A friend of mine sent me a newspaper clipping from the Houston Press, an entertainment newspaper in Houston this week. Its dated September 23, 2004, so its a couple months old, but its not really time-sensitive material, so its still relevant to argue with.
(Sorry, a quick Google for the article online turned up nothing, so I can't link to it.)
The title of the article: Introducing the most hated men in rock (besides Sting)
Right off the bat, I have a problem. What, only men in rock can be hated? No women? OK, not sure how I feel about that, but I'm willing to hear you out.
OK, on with the arguments. The article is written by one Mike Seely. His criteria are, in his own words, "Have talent, use it well for a substantial period of time, then squander it for commercial riches, fame or forced mass appeal." So that makes them hated? Really? So he equates making cash and being popular as bad. Nice.
So bad he's unrankable: Sting. "The turtlenecked Jaguar shill has so desecrated his Police legacy that we're not entirely convinced the current soft-rock incarnation isn't the original Stinger's evil twin. He is, without question, the most hated man in rock."
Sting? While I personally prefer The Police to solo Sting, I have no problem with him. I like his music. He's a good guy. Saved the rainforests. Doesn't that count for something?
1. Paul McCartney. Barely qualified to carry John Lennon's roach clip in the days when both toiled with an overrated boy band known as the Beatles, Sir Paul has shown horribly true colors since Mark David Chapman put a tragic slug in Yoko's hubby. "Band on the Run" could have been written by a third-grader, and McCartney's duets with Michael Jackson and the ensuing public pissing match over Jacko's savvy purchase of the Beatles' catalog cemented McCartney's legacy of poor taste and idiocy.
Sir Paul? OK, you've shot your credibility, right off the bat. The Beatles, an overrated boy band? You son of a bitch. And don't even go after "The Girl Is Mine". I hate your guts.
2. Carlos Santana. We wish we could just forget about it, Carlos, like your Matchbox Twenty buddy Rob Thomas suggested on "Smooth."...It's a pathetic career trajectory for a man once considered the heir to Jimi Hendrix, and Santana has no one to blame but himself.
Not a big Santana fan myself, but he's cool. I don't NOT like him, for sure. But 2nd most hated? No way. Plus he did a duet with Michelle Branch, who's totally hot, I mean, talented. Yeah, that's what I meant. Plays a hell of a guitar, that Branch. You bet.
3. Jimmy Buffett. Alcohol rehabilitation counselors, antidepressant manufacturers and shrinks should thank this Key West ukulele hack for supplying half of their paying clientele. Here's how the vicious cycle works: a) begin liking Buffett during perpetually drunk collegiate years; b) prolong perpetual drunkenness by becoming a parrothead and attending Buffett shows until age 40; c) crash car while driving drunk from Buffett show at Pensacola Fairgrounds; d) enter court-mandated rehab program; e) get sober; f) recognize how hollow life was during personal "Cheeseburger in Paradise" bender; g) start seeing shrink and taking Prozac; h) realize that entire wardrobe consists of imitation Hawaiian shirts, huaraches, golf visors and jams; i) start drinking again; and j) hit the road for Chattanooga stop of Buffett's Four Inebriated Horsemen Tour with Alan Jackson, Clint Black and Randy Travis. Turns out, Margaritaville has inescapable walls made of petrified ape dung, an apt description of Buffett's entire catalog.
Sheesh. How do you really feel? Cos I can't tell. Did you have a bad experience with margaritas once in college? Come on bro, you gotta remember: beer before liquor, never sicker!
4. The Adams family (Ryan and Bryan). You've been asking for this double entry, Ryan, by consistently refusing to cover "Summer of '69" in concert. If you didn't want to be confused with Bryan Adams or be teased for being one consonant short of Canada's pint-sized pride, you should have changed your fucking name. Lots of rock stars do it, bro. Releasing three mediocre albums a year and mounting the likes of Winona Ryder and Parker Posey haven't helped, either.
