Every generation is defined by a rock ‘n’ roll band. An iconic artist that stands for progressive brilliance yet magically seems to be someone that everyone loves. Bands like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, REM and Nirvana highlighted the 1960s-1990s. But who filled this all-important role during the new millennium’s first decade? The Strokes somehow remained merely critical darlings through their three albums, and Brandon Flowers’ heartthrob croon singlehandedly vaulted The Killers to arena overkill.
But the artist that classically defined the last decade was The White Stripes.
In a statement yesterday Jack White announced the band was officially no more. And while sure, we’ll continue to enjoy his sonic genius in The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs (and whatever else he gets into), our heart will always belong to the duo from Detroit who dressed like candy canes and sounded like a retro version of the future.
There was a mysteriousness to The White Stripes … an exclusivity, an aura. They looked like no one else and there were only two of them (?!). They could sound like boppy garage punks one second (“Fell in Love With a Girl”) and innocent school children the next (“We’re Going to Be Friends”). They worked with Michel Gondry and appeared on the Simpsons. They used antiquated equipment before reverting to reel-to-reel was considered cool. They played the last night of Conan’s short reign on the Tonight Show. Their monster guitar riff from “Seven Nation Army” is now one of those songs co-eds sing in unison at sporting events.
And there in lies the brilliance. A duo that is revered by their heady peers and beloved by the public. It’s what nearly all artists want but what so few achieve. RIP White Stripes. Thanks for giving kids of this decade something they could not only aspire to … but something they could proudly claim as their own.