06/15/2012 09:02 am ET Updated Aug 15, 2012

Why I Hate the Music in Rock of Ages

I'm a music snob. There, I've said it.

It's not like it comes as a surprise, particularly if you've read me in the past. I've even been snobby about this kind of music specifically in columns in the past.

But it comes around again with the rise of Rock of Ages, which I refer to as the Guitar Hero musical.

How can I enjoy this movie -- when I have such disdain for so much of its music?

And yet I did. I had a lot more fun watching Rock of Ages than I expected to; I also resented how much I enjoyed it, as a light, funny spoof of a bygone era.

Because, to my ears, the music that is celebrated in Rock of Ages -- and Guitar Hero and Rock Band, for that matter -- is exactly the kind of music I abhorred when I was a critic covering rock'n'roll back in those analog days.

Games like Guitar Hero -- and works like Rock of Ages -- ignore the critical pantheon and focus instead on that other test of time: mass popularity. These kinds of heavy-metal, hard rock and power ballads are exactly the sort of thing we critics railed against in the 1980s, even as Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson and Madonna were climbing the charts.

Yet the music itself had (and still has) its fans -- and those fans apparently now run the numerous "classic rock" stations around the country. They still keep bands like Queensryche, Def Leppard, Loverboy and Iron Maiden touring, years after whatever miniscule speck of musical relevance they had was long extinguished.

This further underscores the idea that what is most successful is what is best. If it sells and is popular, it must be good.

Sorry -- but that doesn't wash. At any given time in history, what is most popular is rarely the thing that has the highest quality. Once in a while -- but not that often.

This commentary continues on my website.