It has been a while since I have made a music blog post for the hell of it. So why not come up with something everybody can disagree with? Here is my list of overrated musicians you will undoubtedly disagree with.
I actually like some of these artists! But the truth must be told, here is the list.
Apologies to the following overrated bands who weren’t quite overrated enough (dishonorable mention?): (Aerosmith, Billy Joel, Chicago, Dave Matthews Band, Elvis Costello, Foo Fighters, The Grateful Dead, Green Day, Motley Crue, Michael Jackson, Linkin Park, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Phish, Stone Temple Pilots, The Rolling Stones, The Who, feel free to email me with more to add to this list or leave a comment below.)
- U2 has declared themselves to be a self-important band for the entire world. Eh. Their peak from Under A Blood Red Sky to The Joshua Tree is undeniable. Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and a number of albums were forgettable, tired, and made it obvious they should have broken up after Rattle and Hum. It was unclear why they won a Grammy for How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. U2 has gotten so tired that Apple couldn’t even give away one of their albums without catching Hell from music fans.
- Guns N Roses
- Appetite for Destruction is part of rock canon. Use Your Illusion (I and II) should have been a single album. Is there anything else they have done? Oh, they made a fake live album with audience applause dubbed in. They performed a Charles Manson song because I guess Axl is desperate to offend people. Chinese Democracy would have been a decent but forgettable album 13 years prior to when it came out. Why again are they supposed to represent 80s and 90s rock? Like a lot of artists on this album, the primary issue was Axl not knowing when to call it quits.
- It pains me to add Metallica to this list. From 1984 to 1988, they were the best thrash metal band on Planet Earth. 1991 began their commercial phase, and most of their albums were completely mailed in. St. Anger’s percussion hurts my eardrums. Who thought Lulu was a good idea? Metallica eventually returned to a facsimile of their old selves, seeking to go back to thrash by making songs that sounded like their old work. Metallica should have just changed their name when they released Metallica.
- Steely Dan
- Self-importance is a big issue on this list, and Steely Dan can only be topped in that regard by the first 2 on this list. They were a “serious jazz fusion rock band” but most of their tracks were simply too busy and lacking structure for most fans to enjoy. All of their albums were constructed to be landmarks – they’re not. The best example for Steely Dan’s overrated nature is when you ask a music fan about Steely Dan. “I like Steely Dan,” they inevitably say. Ask them their favorite tracks and they might say “Reeling In The Years” and then mumble when they can’t think of anything else. Yawn.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Another band mastering in mailing it in. Under The Bridge was cool when it came out. Have they created essentially the same song again and again the last 25 years? They seemed cool and unique during the age of Mother’s Milk. RHCP knows their audience, and creates nothing but that exact same sound. Their only interesting record after Blood Sugar Sex Magic was One Hot Minute, not coincidentally, featuring Dave Navarro from Jane’s Addiction. No wonder why John Frusciante keeps quitting the band.
- Van Halen
- My childhood was filled with tales about how Van Halen was the best rock band in the world. In retrospect, this just never was the case. Eddie was a guitar virtuoso, yes, but his virtuosity often got in the way of the music. David Lee Roth’s shrieks while singing got so, so, so, bad. All Sammy Hagar was do sappy love songs. Van Halen may lead this entire list in album filler, those forgettable junky tracks just to get 1 or 2 of their hits out. Van Halen might need to be higher on this list, but the remaining bands are tough to beat.
- Blink 182
- There is little more you need to know about the dearth of quality rock music in the 2000s than to immerse yourself in the shocking popularity of Blink 182. Like fellow overrated band, Green Day, they weren’t quite a punk band and were a just little bit of a rock band. Tom left because he got tired of making teenage angst tracks. God forbid a band attempt to grow up. Instead, Mark and Travis are touring around with some new singer you’ve never heard of.
- AC/DC deserves their place in the rock pantheon for the work they put in from 1976 to 1980. Unfortunately, they haven’t had a new musical idea since 1980. All of their songs are either sexist double entendres, so some endless variation of how much they like rock music. When they really want to change things up, they add a cannon. Which is cool, because the last time they changed things up, they added some bagpipes. Maybe an accordion revival in 2018?
- Bruce Springsteen
- The Boss is overrated for all the same reasons as our # 1 musician: non-sensical lyrics that are supposedly deep (they’re not), a whole lot of albums that offer nothing, and a rabid cult following who swear he’s the best of all time. I am glad he made Born To Run, not so glad he made Nebraska. His supposedly deep lyrics were pretty easy to be misinterpreted by more than just President Reagan. Make your point a little more clearly next time, Boss. Also, he thinks 4 hour-long concerts are cool. They’re not.
- Bob Dylan
- If you’re a musician winning a Nobel Prize for Literature (Warning: this article is ridiculous), then there is nobody who can be more overrated than you. Dylan made some folk songs, was infamous for writing songs that other groups performed better, and went 40 years without much of a good song. I am convinced that the continuing controversy over his “Electric Dylan” appearance at the Newport Folk Festival had more to do with his inability to make a memorable song since 1965.
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.