Because: why the heck not.
I'm about as obsessed with music as I am college basketball. My terrific editor and friend, Tony Moss, recently tweeted about ranking the Sweet 16 teams' cities according to music pride.
He didn't realize I'd spend six hours shaping a post and taking his idea. So here it is. If by chance I glossed over some obvious pick or a hidden gem of a band you think warrants (DESERVES!) a nod, just hit me on Twitter. And some of the artists' affiliation with some cities are vague (Waco claims Nugent even though he's the "Motor City Madman," for instance).
This is an entirely different power ranking from the teams we've got in the bracket. Though Florida's got the best combination of tunes and team.
16. Ames, Iowa.
Modern Life is War. Punk band.
Leslie and the LY's. Hip-hop/electric/pop comedy-ish Internet sensation. Wikipedia said they made the front page of Yahoo's news template main page.
Best band name: Strong Like Bear
Worst band name: Thoughts of Crossing
Miscellaneous: John Darnielle, of the terrific Mountain Goats, has paid taxes in Ames. Saving grace for this town. The music scene is ... barren.
15. Storrs/Hartford, Connecticut.
Mark McGrath. The frontman for Sugar Ray. This is where we're at right now.
Chris Carrabba. The guy behind Dashboard Confessional. I dare you to get through this entire video.
Brian Rosenworcel. The Thundergod. Drummer for Guster. I love Guster, so he's getting a mention.
Best band name: Funk Brokers Inc. (FBI) <-- so bad, it's good
Worst band name: Exit 29
Miscellaneous: First off, I live in Connecticut. It is an absolutely dreadful state for original music. There aren't a lot of clubs, and a lot of bars don't promote original acts. I'm guessing no other state has a higher quotient of cover/wedding bands than this one. Anyway, I had to lump in Hartford because Storrs barely qualifies as a place of origin/residence outside of the university. Weezer's Rivers Cuomo grew up there, though. One of the guys from The Monkees also grew up in Storrs.
14. Madison, Wisconsin.
Garbage. The most famous band to ever come from one of the best college towns in America.
Tar Babies. Punk rock in the '80s.
Best band name: Soccer Moms in Yuppie Town
Worst band name: Hated Identity
Miscellaneous: Milwaukee was home to more bands than Madison, which had a strong stoner rock and punk rock push over the years.
13. Tucson, Arizona.
Linda Ronstadt. American rocker.
Calexico. Texas-style rock/Americana band.
Howe Gelb/Giant Sand. Folk/Americana/indie rock songwriter who leads the band that's been around for 30 years.
Best band name: The Weird Lovemakers
Worst band name: As We Watch Them Fall
Miscellaneous: Neko Case has mild affiliation with Tucson, having recorded a record there, but overall this a barren musical landscape.
12. East Lansing, Michigan.
The Verve Pipe. Hey, it's a one-hit wonder. You know that one song. "You see it all over the MTV."
Best band name: Paddlefoot
Worst band name: Feather Canyon
Miscellaneous: Stevie Wonder attended the Michigan School for the Blind -- but it's just outside of East Lansing. So close. Getting Stevie on the resume would've probably vaulted East Lansing into the top 10. Also, the guy who wrote "One Shining Moment" has East Lansing ties. That counts for something!
11. Knoxville, Tennessee.
Kenny Chesney. This is the pride and joy. I hear his concerts are quite the scene.
Atticus. Apparently big in the area.
Superdrag. Got some love from Twitter after this list went live. Here is their '90s hit.
Best band name: The Dirty Guv'nahs
Worst band name: Awake in the Nightmare
Miscellaneous: Shockingly anemic list here. Knoxville's actually known as a decent small-gig music town. It's just not nearly in the class of Memphis and Nashville, which are two of the five best music cities in this country, alongside Austin, New Orleans and New York City.
10. Waco, Texas.
Ted Nugent. More known for his guns than his axe these days, it seems.
Jessica Simpson. She qualifies!
Ashlee Simpson. ... And so does she.
Roy Hargrove. Award-winning jazz trumpet player.
Best band name: Cordial Roy
Worst band name: Lights OUT
Miscellaneous: Bill Payne, keys for Little Feat, was born in Waco. Willie Nelson is affiliated with Waco, but really, most of the greater American South claims Willie. Obviously there are a lot of Texas blues and country acts affiliated here, but their national impact doesn't exist.
