Providing journalists, humorists and artists the opportunity to weigh in on rivalries across the music spectrum, this compendium from Manning (The Show I'll Never Forget: 50 Writers Relive Their Most Memorable Concertgoing Experience) tackles match-ups obvious (Elton John vs. Billy Joel, Van Halen vs. Van Hagar, Britney Spears vs. Christina Aguilera) and idiosyncratic (Ennio Morricone vs. Bernard Herrmann, Devo vs. Kraftwerk, Michael Jackson vs. Prince), if not downright agenda-driven (former Bob Marley publicist Vivien Goldman pitting her client and friend against Bob Dylan). The impressive range of acts is matched by its variety of styles, from Matt Diehl's academic approach to Radiohead vs. Coldplay, to the rock snobbery of Marc Spitz's The Smiths vs. The Cure, to the stand-up comic ramblings of Russ Meneve on a Bruce Springsteen-Bon Jovi "Battle a da Jerz." Though some essays suffer from overkill (Katy St. Clair's nonsensical Abba vs. The Bee Gees, the graphic novel treatment given The Album vs. The Single by Daphne Carr and Scott Gursky), well-executed pieces like Manning's intimate Phil Collins vs. Sting pick up the slack. Sure to start more arguments than it settles, this is a fun book for music fans with a broad palette.
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