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Friday, May 02, 2008

The Top 5 Most Disappointing Bands

It is a sad but true fact of the music industry, that some artists will never be able to live up to their early successes.  I'm not so much talking about one hit wonders, but rather bands who were able to make a few decent albums before falling off into obscurity and making only terrible music.  Some of my favorite songs of the last decade or so now leave a sour taste in my mouth when I think of where the people responsible for them now reside.  So without further ado, I present to you the Top 5 Most Disappointing Bands.

#5:  The Cardigans - To the most mainstream of listeners, The Cardigans had one big hit.  Fair enough.  But if you listen to their first few albums, you'll find a that they had more to offer than just "Lovefool" (including a cover of "Iron Man").  Songs like "Carnival" displayed a childlike wonder at life, a sort of doe-eyed whimsy that the band was never able to fully recreate in their later albums.  The critical verdict on Grand Turismo, Long Gone Before Daylight, and Super Extra Gravity are pretty clear: they pale in comparison to their first few albums.  There are a few loyal fans out there who still like what they hear, but when I tried to sit down and review Super Extra Gravity a while back, I just couldn't listen to more than a few songs without getting bored or uninterested.  Tough break for a band that still gets regular plays on my iPod..."Lovefool," of course.

#4:  The Dresden Dolls - The Dresden Dolls did the opposite of The Cardigans.  Rather than change their sound or try to expand upon it, they kept everything exactly the same for their sophomore album, Yes, Virginia.  Unfortunately, the band didn't analyze their own music to realize that it's uncannily gimmicky.  A person can only listen to so much German cabaret music before throwing in the towel and switching to something a little more easy on the ears.  When listening to Yes, Virginia, you can literally hear songs trying to recreate the intensity of a song on their self-titled debut, or others trying to recreate the hopelessness.  It's all rather sad, or disappointing if you will.  With the release of No, Virginia, due in May, we're almost guaranteed to be treated to the same repetitive nonsense.

#3:  Rilo Kiley - Believe me, I'm completely disappointed in Rilo Kiley.  The band that I used to cite as one of my favorites doesn't even crack the Top 50 with their new Fleetwood Mac-wannabe music.  In many ways, I'm most disappointed in this band because they didn't just make bad music, but made a conscious decision to sell out (more info on that HERE).  But they still gave me three incredibly solid and endearing albums that remain among my favorites to this day.  The top two on this list, well... they gave me much less to enjoy and therefore disappointed even more greatly. 

#2:  No Doubt - Every time I see Gwen Stefani on TV or read about her on the internet, I'm just heartbroken at what she has become.  The once punk-rocker chick who used to throw manic fits on stage and make teenage boys swoon has become a diva of epic proportions with her own clothing line, Japanese posse, and excessive bling.  Still, the most depressing aspect of it all is that she not only left her band No Doubt behind to embark on these endeavors, but she drove them into the ground before breaking off to go solo.  Tragic Kingdom is a classic album by almost all accounts.  It was followed by the less-successful, but still pretty decent, Return of Saturn.  Rock Steady is where things started to go downhill, however, with the band putting more of a focus on electronic, danceable songs rather than sticking with, or evolving their rock sounds.  It's a shame.  The band is currently back together making an album that should be out sometime next year, but my hopes aren't high.  I really can't see Gwen going back to who she was in the early 1990s.  I'm almost sure she'll be prancing around on stage in high heels and sunglasses at every show.  Too bad.

#1:  Live - Back in March, we at Audio Overflow revealed our love for Live's 1994 masterpiece, Throwing Copper.  What you may not be aware of is how god awful the band got after releasing that album to the world.  It's one of the most heartbreaking tales of alternative rock, maybe even worse than Kurt Cobain being an idiot (too soon?).  Secret Samadhi had about 3 decent songs on it, including the beautiful "Turn My Head," and The Distance to Here had "The Dolphin's Cry."  And that's it, folks!  Never mind that Live has released 3 albums since then.  Did you even know that?  Probably not unless you watch American Idol.  The depths that the band has fallen to is depressing.  I mean, who names their album Birds of PRAY?  I think the best thing for the band to do would be to pull an Alanis Morissette and milk that one shining star in your discography for all its worth.  I'm talking an acoustic version, a live version, maybe even a version where you have guest vocalists come on and pay tribute to it.  When that's all you got, you do what you can.  Poor guys.

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