The 5 Most Overrated Male Musicians, Part One
They're world famous, even beloved. They've sold billions of records and millions of concert tickets. And they're god-awful.
April 23, 2013 - 7:00 am
The “Academy of the Overrated” scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1978) is meant to get us to hate Diane Keaton just before Woody Allen changes his mind and falls into bed with her.
Yes, as Mariel Hemingway’s character puts it, Keaton and her beau are “creeps” — but mostly because their “academy” inductees are so gauche, as is their decision to inflict their pretentious pillow talk onto hapless acquaintances on a public sidewalk.
Let’s face it:
Some artists really are overrated, especially today when words like “genius” and “classic” (and the current go-to empty-calorie adjective “iconic”) have been neutered by lazy, know-nothing writers.
Today, we prick the inflated reputations of some rock and pop stars with XY chromosomes and little else to recommend them.
Let’s tackle Roger Waters’ reputed antisemitism first, since it lets me put off having to actually talk about his dreadful “music” for a bit.
Waters made news most recently when New York City’s famous 92Y, under pressure by Jewish groups, cancelled his scheduled lecture.
I’m not a fan of anybody trying to get someone else’s public appearances cancelled, and not just because it’s happened to me.
What’s unusual about this particular instance, however, is that critics’ “accusations” against Waters are true.
Some will object that “anti-Zionism isn’t necessarily anti-Semitism” and if we existed on a pure and sterile plane of Platonic forms, they’d be right.
But here on planet Earth, anyone who’s engaged a rabid “anti-Zionist” in “conversation” knows that within moments, their opponent will slip up and spit out some slur upon “the Joooozzzz!!!”
I save myself time and simply assume that long-time anti-Zionists are Jew-haters, because life is too short and I have laundry and stuff to do.
Those who grew up with Pink Floyd’s 1979 double album “The Wall” will remember it as the perfect antidote to the crueller aspects of teenage life. Chronicling the mental breakdown of a pop star, the rock opera rages against suffocating parents, tyrannical teachers and social conformism. The story concludes with the hero hauled before a nightmarish court, where everyone in his life testifies as an adversarial witness. Before the defendant can say a word in his own defense, the judge bellows a guilty verdict: “The evidence before the court is incontrovertible. There is no need for the jury to retire!”
I was reminded of this scene Saturday while attending a session in New York of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a self-appointed people’s court that has met periodically since 2009 to sit in judgment of Israel. (…)
Another reason to be reminded of “The Wall”: Roger Waters, Pink Floyd’s chief lyricist, was a member of the jury.
It was ubiquitous in my steel mill home town — a whining drone blaring from every paneled suburban basement and tricked-out Chevy van.
But those of us who’d discovered punk wanted nothing to do with the overproduced bellows of millionaire dinosaurs like Pink Floyd.
That doesn’t make Pink Floyd’s music any more palatable, however.
Had their efforts been presented matter of factly, I’d give them a pass.
But every Floyd album was held up by under-read, musically unsophisticated teenage boys as a deep, profound commentary on society (man!!!) as well as an example of superior performance and production.
They’d show off their stereo system using Dark Side of the Moon, sounding like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas:
“Check it out! One instrument comes out one speaker, and another instrument comes out the OTHER speaker!!”
Have you, now a sober adult, actually listened to Dark Side of the Moon lately?
Can you scrape off enough encrusted nostalgia to acknowledge that album’s sheer awfulness?
And while those Wizard of Oz weirdies aren’t Floyd’s fault, they’re not helping matters, either.
When I scream “The Who are better than that stupid band you like,” I’m thinking about Pink Floyd first and foremost.
#4 – Bob Marley
The king of rasta “music” (and his idiotic “religion”) inspires so much loathing I barely have to do more than cut and paste this entry. Thanks, other people!
Punks like me were supposed to love reggae — The Clash and The Slits said so! — but luckily I got hold of The Boy Looked At Johnny, a collection of Julie Burchill and Tony Parson’s music criticism at the NME. (My stinky, brittle copy is the only book, besides a thesaurus, that is a permanent fixture of my writing desk.)
While cheerleaders for punk, Burchill and Parson hated reggae and Rastafarianism — the two were and are inseparable — and I inherited their disdain:
To Rasta, man is Stud, woman a sperm receptacle, who couldn’t possibly enjoy sex unless she was the lowest whore in Babylon. Rastas believe in God whom they call “Jah” and smoke dope all the time in the hope that this will help them communicate with him. Rastas believe that Haile Selassie (unsuccessful military dictator of Ethiopia, ousted by invading Italians in 1936) is the Son of God. Rastas preach black supremacy, and prophesy that unless they return to Africa by 1983 the world must perish.
Had this view since been refuted by contemporary idols Dillinger, Black Slate and batty bald headed Bob Marley, then their rights would be worth standing up for. As it is, who would raise a hand if the National Front treated the Rastas as the Rastas treat their women?
And themselves: his “religion” supposedly kept Bob Marley from seeking cancer treatment.
Remember that “tribute to Bob Marley” at this year’s Grammy Awards? Neither does anyone else, because it was terrible. The most entertaining part? You can actually see all these A-list performers suddenly remembering, too late and on live TV, that Bob Marley’s songs are, in fact, really really bad.
I don’t know how anyone who basically “wrote” the same dirge-like, nonsensical “song” over and over again qualifies as a genius, but I suspect that (along with heavy and regular drug use) the soft bigotry of low expectations played an enormous role in Marley’s megastardom (which was engineered, by the way, by a wealthy white toff.)
White people are Marley’s biggest fans, which tells you all you need to know.
A deliciously nasty entry devoted to Marley at “Stuff White People Like” notes, however:
Under no circumstances should you ever bring a white person to [an authentic] dancehall reggae concert, it will frighten them.
I went to the place
Where every white face
Is an invitation to robbery
An’ sitting here in my safe European home
I don’t wanna go back there again
The conclusion with the final 3 most overrated male musicians can be read here.