This past decade, whatever it ends up being called –my vote is for “the oughts”–has been marked by the continual decline of mainstream rock music.
Despite this, I often get frustrated when people tell me that music “sucks” now. There are thousands of good bands still making music in the spirit of creativity and innovation that is evident when listening to music from, say, the classic rock era.
However, in the modern media environment, exposure to the masses through mainstream formats takes a very specific, specialized sound. At the same time, that mass of people—the mainstream—has increasingly fragmented with the rise of alternative mediums like satellite radio, and most obviously, the internet.
The effect of this is that it becomes increasingly difficult for talented bands to force their way into mainstream exposure without significantly changing their sound.
In Toronto for example, The Edge wouldn’t touch Kings of Leon until they decided to sound less like themselves, and a lot more like The Killers (Can’t you just hear Brandon Flowers belting out the “Someone like you” line in the Kings’ “Use Somebody”, complete with half-megaphone effect?).
The truly great bands of the modern era—Pearl Jam, The Tragically Hip, Wilco—are holdovers from a prior generation, still pounding pavement and continually finding massive, dedicated fan bases largely through their reputation for electrifying live performances.
The problem that faces many of the best, younger bands I’ve heard over the past decade is that radio, at least in Canada, has little-to-no interest in supporting them. So what we’re left with is a few great bands, and many potentially great bands squandered because of a lack of exposure.
Granted, radio exposure, in the grand scheme of things, is much less important than in years gone by. Who listens to the radio anymore?
Unforunately, I still do. Quite frequently. And so fair reader, as the decade draws to the close, I feel it is time to give some of these popular mainstream rock acts some recognition. Lads, you’ve cluttered up my airwaves for too long; this is the least I can do to pay you back. Without further adieu, here are…
…The 10 most offensively annoying “New Rock” bands of the past decade:
10. Theory of a Deadman
Question: What kind of sound do you get when you’re a ripoff of a band that sets the standard for generic rock? The answer is this Delta, BC quartet, which burst on to the scene in 2002. Their first single was called “Ain’t No Surprise”, which is kind of appropriate, because it ain’t no surprise that they find themselves on this list.
Now, I don’t want to spoil the rest of the list, so let’s just say that their music is heavily reminiscent of the man that signed them, and produces their records.
One might even feel like they want some amount of money returned to them for whoever is shelling out to make Theory of a Deadman albums.
That joke might even make sense by the end of this list.
Rising to fame through Canadian Idol—yes, really—Hedley’s brand of teen-bop-punk-pop is not only amazingly terrible, it’s amazingly stale. Hedley would have fit right in with some of the other bands that will populate this list, but most of them have fallen by the wayside.
Thank goodness that we have Hedley to carry the torch in to the next decade.
And (negative) bonus points to Hedley for shooting a video at my community grocery store. The place has stunk of emo ever since.
8. Blink 182
Most people would tell you that when they were coming up, Blink was a good little punk band. By the time 2000 rolled around they had sold around 20 million records and their sound had shifted firmly to the mainstream.
My main problem with Blink was their attitudes. Is there a less funny band that apparently considers themselves to be hilarious?
Well, at some point the band themselves realized that they’re not really that funny and tried to make a serious album. And it was serious, alright: Seriously boring.
On the plus side, their song “Feelin’ This” spawned a running joke that lasted for years with my friends in high school. So props to them on writing that one.
Perhaps the worst thing about Blink 182 was all the bands that they inspired, such as…
7. Simple Plan
…Blink’s poser Canadian little brothers. Although these guys were eventually shuttered off to adult contemporary/hot hits stations, they hit it big riding the pop/punk wave established by their “big brothers” Blink.
To call them punk would be an outright travesty though. Simple Plan were a little more Smash Mouth than they were Black Flag. Most of all, they were just annoying.
Probably the most memorable thing about them was that their guitarist span around in circles really fast. Yep, some legacy there boys.
6. Fallout Boy
When I was a kid, little girls listened to the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. Even lesser known boy bands with terribly dumb names like 98 Degrees, b44, and (I refuse to look up the proper syntax for those names–*NYSNC is more than enough). Now, apparently they listen to this garbage.
