Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Your Turn: List For Santa

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Great news, kids! I have it on good authority that the Big Man himself, Santa Claus, reads this blog every day, so now is your big chance to get your Christmas/ Hanukkah/Whatever list in front of him.

Send me your list, and I'll publish it. Don't be shy! Even if it's just one item.

The 50 Worst Artists In Musical History, #20-34

The next batch from the Blender.com list. I take issue with some of their choices here. I can think of a lot worse bands/artists than Howard Jones, Arrested Development and The Alan Parsons Project. On the other hand, they nailed it with Color Me Badd, Primus, Richard Marx, Crash Test Dummies, and, of course, Celine.

34 LIVE
These U2 sound-alikes never did find what they were looking for
Blessed with the same spiritual longing as U2 — but, sadly, none of the musical cunning — this quartet made a brief but insignificant splash in the early ’90s as purveyors of grandiose, vaguely uplifting alt-rock. Their blend of loud guitars and portentous lyrics helped pave the way for crypto-Christian rockers Creed. Nice one, Live.
Appalling fact The album title Secret Samadhi derives from a form of Hindu meditation.
Worst CD Secret Samadhi (MCA, 1997)

33 JAPAN
An uncontestable argument against the ’80s
Japan formed in 1974 and soon discovered that their mixture of washed-out glam-rock, vaguely literary pretensions and bucketloads of makeup prompted little more than cruel laughter. The dawn of the ’80s, however, found things moving their way.
Appalling fact Their version of “I Second That Emotion” might be the worst Motown cover of all time.
Worst CD Gentlemen Take Polaroids (Virgin, 1980)

32 THE HOOTERS
The great folk-rock scare
Philadelphians Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian assembled a quintet that specialized in a vile blend of folk-rock and New Wave, in the process proving that the mandolin is more irritating than the synthesizer.
Worst CD Zig Zag (Columbia, 1989)

31 ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT
Too positive for their own good
Their 1992 debut, 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of…, sold 5 million copies despite containing some of the preachiest, most contrived “wisdom” ever laid down. Their studio follow-up, Zingalamundi, sank without a trace.
Worst CD Unplugged (Chrysalis, 1993)

30 RICHARD MARX
The devil-king of MOR
When it comes to the dreaded genre of adult contemporary, few were as archetypal as Richard Marx. The unbearably syrupy “Right Here Waiting” remains his most far-reaching hit, and shows how sucker America fell for his combination of mullet, Wedding Singer apparel and softer-than-soft rock.
Appalling fact Marx honed his painfully bland art as a backing singer for Lionel Richie.
Worst CD Repeat Offender (Capitol, 1989)

29 SKINNY PUPPY
The audience rarely sang along to “Dogshit”
And so it came to pass in the 1980s that two Canadian Kevins changed their names to cEvin and Nivek in order to make themselves more interesting, hired a singer named Dwayne (who would die of a heroin overdose) and spent almost a decade making ear-torturing industrial music.
Appalling fact On the Head Trauma tour, cEvin sliced open his stomach with broken glass and performed a vivisection. Relax, everyone — he was only pretending.
Worst CD Too Dark Park (Nettwerk, 1990)

28 CRASH TEST DUMMIES
They said Brad Roberts’s voice was so deep it could be heard only by whales. Not true, sadly
If you want to be recognized as serious recording artists with a whimsical, folksy bent, it’s probably best not to notch your only hit with a daft novelty song based around the world’s silliest lead vocal and title it “Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm.” The remainder of God Shuffled His Feet, this Canadian band’s second album, was much worse.
Appalling fact They’re Canadian.
Worst CD A Worm’s Life (Arista, 1996)

27 COLOR ME BADD
These Oklahomans sang about sex. But they couldn’t keep it up
Oklahoma City’s gain was New York’s loss when these four high-school friends left their hometown and headed east in search of fame. They found it in 1991 with the double-platinum single “I Wanna Sex You Up,” a literally unbelievable slice of lasciviousness from such inoffensive boys.
Appalling fact As kids, CMB regularly buttonholed such touring acts as Huey Lewis & the News and Bon Jovi for impromptu a cappella auditions.
Worst CD Now & Forever (Giant, 1996)

26 CÉLINE DION
One more reason to hate the French
Seemingly hellbent on proving that Michael Bolton isn’t the cheesiest balladeer on the planet, the French- Canadian singer first secured a manager at age 12 — creepily, she later married him. But far more terrifying is her endless string of shrieking über-hits, particularly the Titanic theme, “My Heart Will Go On” — which, if it had been played on the ship itself, would surely have made passengers leap to their doom long before the iceberg did its dastardly deed.
Worst CD Céline Dion (Epic, 1992)

25 JAMIROQUAI
The white, talentless Stevie Wonder
Where to start — the ludicrous headgear? The atrocious dancing? No, let us start, and finish, with the fact that Stevie Wonder has more talent in his dark glasses than Jay Kay has in his entire body.
Worst CD A Funk Odyssey (Epic, 2001)

24 BAD ENGLISH
With ex-members of Journey!
Suck-cheeked soft-rocker John Waite had scored big in 1984 with the ballad “Missing You.” But with his solo career stalling, and half of Journey toilet-bound without a singer, they forged an unholy late-’80s alliance.
Worst CD Backlash (Epic, 1991)

23 CREED
Whoever said the devil has all the best tunes was probably listening to Creed at the time
There's no more irritating sight in videodom than Creed’s Scott Stapp pulling one of his crucifixion poses while a wind machine blows his hair in the appropriate direction. But the group’s real crime is its music, an overblown distillation of grunge’s most commercial elements.
Appalling fact This April, a fan sued the band following a show at which, it was alleged, Stapp was so incapacitated he was “unable to sing a single song.”
Worst CD Weathered (Wind-Up, 2001)

22 PRIMUS
“Care for some prog-rock with cartoon-character vocals on the side?” “No, thanks!”
Perhaps the most tune-free act ever to chart an album in the Top 10, Primus were led by Les Claypool, a bass virtuoso and startlingly nasal vocalist. Musicians and the terminally nerdy gaped in wide wonder at the trio’s prodigious instrumental “chops.”
Appalling fact The rallying cry for Primus’s misguided fans was “Primus sucks!” — intended as sarcasm yet all too true.
Worst CD Pork Soda (Interscope, 1993)

21 THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT
The sound inside the head of Pink Floyd’s engineer. Zzzzzz…
Having conquered the Dark Side of the Moon, EMI Records’ beardy staff engineer Alan Parsons decided that what the universe really needed was a prog-rock concept album based on the work of nineteenth-century horror novelist Edgar Allan Poe, narrated by Orson Welles.
Appalling fact In the ’90s, the world-champion Chicago Bulls took the court to the pretentious swells of Parsons’s “Sirius.”
Worst CD Pyramid (Arista, 1978)

20 HOWARD JONES
He came from England. Thanks, England
In the mid-’80s, it was difficult to avoid synth-wielding Brits. The sprig-haired, perma-grinning Howard Jones was the most irritating, seemingly convinced that he had something very important to tell the world — but unclear exactly what it was.
Appalling fact Early in his career, Jones was accompanied by “improvisational dance” expert Jed Hoile, who, in keeping with the lyrics to “New Song,” mimed throwing off his “mental chains.”
Worst CD Live Acoustic America (Plump, 1996)

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