9. Lexington, Kentucky.
Vince Gill. American country music.
Naomi Judd. American country music.
Sundy Best. American country music.
John Micheal Montgomery. American country music.
Best band name: The Fanged Robot
Worst band name: Looking Through Shadows
Miscellaneous: Two of the Backstreet Boys are from Lexington. Lexington is home to serious bluegrass roots. Bluegrass is terrific -- when it's terrific.
8. Charlottesville, Virginia.
Dave Matthews Band. Will go down as one of the greatest/highest-grossing American touring acts of all-time. Also features Carter Beauford, respected by virtually everyone as one of the best drummers in popular music -- ever. And hey, here's a really different song that isn't from the '90s! Those horns and the 7/8 time signature: dig it.
Sons of Bill. Fledgling Americana band.
The Hackensaw Boys. Also an Americana band, but more in the vein of Yonder Mountain String Band.
Best band name: Drunk Tigers
Worst band name: Borrowed Beams of Light
Miscellaneous: Members of Modest Mouse, Yo La Tengo and Pavement -- serious indie cred here -- all lived in Charlottesville or are from there. C-ville is known for its solid local music/club scene. DMB's kind of taken on the mantle for the city, but it's had blues, jazz, rock and folk roots for decades.
7. Louisville, Kentucky.
My Morning Jacket. I'm just going to drop a 10-minute "Steam Engine" for the folks who know what's up to hit play and enjoy their lives a little bit more.
Slint. Post-rock band whose 1991 LP "Spiderland" is considered by some to be one of the 30 best records of the 1990s.
Wilson Pickett. Legendary R&B singer.
Joan Osborne. One-hit wonder with "One Of Us."
Black Cross. Hardcore punk band.
Best band name: The Moon Crickets
Worst band name: Angerwish
Miscellaneous: Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary is from Louisville. Nappy Roots received some love after this post went live. Technically from Bowling Green, Ky., but have some Louisville ties. They get a mention here. What DMB did for Charlottesville, MMJ's done for this city, in terms of birthing a major American touring act.
6. Palo Alto, California.
The Grateful Dead. Though its origins are connected to nearby San Francisco, the most influential jam band of all time started near Stanford.
Joan Baez. Legendary American folk singer, one of the biggest female artists of the past 50 years. She's now 73.
Lindsey Buckingham. Grew up in Palo Alto, went on to be part of England-based Fleetwood Mac.
The Kingston Trio. American pop/folk group that was popular just before The Beatles changed the game.
The Donnas. All-girl bands rock.
Best band name: The Grateful Dead
Worst band name: Third Eye Blind (by association!)
Miscellaneous: Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind is from Palo Alto -- and is 49 YEARS OLD. Our lives are a lie. Also, Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane is from here. Palo Alto's done all right for itself.
5. Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Classic American Midwest rock band. Not for me, but definitely for my dad.
The Stooges. Iggy and the Stooges. You know, hard punk. "Lust for Life," etc. (Iggy Pop is terrifying.)
Brownsville Station. Popular '70s rock group. Known most for this song.
Andrew W.K. YESSSS.
Best band name: Wolf Eyes
Worst band name: Porchsleeper
Miscellaneous: Madonna attended Michigan for a short time before dropping out to pursue music.
4. Dayton, Ohio.
Ohio Players. This riff. Every single time.
Guided By Voices. Very popular indie rock band that formed all the way back in 1983.
Hawthorne Heights. Formerly known as "A Day in the Life." Respected emo/screamo band.
Zapp. Electro-funk. Ohio offered a lot of this in the '70s.
Swearing at Motorists. Rock duo.
Best band name: The Great American Beasts
Worst band name: Lab Partners (shockingly, they're shoegaze)
Miscellaneous: John Scofield — who's played with Miles Davis, Jaco Pistorius. Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny — warrants mention. Kim Deal ofThe Pixies is from Dayton, which only adds to Dayton's cred. The end of this clip is so true and probably the toughest thing to resist when playing in a band.
3. San Diego, California.
Stone Temple Pilots. Has STP somehow slipped into underrated category? Band was so varied. Think about what "Core" was all about. Now listen to this. Great for a spring morning.
Blink-182. Defined punkpop rock in the MTV era. I'm just saying: it's what happened.
Tom Waits. Not for everyone, but undeniably one of the true, gritty voices of American songwriting in the past 40 eyars.
