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YMMV / Todd Rundgren

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  • Archive Panic: See all that on the main page? And if you want to get into everything he's produced as well as his solo/Utopia recordings, good luck.
  • Awesome Music: Lots of it, with Something/Anything? and A Wizard, a True Star being the most frequently cited contenders for best album.
    • The Beatles parodies on Utopia's Deface the Music are such effective pastiches that the track "I Just Want to Touch You" was rejected for inclusion on the soundtrack to the film Roadie because the filmmakers were afraid of getting sued for plagiarism.
    • Progressive Rock fans should make sure to check out Todd, Initiation, Todd Rundgren's Utopia, Another Live, and Ra.
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    • Even in just a featured role, Todd provides guitar heroics up and down Bat Out of Hell.
    • "Bang on the Drum." It's not Fun Personified so much as pure, primal adrenaline distilled into awesome rock n roll.
    • Healing is basically what you get if you cross Progressive Rock with Synth-Pop and, if you can get past the '80s synths, it is beautiful.
    • A Cappella was produced entirely with Rundgren's voice, although it is often electronically processed to make it sound like musical and percussion instruments. It's absolutely astonishing that one person can produce such a rich variety of sound. The accompanying tour, a recording of which was released as A Cappella Tour, has Rundgren revisiting much of his earlier material with an accompanying choir, and is similarly beautiful.
    • Arena and Nearly Human have quite their share of great tunes as well. It's actually fairly difficult to believe that Nearly Human was recorded live in the studio, because the performances and arrangements are so sophisticated.
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    • State is overall a rather uneven album, but even its weaker parts are still good fun, and the song "Sir Reality" stands out as an all-time career highlight and quite possibly the finest Protest Song Todd has ever written, both because it says more in fewer words than any of his previous protest songs, and also because it's simply one of the most beautiful songs in his entire catalogue.
    • Liars is great from start to finish - almost certainly in his top 10 albums if not top 5. A lot of really catchy songs that are even more resonant now than they were when they were recorded.
  • Covered Up: Rundgren did this to his own song. His solo version of "Hello It's Me" is much better known than the Nazz' version (although the Nazz' version was itself a minor hit).
    • "Love Is the Answer" was a bigger hit for England Dan & John Ford Coley than it was for Utopia at the time, though Utopia's version may be better known now.
    • Utopia's version of the Move's "Do Ya" was better known than the original for a time, which led to Jeff Lynne deciding to re-record it with Electric Light Orchestra (Lynne was the central member of ELO, a member of the Move, and the author of the song). ELO's version is now by far the most famous version.
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  • Dead Horse Genre: There is a risk of this with his prog and disco stuff. However, his prog stuff manages to be quite a bit catchier and more tuneful than the works of many other acts in the genre, so some people may find it more accessible and/or less pretentious than typical prog fare.
  • Ear Worm: Nearly everything he ever released, even including his True Art Is Incomprehensible Progressive Rock epics. If you make a playlist with his songs on it and listen to it for a few hours there is no telling what hooks you'll have stuck in your head when you finish.
  • Epic Riff: Again, many of his songs, including the prog stuff (there are several in "The Ikon" alone).
  • Face of the Band: Quick, name another member of Nazz, Runt, or Utopia. (Prog rock fans may be able to name Roger Powell or Moogy Klingman for the latter, but it still counts).
  • Fair for Its Day:
    • Some of Rundgren's '70s material can come across this way to modern audiences. For example, the melody, performance, and arrangement of "You Don't Have to Camp Around" make it clear that it's intended to be a light-hearted ribbing, but the lyrics are likely to come across as fairly homophobic to modern audiences. Rundgren's later work generally averts this, although some songs play on the irony of his being a white man singing some sentiments that are rather... strange for a white man to sing (particularly on Liars, where several songs have intended interpretations that are at odds with the sentiments they express on the surface).
    • "We Gotta Get You a Woman" is sometimes called misogynistic because of the line "They may be stupid but they sure are fun", but the lines preceding it are "We better get walkin', we're wastin' time talkin' now. Talkin' 'bout things about that special one." It's not saying that women are stupid, but that men talking about women instead of actually meeting women is fun but pointless.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: "You Left Me Sore". At the time the song was written, getting an STI was embarrassing but not exactly life-threatening. The HIV epidemic changed that.
  • Funny Moments: He has many. The Cluster F-Bomb on "Flaw" (sung in a blue-eyed soul style, no less!) is definitely a prime example of this trope.
  • Nightmare Fuel: "The Night the Carousel Burnt Down", from Something/Anything?. That ending especially—shivers....
    • The song takes on an even more frightening dimension when taking into account the reactions of the bystanders to the eponymous carousel's destruction— while "the children all cried" due to their innocent outlook on the world, "the old ladies sighed" and "the rest of us lied," implying that humanity is inherently either too cynical or in denial about disasters of our own making, resulting in an overall lack of action, thus leading to the repetition of horrific events.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Luther Vandross shows up as a backing vocalist on a few Utopia recordings.
  • Seasonal Rot: His output in the nineties is generally regarded as...not very good. His Noughties output is somewhat more warmly regarded, though rarely considered to be as good as his classic material.
  • Signature Song: Arguably "Hello It's Me". Also "I Saw the Light", "Can We Still Be Friends?", "We Gotta Get You a Woman", and "Bang the Drum All Day". Utopia's is likely either "Love Is the Answer" or "Set Me Free".
  • Tear Jerker: He has quite a few. "Bag Lady", "Bread", "Can We Still Be Friends?", "Honest Work", "Tiny Demons", and "Love Is the Answer" are some particularly obvious examples.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Some of his Psychedelic Rock and Progressive Rock material can get this way, but probably none of it more than "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire", a thirty-five minute instrumental consisting mostly of Rundgren's synthesizer.
  • Values Resonance: Many of his protest songs are even more resonant now than they were when they were written. "Honest Work" tackles the replacement of manual labour with automation, a trend that is more prominent now than it was in The '80s and will continue to become even more so in the future. Meanwhile, Liars' concept of "a paucity of truth" seems depressingly prescient given the fact that many people are bandying about the term "post-truth" in the wake of 2016's political events.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Averted; a lot of it was. Played straight with some of the Nazz material.
  • Win Back the Crowd: After a long period of releasing material that resulted in a Broken Base, Liars received an almost unanimously positive reception.

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