Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Most Awful Bands, or, It’s Not You, It’s Me

Up until now, I’ve studiously avoided taking cheap shots at anyone, unless I thought there was a good laugh in it. But my wife tells me that it’s time I learned to direct my natural negativity outward, and, instead of just gracing my own family, share it with the rest of the world. There is something to this. We all have a role in life, and mine appears to be to make those around me miserable. Why not use modern technology to reach my full potential?

And it serves a higher - or at least more practical - purpose. It may not be enough for you to know who I like. Also knowing who I hate completes the picture, and it ain’t pretty.

And if you find that we have the same lists, but that yours is titled “Greatest Bands Ever”, maybe I don’t have that much to say to you. Better that we both know this sooner rather than later. Let’s at least save one of us some time.

Now mind you, these are not artists that I’m merely lukewarm about. There are plenty of those, and it’s nobody’s fault - we’ve agreed to be just friends. I’m talking about artists I despise - artists that have so thoroughly gotten under my skin that I simply must say something or explode. When one of their songs comes on I cannot be held responsible for my actions. These are the Susquehanna Hat Companies of music.

Plus, these guys have all made a ton of money, so really who cares what I think? It’s not like my bashing them means a damned thing. They’ve made many people happy, and have thus made the world a better place. But they sorely challenge my egalitarian instincts and tempt me to conclude that people (not you, of course) have no taste. (This coming from the guy who likes the Flaming Lips…) When I reveal my true feelings for these bands to my friends, I get the looks that are usually reserved for that guy on the train who shouts that the CIA is controlling his thoughts.

And there are easier targets. I could mention Barry Manilow, Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, etc, but they get under other people’s skin, too, so my comments are unnecessary. Not liking them is like saying that you don’t like root canal. Just get in line.

So here goes a short list of artists I can’t stand. If I go to hell, this is what’s on the jukebox:


First off, I can never forgive Steve Perry for “Oh, Sherrie”, which I first heard when my clock radio alarm went off at six am one morning. And yes, I had to go to work that day anyway, but the very first sound to rouse me from my slumber was Steve Perry shouting in my ear “Shoulda been gone!” What is this, “Full Metal Jacket”?

I know it’s really a Steve Perry record, but it may as well be a Journey record. Same melodramatic keyboards, same overwrought guitar licks. Journey is the epitome of the “rock (but not “‘n roll”) band”. They probably consider themselves too cool for country music, but will try to sound like a symphony orchestra for cheap melodrama if they can. They’re hardly the only ones in this regard, but I wish they’d just come out and admit that they’re a Vegas act at heart.

And just how high was Steve Perry’s voice before he hit puberty, anyway? In the last episode of “The Sopranos”, I was rooting for Tony to get shot, if only so that a stray bullet might hit the jukebox.


These guys did their damnedest to prove that the type of music I loved just didn’t exist anymore. They represent the absolute nadir of early 80s rock, which is really saying something. They chased me from commercial rock stations, for which perhaps I should be grateful. They rocked like John Phillip Sousa and swung like Emerson Lake and Palmer. The singer should have gone into opera. At least they had the decency to go away in record time.


I can’t fault the musicianship, but I have never heard anything even remotely enjoyable by these guys. It may be because Geddy Lee sounds like Elvis Costello played at 78 rpm, which can be fun, but only when it’s my thumb on the turntable.

I know a few people who love these guys but I…just…don’t…get it.


Not powerful, just loud. And the tunes just aren’t as good as the singer thinks they are. And at the risk of sounding prudish, I find “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” to be incredibly vulgar. He seems like a nice enough guy, though. I wish him great success in his acting career.


I will admit to the existence of two decent songs by this band, but the singing is strained to the point of constipation. They are without a doubt the blandest rock and roll band in history. If you like these guys, let’s just talk about sports.

REO Speedwagon:

We were having a barbeque a few years ago, and I had “Elastica” playing in the back yard. Not real loud, mind you, but it was there. The next door neighbor, who was about a decade younger than me, must have taken offense, and started blasting REO Speedwagon in response. I found this more hilarious than annoying, since the young ladies from Elastica played with more testicular fortitude than los speedwagoneros. When they placed an ad for a singer, it must have read: “WANTED: Really lame white guy.”


Another alarm clock incident, but this time I was pleasantly awoken to the sound of a folk duo playing “Come Sail Away”. Not bad at all. No Dennis DeYoung freaking me out with his high voice. No over the top climax. What a relief. Another band that would get its ass kicked by the Monkees in a street fight.


Take a scoop of each of the above mentioned ingredients, add extra bombast, be sure to remove any soul that may have accidentally gotten mixed in. Place it all in a blender. Throw blender away.

Lionel Ritchie:

Nice sweater.

I could complain about hair bands, I suppose but perhaps that’s because I have less of it than I used to. I’m sure that there is some good music in there somewhere, but to me it’s the aural equivalent of a bunch of guys looking at themselves in the mirror. I’m obviously not the target audience, though.

There. I’ve gotten it off my chest. I feel better now.

Now stop looking at me like I pushed Mother Theresa down a flight of stairs...

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