5 Rock Stars Who Are Secretly Musical Geniuses (RIP Prince)

#2. John Mayer


The Ridiculous Artist:

Sickening sweet bubblegum adult contemporary pop played to arenas filled with screaming women who would really appreciate it if you could buy her and her friends some beer -- because they forgot their IDs at home. Scan the audience at a John Mayer concert, and among the 20,000 women, you'll find like 50 dudes -- 20 of them are gay, 12 are boyfriends forced to go to the concert and the other 18 are guitar players.

He's known for making excruciatingly stupid faces while performing, making the entire audience concerned that he's about to throw up at any moment, but he refuses to stop the song long enough to do it. And he excels at being one of the biggest douchebag pieces of shit to ever taint an interview with his moronic observations.

"Dude, are you OK? Do you want some water? Stay right there, I'll go get you some water."

The Amazing Talent:

Sorry, normal, rational, thinking humans. As much as most of the Internet is extremely vocal about how much they want to punch him in the face, you can't deny that the guy is really, really goddamn good at playing that instrument. And it's not all solos and panty dodging that make him one of the best in the world. Listen to this acoustic performance of one of his older songs called "Neon" and try to keep in mind that you're only hearing one guitar here:

That's him doing not only rhythm guitar, but percussion, by using his thumb and the base of his hand to slap out a beat ... as well as throwing in lead licks, all while maintaining his vocals. But that's still not what makes him one of the top in his field. No, what really sets him apart is when he shares a stage with other respected musicians. He knows when to step back, and when to just completely cut loose. He shows respect not only to the other performers, but to the music itself, by using the guitar as an early accent to the song, then as an orgasm at the end:

The solo starts at 8:50, and that "holy shit" look that Corinne shoots him at the end of that video says more than I could. Top the whole thing off with a standing ovation from none other than motherfucking Prince. Sorry, but no matter what negative things people have to say about Mayer, they'll never be able to say that Prince gave them a standing ovation.

#1. Extreme


The Ridiculous Band:

If you've never heard "More Than Words" by Extreme, you're not human (or are too young to remember the '90s). For almost the entirety of 1991, you couldn't turn on MTV without seeing the video. It hit No. 1 on the U.S. charts and No. 2 in the U.K. It's one of the few songs from that era that can be heard on the radio today and not feel dated or out of place.

But that doesn't mean that it wasn't a big ol' wussy song sung by sappy, wussy wusses. Because it totally was.

The Amazing Talent:

If I say that "Nuno Bettencourt" is one of the best guitarists who ever lived, other guitarists will give me a "no shit" look, followed by "no shit" words. See, they know that you've actually heard him somewhere else: the movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

The song that Beethoven is playing is called "Play With Me" by Extreme, and it's not sped up. That solo is being played in real time by Nuno Bettencourt. If you're cynical and think, "Well, yeah, given enough takes in a studio, I'm sure he could play something like that and make it sound badass," it's perfectly understandable. If you really want to impress us, let's see you do it live. While yawning.

If you want to get straight to that particular solo, it starts at 6:57 ... but I implore you to not skip a single second of that video because it's not just that piece that makes this performance jaw-droppingly, pants-shittingly incredible. It's the fact that for that entire eight and a half minutes, it's just him, throwing every complex composition he had done up until that point into one unbroken string. Including one of the fastest solos ever put on a record, "Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee" (starts at 2:45), based off of the Rimsky-Korsakov classical piece, minus the "wounded" part. Theirs was evidently a perfectly healthy bee.

But the point is that back in the late '80s, musicians and fans alike would hear those songs on record and sarcastically comment, "Yeah, let's see him do that live." So he did. All of them. All back to back. Every concert.

John is on Twitter, where he practices his cursing.

For more Cheese, check out The 5 Most Implausible Old School Rap Songs and 7 Impractical Rock Star Fashions We Wish Had Caught On.

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