Thursday, January 21, 2010

Worst Bands Ever



As Vampire Weekend lands its first #1 record, it got me thinking about some of the worst bands in the world.

On days I've posted anything Bruce Spingsteen or Queen related, the hateful comments poured in and though you know, I am a huge fan of both, even if I wasn't, I wouldn't be so irrational as to call either "the worst."

I have never liked Dave Matthews. You can read why HERE. But I recognize the talent.

In the case of Vampire Weekend, I hear nothing. It's bad sounding and gimmicky. And while I try to find some reedeming qualities, I mostly just work myself up, think about their success, and want to beat them over their heads with their steel drums.

I'm feeling the same sort of rage towards Lady Gaga, who has unbelievably sold out Radio City Music Hall for 4 nights.

In 30 years, will we look back on Vampire Weekend and Lady Gaga and think the same thing our parents think now when looking back at The Beatles and The Stones? Will we think, "Boy, 'Just Dance' really is an amazing song by an amazing artist?"

That said, no matter how much you may hate Queen's pomposity or Bruce Springsteen's politics, I don't believe either is what I'm looking for when I ask, "Who do you think is the worst band you've ever heard?" Bands like The Shaggs shouldn't count either. I want bands or artists that really just sucked on every level, yet managed to maintain somewhat respectable careers.

45 comments:

Fishguy said...

Banal-o-rama immediately leaps to mind...

Thanks a lot, Sal!

Anonymous said...

REO Speedwagon.
Liked the truck, the band is like fingernails scratching a blackboard!

Ken D said...

Could I nominate the entire 80s hair metal genre? It's so hard pick just one of them...

itsok2beright said...

I resemble that Bruce remark!

Here is my quick list, without spending too many brain cells thinking about bad music.

Creed; If you can't be Pearl Jam, don't try.
Level 42; Just because.
Asia; More because of what they could have been.
Sevendust; Bad music in a low talent genre.

I'll leave out the obvious like Vanilla Ice and Latoya out of sympathy.

steve simels said...

As I said the other day, I don't hate Vampire Weekend.

But I think it is ineluctable fact that they are essentially the exact band that Every Mother's Son would have been had they been born in the 80s.

With all the good and bad that entails...
:-)

Noam Sane said...

Indigo Girls.

I hope I wasn't hateful toward Springsteen. I don't deny he's made some fine music. But really, the ratio of crap-to-quality is pretty high; he's created a Joseph Campbell-type myth and he's milking the hell out of it. And some folks are pre-disposed to drink it up.

big bad wolf said...

journey.

i don't watch hbo, but when i heard the sopranos ended with a journey song, i couldn't help but think, well, the raves for that show have got to be wrong, who the hell would end their series with a f--- journey song.

now, intellecutally, i know that's not the proper way to judge a show one has never seen and many people of good taste liked, but that's what my initial thought was

cmealha said...

I'm sure this will piss everybody off but Grateful Dead hands down! The popularity to artistic merit ratio is off the charts. I just don't get it. At least you can dance to Lady Gaga....

Sal Nunziato said...

I didn't want this to be about Queen or Bruce, but Noam, since you brought up Bruce's "ratio of crap-to-quality," I thought I'd share this-from another loyal BW reader and Bruce fan:

(Bruce) played for 10 years before being found by Hammond. Lived by his wits, sleeping wherever he could find a spot. Played in every kind of amalgamation. Writes his own stuff. Plays his instrument (better than given credit for), constantly tours, is a legend, not afraid to share a stage (though I notice that whoever he plays with, he somehow always is the leader of the band), liked and respected by his peers, remembers and respects his heroes, loves the attention, but doesn't seem to be an asshole. Married, divorced and married again. Kids seem about normal, embarrassed by their Dad, yet somehow proud. Gives to charity. Took over his business life 'way before it was trendy to do so. Owns his publishing. Loyal to his bandmates, his label and himself. A gazillionaire.

At 60, still viable, still has something to say, not afraid to take chances, not playing out the string, absolutely is the leader of a tribe of loyal and passionate fans in every western industrialized country. One of the most recognized names and faces on the planet. Doesn't politicize meeting world leaders by trying to be a messiah, he doesn't need to, because they all would love to hang with him.

