Many of us have bought into the lie that criticizing something is the best way to prove our sophistication. This is unfortunate, especially in the realm of music, because many people have willfully cut themselves off to good music that they enjoy, all for the sake of impressing people who “secretly” like the criticized band, too. In the following list, I’ve ranked the ten best bands that people love to pretend to hate. None of this is to say, of course, that there aren’t bands and musicians deserving of scorn (Nickelback, Creed, and Limp Bizkit jump to mind). But the bands and musicians on the following list are undeserving of the vitriol that’s often heaped on them by wannabe critics desperate to impress people.
10. Hall & Oates
The only time people turn a Hall & Oates song off is when other people are around. That’s a shame, because if we’d all collectively admit that we love the feel-good ’80s duo, we’d have more songs to sing along to together. Fun lyrics, catchy melodies, and tight songs do not deserve the turned-up noses at the mention of Hall & Oates. And let’s not discount John Oates’ magnificent mustache.
9. Garth Brooks
I’ll be honest, it’s probably been sixteen years, if not longer, since I last heard a new Garth Brooks song. I have heard quite a bit of Garth Brooks bashing, however. Continuing my theme of honesty, I’ve even taken part in the Garth Brooks bashing. But the truth is that as I bash the ’90s country star, I’m thinking fondly of songs like “The River,” “The Thunder Rolls,” and “The Dance” (not to mention the fun and populist-tinged “Friends in Low Places”). I think fondly about those songs because contrary to what the fake critics would have you believe, Garth Brooks has gifted the world with some really good music.
People love to scoff at hair metal, and people love to scoff at Christian rock. But what happens when you combine the two? Well, people’s scorn gets ratcheted up. Except Stryper combines the best of a fun genre with the best of what should be an important genre. Doubt me? Crank up “Soldiers Under Command,” and allow Michael Sweet’s glorious voice to induce you to head-bang along to Christian hair metal.
7. Mumford & Sons
In early 2010, American hipsters began touting the awesomeness of neo-folk band Mumford & Sons. A mere six years later, many of those who shouted Mumford & Sons’ greatness from the social media rooftops are now spewing the exact opposite. The thing is, Mumford & Sons is Mumford & Sons. If you liked the band in 2010, it’s disingenuous to rewrite history in 2016 just because your dentist is now a fan of your once favorite band.
6. Bee Gees
Hate on disco all you want (I know I do), but let’s be honest: the delightfully harmonious music of the Bee Gees transcends the much maligned (and for good reason) genre. I dare you to listen to “Stayin’ Alive” without tapping your toes, at least. Claiming to hate the Bee Gees is like claiming to hate flowers, sunshine, and puppies.
By no means does Kanye do himself any favors, but it’s flat-out wrong to claim that he doesn’t produce excellent music. Disdain the man all you want, he deserves it; but people need to learn to separate the awful human being from that awful human being’s genre-expanding, interesting, and artful music.
4. Pearl Jam
The dishonest snobbery in reference to Pearl Jam is relatively new. While wrong, I do empathize with the impulse. I mean, it’s tempting to sneer at millennials discovering the music of my teen years and snarl, “Pearl Jam? Pearl Jam sucks! I was a fan of Mother Love Bone.” Except, next to no one outside of the Pacific Northwest had even heard of Mother Love Bone until Pearl Jam made it onto the charts. And Pearl Jam most decidedly does not suck.
3. The Eagles
Until about two years ago, I claimed to despise The Eagles. My snobbery didn’t stop me from turning the radio up whenever “Hotel California” started playing, though. Beyond the band’s biggest hit, their oeuvre is solid and imminently listenable and enjoyable.
Bono can be insufferable. I don’t think anyone disputes that. But that doesn’t change the fact that U2 is a great band that has released some of the best music of the last thirty-plus years. The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby are masterpieces, and some of the band’s earlier albums seemingly improve with age, specifically Boy and War. Whenever someone scoffs at U2, I’m tempted to play “With or Without You” just to watch them resist the urge to sing along.
1. The Beatles
People who claim to not like The Beatles are like adults who say that they’re afraid of clowns – they’re doing it for attention. Clowns aren’t scary and most of the Beatles’ music is good and some of it is legitimately great. Listen to Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Abbey Road, to name a mere three albums, and with a straight face try to deny the Fab Four’s greatness and their place in music history.