The world’s most overrated bands?

Posted: June 22, 2010 by undergroundfisherman in Music
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

For some reason, certain bands have gone down in history as “iconic” or “seminal” or worse, been regarded as “geniuses”. A lot of the time, I find these descriptions a bit grating, and while certain bands may have been culturally significant or musically innovative, it’s often hard to justify their legendary status. This post re-examines the works and the legacies of some of the most recognisable acts in rock to ask, “are they actually a bit overrated?”

Guns n’ Roses

One of my pet hates in life, Axl Rose’s wailing voice and Slash’s guitar-wanking solos are about as subtle as a steam train. Despite all their songs sounding the same, and none of them being good, they’ve managed to sell 110 million albums – proof that there’s no God. Here’s all you need to know about them…

The Sex Pistols

Widely regarded as the UK’s first manufactured band, they have been known to polarise opinion. Some claim them to be the Godfathers of punk, and therefore one of the most important bands of all time, while others say they don’t have enough of songs to be classed as legends, and that the whole idea behind the band was contrived, calculated and carefully marketed.

Their wild behaviour and nihilistic, anti-establishment lyrics was received with outright hostility from middle England, and were actually seen as a threat to the nation. Guitarist Steve Jones became one of the first people to ever say “fuck” on British television, and brought an end to TV presenter Bill Grundy’s career in the process.

While it’s certainly subversive, especially in the mid-seventies, it’s also a bit juvenile, and the whole point of the incident was really just to cause trouble, and of course, to get attention. This is the real problem I have with the Sex Pistols, they’re more well-known for things like this than their actual music. Their most famous song, God Save the Queen, is no different, just a well-timed marketing ploy before the Queen’s jubilee, it’s not even a good song, just a convenient, money-making plan released at the right time.

Things got worse when Sid Vicious joined, the bassist who could hardly play his instrument brought the standard of musicianship down another notch in what had already been a fairly talentless group. The Pistols’ second album, The Great Rock n’ Roll Swindle, is one of the worst albums of all time as far as I’m concerned. A series of covers of early rock n’ roll classics, sung by Sid Vicious and others, with Johnny Rotten now out of the band. The whole Sex Pistols craze only lasted 2 and a half years, and even though they did make a big impact, it was more of a headline-grabbing impact rather than a musical one. So anyways’ here’s what Johnny Rotten is at these days… selling butter – makes the Queen look pretty cool in comparison.

Verdict: Overrated… In a big way

Nirvana

While it’s hard to deny they made some great tunes, the speculation around Kurt Cobain’s death, and the tragic-hero status he gained after being shot by Courtney Love has possibly overshadowed the music itself. The band’s legacy is not helped by their fans, who idolise them to a really crazy extent, some of the comments on Nirvana videos on Youtube are really pretty dismaying. Here’s two cringeworthy examples…

simplelikesnow – “music at it’s core is..art.
and i’m not going to try to explain what I think art is.
But music and art is just as multi-faceted and multi-dimensional as life itself. no matter what manifestation it comes in, it deserves appreciation.”

Has the image of Kurt Cobain overshadowed the music Nirvana made?

OpearlsdreamO – “This video reminds me of my life, my mom has always despised me because of my ADHD, and always would bring me to my grandmas house when i was acting out.. Just like Kurt Cobain”

Kurt himself talked a lot of shite, and once said “I’m too busy acting like I’m not naive. I’ve seen it all, I was here first.” Sorry Kurt, but that doesn’t mean anything…Anyways, there are a lot of redeeming features of the band – namely songs like In Bloom, Aneurysm, and Smells Like Teen Spirit, which will go down in history as the best song of the 90’s. Overall, the music manages to speak for itself, but sometimes the whole Kurt-factor does get in the way

Verdict – Slightly Overrated

The Libertines

Pete Doherty and Co have somehow achieved a cult following. Now back together for this summer’s Reading and Leeds festivals, they’re sure to draw a huge crowd. The real question though, is how many good songs do they actually have? You can take all the drugs under the sun, and go out with the equally overrated Kate Moss, but let’s be honest, all that does is make you more famous, but certainly not a better musician. This is my real problem with many of these bands, their celebrity status overrides their music career.

Their first album, Up the Bracket, wasn’t bad at all, the second was alright too, but they really don’t deserve the kind of fabled “modern rock legends” status that some people have given them. Again the tragic-hero thing comes into it, and though Pete Doherty might like to think he has an affinity with the opium-addled poets of days gone by, like Byron and Shelley (also overrated), he doesn’t really deliver when it comes down to the actual music.

Verdict: Overrated

So… What do you think yourselves?

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