Grading the Top 10 in … ADULT ROCK!

1. Mumford & Sons, “I Will Wait”


A friend of mine has dubbed this genre “suspenders rock,” but I have also heard it called “beard rock.” Mumford & Sons are a folky boy band from England that make warm woolen songs and wear vests. They come off here a bit like a steampunk Coldplay playing this uplifting dirge to an adoring crowd at Red Rocks.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “There’s nothing quite like watching thousands of people moshing to well-played acoustic instruments and folk music :D” — PhoenixFlynn

2. Phillip Phillips, “Home”


Phillip Phillips won the 11th season of American Idol. He has an impossibly silly name. He is a fan of Damien Rice, Dave Matthews, and Tool. He has been called out for sounding a lot like Dave Matthews in particular. Maybe this new neo-folk movement is the push-back to the enormous popularity of pop, house, and EDM. Or you could just blame the Arcade Fire (blame Canada).

Grade: C

Best YouTube Comment: “rip off of Mumford and Sons, but not a bad song” — r3dast3rik09

3. Walk the Moon, “Anna Sun”


Walk the Moon are a band from Cincinnati who take their name from a song by The Police. There are shades of “Mr. Brightside” and a heavy Chris Martin influence. Yet another video with white hipsters doing “tribal” face-painting toward the end. Blergh.

Grade: D

Best YouTube Comment: “gotye and the killers had a baby” — SaraLiesch

4. The Wallflowers ft. Mick Jones, “Reboot the Mission”


The Wallflowers recruit Mick Jones from The Clash for a funky dub-reggae piano rock song. I gotta say, this is the last thing I ever expected from The Wallflowers, and I was pleasantly surprised. Jakob Dylan resembles his dad more the older he gets. He’s looking very Renaldo and Clara here.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “This crap just rips off The Clash (yes, I know Jones plays) and the bassline from Take It Or Leave It by Madness. Unoriginal late-70s-early-80s-English-sounding nonsense” — Scotsmanic69

5. Muse, “Madness”


Muse invent Glamstep and I can’t help but love it. They hold the initial tight groove’s tension so long that you start to wonder if it’s ever going to break, and then it’s thrilling when it does. “Madness” sounds like Erasure, Zooropa-era U2, and Duran Duran’s self-titled seventh album from 1993, the one with “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone.” The video, shot in dramatic giallo lighting, feels very Gary Numan. Every generation gets the prog it deserves.

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “I am so digging this song, reminds me a little of Prince” — Ciganylelek

6. Adele, “Skyfall”


It’s hilarious how often Adele says the word “Skyfall” in this song. Maybe the upside to Adele’s new album not being about heartbreak is that it might be about sex.

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “adele did the shit out of this song” — special0fried0rice

7. Imagine Dragons, “It’s Time”


This song has been on the Adult Rock chart for a while now. Who knew that “The Killers with mandolins” was the next big thing? People sing about “towns” a lot in this genre.

Grade: D

Best YouTube Comment: “in the beginning his necklace looks like one of those things on a bread package lol” — moosebabies101

8. Tristan Prettyman, “My Oh My”


Tristan Prettyman is actually a pretty woman singing a dusky folk-rock tune to a white tiger about loving a no-good man. I can see Taylor Swift being really into this song, and not just because of the way Prettyman vamps in a human-size birdcage.

Grade: B-

Best YouTube Comment: “Tristan Prettyman, Lana Del Rey … all my favorite music videos feature big cats” — stephiegust

9. The Rolling Stones, “Doom and Gloom”


It was already hard enough to listen to The Rolling Stones without thinking about life and mortality, but after this past season of Mad Men it’s damn near impossible. This is the best new Stones single in ages, perhaps because it channels the classic early Stones sound so well. Can you channel yourself? Mick Jagger gets older but his voice stays the same age.

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “If YouTube was around in 65, Satisfaction would have had a billion views. Teenagers rule this type of media.” — harp1925

10. Alex Clare, “Too Close”


Oh, it’s that dubstep song from the Internet Explorer 9 commercial that’s always on. Is Alex Clare the male version of ginger dubstep chanteuse Katy B? Am I Katy B? Clare is an Orthodox Jew, and therefore does not roll on Shabbos. He dated Amy Winehouse for a year and they probably bonded over their mutual love of Donny Hathaway. This chilly breakup song was produced by Diplo, Switch, and Mike Spencer. While I hate hearing it in 10-second wub-wub snippets on the IE9 commercial, I gotta admit I enjoyed it when I finally heard it in full.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “I sang this song for my school talent show” — JaedonduBarry

Filed Under: Adele, Billboard, Grading the Charts, Muse, Phillip Phillips, Top Ten

Photo on 2014-01-10 at 12.58 #3

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert

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