Readers’ Poll: The Ten Worst Bands of the Nineties
We asked our readers to vote for their least favorite bands of the Nineties last week. As you can imagine, this one got people fired up, and votes poured in. While people seemed to have particular scorn for one particular late Nineties rap-rock band and one post-grunge band whose lead singer sounds a bit like Eddie Vedder, bands ranging from Smashing Pumpkins to the Goo Goo Dolls got votes. These results are sure to anger many people, but remember that this is a readers' poll. We had nothing to do with the results. There's one band here that will anger and shock many people. See if you can pick out which one we're talking about.
10. Dave Matthews Band
To paraphrase What About Bob?, there's two kinds of people in the world: those who love Dave Matthews Band and those who don't. There's not a ton of middle ground. Now, this is still a band that sells a ridiculous amount of concert tickets. They practically print money each summer when they tour. They don't exactly have a popularity problem, but some fans feel they lost their way after the Nineties. A 2005 article from the Onion with the headline "Dave Matthews Not That Into Himself Anymore" captured this nicely. "Me and my band are still okay, but I feel like I've grown out of us," Matthews was quoted. "Back when I was in the college charts, we were about all I listened to, but I guess I'm at the point in my life where my music just doesn't speak to me." But for every twentysomething that moves on from the Dave Matthews Band, there's a 15-year-old picking up his first copy of Under the Table and Dreaming, and the cycle begins anew. It's the Circle of Matthews, and it's forever turning.
9. Ace of Base
The good people of 1993 didn't know they wanted a new ABBA, but when "All That She Wants" hit radio, that's exactly what they got. The Swedish foursome had a hot brunette, a hot blonde and two anonymous dudes nobody cared about. Almost nobody in America knew their names (and they couldn't pronounce them if they did), but for a good year or two they were huge. "All That She Wants," "The Sign" and "Beautiful Life" were everywhere. Stephanie Tanner's band even covered them when they played the Smash Club on Full House. But then the decade ended, their music fell off the charts and everyone decided they hated them. That's where we are now.
8. Spin Doctors
It's easy to forget just how massive the Spin Doctors were in 1992 and 1993. They were a New York hippie bar band known for their marathon shows. Before they knew it, they signed to Epic and were on MTV as often as Guns N' Roses and Pearl Jam. Pocket Full of Kryptonite was the Frampton Comes Alive of the early Nineties: absolutely everybody had it. "Two Princes" and "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" were blaring out of every car on the street. The band embodied a brief era, which often leads to a pretty swift and severe backlash when that era ends. The Spin Doctors didn't help matters by releasing the limp and tuneless "Cleopatra's Cat" as the first single from the second album. It began a vicious downward spiral that culminated with frontman Chris Barron (who doesn't even have his own Wikipedia page) losing his voice and the group taking a break. They reformed in 2001 and have been a regular presence on the Nineties nostalgia circuit ever since. Also, they really aren't that bad and don't belong on this list.
Imagine how frustrating the grunge revolution must have been for the major labels. They suddenly had this new generation of rock bands selling millions of records, but none of them were easy to manage. They were too busy doing heroin, refusing to make videos or launch proper tours and generally bemoaning the fact they were popular. "Oh, the pain! The pain of it all! People love my music! This is the worst thing that's ever happened to me." By 1994 the labels were sick of putting up with the nonsense. Enter a band like Bush. Gavin Rossdale was happy to tour all year round, pose for the cover of Rolling Stone with his shirt off and generally do whatever it took to sell records. He was friendly, docile and looked like a model. This was the kind of rock star they dreamed about. (That's not to say songs like "Glycerine" and "Comedown" are bad. The guy had talent.) Bush crapped out by the mid-Nineties but reformed in 2010. Not a lot of people cared.