Jason Mraz. Actually a damn good songwriter, just a little too adult-contemporary these days.
Iron Butterfly. Acid rock! Once learned "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" for an acoustic wedding processional.
Switchfoot. I dare you to listen.
P.O.D. Nu metal! You might barely recall the name. They had that "Youth of a Nation song" back in 2003.
Augustana. Gotta figure this song was featured on many a WB program.
Slightly Stoopid. Discovered by the lead singer of Sublime, or so the story goes. Jammy dub/reggae/psych rock. Not bad here and there.
Best band name: Fishwife (they're mathcore!)
Worst band name: The Beautiful Mistake
Miscellaneous: The area connecting Los Angeles and San Diego was known for its punk, pop, reggae and dub scene through the 1980s and '90s. Interesting how strong the divide is between San Diego and L.A., though, in terms of how much more came from up north.
2. Gainesville, Florida.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Big time. Tom Petty gives hope to every average-looking dude that he can become an all-time rock god. I can't stand American Girl, I really love Break Down, but in terms of under the radar Petty tunes, I'm particularly fond of "Even the Losers."
Bo Diddley. Absolute legend of blues and rock. Inspired The Beatles, The Whole, Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Elvis. Died in 2007, in Gainesville.
Hot Water Music. My kind of punk band. Sister Hazel. When people want to kill '90s music, this is where i can give them some ground to stand on.
Less Than Jake. A little bit of ska here and there is fine by me.
Against Me! Modern alternative rock band. The leader singer is transgender and changed names in 2012, from Thomas Gabel to Laura Jane Grace. Really good read on it.
For Squirrels. Band was approaching more mainstream fame before two members were killed in a car accident in 1995.
Best band name: Road Turkey
Worst band name: Suicide Silence
Miscellaneous: I knew Petty was from Gainesville before starting this project, and that was it. Surprising roster.
1. Los Angeles, California.
This is just unfair. I'm going to keep the list "short." Hip-hop alone would put it near the top of rankings.
The Beach Boys. Some believe it's the best band this country has ever produced. I say that would be possible if not for Mike Love. Still, listen to this and have flowers bloom in your brain.
The Doors. Legendary band that I've never been able to get into. But "People Are Strange" is on the up and up.
Snoop Dogg. Man, 1993 was so long ago.
Rage Against the Machine. Probably the best band that ever made you love the music while trying to ignore the lead singer. That's hard to do.
Mötley Crüe. Absolutely never got the appeal of this band. It's legally binded to not play together after its upcoming, final tour.
Bad Religion. One of the most important punk bands of all time.
Beck. His new album is extremely good. But watch this classic performance of "Debra" right now instead.
Etta James. Legendary American voice.
Guns N' Roses. A comet in rock and roll. Burned bright quickly, never to return.
The Byrds. One of the most popular bands of the 1960s.
Tool. Has remained a massively popular mainstream underground act despite releasing only four studio albums in 24 years. That's incredibly impressive and incredibly pedantic to your fanbase.
Red Hot Chili Peppers. I enjoy the "Californication" LP to a certain degree, and you do as well.
Sublime. Interesting legacy. For a three-piece, the band had a lot going for it. And despite losing its lead singer to a heroin overdose in 1996, the group actually increased in popularity after it stopped playing as Sublime following Bradley Nowell's death.
Black Flag. Biggest underground hardcore punk band ever.
The Eagles. I will not quote Lebowski. I will not quote Lebowski. I will not quote Lebowski.
Frank Zappa. I never got into Zappa, but he was an American original. Never has the word "eclectic" fit one American artist like him.
Dr. Dre. Amazing hip-hop icon. His headphones are not even remotely worth the price.
N.W.A. List would be voided if it wasn't a part of this.
98 Degrees. Just to give you a taste of a lot of the awful music that's come out of the City of Angels.
Van Halen. "Jump" is the first song/earliest memory I have in regard to the concept of music. You're looking at me like that's a bad thing.
Toto. Funniest start to a music video ever. It's dripping in '80s swag.
Weezer. Man, did this band lose it in a hurry or what? We'll always have high school, I suppose. That cover of "Paranoid Android" a few years back was an interesting choice. Pinkerton's the most overrated underrated album ever, by the way.
Best band name: Porno for Pyros
Worst band name: Hoobastank
Miscellaneous: There really is no more that needs to be said. You could line up more than 100 acts for L.A. and still not squeeze everybody worthy in.