Last year a very controversial list came out — the 21 most hated bands of all time. The list was compiled an online lifestyle magazine using data culled from countless lists, message boards, reviews, columns and articles. Only four of those 21 bands can be found in my own record collection. So I thought it would be a decent challenge to see if I could find one great song by all 21, and supply you with a best-of-the-worst playlist. I tried to pick non-obvious songs. Here we go!
Number 21 on the list is Linkin Park. They have 23,447,132 monthly listeners on Spotify. But good gawd… I went through four albums before I found anything I’d consider great. As awful as this is to say, I prefer their instrumentals. So my choice here is Session from 2003’s Meteora.
Next up at #20 is Spin Doctors. I thought this would be easier. It was NOT. It took me twice as long as Linkin Park, and the closest thing to a great song is the closing track on 1999’s Here Comes The Bride, called Tomorrow Can Pay The Rent. If this is the least-annoying Spin Doctors song, the lads made up for it by making the track 11 minutes long, including several minutes of silence before a long bit of backwards stuff. Whatever. Maybe there isn’t a winner here apart from the obvious big hits, but I refuse to engage those outside of a drunk-with-coworkers karaoke atmosphere.
Number 19 is Nirvana. I’m guessing this is one of those bands people say they hate only because they’re popular. I have two of their albums in my own collection (Bleach & Nevermind), plus Incesticide on cassette. Nirvana had a pile of great songs, so I’ll pick a not-so-common one if I can. Let’s go with one from the red-hot cassette, probably last played in my dad’s 1989 Tempo — Molly’s Lips from Incesticide.
I’m fully on board with a great many of the songs by number 18 on this list — and the first Canadian act — Rush. Truthfully, there are some absolutely unimpeachable Rush songs, and you probably know them. So, I’ll dig up a gem by going back to the first album where the drumming is simpler, the lyrics don’t reach as far and there’s bangers-a-plenty. I’m going with What You’re Doing, though I could have chosen Finding My Way or Working Man.
Next at number 17 we have Pearl Jam, who I blame for the downfall of ’90s rock. Not only were there countless copycats, but I disliked these guys to begin with. Croony and shiny is not how I liked my grunge. I was a Mudhoney and Tad guy. Anyway, there’s some good’uns nonetheless, and I’ll go with the wonderfull Push Me, Pull Me on this playlist, from 1998’s Yield.
Another huge ’90s band comes in hot at 16: Oasis. They even hate each other! I’m gonna go with Half The World Away because it was the theme song from The Royale Family. Specifically I’m going with the live hotel room version from the deluxe edition of Definitely Maybe.
Truthfully, I know nothing about the hated band at #15 — Korn. I mean, I know who they are, and what they are… but I don’t really know any of their songs. Not my jam. So, I hunted through the discography and am happy to report Innocent Bystander from 2007’s Untitled album meets my requirements of a great song.
I’ve seen Oasis live, but really I went to see their opener Elvis Costello. I have also seen band #14 on this list — Metallica, and I much prefer them. I’m going with their cover of Diamond Head’s Helpless from the 1987 EP Garage Days Re-Revisited.
I really have no problem with #13: The Doors, apart from the culty Jim Morrison worshippers. Really, he was just a great blues singer with too many lovers in a dangerous time. I love Moonlight Drive from their second album Strange Days. It sound even better coming after the stupid and awful Horse Latitudes.
Funny thing about Green Day at #12, is that the band fooled me. I loved their breakthrough hit Longview. I was surprised when it caught on in a big way. I bought Dookie. Listened to it once, and never again, and never spent money on any Green Day after that. So, sifting through their catalogue, I’ll settle on Rotting from 2002’s Shenanigans as a great song, because it would be cheating to pick anything from Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones’ very, very good Foreverly album.
Coldplay is #11. I think we all forget just how good that first record Parachutes was. I’m going with the opening track on it, Don’t Panic.
Next up at 10 is Dave Matthews Band. This was another tough one. I went with Out Of My Hands from 2005’s Stand Up.
Number 9 is too easy — Kiss. I mean, come on. They’re the hottest band in the world! I’m delighted to select Love Her All I Can from 1975’s Dressed To Kill.
The band with the distinction of being #8 is definitely frustrating. I remember having to listen to Radiohead driving from London to Newcastle with the boyfriend of my ex-wife’s sister many years ago. Real fun road trip, let’s-get-out-of-the-city music. Apart from their misleading breakthrough Creep, this was my immersive introduction to the band. They have a raft of great songs, and some really boring dirges. Most of the great songs could be made even better with a can of Coke or something. Cream soda, maybe. Anyway, Bodysnatchers from In Rainbows (2007) is great as it is.
Oh gawd, Phish is #7. Worst gotta-make-one-more, random Columbia House selection I ever made. I’ll pick Prince Caspian, the closer from 1996’s Billy Breathes.
Number 6 is also frustrating. Bob Dylan made some of the best and worst songs of all time. One of the best — certainly performance-wise — is One Too Many Mornings from the Royal Albert Hall 1966 Bootleg Series album. The Band was so awesome.
I struggled again with #5, Mumford and Sons. I went with something quite outside their norm — Darkness Visible from 2018’s Delta.
I don’t hate U2 as much as most people, but I don’t own any of their albums anymore. They’re apparently the fourth-most hated band. Maybe it says something that I go all the way back to their 1980 debut Boy and pluck the penultimate track The Electric Co.
OK, #3 was impossible — Creed.There isn’t even one great song. Sorry. I listened to them all.
Limp Bizkit is the second-most hated. I have them filed the same sort of way as Korn. I know who they are and what they do, but I haven’t got any of their albums and couldn’t name a single song of theirs. So, I went hunting and found that lo and behold their cover of George Michael’s Faith is awesome.
1. Nickelback. Surely nobody is shocked, right? Yay Canada. We got two bands on this list — #18 and #1 with a bullet. By the way, here’s how it tallies: U.S.A. 15. U.K. 4. Canada 2.
So, Nickelback. I went hunting … nope. Can’t be done. Not a single great, even good song. I almost settled for a live cover of We Will Rock You, but even that annoyed me to sickness. They’re really and truly awful. You’ll get no argument from me with this number one selection.
Check out Stylus Counsel next week as I give you a list of terrible songs by the most-loved bands. As you’ve probably gathered, I’ll have an easier time with that, no doubt.
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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check out him out on Discogs.