The Greta Van Fleet Debate

Greta Van Fleet & Led Zeppelin- The Great Debate

For years, various bands found inspiration within the iconic 70’s band, Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin paved the way for rock music, influencing many musicians to this day. Yet, the band Greta Van Fleet has caught the attention of Zeppelin fans in particular. The band consists of three brothers, two being a set of twins, as well as one friend. The twins consist of Jake Kiska on guitar, and Josh Kiska shining on lead vocals. The youngest brother, Sam Kiska, plays bass alongside drummer Danny Wagner. Josh’s incredible singing went viral for it’s familiar sound. With a voice near identical to Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, a controversy sparked: Is Greta Van Fleet a  Zeppelin rip-off, or is the music original enough to call their own?

Quick to Fame, Quicker to Hate

Without a doubt, the band took the world by storm. Around five years ago. their hit, ‘Highway Tune’ appeared on the popular show ‘Shameless’ in 2016. It made it’s way to Billboard’s Mainstream Rock, rising up to #1. They quickly gained following with their 2017 album, ‘From the Fires’. At this time, Josh Kiska’s vocals brought attention to the new band. Josh’s powerful voice holds an obvious similarity in pitch and timbre of Robert Plant. Not only this, but the compositions reminded listeners of Led Zeppelin staples. The similar titles, such as Fleet’s, ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ and Zeppelin’s, ‘Your Time is Gonna Come’, only led to further questions on the band’s authenticity. 

Furthermore, a Pitchfork  review of band’s 2018 album Anthem of the Peaceful Army, tarnished the band’s reputation. Jeremy D. Larson, author of the article, repeatedly degrades the band in almost every way. The review states the band is, “an algorithmic fever dream than an actual rock band,” discrediting their abilities completely. It is also filled with various shallow insults, perhaps attempting to be humor, stating, “Greta Van Fleet sound like they did weed exactly once, called the cops, and tried to record a Led Zeppelin album before they arrested themselves.” Larson complained that Greta Van Fleet’s success is a result of nothing more than, “a new kind of vampiric band.” Ultimately, this incredibly harsh review had the potential to destroy the band’s career. 

The Irony & Response

However, it is rumored that Greta Van Fleet never read the Pitchfork slam. Although, the band managed to defend themselves a week later within an article by Rolling Stone. The interview addressed the controversy head on, and gave Greta Van Fleet a voice. In defense of the band’s similarities to Led Zeppelin, Jake Kiska, explains, “It’s a primitive, instinctual thing for people to take one thing and create parallels to better identify with something they don’t initially understand.” The article then highlighted the irony of the Greta Van Fleet hatred, as Zeppelin has confessed to ripping off bands of the past.

In fact, Rolling Stone wrote an entire piece on this in 2016, around the time of Greta Van Fleet’s early success. Jimmy Page, Zeppelin’s guitarist, admits, “Robert (Plant) was supposed to change the lyrics, and he didn’t always do that, which is what brought on most of the grief.” It seems Zeppelin fans have forgotten how their beloved music came about. With a sudden rise of fame, it’s easy for critics to dismiss the band’s originality and talent. Besides the clear similarities, Greta Van Fleet’s music is not imitation, but rather admiration. 

Still Going Strong

With the help of TikTok, Greta Van Fleet has gone viral, once again. The band recently released their album The Battle At Garden’s Gate (2021), which included their newest hit, ‘Light My Love.’  The TikTok soundbite highlights the song’s memorable lyrics, “Your mind is a stream of colors, extending beyond our sky.” Josh’s captivating voice in this power ballad moved fans on another level. The sound featured in over 30k videos, with top videos accumulating millions of views. This has increased their fanbase even further, creating a spike in popularity similar to their breakout in 2017. The band continues to prove critics wrong, finally receiving the artistic recognition they deserve. Above all, Greta Van Fleet has succeeded despite the controversy, creating genuine music for every generation.

Sources:

https://www.musicinminnesota.com/who-is-greta-van-fleet-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-sibling-rock-band/

https://www.last.fm/music/Greta+Van+Fleet

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greta_Van_Fleet

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/greta-van-fleet-anthem-of-the-peaceful-army/

https://www.udiscovermusic.com/stories/greta-van-fleet-jake-kiska-anthem-interview/

https://www.altpress.com/news/greta-van-fleet-led-zeppelin-comparison/

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/apr/12/greta-van-fleet-band-new-album-interview

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/greta-van-fleet-led-zeppelin-rocks-anxiety-of-influence-749513/

https://www.rollingstone.com/feature/led-zeppelins-10-boldest-rip-offs-223419/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/4NpFxQe2UvRCAjto3JqlSl

Author: Sydney Buczynski

Sydney Buczynski is a current student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign studying English & Communication. She has experience in guitar and vocal training, but truly aspires to write. She strives to intertwine her dedication to both writing and music to create a future career.

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