Once in a blue moon, although I haven't looked at a farmer's almanac today, I get nostalgic for stuff I've written before. The list of (mostly rock) bands I find abhorrent and do not allowed to be played in my presence comes with rules. I realize rules are counter to the spirit of rock and roll and most other forms of popular music but since I think the offending bands are so ill, they make rules necessary.
Rule 1 - the band has to be popular, commerically successful and known. Telling me about some rap rock group out of Topeka Kansas that has sold 12 copies means nothing. Yes, they're terrible, but only a few people know they're terrible
Rule 2 - Obvious is boring. The Insane Clown Posse is overtly bad. Everyone knows this. Same with Vanilla Ice and various teen acts like Justin Bieber or The Jonas Brothers. There is nothing clever about listing The Bay City Rollers or The Backstreet Boys on a list.
Rule 3 - The group, band or artists has to judged on their work, not their personality or persona. We all get that you may not like the very obnoxious Gene Simmons, but throwing him out with the KISS bathwater is intellectually dishonest.
Rule 4 - Kicking people when they're down (or dead) is just bad form. Gary Glitter, George Micheal, Micheal Jackson, Blind Melon, etc. all have to be judged on their work not their current room temperature or sleazy scandal.
Rule 5 - Reasons have to be more than arbitrary. Everything and everyone is bad for a reason. Brutal honesty is the best policy, yes, but that honesty must come with evidence.
10. Hootie and the Blowfish - Ten years ago, the frat boy heroes from Columbia, South Carolina would have been top five. Their 00s failures and subsequent descent of lead singer Darius Rucker into country music slumming for easy cash have almost eliminated this band from consideration. Yet, when you sell over 20 million records of your first two albums, make songs that are still used on ESPN sportshighlights and yoru debut CD from the mid 90s, Cracked Rear View is still in some parents record collections (mine included), you get internet dissed with the worst of them. (editors note - I am a New York Jets fan and avowed hater of anything Miami Dolphins. Darious Rucker allegiance to the Dolphins makes my blood boil.)
9) My Chemical Romance - If some spoiled kids from an upper middle class suburb got lost in Hot Topic, overdosed on mascara, and got their parents to buy them a record deal, it would look and sound like this band. First of all remove, the My from the band name. Chemical Romance sounds almost interesting. My Chemical Romance sounds like an afterschool special on The Disney Channel. This is marketing, not music. The Black Parade is this generation's Come Sail Away by Styx. That's not a good comparison, seeing as how Styx is probably number 11 or 12 on this list.
8) Goo Goo Dolls - Not every band has to sell records or even make mainstream music to be good. For a while, the Buffalo, NY punk band headed by Johnny Reznik meant well. Then, for no good reason other than greed, they decided to make sappy ballad after sappy ballad with nothing else in between. Doing the same thing over and over again not only makes you a bad band, it makes you an insane one.
7) Post 1987 Aerosmith. I hate having to list this band. The Boston bad boys, led by the Toxic Twins Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, were so great in the 1970s and even early 80s when Joe and Steven broke up fo a while, that I would easily list then as one of my favorite bands. Yet, in 1986 they got sober, made the rap rock classic Walk this Way with Run DMC, and became a lame corporate rock, MTV sold, crap band. Fifteen years of great music were wiped out with twenty five years of horrible music. I Dont wanna Miss A Thing ensured this. They knew better. They just didn't care.
6) Creed - Songs about sin, redemption, honor, and looking forward sound like a great idea, right? When they come from a hypocritical, backstabbing, mean spirited, formulaic hack like singer Scott Stapp, they are revolting. Creed is what happens when that relaly good guy from your church forms a band and decides to sell his soul and everything else inside him. Bad lyrics, bad messages, and bad people.
5) Jam Bands - Here come the fighting words. Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic, Jack Johnson, Dave Mathews Band, Phish, Alllman Brothers, Doobie Brothers, Bob Marley and any other group that forgoes bathing, embraces pot, and plays songs with no structure, meaning or time value belong in this spot. Look, if you want to smoke dope and have a good time, then turn the tv on and dance around to whatever sound comes out of the speakers. You aren't paying attention to the music. The band isn't paying attention to you. Songs should never last longer than 5 minutes anyway, and even if we are going to give Led Zepplin a pass on Stairway to Heaven or Metallica a pass on Fade To Black, we will not give a pass to groups that play every song over 7 minutes for no particular reason. There is nothing artistic or entertaining about endless tunes that have maybe six lyrics in each song. It's all crap.
4) The Eagles - Vapid lyrics, stolen ideas, pretentiousness sold as art, and the worst kind of overt commercialism ever put on record. The Eagles copied The Byrds, Gram Parsons, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and several other less successful bands, homogenized their sound to where there is no edge, point, or intent, and made people think it was cool. The Eagles are a con job. As Johnny Rotten so poignantly said at the end of the Sex Pistols last show "Ever get the feeling you're being cheated?" It think he was talking about Hotel California being the number one record in the country at the time he spoke.
3) Nickelback - I hope, so much, this Canadian band of rock poseurs continue to be wildy successful so someone will finally knock the next two bands off the perch of this list. Infantile lyrics, horrible attitudes towards women that are neither funny nor ironic, radio ready (there's a different between radio ready and radio friendly) songs, and no heart or edge to a band that only cares about making money. Eventually the cash dries up, kids. You have to have some art. There is none with Nickeback. Just vacant, ugly, souless bile, that the ignorant call rock music. They're awful.
2) Bon Jovi - There are 3 definites in life; death, taxes and Bon Jovi sucks. Not good enough for you? Fine. Bon Jovi and Poison are the same band. they play to the girlfriends of male rock fans. The difference? Poison is honest about it and they seem to have fun doing so. Bon Jovi thinks, they're artists. Anytime a band has to "crossover" to another genre to get fans (intentionally, not unintentionally like Run DMC and Aerosmith, that was an accident) like Bon Jovi did with Sugarland means they can't cut it on their own merit. Bon Jovi has no merit. Slippery When Wet and New Jersey are the same record. Song by song, they are mirror images of each other. That's formula. Creed, Nickelback, Eagles, Jovi, they all did it. No one's challenged, everything is just sold.
1) Journey - Once upon a time in the mid 1970s, there was this almost decent jazz-rock group from San Francisco. Then they hired two chicks named Johnathon Cain and Steve Perry. The rest is pathetic music history. I didn't watched the last episode of the Sopranos, but it makes me giddy that one of the best shows in the history of television was ruined by the song Don't Stop Believing. Journey is everything the other bands listed are, just worse. No heart, edge, grit, sweat, meaning, poetry, or urgency that great music is supposed to have.
I feel better, don't you. Come and get me.