The only gripe I have against Ryan Adams is that when he first got radio play, I heard one of his songs and when I asked someone who it was, I thought they said Bryan. I was excited, a new Bryan Adams song on the radio? Cool. Turns it is was this new guy Ryan. So my problem with him is really just that I am an ass and don't listen well sometimes. So he's cool.
5. Elton John. Bernie Taupin's not-so-tiny dancer was way better in the pre-Studio 54 era, when he was as high as a rocket man and actually cranked out adventurous pop hits with gusto. Now sober, Sir Elton seems content to belt out cheesy power ballads for animated feature soundtracks, host garish awards-show afterparties and retrofit "Candle in the Wind" to cash in on the dead princess of the moment.
I agree that Elton's 70s work is much better, but the man is older, and his music has changed to reflect his older age. Sure he's more Lite104 that Hot97 now, but does that make me hate him? Nope. Just listen to the old stuff and let him do whatever he wants to do now, doesn't mean I have to listen to Can You Feel The Love Tonight to still enjoy Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
6. Johnny Rzeznik. Feel free to debate whether the Goo Goo Dolls' albums can even be considered rock. Also feel free to debate whether they're music. Any way you slice the pie, this moronic, saccharine, neo-glam outfit is the worst band in America, with Rzeznik being the synthetic cherry filling. Quick, name one Goo Goo Dolls song. That's okay, you're not alone. That Rzeznik could ascend to this ranking without ever having exhibited an ounce of artistic talent is testament to how much people just want to drop-kick his pretty-boy bean through the goal posts at Fuckface Field. At least this Calvin Klein underwear-model wannabe has one thing going for him: Avril Lavigne evidently wants to ride him. And in Missouri, that'd be barely legal.
Wha wha what? How'd he sneak onto this list? Johnny Rzeznik? That's pretty kind to lump a guy with 5 Top-40 hits in with legends like Sirs Paul and Elton. And its probably a little harsh to accuse the Goo Goo Dolls of not even being music. I mean, even Tiny Tim is music. "Tip Toe Thru The Tulips With Me" -- even that's music. So "Iris", "Slide", "Long Way Down", that's not music? Seems I remember them playing instruments when I saw them in concert. Hmm. Then he inexplicably proceeds to drag Avril Lavigne into the argument, and interject a bad joke about statutory rape. Good lord.
7. G.E. Smith. We know: How can a Saturday Night Live bandleader named after a power company qualify for this list? Here's how: Smith served as Hall & Oates's lead guitarist from 1979 to 1985, which marked the peak of the Philly duo's commercial viability. And -- come on -- was there any blond ponytail more ubiquitous than Smith's during his ten-year SNL run? Absolutely not -- homeboy played on every imaginable televised tribute concert, including Live Aid and Farm Aid. Indeed, where there was an Aid -- and a camera -- there was a blond ponytail, which Smith took great pains to flap across his face like a horse's tail across its ass. Smith was Michael Bolton before Michael Bolton was Michael Bolton, only Smith didn't even have to open his mouth to attain such reviled status. His "look at me!" facial expressions did it all.
OK, you're reaching now. G.E. Smith? You're kidding right? At first read, I thought the author was ripping my boys Hall & Oates. That would have caused some serious shit. Don't mess with my boys. But it turns out he's using G.E.'s involvement with them as qualification to hate him now that he's sold out by working for SNL. OK, you escaped this one, but barely. Mess with my boys again, you get the shoe.
8. Conor Oberst and Chris Carrabba. Who wants to hear sad, sad songs about the day-to-day pathos of well-to-do suburban white kids? Well-to-do suburban white kids, that's who. And that's about it. "Emo," then, is really a genre within a genre within a genre, which makes it a mystery why these two wimps have been garnering so much ink. Every song they write is overwrought and intellectually dishonest. Everybody's got problems, but we'd love to transplant this double entry (two whiny weenies equal one man, by our count) of pastoral crackers to the ghetto for a few decades. Then we'll see if they continue to pump out the same prepubescent pussy bait that's gotten them this far.
OK, now you've done it. Picking on Omaha's wunderkind Conor Oberst? Of Saddle Creek Records? That's it. You get the shoe.
