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Just For Fun: Monkees Equals Monkees
Monkees Equals Monkees is a game that was invented by essayist and music critic Chuck Klosterman at a party, and is described in detail in his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. The basic game is to match a band and television show on the following five bases:
  1. Time Period,
  2. Longevity,
  3. Commercial Success,
  4. Critical Response,
  5. Overall Aesthetic Soul (most important)

Though not all five criteria have to be exact, it is preferred. In fact, you will likely find many other matching criteria when you engage in this.

Klosterman gives the following examples:

Standard convention applies — add at the top (but below this line), separated by a line.


They Might Be Giants = Late Night/Late Show with David Letterman. Based in New York, they both emerged in The Eighties with a unique style built on Deconstruction and irony with a surreal edge. Critical darlings, they slowly build an audience mostly through word-of-mouth and gain a hip cachet. They're especially popular with college students. After getting Screwed by the Network (NBC, Elektra Records) they make a Channel Hop. Eventually the buzz around them cools down but they achieve Long Runner status by constantly experimenting and trying new things, and even gain some new respectability in their later years. Not to mention TMBG making frequent appearances with Letterman.
Pearl Jam = Friends. In the same vein as Nirvana/Seinfeld (as detailed below), but with a crowd-pleasing mix of edginess and more mainstream stylings. They're ultimately more successful than their more acclaimed peer and become very influential in their own right.
The Replacements = Mystery Science Theater 3000. Local Minnesota cult heroes go national. They gain critical acclaim and a small but rabid following. They take a big stab at mainstream acceptance (Don't Tell a Soul; Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie) but fall short. Still, they're fondly remembered and considered highly influential. Also, the founder of the group (Bob Stinson/Joel Hodgson) departs at a key moment in its run.
Thirteenth Floor Elevators = Andy Richter Controls The Universe (or Velvet Underground = Andy Richter Controls The Universe) Not exactly a popular success, but successful with the right people. The direct influence pales before the indirect influence.
KISS = Monday Night Football. A guaranteed arena-filler for more than 40 years, with a lineup that's changed several times over the years and has often scandalized some critics with its antics. The band's costumes could easily be modified football pads. And, just like American Football generally (and MNF in particular) they make enough money to feed several small countries even if the quality of the actual product can vary with each lineup (or each performance!) thanks to an extremely fanatical fan base. The Merch doesn't hurt the bottom line for either one of them either, for that matter, and fans of both are well-known for painting their faces in team colors. Now almost considered a national institution.
Dishwalla = Babylon 5. Both at the height of their popularity in the mid-1990's; both independent productions which explored lots of deep metaphysical themes. Both greatly missed by their devoted fan base.
Michael Jackson = Diff'rent Strokes. Both featured a breakout African-American performer pretending to be much younger than he actually was in a scenario where the older siblings are overshadowed by his success. Both reached the height of their popularity in the late 70's/early 80's. Both were associated at one point with child molestation. Both Michael Jackson and Gary Coleman unfortunately would deal with legal and financial problems and suffer a long decline. And, tragically, both would die young due to health complications and medical malpractice.
Van Halen = Dallas. Epic struggle of two brothers over the fate of a valuable family franchise that dominated The Eighties, with a revival in 2012. Added bonus: David Lee Roth, the original and current singer of Van Halen, is associated above with Knots Landing—originally a spinoff of Dallas.
The Moody Blues = Star Trek: The Original Series. Both were highly experimental and probably too revolutionary for the late 60's/early 70's (which is saying something), and both are now considered groundbreaking despite a disappointing initial run. Both were known for extremely expensive productions and the use of psychedelic imagery. Both contained a highly polarizing personality who would cause the other players in the franchise to go their separate ways during The Seventies (Justin Hayward and William Shatner, respectively). Both would experience an extremely successful revival in The Eighties.
  • As a bonus, some of the Moodies' album titles could pass for Star Trek episode titles: Days of Future Passed, On The Threshhold Of A Dream, To Our Children's Children's Childrennote , A Question Of Balance, and Long Distance Voyager.

On the other hand King Crimson = Star Trek (The Entire Thing): Both started in the sixties to little commercial success but now both Star Trek: The Original Series and King Crimson’s first album In the Court of the Crimson King are considered classics in their own right and arguably the best incarnations of the franchise. The early runs stagnated quickly though with Peter Sinfeld and William Shatner being very comparably cheesy.

Afterwards they both slipped in and out of existence with the band breaking up every other time they gained some modicum of success and the various series after they gained a full audience. Not to compare progressive rock fans to trekkers or vice versa but both cult followings have grown exponentially with a large internet fandom and a blockbuster movie respectively. And since these growths in popularity both franchises have had no new material.

