, all agreed with Pollack’s selections — though some pointed to other major artists that did not make the cut.
“It’s very clear he went for a type of rock that’s very raw in sound,” Jules Terrien ’13 said. “One of the common things about all these bands is that they broke the rules of their period, musically.”
Terrien also suggested Queen and AC/DC as bands of a similar genre that could have made the list. Other more recent bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and Radiohead could also qualify based on their influence in the music industry, Terrien added, though they are “not at all the same kind of rock.”
Sam Hafer ’11, who helped organize the event, said he was more familiar with pop music than rock and roll, calling the talk an “educational experience.” He initially invited Pollack after meeting his wife Darcy Pollack ’87 while arranging the Whiffenpoofs’ spring tour last year. (Darcy Pollack is a former marketing director of the News’ board of 1986.)
“I’m going to go and buy all these albums and figure out why they’re great,” Hafer added.
Zach Simao ’13 said he thought the talk was excellent because it explained what made each band great — qualities that he hopes the bands in which he plays can emulate.
Still, not everyone agreed with Pollack’s selections. Pollack noted that he had received some criticism of his picks after the list was leaked on the Huffington Post, to which he is a regular contributor, earlier Tuesday morning.
Pollack is also co-founder of the Big Bang Conference, a gathering of industry leaders that focuses on the latest developments in digital media and music.