Yet, despised by more than many.

I don't get it.

YEAH, NEITHER DO I.

Sal Nunziato said...

itsok2beright-- Level 42 is so random and hilarious.

Carl,

Like you, I felt the same way about the Dead. But unlike you, I think, I listened to nothing but for about 3 months, live shows, acoustic sets, classic albums. It's alot to digest and there is alot of crap, but they are legends for a reason. You have to want to find out why.

FD13NYC said...

The Grateful Dead are legends because their loyal followers take or took acid when they listen to or see the live shows. I don't get it either. I mean, they made 2 or 3 good albums which contained 5 or 6 good songs, tops. Very overrated.

Bruce is still ever the workhorse. He's got his catalog of songs. Some very good, some not so good. Basically like everyone else.

Something About You by Level 42 was a good song, I think.

Meanstreets said...

Sal,
As bruce occupies " hallowed ground " to you, let's not forget his tolerance for terrorists & their rights, illegal aliens, and most left - wing anti American human debris..if he would just sing, those who despise him, as you say, would decrease. ( not me )

I tried my best Sal not to respond to your post...were you baiting me ?

DALE WATSON @ HILL COUNTRY BARBECUE FRIDAY NIGHT, 1/22 at 11PM
He loves this country...

Chris Swartout said...

My vote would have to be either Styx, Journey, or The Spin Doctors.


I was reminded of a good Bruce story. At the height of his fame in 84, he was invited to do the We Are the World song. As all the performers showed up in their limos, he pulled up in a rented Chrysler K Car and looked for a parking spot.

Christine said...

I'm trying very hard not to comment, lest I get into an argument with people I don't even know, but Styx? Journey? I'm sorry, but these bands do NOT belong in any "Worst Bands Ever" category. But, since we have freedom of speech, I cannot listen to The Doors without wanting to scratch my eyes out.

Sal, I love what you wrote about Bruce. As you know, I know several people who have been following him since the early, early days, going to see him play in bowling alleys and the like, and what your "loyal BW reader and Bruce fan" had to say about him seems to be the truth.

Christine said...

I won't mention Motorhead.

Sal Nunziato said...

I love Motorhead. Styx, not so much. As for Journey, I can see both the appeal and the repulsion.

Christine said...

I know you love Motorhead, which is why I didn't mention them.

So much for this not being about Bruce!

itsok2beright said...

Upon further review, I think this list needs Nickelback.

cmealha and fd13nyc - spot on about the Dead. Worst crap ratio in the business

Meanstreets - After your words about Bruce, we need to do lunch, and I'll pay. He should move to France.

christine - Great comment about the Doors. Every time I hear them, I think of the trash in Gerritsen Beach, hanging out at Rainbow lanes. Very ugly images. Though, your comment about Motorhead might annoy somebody else you know. Just think, they played on The Spongebob Movie Soundtrack. How bad can they be?

Oh and fd13nyc again - without using google, can you think of another Level 42 song?

Leslie said...

Nickleback is on my sh*t list. I'd gladly listen to five hours of music from The Electric Company (yes, the PBS kids show) over 1/2 an hour of Nickleback. i can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking of it.

DeepKarma said...

In no particular order...

Rage Against the Machine
The Doobie Brothers
Black Rebel Motorcycle club
Chinese Democracy-era GnR
Los Lonely Boys

Sal Nunziato said...

Hey Deep Karma-

I'm with you on Los Lonely Boys? I liked them for a minute until I realized I really did NOT!

Meanstreets and Itsok2beright--
So it's really all about the politics.
Is that what you two lunch buddies are saying? Just shut up and sing? Regardleez, as Ralph Kramden would say, Bruce is a terrible choice for "worst."

I have a new fave-- 3 Doors Down.

Could be the worst ever.

Fishguy said...

Geddy Lee always turned me TOTALLY off of Rush. Someone once said he sounded like a Chipmunk on speed...

Leslie said...

That's two for Nickleback...motion carried.

DeepKarma said...

Nickleback...my instinct for self-preservation had wiped them from my memory banks. Do we have a quorum present? If so, I agree with Leslie, the motion carries.