In both expect experimental production techniques, a strange aura when dealing with speculative fiction, imitators during their more vacant years, eccentric genius creators with Robert Fripp and Gene Roddenberry and a release schedule which seems designed to avoid success.
  • Bonus in that in the latest incarnation only one original member of the lineup appears Robert Fripp and Leonard Nimoy respectively.

Billy Idol = Max Headroom. Two 1980's icons, although Billy proved to have a lot more staying power than Max. The aesthetic of the show matches Billy's work almost precisely (particularly Cyberpunk).
The B-52s = The Dukes of Hazzard. Both were popular in the late 1970's/early 1980's, and both were considered somewhat lowbrow by serious critics at the time. Both were deeply rooted in Southern culture, and both highlighted aspects of Southern feminine fashion (bouffant wigs and cutoff denim short-shorts, respectively). Both featured Chrysler vehicles prominently (Plymouth Satellite vs. Dodge Charger). Both frequently explored themes of rebellion against authority with humor and strong sexual overtones, using lots of wild trips down dirty back roads (figuratively and literally). Both picked up a much-younger-than-expected Periphery Demographic, resulting in some degree of Flanderization.

On at least one occasion, both have dealt with alien visitations. On a meta-level, both lost popularity with the death/departure of key players, but maintained a strong fan base into the 2000's (culminating in a new album and a Big Damn Movie respectively).
The Stone Roses = Twin Peaks. Both opened up an entire genre in the very early 90's, had a unique ethereal quality, and didn't really get a proper ending.
Aerosmith = Saturday Night Live. Both initially popular with youth in the 1970's, faltered in the early 80's and regained popularity in the late 80's after a Re Tool of sorts. Both are still going today, for better or worse.
Nirvana = Seinfeld. Both from the early 90's, revolutionary in their respective media and widely imitated afterward. Both were considerably more observational and nuanced than their shallow competitors (Nirvana vs. hair metal, Seinfeld vs. family sitcoms.)

Additionally, both had early, under-appreciated efforts later regarded as incomplete versions of their later selves (the scarcely-heard Bleach and the barely-seen first couple seasons) and went out more or less on top of the game... though with a very painful finale.
Guns N' Roses = The Ren & Stimpy Show: Icons of the early '90s, both had an edge to them that made them stand out from the more tame entries in their respective medium. Both would eventually fall victim to the ego of the most abrasive member of the cast (Axl Rose, John Krisfaluci). A comeback is attempted (Chinese Democracy, Ren & Stimpy Adult Cartoon Party), but it falls flat.
Eminem = South Park: Debuting in the late '90s, both quickly acquired a reputation for shock humor and the scorn of Moral Guardians. Both managed to remain relevant through the Turn of the Millennium because there is substance and social commentary behind said shock humor.
Franz Ferdinand = LOST: Both are genre-busting children of the mid-2000s that became increasingly weird over time. Both had many short-lived imitators, but only time will tell if Franz comes to such a polarizing end.
The Beatles = Monty Python: Both are so ubiquitous that they are as current as they were forty years ago. People born decades later can quote them. Both share a similar absurd sense of humor (Help! and Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and had subsequent misses (Magical Mystery Tour and Monty Pythons The Meaning Of Life). Many people born after their height have difficulty appreciating how revolutionary they were. Both were decried by moral guardians but are now considered safe. Plus. there's George Harrison's friendship with the Pythons and involvement with several of their projects, plus the influence of The Goon Show on both groups.
David Bowie = Doctor Who: Are you kidding me? The spacey imagery, the multiple phases, the fact that neither has ended (though got a little effed up in the eighties), and both are vaunted institutions? It's a no-brainer.
Pavement = Freaks and Geeks: Similarly nostalgic, bittersweet, and tragically overlooked in their own time (save for the Pitchfork crowd). Despite embracing the culture of The Eighties, both managed to capture the cynicism of The Nineties. Also the matching Album/Episode "____ and ____" naming system.
Silver Jews = Undeclared: The raunchier, less respected sequels to the aforementioned Pavement and Freaks and Geeks.
The Vines = Heroes: Thoroughly acclaimed after their debut, their sophomore efforts suffered due to external factors, and both Jumped the Shark soon after and became reviled, then forgotten.
Green Day = The Simpsons: Original and unbridled in The Nineties, they later became overblown shadows of their former selves.
OK Go = Mythbusters: Both weaved in and out of public consciousness throughout the Turn of the Millennium, redeemed their respective genres, and changed with the times, not to mention that both are partial to ridiculous, extravagant and super-fun devices.
Black Sabbath = All in the Family: Both started in the Nixon years and were considered politically radical for the time, setting the standard for their respective genres (Heavy Metal and Darker Sitcoms respectively) while claiming to be deeply rooted in their predecessors (60’s hippie rock and Classic American DomComs). Both were accused of something they presented a satire of (Satanism and Racist Conservatism) and ended proper in the 79-80 period.

