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The worst.

After I ranted the other day about the suckiness that is Motley Crue, an old friend left me a challenging comment:

“Anyway, since you brought it up, I’d like to see your complete list of your top 10 least favorite major rock bands.”

You would think such a thing would be easy for any opinionated music listener to come up with … and yet I am struggling, like a fisherman in a Hemingway novel trying to reel in a marlin.

It would be easy to dash off a listicle with a grabby headline like “18 Bands That Really Suck.” Such things are all over the Net these days; and writing such a post would probably drive up my traffic, at least a little bit.

But I can’t just dish the snark and be done with it. Can’t bring myself.

Here are the obstacles standing between you, the reader, and my list of worst all-time major bands:

Small sample size. The bands I don’t like, I’ve not really listened to.

Take Supertramp, for instance. I dislike many of their radio singles, so I’ve never listened to their albums.

But how can I list a band among my least favorites if I’ve not even done them the favor of listening to one of their albums? That seems dishonest. For all I know, their album tracks could be really killer — or, at least, good enough to lift them off my Bottom 10 list.

(As a side note, Supertramp — more so than any other rock band I know of — has completely scrubbed YouTube of its studio recordings. Seriously; try a search and see what you get. This is counterproductive in my case: I’m not buying Breakfast in America without hearing it first, and a YouTube preview would have been a fine opportunity for me to do that.)

Artist, or genre? Sometimes, it’s not a particular artist I dislike, so much as it is an entire genre.

I strongly dislike R&B divas who grossly over-emote, and pop-punk bands with bratty singers, and today’s popular bro-country, and most anything labeled “nu-metal,” and easy-listening smooth jazz.

So how does one represent that on a worst-bands list? I mean, it doesn’t matter who the group is. If they make those noises, I hate them. But how much do I weigh down my list with them?

Peaks and valleys. The ’64 Beatles were a great band. Same with the ’69 Beatles.

But the late ’66-early ’67 Beatles? The guys who put out songs with McCartney playing trumpet, and who couldn’t figure out how to end their songs (think of the ending of “Magical Mystery Tour”), and who seemed to abandon craft for randomness and novelty?

I have no great use for those guys, and would even suggest that their hubris might bring them dangerously close to my Bottom 10.

The thorny questions: Is it cricket to define a certain time period of a band’s existence as Bottom 10, but not other periods? Is that a hopelessly arcane, smug and obnoxious pop-geek thing to do?

And for that matter, is any band that lasts long enough to have multiple developmental stages automatically good enough to deserve exclusion from the Bottom 10?

Other bands qualifying for the Bottom 10, if this wrinkle is allowed, include the 1971 and 1994-95 Grateful Dead and post-1977 Chicago (OK, I like “Street Player,” so make that post-1980 Chicago.)

Having thrown out all those caveats, I guess I can still bring myself to compile a list of performers I don’t have a lot of use for.

They include Motley Crue, the Moody Blues, the Eagles (including Don Henley and Glenn Frey solo), Poison (no ’80s hair-metal, really; there’s that genre question again), Madonna (except for “Vogue,” which is fierce and wonderful, and I mean that), John Denver, Harry Chapin, Styx, Hootie and the Blowfish, Phish and Green Day.

There, there’s 11 for ya. One to grow on.


5 responses »

  1. Thanks for that, Kurt. I’m relieved that none of my favorite major rock bands of all time landed on your list of least favorites. Makes me feel somewhat validated that someone much more thoughtful and experienced with popular music (and music generally) doesn’t hate the musicians that I like. That said, I actually like Magical Mystery Tour.

    As for the members of your list, I’m completely with you on Poison. I think I only know two of their songs and I actively despise both of them. I don’t know anything by Phish (off the top of my head), but I’m sure I would dislike them, too, just because I generally dislike jam bands and the ambling, aimless music they produce. I’m not sure any of the other artists on your list quite make my top ten least favorites list, but I can certainly see how they earned they way onto yours (I’ve always love the fact that The Dude hated The Eagles enough to get thrown out of cab for it in ‘The Big Lebowski’).

    Anyway, thanks again for going through the exercise.

    • Of course, if I didn’t like someone you liked, you are still welcome to like them. I may be “much more thoughtful and experienced” but I am still full of crap pretty often. 🙂

  2. You were batting 1.000 up until Green Day. I was nodding through the whole list until the big record scratch at the end. You owe them another listen. I’ll bring a bunch of their oeuvre this summer.

    • Just can’t take the voice; and any band whose stock in trade is lots of big power chords loses me pretty quickly (unless they are the Ramones, who invented it.)
      That’s my problem with pop-punk — all those big slabs of power chords that sound the same, going through the same five riffs and changes all those bands use.

  3. OK with the Styx call except for Pieces of Eight. That’s their most rocking, with some excellent drumming.


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