Bring back the boy bands! At least they were upfront about how manufactured they were. And nobody ever says I look like Nick Carter anymore. I think a part of me misses that.
5. Panic at the Disco
Take the theatrics of Queen, strip them of their coolness and mix with what sound like rejected Fall Out Boy tracks—It’s these guys! Thankfully they’ve never really broken through on the radio stations I listen to, but they were pretty unavoidable for a while there.
It’s funny these guys are called Panic at the Disco. I know that if I were at a disco and one of their songs came on, I would panic. Then I would start getting belligerent, freak out and accidently elbow some meathead. Then the meathead would probably turn and beat me up.
So go away, Panic at the Disco. In addition to being awful, you could potentially get me beat up.
4. Good Charlotte
It wouldn’t be proper to rag on the prior bands without mentioning the one that lay the foundation for them.
Good Charlotte is perhaps the single worst band on this list. Fortunately, they were so popular that they seem to have grown bored with music, or at least satisfied enough with their earnings to go away. I haven’t heard about them in years now.
I guess they’ve gone from complaining about “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” to living that same
life—which is fine, if it gets them off my television set.
But it’s still not enough to make me forget how pervasive they were at one point, pumping out anti-authority pop anthems that suburban middle-class white kids could believe in. Fight the power, kiddos.
Most importantly, if you’re going to put “Good” in your band’s name, you better be…well, good.
Otherwise, you’re just making it too easy on snarky journalists to rip you. Like so:
More like “Fourth Most Offensively Annoying Band of the Decade Charlotte”.
3. Green Day
Green Day has managed to pull off quite the feat during the past decade, in that they’ve won over a completely new fan base while their old fan base has completely soured on them.
Where did it all go wrong (from a creative perspective) or right (from a financial perspective)?
Well, in 2004, America was a nation of unrest. As public sentiment turned further against the President, angry 12-year-olds everywhere were looking for an outlet to vent their political frustrations. They found it in American Idiot.
If you listen closely to that album, you can actually hear them selling out.
Suddenly, a band whose bread and butter were three minute songs about the perils of teendom became political crusaders.
It was never an easy fit, but radio didn’t seem to mind—they absolutely killed whatever quality the album had to it, playing single after single until the old lady down the street knew the words to “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”.
2. Linkin Park
These guys win the award for band most pushed by new rock radio for no discernable reason. I mean, obviously they have their fans, but don’t count this blog among them. This blog will be insulted if you do.
Linkin Park were the epitome of the Rap/Rock fad that ruled new rock radio for a time earlier this decade. But they weren’t a particularly good hard rock band. And they certainly weren’t good rappers.
It took an actual rapper, Jay-Z, to pull any redeeming quality out of their music.
I wrote this passage in past tense because Linkin Park seems to have dropped off the face of the earth lately. Are they still around, or have I just blocked them out?
And seriously, what was with the guitar player wearing those headphones? Was he just listening to Zeppelin or something better than Linkin Park?
The 80s had Bon Jovi; The 90s had Matchbox 20. This decade’s most offensively annoying band combined the arena rock sensibilities of the former with the radio-friendliness of the latter. Yes, you got it; the most ridiculously popular, offensively annoying band of the past decade has to be Nickelback.
Coming out of Hannah, Alberta, Nickelback struggled for a while to get some mainstream exposure. They solved their problem in 2001, with the release of the single “How You Remind Me”—literally, the most played song in modern radio HISTORY.
(To be fair, everyone liked, or at least didn’t mind that song the first time they heard it. You can admit it…But I choose not to. Everyone except for me).
Several popular singles followed off that album, Silver Side Up, each sounding much like the last. Nickelback became a veritable sales juggernaut during the past decade. Subsequent singles earned the band praise like “undoubtedly the worst song of their career…maybe all time”.
Which just proves the old adage to be true: the masses are asses.
Nickelback’s awfulness probably peaked with the release of “Photograph”. The song itself was generic and bad enough, but the video pushed it to another level with off-the-charts unintentional comedy.
Perhaps the only redeeming factor about Nickelback is that they’re huge in the States. So at least us Canucks aren’t the only poor souls subjected to their dreck.
I bet that it’s almost enough to make America reconsider free trade.