Kevin said...

UB40.
Coldplay.
Post-his-2-good-early-70's-albums Rod Stewart deserves a category unto himself, as do the disco Bee Gees.
The Eagles.
The Doors.
U2. Golden Voice? Only because "Strangled Cat" didn't translate as well into Latin.
Dishonorable Mention: Death Cab For Cutie are working hard to make it to the top of the bottom.

cmealha said...

Three months of the Dead? Are you okay? That's one long strange trip I won't be taking any time soon. I'll take your word for it. Really! Are you okay? I'm worried about you. Keep on truckin'.

Lamerex said...

'Real Talent' is quite a subjective perception. My audio 'cyanide' is very possibly your sonic 'ecstacy'.

Ah, but the masses are lemmings, are they not?
Criticizing the latest bland populist product hyped-up & churned-out by 'the Biz' for the Alterna-Lite masses (like Vampire Weekend) is almost too easy. (Deliver me away, Internet Radio!!)

That said, some 'popular' acts that have truly annoyed me with their overrated success, & music; (WHY...WHYYY DID SO MANY SUPPORT THIS boring din?? ):
STYX, KISS, Boston, Depeche Mode (& 80% of those synth-pop '80s..) Pearl (hype) Jam, Phish, Lenny Kravitz, 'Black-Eyed Peas' (pass). Cold-play (very!).
PS: 97% of radio 'Modern Rock'...all those NickleDust , 7-Backs & Sum41+2's...all sound like one big long droning dumb samey melody.

ahhh, thanks Sal !

big bad wolf said...

christine, this is not an argument, it's an explanation of my thought processes.

i think a candisate for worst band ever has to have had a substantial career and lots of air time for multiple songs. i sort of rewrite "worst" in my head to be band with a substantial career that most annoyed me and still triggers that reaction when i occasionally stray into their path in this non-radio era. and then the band has to be from the period that i listened the most, for me 1975 to 1987. after that, i got this day job that keeps interfering with my life, and so after that i mostly have encountered things i want to hear or try. finally, the aspect that makes the band bad can't just be a matter of my particular strong dislike (that knocks out rush---nothing makes me run screaming for the dial like geddy lee's high-pitched wails, but i get that there might be an aesthetic in high pitched wails that i just don't fathom).

that gets me to journey. bland music, annoying singer, manufactured emotions, cheap heart-tugging, swooned over by people who can't tell you why they like a song or a band, and absolutely all over the FM dial for too many of my most important years. everytime i hear them, even this far on, they bring back all the bad memories.

so that's how i get to them.

styx comes close for me on similar grounds, i think come sail away and mr. roboto and renegade were on conintuous play. i give styx a little more slack cause "light up" seemed cool when i was 15 :)

Michael said...

Wow, thanks to a plug by Steve Wynn I have discovered and am really enjoying this blog. And now I feel the urge to chime in.

Kevin- imho Rod Stewart had not two, but four high quality, kick-arse albums in the early seventies. Thereafter, I agree. When the mighty fall, the sound can be awful.

Re: the Bee Gees: I am smitten by everything the band did through Odessa- basically their sixties output. Thanks to Dylan and the general "getting back" in the industry that worked great for some, not so great for others, the brothers Gibb felt what was needed was to embrace MOR country. I'd rather eat cold Spam than listen to those albums. Rather dug the disco era BGs, though.

Do you need more Nickelback votes? May I vote twice? My dog hates them too.

Sal Nunziato said...

Hey Michael--

I have to agree, first 4 Rod Stewart albums are as good as it gets. I don't even mind "Atlantic Crossing."

I am also happy to say I think the Bee Gees "Main Course" and "Saturday Night Fever" are both solid.

Dangerous Dave said...

I would absolutely put Dave Matthews Band on my list even with their talented drummer.

Who else? All mall punk bands: Avril Lavigne, New Found Glory...

Anonymous said...

Really? youre going to call the dead the worst band ever?

the question wasnt which band do you hate the most, it was which is the worst band

you may not like the dead, but by no stretch, objectively, are they any worst band.

pretty clueless of those of you joining in......

