September 29, 2013 by NowhereButPop
Is it truly possible to rate someone or something accurately enough so that no one will need to make the claim that it is under or overrated? Could there be something out there whose objective rating could supersede and reject any subjective rating? Probably not. The closest someone or something can ever come to being properly assessed is if it is simultaneously overrated and underrated.
To me, the list of absolutely overrated people and things include: Nevermind, Reggie Miller, Scott Snyder’s Batman, Troy Aikman, Aliens, Tim Burton, and AC/DC. No matter what I will always consider them to be overrated, not warranting the amount of hype and acclaim that they receive. That’s what being overrated is all about, too much acclaim for too little an action.
Acclaim > Deed
My list of absolutely underrated people and things include: Kevin Johnson, Prince, William Tecumseh Sherman, One Hot Minute, Bill Pullman, the third amendment, and Batman Forever. These are the ones who don’t get enough credit for their accomplishment whether it be burning down the entire Southeastern portion of the country, or knowing when to feed Charles Barkley the ball. These examples are ones wherein they didn’t receive the necessary amount of dessert.
Acclaim < Deed
By my count, I can only think of two things that are both underrated and overrated at the same time: Bobby Cox and Queen. This isn’t the case of a balancing act where their tendency to be overvalued and underappreciated cancels each other out, thereby creating an acceptable and valid rating. No, both Bobby Cox and Queen are overvalued and underappreciated, but these two thoughts coexist quite harmoniously with each other, and it’s because they aren’t at odds that allow Bobby Cox and Queen to get the recognition they deserve, without overdoing it. For all intents and purposes Cox and Queen occupy the “Yeah but…” principle. There will always be that “but” when we talk about their achievements.
Bobby Cox managed the Atlanta Braves from 1990 to 2010 and won 14 consecutive division titles, something that has never happened before, and something that will most likely never happen again. In total they made the playoffs in 15 of the 21 seasons that Cox was managing the team; no other manager can lay the claim of going to the postseason 15 times with the same team. On top of that Cox has won the 4th most games only behind Connie Mack, John McGraw, and Tony La Russa. In spite of all these accomplishments he’s only won one World Series while managing the Braves. He’s underrated because we take for granted the fact that he led his team to 14 consecutive division titles. The fact that we take this for granted fully explains why he is simultaneously overrated. Because in spite of winning 14 division titles, it means nothing if he only won the World Series once out of those 14 times. His lack of post season success is mitigated because of the fact that he did something no other manager has been able to do. But, this accomplishment is marred because of his repeated inability to win it all.
How many pre-A Night at the Opera Queen songs can you name? How many post-The Game Queen songs can you name? Herein lies the truth about Queen, a truth that many Americans don’t want to admit, but the truth remains that Americans don’t really care that much about Queen. The biggest reason why we don’t care as much about Queen as much as we probably should is because Queen was too smart a band for most Americans to dig. The Queen that America loves is the “Bohemian Rhapsody” Queen and the “Another One Bites the Dust Queen”. This is the Queen that we overrate. The Queen that we underrate is the Sheer Heart Attack Queen and the News of the World Queen.
We loved Queen, loved them when they gave us something we’d never heard before, but when they did it again with A Day at the Races we pretty much ignored them even though it was technically good and well crafted music. Then when The Game came out in 1980, they gave us a mainstream sound that we loved, because we were used to it. Queen didn’t seem all that smart and eccentric anymore. Hence, The Game became their only #1 album in the US. Based on the aura of Queen, and the dynamism of Freddie Mercury we see Queen as this band that did so much for music and was universally adored for it. The truth remains though, that for more than half of their career, we didn’t really care too much for them. We overcompensate for not liking them enough, by going overboard with the Queen that we do like. With Queen, the average person’s interest in the band is mostly a veneer to cover up not liking them as much as is probably warranted.
With Queen, we know that we should like them more than we do, so we tend to inflate them in public, but in private, to most people Queen was just a band who had a couple of really catchy songs. Nevermind their technical prowess and their musical diversity, they were just too much for people to comprehend, let alone get into. Ideally we love Queen, but in reality we only like the Queen that we’re told to like, i.e. the Live Aid Queen. We see Queen in light of their success, which we over exaggerate as a means to compensate for a collective feeling of underrating them. With Bobby Cox, we see him in light of his failures; he was 1-4 in the World Series, and only made it to the World Series 33% of the times his team went to the playoffs…but he still led his team to 15 division titles. Regardless, we see with both examples how they experienced success without ever really succeeding. Queen is not in the same echelon as Led Zeppelin, the Stones or even U2. Bobby Cox, for however great he was, only won one World Series, the exact same amount that Jack McKeon won. We overhype a facet of their careers while ignoring the rest.
 After all any band that featured a classically trained astrophysicist as its guitarist is automatically beyond 96% of the country.