The Ronnie James Dio run is comparable to the spin-off Archie Bunker's Place both running from 79-83. Further spin-offs could be attributed to solo careers, such as the flanderized adventures of Ozzy Osbourne to the flanderized adventures of Maude.
Pink Floyd = Sesame Street: Both started in the late 60's in a form unrecognizable today (Pink Floyd known for its trippy psychedelic rock; Sesame Street known for its trippy animations). By the early seventies both quickly formatted themselves into a winning formula which had a quick fan base and were revolutionary in their respective genres. Sesame Street was and still is a record breaking children's TV show, Pink Floyd was and still is the maker of the best selling album of all time.

In the nineties Jim Henson died of a tumor and Pink Floyd dissolved, but both are still around in some form today; Sesame Street under new management and Pink Floyd still advertised under the remaining members' solo acts.

In recent years both have have had recent successes with Roger Waters' The Wall appearing live again to cheers from fans and Sesame Street appearing on the Emmys for its 40th anniversary. Not to mention Mr. Hooper's death could be compared to the departure of Roger Waters, both in '82. And finally both are known for their crazy puppets.
Weezer = Sailor Moon: Both began in 1992, though each had earlier incarnations: pre-Weezer bands Avant Garde and Zoom and Codename wa Sailor V respectively. At first both held a primarily upbeat and positive tone, though they had their darker undercurrents if you knew where to look, and were met with great acclaim (The Blue Album and the original series). After that they both came out with an outright Darker and Edgier instalment (Pinkerton and Sailor Moon S), which was most controversial in its time yet has become quite the fan-favourite.

Following that both promptly shifted back to Lighter and Softer... to far less favourable response from critics and fans (Most of the band's 2000s work and Sailor Moon Super S), before hitting rock bottom in the eyes of many (Raditude and Stars).

After being deemed irrelevant by pop culture, both were able to make a comeback of sorts and Win Back the Crowd by deliberately invoking the past and riding on 90s nostalgia (Everything Will Be Alright in the End and Sailor Moon Crystal). While neither have truly recaptured the popularity they held at their peak, they've definitely climbed their way out of their respective Dork Age.

Both their audiences are said to consist mainly of pre-adolescent girls and older, geekier guys, and both have featured prominent cases of Tough Act to Follow. Add to all this that frontman Rivers Cuomo is a Sailor Moon fan, and what more needs to be said?
Radiohead = Neon Genesis Evangelion: Huge in the mid-to-late nineties, they started off as fairly typical entries into their respective genres (alt-rock and mecha) before gaining much more attention upon taking a turn for the darker, angstier and certainly more bizarre. Both had their direction heavily affected by Creator Breakdown and contain clear examples of The Woobie (some would say Jerkass Woobie), and are noted for their overall cold and dystopic sci-fi feel.

Both became massively influential in their respective genres and even their entire mediums (music and anime), thus both spawned a rather noticeable strain of Follow the Leader. And both came back into the spotlight in a major way in the late 00s/early new 10s (Radiohead with In Rainbows and King of Limbs, Evangelion with the Rebuild movies).
Crowded House = Round the Twist: Set in Australia (for the most part), popular in Britain yet had trouble crossing over to America. Both were known for being primarily light-hearted and quirky but capable of being pretty dark and morbid at times (songs like "Hole In The River" and "Into Temptation" for CH, Twist's infamous terror) and undeniably strange (just look at the Surreal Music Videos for "Chocolate Cake" and especially "Private Universe", Twist speaks for itself).

Both were based around a fairly turbulent family (the Finn Brothers, at least for Woodface) and naturally both had at their core a 'Crowded House' (the apartment the band shared from which they took their name, the Twist family lighthouse).

They were at their peak in the late eighties and early nineties, but became plagued by Creative Differences and came to an end shortly after the departure of a key member named Paul, causing What Could Have Been their greatest achievement to never see the light of day (CH's initially planned fifth album, the Twist movie). After years of absence a comeback was made with a new lineup, but didn't garner the acclaim of the original.
REM = My Little Pony: Originating in the 80s with a knack for fantasy references (REM to Southern folklore and Classic mythology, MLP to more fairytale fare), only to end up mocked for their assumedly lighter, brighter tone compared to their contemporaries (REM to more Accentuate the Negative prone Alternative Rock bands and MLP to more boy-oriented shows).

