We may be a lot of things here at Six String Sanctuary, but we're not mean-spirited. Being bad asses might help us gain some bad ass viewership, and who wants or needs that?
We do, however, feel a social responsibility to occasionally reference other bad asses, especially when they are savaging music that other people (not necessarily us) may have actually enjoyed along their journeys.
You probably have seen this if you visit Blender.com, a fine website that is always alive with entertaining content. Blender's list of the 50 Worst Artists in Music History has actually been around since last April and still gets hits, proving the marvel of the Internet.
We thought we'd share their Top 10 (or Bottom 10, depending how you look at it). I can say with certainty this disappoints my oldest sister, who is a big Kenny G fan, and pisses off a few of my flag-waving, truck-driving buddies (Lee Greenwood). But I doubt there was any malice intended, other than to sully the reputations of the artists mentioned. The writing, we must say, is quite good and even occasionally convincing.
Why today? It's the 100th anniversary of Thomas Crapper's death. While Crapper did not invent the toilet, as he is often credited, he did significantly improve the flushing mechanism, thereby earning his lofty throne in bathroom history.
Here are 10 for the crapper, according to Blender. Probably better flush twice just to make sure.
10. AIR SUPPLY
The sound of eunuchs sobbing
Disproving the theory that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, Air Supply contained not one but two mewling, lovesick softies whose name was Russell. In the early ’80s, the Australian duo’s gutless ballads — music so remorselessly fey it made Journey sound like Danzig — sent a generation of jilted lovers toppling into depression that was as clinical as the Russells’ music. Mercifully, though, by the end of the decade, the pair had cried themselves to sleep.
Appalling fact: Determined to ruin the festive season, Air Supply once recorded a Christmas album.
Worst CD: The Christmas Album (Arista, 1987)
9. LEE GREENWOOD
Gives patriotism a bad name
“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” Samuel Johnson said, but in Lee Greenwood’s case, it’s the ultimate meal ticket for a Nashville hack. A bland balladeer with a weakness for overwrought sentimentality, he wrote the 1984 tune “God Bless the U.S.A.” in response to the Soviet downing of a South Korean airliner. It became a campaign theme for George H.W. Bush and was recently excavated in torturous fashion by the American Idol 2 cast during the war in Iraq.
Appalling fact: Greenwood performed a duet with Latoya Jackson on her dreadful 1994 album, From Nashville to You.
Worst CD: You’ve Got a Good Love Comin’ (MCA, 1985)
8. VANILLA ICE
The white boy to end all white boys
You know that yearbook photograph you won’t let anyone see? The one whose very existence keeps you awake shaking at night? Imagine it was a horribly dated number 1 single from 1990 called “Ice Ice Baby,” and you have an idea what life is like for Robert Van Winkle. It doesn’t stop there: Ice starred in the abysmal 1991 Hollywood vehicle Cool as Ice, and after squandering his quick fortune, mounted an unsuccessful comeback in 1998 as (shudder) a rap-rocker.
Appalling fact: Widely denounced by hip-hop fans as a phony, Ice rebuffed his detractors at the 1991 American Music Awards: “Kiss my white ass!”
Worst CD: Hard to Swallow (Republic, 1998)
Ridiculous album sleeves, virtuoso playing, soulless rock. It can be only one band
Asia’s music turned out to be exactly the sum of its parts: former technicians from King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Yes who got together with an erstwhile Buggle at the start of the ’80s. It promised the most self-important prog-rock melded with the limp-wristed worst of AOR, and it delivered. The band’s self-titled debut sold more than 4 million copies, which only encouraged them.
Appalling fact: To this day, keyboardist Geoff Downes is happy to offer Asia’s mission statement: “To play music that is panoramic, symphonic and rock at the same time.”
Worst CD: Astra (Geffen, 1985)
Beware all bands named after states or continents!
Their folksy 1977 hit “Dust in the Wind,” a tractor-size fiddle player and a guitarist in bib overalls suggested pioneer-spirited rural rockers. The truth was far more sinister. Bereft of sex and emotion, Kansas’s music was a noxious fusion of Jethro Tull and Yes, appealing only to male sci-fi bores and guaranteed to drive any self-respecting frontiersman headlong into the nearest bear trap.
Appalling fact: A feature of their live shows was roadie T. Rat, who would come onstage in a trench coat, top hat and clown mask. Then he would disrobe and dance butt-naked.
Worst CD: Point of Know Return (Columbia, 1977)
They built this city on rock & roll. And crap!
In 1985, Starship rose like a phoenix from the ashes of once-mighty psychedelic overlords Jefferson Airplane/Starship — but only if, by phoenix, you mean “ultra-lame, MTV-pandering purveyors of MOR schlock.” Best remembered for “We Built This City,” they were also responsible for unleashing the Diane Warren–penned “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” a song bad enough to appear on the soundtrack of the diabolical Andrew McCarthy “comedy” Mannequin. And its sequel!
Appalling fact: Singer Grace Slick later disavowed “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” claiming in an interview, “I know damn well how fast a relationship can fall apart.”
Worst CD: Love Among the Cannibals (RCA, 1989)
4. KENNY G
This guy really blows!
Hated equally by jazz and rock fans, Kenny Gorelick’s limpid instrumentals and obsequious cameos helped turn the soprano sax solo into pop music’s most feared cliché. He started his career with fusion hack Jeff Lorber, and his 1986 album, Duotones, established a steady market for anodyne, minimal background music, an aesthetic that reached its zenith in 1997 when “The G” set a world record by holding a single note for 45 minutes.
Appalling fact: He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington with a degree in accounting.
Worst CD: Classics in the Key of G (Arista, 1999)
3. MICHAEL BOLTON
Otis Redding died for this?
With his curly locks and toned abs, Michael Bolton looked like nothing so much as the hero of a cheap bodice-ripper, which was enough to earn him a fervent audience for his over-emoted late-’80s power ballads. Unfortunately, his greatest desire was to sing R&B oldies, which he went through like Sherman through Georgia.
Appalling fact: After losing a plagiarism suit to the Isley Brothers, Bolton tried to avoid paying them royalties by buying their publishing house.
Worst CD: Timeless: The Classics (Columbia, 1992)
2. EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER
Welcome back, my friends, to the second-worst band in history!
“Boasting” former members of the Nice, King Crimson and — yes! — Atomic Rooster, the less-than-super ’70s supergroup ELP shunned blues-based rock in favor of bombastically reinterpreted classical works — with bewilderingly successful results. A nightmarish enough proposition on record, the Brit trio’s live shows were peppered by interminable solo spots, including a 20-minute drum workout by Carl Palmer that ended with him ringing a cowbell held between his teeth.
Appalling fact: Singer-bassist Greg Lake performed on a $10,000 Persian rug that roadies vacuumed before every show.
Worst CD: Love Beach (Rhino, 1978)
1. INSANE CLOWN POSSE
They sound even stupider than they look
Two trailer-trash types who wear face paint, pretend to be a street gang and drench cult devotees in cheap soda called Faygo, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are more notorious for their beef with Eminem (who pistol-whipped an ICP homey in 2001) than their ham-fisted rap-rock music. They claim that a “dark carnival” visited them one night, prophesied impending apocalypse and made them its messengers. Between this circus gospel, they find plenty of time to rap about 40-ouncers and venereal disease.
Appalling fact: While appearing on The Howard Stern Show in 1999, Shaggy 2 Dope told Sharon Osbourne to “buff my pickle.” She declined.
Worst CD: The Wraith: Shangri-La (D3, 2002)