Jim's Top Overrated Rock Artists


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Top Ten Overrated Rock Artists

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I don't necessarily think that the music produced by the following artists is terrible. In fact, I have albums by some of them which I enjoy to a degree. However, I do believe that each of the 10 receives considerably more praise than is deserved.

  1. Eminem - People, don't be fooled by the critics who are jumping on this cretin's bandwagon. If you listen to Eminem, you will not hear "complex rhyme schemes." (What are you thinking, Bob Christgau?) Rather, you will hear the simplistic rhymes and hateful ravings of a misogynist who knows enough about hooks to make a lot of bucks but who's severely lacking in musical talent.

  2. Nirvana - Unfortunately, these guys have convinced a generation of rockers (e.g., Bush) that rocking out means singing confused lyrics in a gravelly, tortured voice over grungy power chords. Although the band did come up with a handful of good songs, the late Kurt Cobain was an inarticulate lyricist and a one-dimensional singer. And they stole their best riff (on "Come as You Are") from the Killing Joke's "Eighties." Drummer David Grohl's new band, the Foo Fighters, are much better than Nirvana ever was.

  3. Frank Zappa - Frank was a masterful composer and sharp social satirist during the '60s. During that time he produced some unique and funny music with the Mothers of Invention on albums such as "Freak Out!" and "We're Only In It For The Money." Unfortunately, something happened to Frank in the '70s. While occasionally continuing to make interesting music, his lyrics often degenerated into puerile, juvenile humor. Plus, his penchant for social satire turned into an utter distaste for anyone different from him. And last but not least, his music often became unnecessarily complex for the sheer sake of complexity.

  4. Celine Dion - OK. Celine may have a technically "great" voice; however, when I listen to her sing, I don't get a feeling of honesty. She really seems to be more in love with her vocals and the drama of her performance than with the words she's singing. Her chest-beating performance of "All By Myself" at the 1999 Grammy Awards and her attempted one-upmanship at the VH1 Diva concerts should tell you where she's at.

  5. Kenny G. - Though he's got technique to spare, Kenneth Gorelick (his real name) has done his best to turn the soprano sax into a sleep aid. People who've only heard Kenny play the instrument have no idea how versatile and expressive it could sound in the hands of someone like the late John Coltrane. People, this is not jazz - it's muzak! Plus, Kenny has committed the ultimate desecration by deigning to overdub himself on the late Louis Armstrong's classic "What a Beautiful World" (If you want to hear a much better Kenny G, check out jazz saxophonist Kenny Garrett.)

  6. The Beastie Boys - A lot of rap is bad enough. But did these guys have to popularize being moronic, unmelodic, and obnoxious? All of the samples they use and all of the "hip" name dropping in their bloated "lyricism" just can't disguise their minimal talent and lack of originality.

  7. Madonna - If Ms. Ciccone lacked striking good looks and a taste for sexual outrageousness, she wouldn't be anywhere near as popular as she is today. Her pseudo-dramatic ballads and forays into technopop are pedestrian and nowhere near as deep as she'd like you to think. Admit it - she was at her best in the mid-'80s, when she was content to chirp pleasant and mindless dance-pop.

  8. The Rolling Stones - Don't get me wrong; I know that the Stones are a great band. But they are not now and never were "The World's Greatest Rock'n'Roll Band" - except maybe for that brief period between the breakup of the Beatles and the first Steely Dan album...but wait a minute, Led Zeppelin was around then, so forget that.

  9. Bruce Springsteen - For me, it's been downhill for Bruce ever since the early '80s. By that time, he'd totally abandoned the funky r&b influence and adventurous song structure in his earlier music; plus, the E-Street band, while excellent players, had settled into a stiff, monotonous groove. Worse yet, since that time Bruce' singing has devolved into an annoying, affected twang that is much less attractive than his earlier loose vocal style.

  10. Michael Jackson - I'm sorry, but Michael never was and never will be the King of Pop. He's more like King of the Whining Pop Stars Who's Confused About His Identity. A great singer and phenomenal dancer, Michael produced a lot of good music during the Jackson 5 years and the "Off the Wall"/"Thriller" days. However, his increasing eccentricity and his attempt to cultivate a "bad" image during the last decade has done nothing good for his music. And bringing 20-foot statues of himself on his concert tours hasn't helped, either.


If you've got a comment or question about any of the artists listed here, or if there are musical artists not listed whom you think that I'd like, please send me a message.

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This page was last revised on June 26, 2005.

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