Sal Nunziato said...

Anonymous Dead Defender,

Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I should have stated my mission more clearly.

Christine said...

Big Bad Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood here. You make a very strong case, explaining what a "worst" band really should be, and bring up a point that you may not have meant to bring up, and that Itsok2beright (do I have that right?) brought up , which is that sometimes, the bands we have chosen to like or dislike are so because of the memories they stir up, good or bad. I agree that the popular Styx and Journey songs were played to death on the radio in those days, and still are, to the point where I didn't even want to hear them anymore, but I think part of the reason I loved them so much is that they either helped me through tough times, or were there with me during good times. Maybe I would have given Motorhead a chance if they had been just a little more hygienic! Who really knows why we like what we do? Do we have to?

Sorry Sal. I know this subject was covered in an earlier blog of yours.

Can I add everything on Z-100?

soundsource said...

Ok I've been giving this some thought and trying to give it context. It would be too easy just to say Celine Dione or Kenny G and I think the point might have been bands that we're trying to mean something so I finally have my answer, better late than never (and it won't cause a shit storm cause it's after the fact by a few days). TALKING HEADS. Obnoxious wanna be rock for college students with dual degrees in anthropology and fine arts. Dance music for white people who can't dance. Too pretentious, trying too hard and too fucking obnoxious. That being said they do have some good songs but ughh just so pretentious. Oh yeah and the Velvet Underground not cause their the worst band ever but jesus why all the fuss, the beat sucks and you can't dance to it. Lyrics about scoring heroin I'd rather listen to Pusherman by Curtis Mayfield I give them a 2.

owner said...

Phish. Every idea that pops into your head is not a song.

big bad wolf said...

christine, i do include all those memories that you talk about. i would quibble only with "chosen." i don't think i ever "chose" to dislike a lot of the bands i disliked, it just sort of was---a product of a number of things, age, sex, social circle, cultural context. what causes me to wonder and ponder is how much is a choice now. i know and have heard a lot more at this advanced age, i get that what i disliked really touched people in ways i couldn't get when i was young, and yet some bands that my aged, more tolerant standards would judge innocuous, still make me crazy, journey chief among them. that may be more of a choice than my younger dislike of them ever was.

i think the doors was a decent choice. i like them better than you, but boy they just went out of their way to be annoying. i couldn't listen to them for years after i turned 17.

i'm hopeful sal forgives the long-windedness and i did pick this name because of my tendency to huff and puff :)

owner, very nice critique of phish. one of my favorite musical experiences was at jazzfest in, i think, 99. phish had played on thursday or friday and the fairgrounds were still full of phish kids on saturday when the allman brothers played last on the fess stage. a bunch of phish kids were there; probably they had heard the allmans were a jam band. a lot of those kids had wide open mouths by the end of that set. it was really cool, and nice that the allmans, who could be erratic, were on.

charlie c. said...

Grateful Dead haters are as homogeneous and as simple minded as the band/fans they love to hate. They can never just knock the band without getting a wee bit personal. So if I took too much acid and didn’t get it – what’s your excuse?!?

This is so hard to come up with one and still follow whatever rules there may have been . . .
Can I say: Paul Revere and the Raiders, Loggins and Messina, Jimmy Buffet, Cowboy Junkies? Buddy Miles, although he anticipated the ‘drum synth track’ does deserve honorable mention in the individual category . . .
Lady Gaga?!? Give her her 15 minutes and let's move on . . .

charlie c. said...

owner: although i kind of like Phish, that was, for economy of words alone, a great summation . . .

The Doors, please. Like/not like they can never be in anyone's worst list . . .

Sal Nunziato said...

Charlie C.--

What did Paul Revere & The Raiders ever do to you? "Kicks." "Hungry." "Just Like Me." "Him Or Me." "Good Thing." Steppin' Stone." Some pretty great stuff there.

As for The Doors---after a pretty strong debut, and a not bad follow-up in "Strange Days," the band is pretty horrible.

charlie c. said...

They made it on costumes alone (because I do like every one of those songs) which should have made The Beau Brummels my first choice . . . wait, let me start over -- one band: Dino, Desi and Billy.