6. Hootie and the Blowfish
The country was a divided place back in 1994. You were either on Team Newt Gingrich or Team Bill Clinton. You thought O.J. Simpson was a vicious murderer, or you thought he was framed by the LAPD. We were coming apart at the seams, and then Hootie and the Blowfish released Cracked Rear View and we came together. Everybody loved it. It was something that adults, children and people of all races could appreciate. Grunge was over and people were ready for something a little more uplifting. A South Carolina bar band were unlikely rock stars, but they quickly became the biggest thing in music. Yet even they knew it wouldn't last. When your debut goes platinum 16 freakin' times over, there's nowhere to go but down. It's simple gravity. Their 1996 LP, Fairweather Johnson, didn't live up to those impossibly high standards, and the public moved onto new exciting things, like Jewel and Hanson. Hootie never really broke up, and frontman Darius Rucker now has a new career as as country hitmaker.
What the fuck happened here? Did the members of Warrant, Mötley Crüe, Poison and Bang Tango come together to stuff the ballot boxes? Who hates Nirvana? Sure, the crazy success of Nevermind meant that many Eighties superstars seemed like premature has-beens, but that was inevitable. Country Joe and the Fish didn't seem very cool in 1971, either. Times change. Fans move on. You're often only as big as your last hit. But Nirvana were a great band. Their three albums are nearly perfect, and they are guaranteed to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year. We're sorry, but everyone who voted for them in this poll is wrong.
It's easy to see why some people resent Hanson. They were the first teen act of the decade to sell millions of records. (The New Kids on the Block began in the Eighties.) Major labels (again) realized the potential in selling records to tween girls; they had been overlooking them for years. It wasn't long until the Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, Britney Spears and tons of others were all over the radio. That said, it's a little unfair to blame Hanson for that. They weren't assembled by some Svengali and 40-year-old Swedish men didn't write their songs. They were brothers who wrote their own material and made it very, very, very big. They also looked like girls, and "MMMBop" became very annoying after you heard it 10 million times. Many grew to hate them, and that feeling lingers to this day. The group has survived, though. Many of the original fans are still obsessed with them, and they still make a healthy living on the road.
3. Limp Bizkit
If you think that Limp Bizkit fans are a bunch of violent, misogynist bullies, you aren't alone. "For years I looked into the crowd and saw a bunch of bullies and assholes who tortured me and ruined my life," Fred Durst told Rolling Stone in 2009. "They were using my music as fuel to torture other people, even dressing like me. The music was being misinterpreted, and the irony affected me and we stepped away . . . I don't even listen to any type of music that's like Limp Bizkit at all. I love jazz music and sad music. I'm a sentimental guy. I'm a romantic guy." Well, if that's how the frontman of Limp Bizkit feels about Limp Bizkit, imagine how the rest of us feel.
It's hard not to feel a little bad for Nickelback. Sure, they aren't the greatest band in the world, but people act like they make Nazi folk music or something. "Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world," Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney told Rolling Stone last year. "So they became OK with the idea that the biggest rock band in the world is always going to be shit." The band is so sick of comments like Carney's that they actually turn down most interview requests. They know half the questions will be about everyone hating them. And the haters seem to be winning, because their last album wasn't nearly as big as the previous ones. They still sell a lot of concert tickets, though, and will probably have the last laugh when they're still hugely successful 10 years from now.
It's no surprise that Creed won this poll. It wasn't even close. This is a band so hated that their own fans sued them after a famously bad show in Chicago in 2003. Frontman Scott Stapp is so despised that when a video surfaced of him getting a blowjob next to Kid Rock, Kid Rock said he was mainly embarrassed people learned he was hanging out with Scott Stapp. The band reformed in 2009 for a reunion tour, but their fans have moved on. Sales were so horrendous in Birmingham that tickets were lowered to 75 cents. In 2000, the group could sell out arenas within seconds. They toured last year and played their two biggest albums straight through, but even that couldn't get them back into arenas. It's pretty much over, and Creed is basically as popular as Alter Bridge right now.