Some bands are more about the hype than the music. What constitutes a great band are: excellent writing, superb musicianship, originality and a stellar mastership of the stage, although there are exceptions such as the Sex Pistols. I’m willing to give a little leeway, but not much as the bands I’ve listed have been overrated for years.
Number Ten: Kiss. While Kiss puts on a great show, their music is technically childlike. I mean, these dudes are in their ’60s, and they are still putting out albums with adolescent themes. Gene Simmons is now a reality TV star, which in my mind, negates any credibility he had as a rock star. Even though I’d only heard a couple of their songs, my dad got me tickets to their show. Kiss was my first concert – I was 15 – and it blew me away. After the show, I rushed out to buy one of their records, Destroyer, but even at 15 years old, I knew they were crap in comparison to the other bands I was listening to like Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and Rush. Though they had a couple of good songs, “Hard Luck Woman,” “Beth,” and their anthem, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” the bad outweighed the good. Needless to say, I never purchased another album by the band again.
Number Nine: Green Day. While they are credited with reinventing punk, Green Day stole more from the original punk bands than they did to reinvent the genre. In fact, the band borrowed heavily from bands such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Melvins. Green Day tried a bit too hard to rebel against the establishment, which made them seem like a wannabe punk band. Ironically, their biggest hit was a ballad, “Wake Me Up Before September Ends,” which shot any credibility they had as a “punk” band. The band should be slotted in bubble gum punk.
Number Eight: AC/DC. Like Kiss, this band puts on a hell of a show, but AC/DC doesn’t deserve the credit they have gotten. Three chord rockers such as the The Ramones were more influential than Angus Young and company ever were. They should have chosen a better singer after Bon Scott kicked the bucket as Brian Johnson is simply a screamer rather than a singer. As far as Angus Young goes, he is a mediocre guitar player at best. Why Back in Black was such a phenomenal success is beyond me as their last truly great album was Highway to Hell.
Number Seven: Van Halen. When I heard the debut, I was blown away with “Eruption” as I had never heard somebody play that fast. The rest of the album was epic with tracks such as “Jamie’s Cryin’,” a reworked version of the obscure blues number, “Ice Cream Man,” as well as a reworked Kinks number, “You Really Got Me.” I couldn’t wait for the band’s follow-up. Van Halen ll came out in 1979, and unlike their previous recording, it was geared for the pop charts with songs such as “You’re No Good,” “Beautiful Girls” and “Dance the Night Away.”
While they atoned for their sins with Women and Children First and Fair Warning, the group gave us more pop rock with 1984, which housed the songs “Jump,” “Panima” and they were just too old for the adolescent song, “Hot for Teacher.” As for the Sammy Hagar years, they should have hung it up instead of replacing Roth.
Number Six: Oasis. Oasis had a couple of great albums, Definitely Maybe and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, which housed some of their best work. “Rock and Roll Star,” “Cigarettes and Alcohol” are still featured on my iPod playlist, and “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova” still have the ability to choke me up. The problem I have with Oasis is their over-inflated egos as if they were the second coming. And brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher’s public quarrels got a bit old in the ’90s.
The band has frequently been compared to the Beatles. As a longtime fan of the Fab Four, I can say with confidence that Oasis never even came close to the Beatles, stylistically or otherwise. Their work after What’s the Story paled in comparison. Despite holding two spots in the Guinness Book of World Records, the group were overlooked at the Grammys multiple times, only receiving the occasional nomination.
Number Five: Morrissey. There comes a time when artists should stop trying to relive their glory days. Neil Young, Robert Plant and Paul McCartney are a few examples. Despite fronting one of the most influential bands to come out of the ’80s, Morrissey is one more who should hang it up. With Viva Hate, Morrissey proved that he was a formidable solo artist, but that was the last truly good record by Steven Patrick Morrissey. Well, that’s not entirely true as he compiled a bunch of his unreleased work with Bona Drag three years later. But after that, his recordings were pretty much the same, and it was hard to decipher what songs went on what albums. His latest was released to poor reviews as World Peace is None of Your Business finds the crooner in his usual mood of despair and gloom. Maybe someone should turn him onto Prozac.
Number Four: Coldplay. When I first heard of Coldplay, it was said that band was to be the next U2 – what happened? Their debut was okay, but nothing we hadn’t heard from the Stone Roses or the Charlatans. The band’s second effort, A Rush of Blood to the Head, had some good tunes such as “Clocks,” “The Scientist” and “In My Place,” and even got some accolades. But with the release of X&Y found the band attempting to capitalize on their soft side singles with “Fix You” and “What If.” The record was overproduced and relied heavily on synthesizers.
In my mind, when you add strings to a song, you should lose all credibility as a “rock star,” and that happened on the band’s fourth disc, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. Maybe it was the production of Brian Eno or maybe the band was taking the wrong direction, but for my money, the band were trying too hard for a hit single.
Number Three: Dave Matthews Band. I actually heard one of Dave Matthews’ songs on an elevator. Since the release of Crash, the band hasn’t given us anything new or groundbreaking. They rely on their live performances to cash in, but musically, they have shown no growth. If I hear “Crash Into Me,” or heaven forbid, “What Do You Say” one more time, I might go postal. While I do give the band credit for their charitable contributions, their music leaves me uninspired. ‘Nuff said.
Number Two: The Doors. Ya, I know the Doors are legendary, but if Morrison hadn’t have died, would we still be talking about them? Probably not. The Doors took and take themselves way too seriously. Ray Manzarek talks about Morrison like he was this deep, complex and misunderstood person, when the fact is Jim Morrison was a lucky drunk who was in the right place in history. If you’ve seen the Oliver Stone movie, then you know what I’m talking about. Morrison loved the spotlight and all the perks of being a rock star, which ultimately destroyed him. And while the band left behind some great songs, “Light My Fire” excluded, their music isn’t timeless. It was recorded in the 1960s, and it sounds like it was recorded in the 1960s.
Number One: R.E.M. R.E.M. was a great little band until they became successful. Maybe radio is to blame for overplaying songs such as “Man On the Moon” and “Losing My Religion” -which make my skin crawl every time I hear them. I was a fan of the band’s first two albums when they could only be heard on college radio, but once they found mainstream success, they lost me. The group stayed at the party a little too long as albums such as New Adventures in Hi-Fi and Around The Sun were disappointing, to say the least. The band can now be heard on adult contemporary radio, which is one reason I never listen to the radio anymore, but when I do, if an R.E.M. song comes on, I quickly change the station.