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Rivalries great fodder for entertainment in music industry

By Dan Crossen

April 26, 2003 9:00 p.m.

Popular music is, by its very nature, antagonistic. Artists
creating rock and hip-hop are constantly trying to tear down old,
out-dated paradigms of a generation, or perhaps of a few weeks
earlier, and to replace it with something new and fresh. It is only
natural that this leads at times to conflict: conflict between fans
about which artists are best, conflict between artists and fans
about what music is played, and conflict between artists about …
well, no one is quite sure what those are about. But one fact
remains; artist rivalries provide some of the best entertainment in
the music business, often surpassing even the music itself.

In this spirit, let us examine some potential musician matchups
in the ring. Some are based on real disputes and others would just
be fun to see.

Either way we’d all love to watch. Let’s get it

Stephen Malkmus v. Billy Corgan

In the early to mid-’90s, much was made of the Pavement
frontman’s ostensible dislike and vocal criticism of The
Smashing Pumpkins and its frequently melodramatic leader, Billy
Corgan. Corgan was often too big (read: successful) to trouble
himself with such petty squabbles. But what if the dream of every
indie nerd came true, and Steve got his shot? Who would win this
monumental battle, settling the long-standing dispute between
independent and mainstream rock once and for all? It seems that as
troubling as the implications are for the future of art-rock,
Corgan would come out on top. It’s important to remember that
this is not Corgan circa 1999, who probably would have responded to
a fight by trying to summon some bats to his defense. No, this is
the new, happier Billy Corgan of Zwan. He looks like he’s
been taking care of himself lately, maybe getting into the gym.

Steve, meanwhile, is as skinny as ever, and that razor-sharp
Malkmusian wit can only cut so far. He may have style, miles and
miles, but Corgan would “honestly” break him in half,
showing that after all, maybe he does have some function: kicking

Ja Rule v. 50 Cent

The latest hip-hop rivalry is certainly puzzling. What could 50
Cent, Eminem’s latest protégé, possibly have
against little Ja Rule? And what could 5-foot, 4-inch Ja Rule
possibly be thinking mixing it up with 50, the most apparently
genuine gangsta since Tupac? I mean, the guy’s been shot like
eight times, once in the face. This one is no fight at all; 50 Cent
wins in the first round, takes Ashanti for himself, says
“Who’s on Murder Inc. now? … Me!” Crowd is
confused, yet cheers nonetheless.

Conor Oberst v. Chris Carraba

The sad, sad masterminds behind Bright Eyes and Dashboard
Confessional, respectively, face off to determine who is the
whiniest baby in the music business. Result: Oberst takes one look
at Carraba’s mutton-chops, screams “your hair!
It’s everywhere,” starts crying, forfeits match.

Courtney Love v. well, anyone really

Take your pick here; it seems everyone has a reason to hate
Love. She sued the band Nerf Herder for its entirely innocuous
song, “Courtney Love, Sit on My Face.” She sued the
surviving members of Nirvana to prevent their attempts to release a
fan-friendly box set. Courtney steps into ring alone, yells
incoherently, attacks security, is handcuffed, and left to the
mercy of the crowd. Ha, finally!

Want to challenge The Headphone Master to a cage match? Come
weigh in at 118 Kerckhoff or e-mail him at
[email protected]

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Dan Crossen
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