Over Donald Fagen
The singing half of Steely Dan, Donald Fagen dripped with grad school irony while showing off a library of pop, jazz and R&B influences when sincere singers ruled the 1970s roost. Maybe that's why the original wave of Indie rockers hated him so much -- he's just like them, but with complex harmonies and chords replacing the Velvets and punk rock. After Steely Dan ran its course, Fagen released the excellent The Nightfly in 1982. A new sweetness was apparent on this theme album involving a 1950s adolescent dreaming about adult romance and adventure. The rest of the Reagan decade was a professional wash for Fagen, but at least he got around writer's block by penning the score to Bright Lights, Big City. He later called Steely Dan's Walter Becker in order to get a creative kick in the butt, and together they crafted Kamakiriad (1993), a typically sunny/bleak Fagen theme album that took the listener on a tour of retro-futurist ennui. Since he and Becker were working together again anyway, they reformed Steely Dan.