I like top ten and top five lists as a reader, but as a journalist, I don’t find them very exciting and interesting. Maybe because they are these alleged, definitive, compilations of criticism of the best of days passed. The days past are the days past and I have to paraphrase the Great Ian Mackaye and say, music being made now is so much better because it’s happening now. You can be involved in the music of now. There is no nostalgia.
Also, no one ever looks at critical and popular darlings critically. So, in honor of some other recent, lazy summer journalism at a web site I frequent but will remain unnamed, I decided to do a short post of the five artists I find most overrated, and why. Here we go. This will probably piss you off. Deal with it.
#5 – The Fugees.
They were lauded as saving rap, when rap and hip hop did not need saving. Wyclef Jean is not a good song writer and his solo album reinforces that. It’s blanned, boring, repetitive and terribly derivative of a claimed cultures without adding anything new to the ongoing musical dialog. Lauryn Hill, who some argue is the most talented female rapper to make it, was marred in boring race controversy, murdered a Bob Marley song and fell off the face of the earth. I hardly find this half hearted effort worth it. There is so much more subversive, powerful and genuinely controversial hip hop from the 90’s, that Fugees come off for what they were, a media project that did not last.
#4 – Built to Spill.
Built to Spill is one of the first rock bands I ever saw where the members look pained to be partaking in their craft. It’s a rock band dudes, HAVE FUN. I don’t care how broke, poor or unwanted by your love interests you are, put something into it. This is proto-emo music and probably directly responsible for garbage like Pedro The Lion, Dashboard Confessional, and a myriad of other self loathing white boys with guitars who clearly don’t understand the gender paradigm that gives them the freedom and built in audience for which they are able to cry. Also, the singer’s voice annoys the fuck out of me.
#3 – Biggie Smalls.
Two Words: Marble Mouth.
#2 – Beck.
This slack ass, lazy fucker is so well-loved by the public, it makes me weep. His 90’s output, so far as I am concerned was not clever and does not hold up. Beck was one of these hipster, goofball kids who tried to marry anti-pop and pop (more on that in a minute) and spit out nonsense. His songs were boring, his voice is effortless (thanks J. Mascis, if yr guitar playing wasn’t so great, you might too be on this list) and his wittiness was not witty. “Loser” sucks. “Two Turn Tables and a Microphone” sucks. I am told he gets more genius as time goes on, but he also joined the Church of Scientology. Strike Three. I let that shit pass for Jason Lee because he invented the 360 Flip, was in Mi Vida Loca and played Brodie Bruce in Mall Rats. Oh yea, and he was in a Sonic Youth video. Beck, you just bore the fuck out of me.
#1 – Pavement.
Pavement wanted to be Sonic Youth more than Sonic Youth and sadly got more press and attention. This band really married Anti-Pop with Pop and not in a Sonic Youth/Andy Warhol kind of way. It was pop music with silliness, and while jovial and fun-loving in presentation, the whole thing just came off as disingenuous. Their slacker, nonsense out wieghs Beck by such great mass, that just thinking about it makes me sick. Spiral Staircase is a terrible stage name. The music is jarring and annoying. I can honestly say I have never heard an entire song by that band, and the reason is, is because it makes me run from the room. It is intolerable sound pollution and I want to fight their music. I don’t even have a problem with the people, or their public personalities (though the one interview I ever read with them left much to be desired) but really, those sounds made me want to cry.