Since Bright Eyes is good stuff and I'm not about to let some punk from Tex-ass pick on an Omahan like that, let's pick apart this argument some more, shall we? Yeah! Who's with me?
"Who wants to hear sad, sad songs about the day-to-day pathos of well-to-do suburban white kids?"
At least as many people as listened to urban rap when it started out. This argument was very similar back then. Who wants to hear angry, mad songs about the day-to-day travails of ghetto minority kids? Turns out, damn near everyone. If its got good music, nobody gives a shit what the singer is singing. Sad, but true. Besides, it was damn creative music, good stuff. Just like emo. This is coming from a different place, the suburbs, but the same logic applies, I think.
"which makes it a mystery why these two wimps have been garnering so much ink"
Not really. People buy their records. Their songs get played on the radio. So the press writes about them. No mystery there. But then again, you're an idiot, so I guess to you, it is a mystery.
"Everybody's got problems, but we'd love to transplant this double entry...of pastoral crackers to the ghetto for a few decades. Then we'll see if they continue to pump out the same prepubescent pussy bait that's gotten them this far."
Probably not. But talent is talent. They would still be writing music about their surroundings, still entertaining America. Would the music be different? Absolutely. Would it still be great? You bet.
Whoo. I need a breather.
9. Fred Durst. Regardless of whether you believe Durst's claim that he drilled Britney Spears six ways till Sunday, this rap-rock goofball is largely responsible for rock's darkest era: the late '90s. (Kid Rock, too, can take a bow.) Fortunately, it looks like Durst's career is over. Otherwise, he'd likely outstrip Rzeznik for the sixth spot. He'd be at the top of the list if this poll were more concerned with sonic proficiency.
While its true to say Limp Bizkit helped usher in the genre of rap-rock to the mainstream, its not fair to blame them for such clowns as Kid Rock and Nickleback. I once knew a guy who HATED Nirvana because they pioneered grunge rock, a dark era of music in his mind. Yeah they did, although I personally think that era rejuvenated an ailing genre with new life. But that's not the point. Hating them for pioneering a new movement in music is asinine. I keep this in mind whenever I want to hate myself for ever buying a Limp Bizkit CD. Its not their fault Nickelback pollutes our airwaves. Its not their fault. Its not their fault. If I write it enough times I will eventually believe it...
10. Bob Weir. You can actually stop truckin' now, Bob. The Dead's insistence upon staying on the road post-Jerry Garcia has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the band was just a collection of semi-competent nerds with a prodigiously charismatic and talented front man.
Bashing the Grateful Dead. Way to go. This guy really knows how to cover all the bases, doesn't he. British Invasion? Bad! Singer/Songwriter era? Bad! Modern Rock? Bad! Rap/Rock? Bad! Bad! Hippie Rock? Bad! Emo? Bad! Jeez, I'm shocked he didn't go after Big Band or Swing...
Here's where it really gets good. Numbers 11-20, and the Honorable Mentions.
Rounding out the top 20 (in descending order): Glenn Frey and Don Henley (they count as one), Scott Stapp, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Lenny Kravitz, Steve Miller, John Mellencamp, Michael McDonald, Max Weinberg, Lars Ulrich.
Honorable mention: Clapton, Anthony Kiedis, Kid Rock, Scott Weiland, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Zack de la Rocha, Peter Gabriel, Kenny Loggins, George Thorogood, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bruce Springsteen, Axl Rose, James Hetfield, Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Winwood, Bruce Hornsby, Billy Joel, Dave Matthews, John Popper, Julian Casablancas, Jack White, Rob Thomas, Huey Lewis, Jackson Browne, Dave Grohl, Chris Cornell, Mark McGrath, Melissa Etheridge and the lead singer of Maroon 5.
Holy God, who's left? I think you just named every mainstream popular musical artist of the last quarter century! Wow. I mean, I'm really speechless here. What did you do, open up a copy of Joel Whitburn's "Top Pop Hits 1955-2005" and just pick the biggest stars, and list 'em? I mean, this is like a rather large percentage of my CD collection. Should I just commit suicide now, is that your point?
I'd hate to see what he would say about my movie collection...