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What's Better, Fifty Shades of Grey or Staind's 14 Shades of Grey?

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[Editor's note: Deathmatch pairs two things that have something in common, and determines who is better. It's a concept we sort-of ripped off from MTV, except that instead of claymation it's the printed word!]

By Paul T. Bradley

Released in 2003, 14 Shades of Grey is the fourth studio album from alt-bro / tough-guys-in-pain rock band Staind. It was the follow-up to their incomprehensibly successful Break the Cycle.

E.L. James' bestselling housewife masturbatory novel Fifty Shades of Grey , meanwhile, has just spawned a cross-branded album of classical music. Released in September, it contains songs mentioned in the novel and inspired by its protagonists' love of classical music. It is now now #4 on Billboard's classical chart.

So, which one's better, Fifty Shades of Grey or 14 Shades of Grey? Below, we compare them in a number of important categories.

Hard and Soft Limits

Fifty Shades concerns the sexual dynamics between its protagonists, exploring the partners' soft and hard limits. The Staind album explores its audience's hard and soft limits for adult men whining about adolescent problems, rapidly exceeding both.

Point: Fifty Shades

Varieties of Grey

This should be easy, right? But how many shades does one need, exactly? While Staind goes with 14 -- exactly the number of tracks on the album. The novel purports to have fifty. Fourteen is plenty.

Point: Staind


In James' novel, a sexually naive 22 year old college student submits to being dominated by a wealthy older man who's into classical music. Staind, a musically naive Western Mass bar band was discovered and produced by Fred Durst, a wealthy older man who's into rap-metal music.

Point: Fifty Shades


Fifty Shades sees Ana Steel get chained-up by Christian Grey. 14 Shades sees Staind get choked up over deceased Alice in Chains front man Layne Staley in the song "Layne."

Point: Staind


Fifty Shades' soundtrack contains Leo Delibes' "Flower Duet" from the opera Lakmé. "With a lazy hand / come, let's go to the shore" coos the flawless soprano lead as she gathers flowers by a river. "I'm so afraid of waking / please don't shake me" barfs out Staind frontman Aaron Lewis in the song "So Far Away," presumably commenting on a life where he cashes royalty checks for thrice-removed pseudo grunge.

Point: Fifty Shades

Unintentional Innuendo

14 Shades contains a few tracks like "Fill Me Up" and "Blow Away" that would fit right in with James' media juggernaut. Fifty Shades' signature track is Thomas Tallis' Spem in Alium which looks filthier than it actually is.

Point: Staind


While 14 Shades reached #1 on the Billboard 200 in 2003, Limp Bizkit was selling out stadiums. Times sure were different back then. Fifty Shades, meanwhile, has sold more copies in the UK than the entire Harry Potter series and has brought extreme sexual play into mainstream conversation.

Point: Fifty Shades

The winner: E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey and the accompanying soundtrack, in a landslide.

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