Ever since Buddy Holly popularized the idea, fans of "real" music have demanded that pop singers write their own stuff to show us that they truly care about their art. If they don't, they're damned for ruining music forever, or at least until someone else comes along and ruins music forever.
But in a lot of cases, the Selena Gomezes (Gomez's? Gollums?) of the world actually write more than your favorite rock gods, many of whom contribute precisely dick to the creative process. Got examples if you want 'em!
Alice in Chains' original singer, Layne Staley, was lauded for his pained, soulful talk of drug addiction and demon battling. Problem is, he was too busy battling said demons to write the tales he told. His guitarist, Jerry Cantrell, did that for him, while writing most of the music as well. Staley wrote a bit more later on, but still not nearly as much as Cantrell. Thus, when it came time to reboot the band with a new singer, they simply had Cantrell write everything again, and the band barely missed a beat.
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"We didn't actually hire him; we hired his sweet-ass 'fro, and the body came along for the ride."
How about the original rocker, Elvis? Yes, I poked at him earlier, but it turns out I wasn't done. The King wasn't much of a songwriter. In fact, the future King of England, the one born just a little while ago, is almost as much a writer as Elvis.
He's probably just as much a pants-shitter, too.
Elvis wrote one song, a forgettable ditty called "You'll Be Gone." Any other songwriting credit was, as the man himself put it, "a big hoax." He'd think of a line or two, and sometimes just a title, like the time he told a friend a dream left him "all shook up." Elvis got credit for "writing" that. Why can't my life be that easy? Instead of banging out 2,500 words to make my point, maybe I'll just submit a title, collect my check, and then go date 25 girls at a time. OK, 20. I won't be greedy.
And then we have Ozzy. The Prince of Darkness, throughout his legendary 40-plus-year career, has written anywhere from squat to less than squat, depending on the year. The other guys in Sabbath handled the brunt of the writing duties while Ozzy went off and did his drugs. Post-Sabbath, a bassist named Bob Daisley became the reason Ozzy has a solo career at all, since he wrote, oh, everything. Turns out Ozzy is greatly influenced by Elvis: suggest a title or a vague concept here, maybe a line or two there, let someone else do the rest, sing the song, get paid, do more drugs.
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"It was my idea to wear shit-tons of guyliner, so that's something, right?"
Finally, there's the mighty AC/DC, purveyors of all things rock. Grab a beer, blast some "Hell's Bells," and you've got yourself a party. A big FAKE party, that is. The guy screeching out those lyrics? He doesn't do a damned thing except screech them out. Brian Johnson hasn't written one stinking song since 1990, because he "ran out of words." Apparently, four or five albums of "I like beer and I like girls and VYAAAAAGHAAGHAAGHAAGHAAGHAAGHAWAAAAAAAAAAAAAA" was all his brain could handle.
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"I tried EEEEYAHAHAHAHAWOOOORRRRGHHHH once, but it just didn't feel right."
Angus Young and his brother, Not-Angus, write all the band's music and lyrics now. So if you're only into AC/DC for the rocking riffs and solos, then fine. But if you wave devil horns at the funny little man with the old man hat, or at just about anybody I've picked on in this article, you're endorsing a man with less creativity and authenticity than whoever finished sixth on last year's American Idol. You know the guy. Or girl. Either or.
Jason Iannone can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Follow him on all three and he'll send you a fabulous prize! Unless he forgets. Which he probably will.