I have tried to explain to friends and family why I’m really ticked off at Journey, that great arena rock band of the 70s and 80s. At this time, I hate everything they do.

Yes, I’m peeved at Steve Perry for being a spoiled brat and not getting back with them, but that’s another story.

The main thing is that I have always felt like Steve Perry has one of the most iconic, soulful, emotive voices from that period of time, and the songs he and the band wrote were built around that voice and the power of it– soaring ballads and anthems. His impossible-to-imitate voice is one of the prime reasons I’ve adored Journey for three decades.

Here’s one of their most popular songs:

He can crescendo, arcing that voice into a phenomenal wail, like nobody– except for maybe Bono back in the day. Not even Lou Gramm of Foreigner could do that.

Then there’s other stuff of Journey’s, like Separate Ways (apologies for the appalling cheesy video):

Steve Perry just has a great voice. So powerful, so killer.

But he left and Journey floated in the wind for years until happening upon Arnel Pineda, a Phillipino man, doing a crazy good impersonation of Perry on YouTube.

Here’s a video of them performing Don’t Stop Believin’ live:

See? He’s good. He’s got some pipes on him, he does. But he gets pitchy and he’s trying so hard to sound like Steve Perry that his interpretation of the song is lifeless. Add the sharpness– the thinness of the voice as compared to Perry’s double-barreled delivery, and it’s trying to be what I love, but can’t quite get there and I feel like I just want flawless Steve.

I wish Journey had found a woman with a powerful voice to take over the singing duties. Like Mary J. Blige (warning: this vid is from Rock of Ages and is not family friendly– maybe a bit triggery to some):

She’s got a wailin’, soulful voice that just does a new kind of justice to that music. I want Mary J. Blige to be the new lead singer of Journey, or at least a woman with pipes like hers. Aretha Franklin would do fine.

Uh.. maybe Norah Jones if she can take that deliciously husky voice into the stratosphere.

So that’s why I hate Journey (with Arnel– nothing against him personally– he’s worked hard to accomplish what he’s got), but love them so much, but hate that they’re sapping the life from their best music.

Agree? Disagree? Which band’s lead singer replacement was the worst, in your mind? Or the best?

See, David Lee Roth being booted and Sammy Hagar joining Van Halen was effective because they’re like apples and koalas– totally different.

Your thoughts?

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Jared Garrett

Author of the Beat Series

Why I Hate Journey (But Love Them)(But Hate Them)