Saturday, 20 February 2010

News, Views and Music Issue 54 (Top Five): The World's Worst Recording Artists

We’ve spent so long discussing classic classy clever music on this website over the past 101 reviews/53 newsletters that we thought it was about time we reminded ourselves just how amazing and consistent our AAA groups are and how truly terrible some of the others can be. So just for once there are no AAA groups on this top five, just five truly terrible and total turkeys for you to avoid...

5) Cliff Richard. Short hand for: missed the point. To be fair, we ought to be thankful to Cliff – it was his success combined with his sheer awfulness and weak-kneed rock music that caused half of the 60s bands on this list to take up arms and show the world how music should be done. The real problem many people have with Cliff is that he stayed popular, boring us with his weak vocals at tennis matches when we’re already sick of it raining yet again in Wimbledon week (thank goodness for the roof – no more Cliff!) and lending his mansion to prime ministers at a time when the country is in crisis. And as crimes against humanities go, ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ is right up there with the worst of all time. Our favourite Cliff moment: what’s his shortest song again?

4) Donovan. Short hand for: pretentious. He invented the 60s apparently, or a good deal of it at least and anybody who ever played anything even vaguely sounding like acoustic guitar-work owes a huge overwhelming debt to him. Oh and every successful song is ripped off ‘Mellow Yellow’ or ‘Jennifer Juniper’, apparently, awful songs both that might sound to the unacquainted ear as if they have something to say, but truly don’t when you even vaguely start scratching the surface. Pure gibberish played in the same two boring chords is hardly a prototype for the best music on this list or otherwise and its his trite insipid warbling that have encouraged many people to think that 60s music is all as bad as this. It isn’t. Music has soul not a lot of free associating words on a hiding to nothing. And no wonder he dropped his true surname (‘Leitch’, pronounced ‘Leech’) – that’s just too big a gift to reviewers. Our favourite Donovan moment: ‘I remember teaching Paul McCartney a new guitar tuning during his stay with me and some guy named the Maharishi in India and the next day he’d come up with ‘Blackbird’, obviously deeply inspired by my wonderful gift to him and the amazing vibes he felt wafting from me. Perhaps I should ask for a writing credit’ (for tuning a guitar?!) 

3) Michael Jackson. Short hand for: scary/over-rated. Oh yes, everybody loves him now he’s dead don’t they? We seem to be the only sane site out there on the net who doesn’t think he’s a moon-walking God these days so let’s remind ourselves: Michael Jackson peaked at the age of 9. Ever since then his music was hyped to a ridiculous degree, repeating the same two hackneyed ideas and he became a puppet for everybody else’s strange ideas. And I’m not even going to mention the cheap shots about his changing skin colour and the child molestation allegations, the music’s enough to be criticising for now, we’ll leave that up to others (see below). Admittedly his weird family and weirder childhood had a lot to do with his transformation from cute kid to adult brat but with all that hype and adoration just think how much good he could have done for music – and how he just wasted it all recycling the same two dull as ditchwater chords. There is nothing inventive in any Michael Jackson songs.  Our favourite Michael Jackson moment #1: the moment when, just before a live séance with his ghost, Michael’s hotel manager fondly remembers the time his client asked for a window overlooking the children’s playground. Our favourite Michael Jackson moment #2: ‘I thought about naming our child Prince Michael II but thought that might be a bit weird, so we called him Blanket’. Our favourite Michael Jackson moment #3: that Earth Song promo in which Michael saves the world singlehandedly, accompanied by one of the worst songs of all time. Good on you for wrecking it Jarvis Cocker! Our favourite Michael Jackson moment that, sadly never was: a special recording of the Tweenies theme which would have at least been honest! (Hey! Hey! Are you ready to play? Come along and play with Michael Jackson!)

2) The Beautiful South. Short hand for: smug big headed twonks. I love you from the bottom of my pencil case. For some reason the world loved that line – to me it just sounded like 10cc on a really really bad day. And that was in the days before Rotterdam to Anywhere (which is itself the biggest rip off re-write to make it into the top 10 the Spice Girls didn’t sing) and Don’t Marry Her (which is quite possibly the cruellest, vilest and needlessly filthy song not to be banned from the radio because everybody had cloth ears that month for some reason). I wouldn’t mind were it not for the fact that so many people got taken in by all this awful recycled moronic rubbish (their greatest hits – and no sadly it’s not a blank album but it should be – stayed in the charts for eons, god knows why) and the big-headed band members who kept telling us how great they were and how they’re the only comedy band worth listening to (nope, lost me there – see 10cc if its comedy you’re really after). Our favourite Beautiful South moment: That infamous ‘boat’ interview that killed off their career (but only, alas, among serious collectors) after being filled with so many big headed claims about being the best band in the world (OK, so oasis do it too but at least its tongue in cheek some of the time) and insincerities about being so talented and original that even the interviewer only just managed to stop himself pushing the whole band in the water.  

1) The Spice Girls. Short hand for: the five horse girls of the apocalypse who signal how the world is cruising towards destruction. You didn’t think we’d miss out our favourites now did you? From the opening shots of their first promo video (in which scary spice kung fu kicks a tramp and the others all laugh) to their pointless solo releases (which for some reason all sound like Madonna on helium, even the ones by the butch members of the band) to the sheer unprecedented exploitation of it all, few other bands come close. The most annoying thing about this band, though, is that there was the teeniest of talent in there (mainly down to Mel C) and that it all got washed away by middle aged business managers and writers trying to cash in on the latest craze, not to mention the sickening way so many seized on the band for their ‘girl power’ even though the females were simply puppets being used by male record executives to win over young impressionable kids. Just listen to how good they are when they’ve stopped selling and nobody cares what they do (I have to admit a slight respect for their single ‘Goodbye’) – and how bad they are when they’re just going I wanna huh I wanna huh I wanna huh I wanna huh I wanna huh for about half an hour. Our favourite Spice Girls moment: that kung fu kick says so much about this band – how the misguided rich are making idiots of the misguided puppets in their care, even though the spice girls themselves mainly came from the poverty line. Could they really switch their sympathies this quick? Sickening!

Well, now we’ve got that off our chests it’s time to end another issue. We’ll see you back here next week (if the Spice Girls fan club don’t get us!)

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