1. The movies.
Elvis was not a good actor, and his movies are horrible. Take, for example, Harum Scarum (1965). He plays a movie star (naturally) who’s kidnapped and taken to a Middle Eastern country where he’s enlisted by—get this—the Lord of Assassins to kill an Arabian king. Oh, and he falls in love with the king’s daughter. Check out the film’s trailer, which we thought was a parody until we noticed it was posted by Warner Bros.
2. The fake songwriting credits.
Elvis hardly wrote any of his songs, but he sure got credit for all of them. Granted, it was reportedly his manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker (a real piece of work himself), who made Presley do it. But still, we’re talking about more than just taking credit for other people’s hard work—he took money from them. Otis Blackwell deserved the royalties for “Don’t Be Cruel.” Ken Darby deserved the royalties for “Love Me Tender.” The list goes on.
3. The title “the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
There’s no doubt that Elvis left his mark on contemporary music. But to hold the title of “The King” one should be the most influential in all of rock music. With that in mind, consider how many rock musicians call The Beatles a primary influence compared with Presley. From their set-up to their record sales, the Beatles have far more influence than Elvis on rock ’n’ roll. And considering that four men hold the greatest share of power and influence in rock, it’s questionable whether anyone deserves the title. Besides, this is America!
4. “Amazing Grace” (and other terrible gospel songs).
“Amazing Grace” was written by the repentant slave trader John Newton, reflecting on the idea that God’s grace could save him from even his most evil deeds. And nothing manages to destroy the introspective song faster than the sound of Elvis moaning and grunting his way through it. Elvis recorded nearly 100 gospel songs over the course of his career, and rarely, if ever, did he bother to drop his affected delivery out of reverence. There’s nothing wrong with making a song sound sexy, but hands off the Hymnal, Your Majesty.
5. The fashion.
He started off all clean-cut and handsome, but we can’t get behind Iconic Elvis. There’s just something about those rhinestone jumpsuits that screams “morally reprehensible.” Not to mention, people make fun of Bono for his sunglasses—but this man had the audacity to incorporate a CAPE into his signature style. And don’t even get us started on the sideburns (they deserve their own List of the Day).
The King’s very public relationship with Vegas may have begun with his movie and song Viva Las Vegas, but Elvis later performed more than 800 sold-out shows that would forever shape Sin City. Whether Elvis was drawn to Vegas, or Vegas was drawn to Elvis, the relationship was a match made in a rhinestone-adorned hell—giving rise to a culture of unoriginal shows that consistently place style over substance. And does it bother you that artists like Celine Dion make millions performing the same show night after night in the same venue? Blame Presley.
7. The Impersonators.
As if seeing hundreds of albums, books and movies highlighting Elvis weren’t enough, it appears that about half the world has at least once pretended to be the King. For some, it’s as innocent as slicking back their hair and curling a lip in front of the mirror, while countless others have ruined their lives (or at least their reputations) by donning sparkly leisure suits and gyrating their hips in public. Make no mistake; people don’t impersonate Elvis just because they like him. They do it because it’s easy. Most of what made Elvis memorable had nothing to do with music, so nearly anyone can be the King. Are you overweight and tone-deaf? Not a problem! Just slide into a shiny jumpsuit, shimmy and shake for all you’re worth, and you’re almost as good as Elvis himself. But make sure to mention that you’re “70’s Elvis.”8. “Jailhouse Rock.”
Each year Graceland receives more than 600,000 visitors, making it second only to the White House in terms of famous American homes. That means that each year, thousands upon thousands of children lose the opportunity to visit a place with actual historical merit (or at least some entertainment value) so that their parents can indulge in weird Elvis fetishes. It’s one thing to make your kid listen to Presley in the car, but to steal her summer vacation away to visit a garish monument to rock opulence? Well, that just borders on cruelty.
10. He won’t go away.
The “Elvis Lives” thing is just embarrassing. Tupac Twitters, but Elvis really died. He stopped making music. Over 30 years ago. Somehow, his hits are still being regurgitated and, of course, topping charts. In 2002, a compilation of his 30 No. 1 hits went quadruple platinum. And this past Christmas, his duets record reached 17 on the US 100. It creepily featured a bunch of female pop and country stars, like Amy Grant and Martina McBride, pretending to sing with him. You might wonder, how could Gretchen Wilson record a song with Elvis in 2008 if he died in 1977? The answer’s obvious: Elvis lives.