Fine and dandy with the Doors, even if i were to concede all those points . . . but worst?!?
No way. Let's not go lunatic fringe here . . .

Sal Nunziato said...

Well, I guess when you like a band you don't hear it. That rinky-dink organ is one step above having a Jew's harp as a lead instrument.

FRANCIE said...

I THINK THAT WE HAVE VANILLA,CHOCOLATE AND STRAWBERRY ENABLING US TO DEVELOP OUR INDIVIDUAL TASTES,WHETHER IN MUSIC,FOOD OR ANYTHING IN OUR LIVES.THERE ARE SO MANY FLAVORS TO CHOOSE FROM.I WOULD NEVER HAVE A "BANNANARAMA" SPLIT WITH A "WILD CHERRY" ON TOP. I WOULDN'T HAVE "VANILLA FUDGE" EITHER. I WOULD NEVER ORDER THE "STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK" SPECIAL,OR CHEW GUM MADE AT THE "1910 FRUIT GUM COMPANY". I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO HAVE SHARED A "TUTTI FRUITI" SUNDAE WITH "LITTLE RICHARD" AND "JOHN LENNON" MAYBE WITH SOME "GINGER" IN THE WHIPPED "CREAM". I WOULD NEVER EAT A "CAKE THAT WAS LEFT OUT IN TE RAIN". I DON'T LIKE "SUGAR AND HONEY" TOGETHER(I GUESS I'M NOT A "CANDY GIRL" I WAS INVITED TO A "KANSAS" STEAK DINNER WITH "PINA COLADAS" I WOULDNT DRINK THE "LEMONCELLO". THE WHOLE MEAL WAS HORRIBLE.WE ALL KNOW "LEMON TREES" ARE VERY PRETTY,WHY CONCENTRATE ON JUST THOSE. I USED TO LIKE "VANILLA ICE", BUT MAYBE I WAS "UNDER PRESSURE". I BET THEY SERVE "WHITESNAKE" SOUP IN CHINA,WHO WOULD ORDER IT I WONDER? "ONE SATURDAY MORNING" I WAS INVITED TO NY COUSIN'S HOUSE FOR BREAKFAST BUT WAS AFRAID TO GO BECAUSE SHE LIVED NEXT DOOR TO "TINY TIM"(TRUE). "MISS VICKIE" WAS OUTSIDE SINGING "WINCHESTER CATHADREL", WASN'T THAT THEIR COMPETITION? I WOULD NEVER SHOP AT THE "COWSILLS" STORE FOR MILK AND "BREAD". I WOULDN'T EAT "LITTLE GREEN APPLES" BUT I EOULD EAT "GREEN ONIONS" AND DANCE ALL NIGHT LONG. WHY CAN'T WE ORDER A SLICE OF "HUMBLE PIE" AT THE DINER? I DON'T THINK WE WOULD GET SICK? NOW ALL I AM IN THE MOOD FOR IS A "DOMINO"S PIZZA TO EAT ON "BLUEBERRY HILL'. MAYBE I'LL WEAR A "RASBERRY BARET" AND FINISH IT OFF WITH A SHOT OF "BRUCE JUICE"f

fervorcoulee said...

Have enjoyed reading the posts.

My vote would change with the wind, but here are some I would nominate:

1. Worst, successful Canadian band- Blue Rodeo- three melodies repeated endlessly for 20+ years.

2. Worst stadium act that I've actually seen in a stadium- hand down, Journey circa 1981.

3. Except I forgot Foreigner, which trumps Journey.

4. Bonus vote- any band containing Eric Clapton.

5. Worst band that everyone else loved- Emmylou Harris's SpyBoy. I never got it. Too loud by half.

6. Worst band I've tried to like, and just can't handle for more than a song- Styx.

7. Worst band that I was surprised I actually liked once I listened to them- Kansas.

8. Worst band I always thought I should like more, but am usually asleep before the third song- The Doors

Cheers, D

Dave said...

Hard Honey (Canadian band) - sounds like the bastard child of Tenacious D and Nickelback. They use vocal backing tracks in their live show...sad, really. They repersent everything that isn't rock and roll.