With the approach of the 90s both would ditch their signature features (REM's slurred vocals, indie label and jangly guitars, MLP's fantasy elements) to head down a more mainstream route and to deal with themes more grounded in reality, such as Automatic For The People's obsession with mortality and Tales' focus on modern life. In this time both would strive for a specific appeal to teenagers, REM with "Everybody Hurts" and MLP with Tales in general.

Both hit a real slump come the 00s, REM with their post-Bill Berry Dork Age and MLP with its Gen 3. However both would make a triumphant return as said decade came to a close, REM with their last two albums and MLP of course with Friendship is Magic.

Both place friendship in high importance (REM's democratic approach between members who are now still close even after breaking up, Friendship Is Magic is self-explanatory), both have a reputation for weirdness (REM's Indecipherable Lyrics and Cloudcuckoolander bandmates, MLP with Gen 1's odder villains and Gen 4's Pinkie Pie and Discord), both have been outspokenly feminist (REM in their political causes, MLP with the heroic yet girly Megan and Lauren Faust's goals for the show)

A farmer was a key member of each (Bill Berry and Applejack), and last but not least both picked up a fanbase quite unlike what you'd expect (REM's more mainstream following from Document onwards, MLP and Bronies).
Future Sound Of London = The Electric Company: Both were innovative and beloved acts in their time, both disappeared for many years at the height of their popularity, both returned many years later with a completely new style that alienated the old fans and didn't have the same wide appeal, and both issued releases of their old work to placate fans of the old style.
Elvis Presley = I Love Lucy: Popular in the 50's, popular today. They also had their Seinfeld Is Unfunny moments as Elvis established rock 'n' roll in music and Lucy pioneered the rerun.
The Smiths = Blackadder: Hailing from 80s Britain, both revolved around an intelligent yet gloomy and arrogant man who saw himself Surrounded by Idiots (Blackadder by his sidekicks and superiors, Morrissey by mainstream pop acts). Both were rooted in the past (Blackadder in its historical eras, The Smiths in 60s pop groups) yet also made major deviations from the past (Blackadder with its rampant anachronisms, The Smiths with their downbeat tone). Both came out in four main instalments, yet an incident in the latter 90s cemented that both would never return.
Failure = Firefly: A close-knit pair of Californians create a grungy science fiction world, marked by a focus on criminals and people with brain issues (Failure's lyrical themes of drug dealers and the mentally disturbed, Firefly's focus on a group of smugglers and a lobotomized young girl). Received great critical acclaim when they first came out, but Executive Meddling prevented them from getting the mainstream success they deserved. After their untimely ends, posthumous interest allowed them both to get closure during the mid 00's with a Big Damn Movie.
Neutral Milk Hotel = Rocko's Modern Life: Both had a modest run that ended in the 90's, but continued to gain a cult following afterward that eventually spurred revivals in 2013 (NMH got the band back together, Shout! Factory released RML DVD's for the first time.) Thematically, both are notable for their old fashioned aesthetics (Rocko's animation was modeled after golden age Warner Bros. cartoons) and numerous coded references to sex and masturbation. Finally, both Jeff Mangum and Joe Murray suffered from Creator Breakdown that they blamed on their work.
Grateful Dead = Scooby-Doo: Both emerged from the late 1960s counterculture and both often a stable of the stoner culture. Noted for longevity and often sited by non-fans as being boring, repetitive and predictable. Semi-horror imagery (The Dead's living skeletons, Scooby's "Monster of the Week") plays a major part. Not to mention the various spin-offs, imitators, celebrity guest appearances. By the 1980s, both were considered icons and drawing in new fans (the Touch of Gray video for The Dead, a string of new series and direct to DVD movies for Scooby).
The Who = Bonanza: Given that the Who competed with the Stones and Bonanza with Gunsmoke in the 60's. Also under-appreciated later on (the post-Keith Moon Who albums, the final season of Bonanza).
Manfred Mann = Mission: Impossible: a group of rotating musicians/spies originating in the 60's with two constants (Manfred Mann/Barney and Mike Hugg/Willy). The Manfreds, featuring the original members except Manfred Mann, may be compared to the 80's revival of Mission Impossible.
The Doors = Get Smart: Originating in the 60's and into the early 70's, now cult favorites. They also continued to work without some of their important people (The Doors without Jim Morrison and Get Smart without the Chief).

Daydream BelieverFranchise/The MonkeesThe New Monkees
MLP DragonfireJust for FunMusings

alternative title(s): Monkees Equals Monkees
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