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Are the Black Keys the biggest band in the world? We say ...

March 19, 2012|By Kyle Kramer, for RedEye

Black Keys
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
Where: United Center
Sold out

Patrick Carney of the Black Keys isn't a fan of another rock band.

"Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world," Carney told Rolling Stone in a January cover story. "So they became OK with the idea that the biggest rock band in the world is always going to be [bleep] -- therefore you should never try to be the biggest rock band in the world. [Bleep] that!"

We couldn't agree more, Patrick -- which led us to ask: Are the Black Keys, who play a sold-out show at the United Center Monday, the biggest rock band in the world? How do they stack up against some of their peers?


Nickelback: "All the Right Reasons" (2005) has sold more than 8 million copies in the U.S. The band's most recent, "Here and Now," peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard charts and has gone gold. (Winner)

Kings of Leon: Hit single "Use Somebody" propelled 2008's "Only By the Night" to double platinum status.

Foo Fighters: Their most recent, "Wasting Light," debuted at No. 1, but their last platinum album was 2005's "In Your Honor."

The Black Keys: "El Camino" debuted at No. 2 on Billboard, going gold, and "Brothers" just went platinum.


Nickelback: Generally dismissive of overall doucheyness. They've won 12 of Canada's Juno awards and zero of America's Grammys.

Kings of Leon: Largely tepid, but they did win three Grammys for "Use Somebody."

Foo Fighters: Often liked, rarely loved, hard to hate. 11 Grammys!

The Black Keys: Critics love the band because it's hip. But also because the Keys are good. They, too, have won three Grammys. (Winner)


Nickelback: "How You Remind Me" is the top charting rock song of the 2000s...

Kings of Leon: They may like wearing shiny vests, but they're from Nashville, where all the cool rock bands want to move these days.

Foo Fighters: Dave Grohl was the drummer for Nirvana. (Winner)

The Black Keys: Just two indie rock guys from a blue collar town who toured relentlessly -- that's about as legit as it gets.


Nickelback: Was Nickelback ever cool?

Kings of Leon: It's only been a year since their last album and we've kind of forgotten about them.

Foo Fighters: Did you see the Grammys? These guys are in the Old White Rock Dude club.

The Black Keys: Topping charts on both rock radio and college radio? Somehow the Black Keys are both hip and cool. (Winner)


Nickelback: Don't front like you've never sat alone singing "How You Remind Me."

Kings of Leon: More than 100 cool points for being name-checked in a Kanye song.

Foo Fighters: Gen X needs to get over itself.

The Black Keys: Realistically, this is the only one of these bands that is actually cool. (Winner)

Verdict: OK, so technically, the Black Keys may not be as big as some of their peers, but they're big enough and of those bands, they're probably the best. So we're calling them the biggest rock band in the world. (Well, maybe not bigger than veterans like U2 and the Rolling Stones.)


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