There has been debate for decades. The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana? Everyone has an opinion, but for my money The Beatles are the greatest band of the modern era at popping each their heads out from behind a wall or a door. And it’s not even close.
Sure, The Rolling Stones were more prolific and influenced the Western world over a longer stretch of time. In terms of sheer star power, Mick Jagger might even have a claim over the likes of Paul McCartney or John Lennon. But when it came to lining up out of sight and then slowly revealing just their heads, all in a vertical line so in the photo you can just see a vertical line of their heads, ‘the Stones’ were frankly second rate.
Led Zeppelin is another one you hear about. Like the Beatles, they were a genre defining act, and inspired and shaped a generation of fans. Their influence was most palpable when genres like metal and glam rock rose to prominence. Whole subcultures wouldn’t exist were it not for Robert Plant’s powerful vocals and the mystifying guitar licks of Jimmy Page. And yet, there were never photographs of these boys where they leaned over and the tops of their shoulders were out of view of the camera, but their faces were in the centre of the frame, creating a visually pleasing effect where it looks like their heads are floating. Led Zeppelin can’t compete.
Finally, Nirvana is sometimes considered among the all-time greats. Relative to other groups they were a flash in the pan, but in terms of shifting the direction of music and culture, they were almost unmatchable. The ascension of Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters more recently only affirms the legacy of this truly great band. However, how often did they arrange themselves so that their smiling mugs were all that could be seen because most of their bodies were hidden behind a surface of some kind? Not often. Nirvana can throw as many babies into a pool as they like, but in the peeping around the corner game, they’re a non factor.