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Open Thread: Most Overrated Musical Acts

Something on the lighter side. With the benefit of time and wisdom on my side, I can look back at the music I grew up with with a more discerning eye. When I was in my yoof, what was popular was determined for us by the radio stations and MTV, while I would stay up late to record The Headbangers Ball to get some decent hair metal.

As I am in my 50s now, the hot new music I grew up on is now considered “classic hits” and I often tune in to those stations when the rock stations are on commercials or they are playing Cringe Against The Machine or other crappy groups. It has given me the chance to look back at the music of my youth, some which I find surprisingly still quite good including some stuff that I didn’t really like back in the day. It also has exposed some pretty popular music acts as just awful and overrated. 
I only looked at music popular in the 80s when I was in middle and high school. Most music made in the 90s and onward has been terrible, and I have been listening to classic rock and metal anyway so I didn’t pay much attention to the contemporary pop music scene compared to the 1980s. 
In no particular order, here is my top three:
1. Bruce Springsteen
I don’t know when we decided The Boss was a musical talent but the guy is just awful. His singing voice is terrible and most of his songs are dumb (Glory Days being an exception but he still sounds terrible). 
2. U2
Pretentious pseudo-populist caterwauling. There is absolutely nothing of redeeming value in their music, and in the name of all that is good and just in the world stop playing U2 on classic rock stations. FFS. 
3. Madonna
She had a great voice but her whole act is predicated on acting like a whore. Without the pop tart shtick she likely never would have become famous, so I get it, but now she is an old broad and still trying to act like the sex kitten. Gross and overrated even in her prime. 
Who are musical acts from your teens that are incredibly popular that you find overrated?


  1. Anonymous

    Motley crew
    Beasty boys
    Sarah Brightman

    Looking back I can admit some of those i liked because i was chasing a girl who liked it.


  2. Sarthurk

    Talking Heads "Life in War Time" is relevant NOW, but most of then was when I had to struggle to have a job. Let alone keep it. WE are in a dangerous time. Watch your six.

  3. Anonymous

    I am a little older than you, Arthur, but I consider the 80s to be "my decade", at least musically. And I could not possibly agree more about those three grossly overrated hacks you cite.

    I can listen to Tenth Avenue Freeze-out without gagging, but literally anything else belched out by Springsteen is an insult to my ears. And if there is ever a more overrated, miserable, talent-starved act than U2, I just don't want to know about it. I loathe that supremely hypocritical liberal knob "bono" with a double-barrel hatred.

    Madonna was kinda, sorta "cute" wa-a-a-y back in the day, in a retro-scuzzy sort of way. Last-ditch, 3 am, beer goggles firmly in place, with a damn-the-torpedoes reckless disregard for the inevitable STD-exposure kind of way. But nothing that sleazy slut has done since "Crazy for You" warrants so much as a listen.

    My sons are in their 30s and they do a weekly "metal" podcast (wish I could post a link, but I do not want to make the alphabet bois' work any easier). What do they talk about more than anything else? Ozzy. Maiden. Megadeth. Metallica. Dio. Rainbow. Foghat, for phuck's sake. They listen to the same stuff I did when I was ten years younger than they are today. Only it was 'new' then.

    Music was on life support by 1990. It up and died when CDs completely displaced vinyl. Change my mind.

  4. Anonymous

    Agree with everything on the list so far. I have some regional ones.

    Aerosmith- A Boston band, and as such gets too much airtime in New England. A pretty stale act with a few good songs, but still over rated. I almost always change the station when they come on.

    J Giels Band- Another Boston band that is probably almost unheard of outside of New England. I have always hated everything they ever sang. I honestly cannot see what anyone allegedly appreciates about these guys.

    Phil Collins/Genesis- Not that good by himself and the band was even worse. The underhanded bashing of Ronald Reagan just made it easy to hate them.

    Pat Benetar- For some reason she always irritated me. Actually not a bad singer, just didn't like her songs or her style.

  5. daniel_day

    J Geils Band's output made it to Seattle and Denver, not that it impressed me in either location. Which reminds me of David Lee Roth and Van Halen, noise. Also, Boston. I'm on an east coast kick here, but there were plenty of overrated groups from elsewhere, for example, the Steve Miller Band, whose style rubbed me as cheap from the get-go.

  6. Pat

    Springsteen in the early years was incredible, the E street band was incredible, then he turned into just another Hollywood type asshole with all the same fucked up politics. As a big fan, twas terrible watching it develop over the years.
    Oh well Blue Oyster Cult is is then……

  7. Arthur Sido

    Oddly enough J Geils is played A TON on our local station, I never heard them this much back in the 1980s. Don't really care for Collins either. We also tend to get a lot of John Cougar Mellencamp, being in Indiana and lots of Tom Petty.

