Someone quoted Frank Zappa* over at Chicago Boyz, and I replied that he may be the best example of a pseudointellectual to come out of 60s rock. This set me to thinking, of course, who his competition is for that honor. This seems like a group-participation project. Defend your choices.
I think I am excluding the true folkies, pre-Dylan. First, they would sweep the field and there would be no one else standing when we got to the quarterfinals, so the game would be no fun. Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, right out. Second, even though they occasionally had top-40 pop hits, they don't really qualify. Folk-rockers are in the mix, though. So, Kingston Trio out, Bob Dylan in. Dylan isn't going to be a strong nominee anyway. Even first-water intellectuals get ahead of themselves and say pretentious stuff sometimes, so I can certainly cut some slack to a guy who has been as generally original and interesting as Zimmerman has.
From the opposite direction, I don't think a band or singer who ordinarily didn't pretend to be any more than a rocker or a fun time should get penalised for a one-off attempt at Being Significant. "San Franciscan Nights" by the Animals was execrable, but they usually didn't deviate from their brand as hard-luck teen years rockers. Few pop-country singers get over their heads like that, but it does happen.
I am uncertain what to do with someone like Joni Mitchell. She used very interesting tunings and was a good lyricist. It was the vacancy of her ideas that irritated. Perhaps that should be the definition of exactly what I am referring to when I say pseudointellectual. You have to have some intelligence to even get into the ring, so you don't get extra points for that once the competition starts. Everyone on the list will have that in some form or another. It is the half-baked ideas that are the issue.
Nominate, or discuss criteria, or both. I want to hear yours before I give mine.
*Another quote of his. "You've seen 'em! You've seen 'em with their little FISH on the back of their cars! Just remember: THEY ARE THE ENEMY!" (Pro-choice rally, 1988)