Six Bands Worse Than Nickelback

nickelback_11727Ask a hack comedian to tell you a music based joke and the punchline will probably be Nickelback. The band’s reached that point where their name simply brings easy laughs. There are just as many meat heads bashing the band as there are listening to them. The thing is though, they’re not even THAT bad; they found a formula that works and stuck to it. Chad Kroeger is an astute businessman and knows what sells and who he’s selling to. And LET’S NOT LIE, “How You Remind Me” is a jam. So, you’re not cool or hip when you scoff indignantly at Alberta’s finest, you’re just lazy. There’s acts that are far worse than them, but for some reason aren’t as universally loathed.

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Now, obviously music is subjective, but I’m confident in saying that these bands are actually the worst. There are bands I personally cannot stand but I can’t deny their influence on modern music and their contribution to their respective scenes. They’re adept musicians, I just personally dislike them.

These following bands though, are essentially objectively horrible. These are six acts that are scientifically more worthy of being objects of derision than Nickelback:

6. Lifehouse

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 14 years since the release of “Hanging By A Moment”, and not only is the band still around, but they’re still relatively successful. Every two-three years they forget their old work and throw up another batch of EZ-grade rock that sounds exactly like that old work. The only difference is the “relevant” touches they add each time around. A little synth, a little bounce in the rhythm, and all is apparently forgotten and forgiven. They’re unstoppable titans and must be stopped. Sidenote: What is with the full sleeve tattoo guy in that picture? You’re in Lifehouse, not Heavy Leppard or Iron Maid or one of those hard rocker bands.

5. Train

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What are Train, exactly? If you were to assign them a genre, or try and label them in any way, where would they go? Back in 2001 they launched into mainstream as boilerplate AOR with “Drops of Jupiter” and somehow managed to get worse. “Calling all Angels” followed and it was so bland and flavourless that you’d think it would be their death knell. In fact, it seemed like it was. For six years the world was Trainless and everything was golden. In 2009 though, they chugged (get it cuz train) back into the spotlight and everything was terrible again. “Hey Soul Sister” was some sort of twee folk re-imagining of the band with some downright bizarre lyrics. “My heart is bound to beat right out my untrimmed chest”? EWW WHAT. That’s even more embarrassing than those lines about deep fried chicken and soy lattes from “Drops of Jupiter”.

It would be one thing if they were just a soft rock band with awful lyrics. They’re not, though. After they made their comeback they’ve hopped all over the place, from dance pop (“Drive By”) to mariachi-inflected whine rock (“50 Ways To Say Goodbye”, which is strange cuz they already had a song called “Two Ways to say Goodbye”, and they still haven’t actually said GOODBYE.)

4. Matchbox 20/ Rob Thomas

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Included because they just don’t ever stop, even though they expired circa 2001. If it’s not a full band release, it’s a solo release from Thomas, who looks strangely like a rock version of Jesse Eisenberg in that picture. Their sheer tenacity is somewhat impressive but definitely not appreciated. In this case everyone is cheering for you to give up, guys! Please just stop manufacturing these stale tunes and go to your nice homes and sit down and think about life.

3. Maroon 5

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Aka Adam Levine and a bunch of other guys on stage. Like with several of these other bands, there was a moment of respite from Maroon 5. Their singles “Makes Me Wonder” and “Misery” failed to recapture the spotlight after the monster smash “This Love” and by 2010 they’d been relegated to department store playlists. They were no longer relevant, a future staple of “Remember the ’00s” nostalgia shows. But then Adam Levine basically used the whole first season of The Voice as a platform for a new single and it worked incredibly well for him. “Moves Like Jagger” brought Maroon 5 back from the brink of obscurity and since then they’ve once again become one of the world’s biggest bands. Unfortunate then, that they’re also one of the world’s worst bands.

Levine has undeniable vocal range, but his tone is that of some weird cartoon goose. The band has no real sound to call their own, and the songwriting is atrocious. A lot of the songs have melodies like children’s songs and also sound like they’ve been written by children- see “She Will Be Loved” and “Love Somebody”. Levine also can’t make up his mind about what he wants in a relationship, with the lyrics in each song alternating between “I want you so bad, you’re the only one” to “this is just a one time thing, I’m a player”.  This gets particularly confusing when you realize that the band has 30 SINGLES. THIRTY. A lot of them are radio filler/shovelware, and use the same chords over and over and over again. And now that the band is reinvigorated means they have at the very least 10 more years of pumping out their mix of generic lite-pop-electro-rock-funk-whatever-becomes-popular-next.

2. Daughtry

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Daughtry started off as a Nickelback clone, and surprisingly the band was miles better in that outfit than what they are today. The term “selling out” doesn’t really carry any weight any more, as nearly every band turns to commercial outlets or augments their sound in order to supplement their income. Daughtry however have 100% sold out in every respect. And he knows it, look how sad he looks in that picture!

During his time on American Idol, Daughtry (the man) professed to be the second coming of Vedder, a true rock star with the finger horns raised and everything. However diminishing returns on the angst forced Daughtry (the band)to become a musical chameleon in the worst sense of the word; their last album was an amalgamut of top 40 electro pop and Mumford style folk. The genre switch can be forgiven if it breathed new life into the band; artists have comebacks all the time. This is just the same old banal 4 chord C-list filler from the past three albums, just dressed up hip.

1. Any band that looks like this*

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*Obviously I’m not going to write off an entire genre, because that’s pretty closed-minded. However I do feel comfortable writing off any and every band that’s ever appeared on a “Punk Goes ___________” compilation. Punk is virtually dead. Today’s version of commercial “punk” is far inferior to scenes of yesteryear, and picking just one perpetrator out of the writhing, grimy pit of generic post-hardcore (or my preferred label, “lowest common denominator rock”) is pretty difficult and very not worthy of my time, or you, the reader.

The difference between this entry and the others on this list is the mysterious continuing popularity these bands- you know, the kind with names like ‘These Fists are Fiery Flames’ or ‘Bleeding the Dark Skies of Rage’.  With pop acts, even faceless radio filler like all the bands above, it’s understood that the product is made to sell. Who is the market for this music though? Who out there is still enjoying and, more importantly, paying for this music?? It’s generic, ham-fisted, and made with no sense of exploration or individuality, the remnants of the post-grunge and post-hardcore scenes whose heyday was well over a decade ago.