  8. Arthur Sido

    Madonna was "hot" when I was in early adolescence, a 13 year old finds an obviously slutty twenty something irresistible, but that pretty much ended when I got my hands on real girls.

  9. Anonymous

    Bob Dylan (as mentioned above and undeniable)
    The Grateful Dead
    Bruce Springsteen (When I first heard him I said, "he won't go far". Called that one wrong but I stand by my assessment)

  10. Anonymous

    There was a renaissance in popular music from the mid 20th century up until I will say about the early 1980s. There were 4 men mainly responsible for this, Leo Fender, Orville Gibson, and the Ludwig brothers, inventors of new instruments, electric guitars and basses, and patenting the bass drum pedal and creating the trap drum set that went with it. These along with electric keyboards/organs opened the door to all kinds of wonderful new music and IMO the 1960s and 1970s in particular were the zenith of it. But by about the early 1980s, everything that could be done with these new instruments had been done, after all there are only 8 notes in the major and minor scales and 12 notes in the chromatic scale, so there is a limit for innovation with the same instruments. Everything since then has just been a rehash of what came before, now to the point of sampling it as the basis for computerized hip hop. This is why so many of us have reached the correct conclusion that popular music seemed to die about 30 or 40 years ago, and why the kids nowadays like the older stuff.

    Basically, if we're going to get anything new, we need some more new instruments.

    Around the same time that the music died, compounding the difficulties was the emergence of the whiny lead singer trope, popularized by REM and Green Day, among others too numerous and painful to list

    I've always said that U2 is serious sounding music for people who aren't serious about music

    Journey…. great, world class musicians, recording syrupy schlock, the women sure do love it

    Old Springsteen is worth listening to. He went south about the same time popular music as a whole did

    When I put on Led Zeppelin's first album it reminds me why I liked them but their later output bores me

    The way I "discovered" that I could enjoy listening to classic rock was to stop listening to it. Then, when I do hear it by accident, I'm able to enjoy.

    The older I get the more my musical taste bends to jazz, mostly artists you never heard of if you aren't a jazz fan, but even there, the peak came at the same time, and for the same reasons. The new stuff now is either too weird to be listenable or a rehash of what came before, but with better sound quality thanks to modern technology. But there's such a huge body of high quality jazz that's been recorded, and is now available through streaming music services whereas before you would never have been able to find all these old albums in a store, that it's going to take me the rest of my life to work through it all. So I'm set.

  11. Anonymous

    Addendum: it was what Fender, Gibson, and the Ludwigs did that made The Beatles inevitable. If it hadn't been The Beatles, it would have been somebody else.

  12. LGC

    You are totally correct. I am in my mid 50's, turn on the radio and it's the same crap I was listening to when I was a teenager. and it was old then. Go away boomers, we're tired of your music.

    Honestly about 7 years ago I gave up and started listening to swing and big bands (1930's and 40's).

  13. Big Ruckus D

    Can't argue with Springsteen, U2, Dylan, REM in particular. Madonna had a few decent enough pop tunes, poster above who pegged Crazy For You as her last listenable piece of work was spot on IMO. After that she went to shit, and nowdays is just a disgusting anachronism despereate to stay in the spotlight.

    I don't get the hate on J. Geils, they were just a garage band gone big time, and never struck me as having annoying pretensions like U2 and "the boss". They just played some fun, upbeat rock and roll. Maybe they got overplayed, but everyone halfway well known did, with the nature of radio and the music biz such as it was.

    Same too with Huey Lewis and the News and Van Halen (with DLR). Definitely overexposed, but not overt assholes like some of the less likeable acts of the 70's and 80's. Outsized egos, no doubt, but not political and preachy, which has always been an irritant to me.

  14. BigCountryExpat

    LGC: LOVE me some "Big Band" music… strangely enough, so does Gran#2 Adriana… I put Glenn Miller on when driving her to and from skool. She's bounce right along with the beat. Other -great- music is anything from the Peter Gunn soundtrack by Henry Mancini… All the 80z and 90z pop shytte makes me want to hurl, and U2? An overrated Pub-Band made good, and every. single. song. they play sounds -exactly- the same…. Music purely sucks goat ass these days….

  15. Anonymous

    They had something special when it was the original 4 guys. Remove any 1 or more of the 4 and that thing they had was gone. Shame they couldn't hold it together.

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