Critical condemnation and popular adulation go alarmingly hand-in-hand in the world of rock music. Often, the same qualities lead those opposing camps to their positions, and such is certainly the case for '70s and '80s progressive rock stalwart Rush. Fond of science fiction and Ayn Rand, the group often worked intricate themes into its work, coupling cryptic lyrics with a sound that worked over the edges of prog and hard rock with electrifying glints of New Wave.
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Take the band's most iconic track, "Tom Sawyer," which expertly blends lyrical weirdness and melodic intricacies into effective hard-rocking pop, with just enough intelligent quirkiness to keep things interesting. Some might say the true test for any rock band is in the mark it makes on popular culture. Rush's unique take on the middle ground between arty excess and pop accessibility has clearly succeeded on this count. Not many bands can lay claim to pop culture references in sources as far apart as Pavement and Family Guy, yet there are Geddy Lee's high voice (I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy) and Neil Peart, a cheese-addled cheetah's favorite drummer.