Monday, July 14, 2014

Six Horrible Bands That Shouldn’t Have Survived the ‘90s

…and another half dozen who should’ve ruled the freaking world.

The 1990s were a great time for music, it being the era that gave us Cynic, Nada Surf, Wu-Tang, Anal Cunt, Merzbow, good Johnny Cash and of course, the Wesley Willis Fiasco. While most bands from the era have long since dissolved or turned into calcified husks of what they once were, quite a few bands from the era have remained quite popular ever since.

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at a dozen bands who, after becoming popular in the ‘90s, have had extended careers into the aughties and beyond. To be different though, we’ll largely be looking at six bands that have proven extraordinarily popular beyond the Sega Genesis era, who in my humblest of opinions, never deserved their success to begin with. Serving as palette cleaners, we’ll then bring up a band that SHOULD have had the post-Clinton success that the overrated artist did.

Odds are, this one will probably irk some fan boys, but that’s not exactly territory we here at the Internet Is In America is even remotely afraid to get into. Get ready, folks, it’s time to chow down on some supremely overrated sacred cow…


Tool, and their fans, are people who overstate their own intelligence. They think tunes like “Prison Sex” and “Schism” are profound and intellectual and probing, but no -- they’re actually pretty fucking stupid, pointless and meandering to the point of being indecipherable.

Tool is pretty much Pink Floyd for people who might shoot up a school building some day. You HAVE to be high to listen to their music, because anyone with even the remotest sense of pitch and tune would hear three seconds of “Stink Fist” and probably mistake it for air conditioning static. The H.R. Giger claymation videos and lenticular album covers of Vitruvian Man and dudes blowing themselves pretty much tell you all you need to know about the band as an act -- they’re boring, they have nothing to say, and they have to be inauthentically “shocking” and grandiose to even be worth mentioning. At least Marilyn Manson and his followers know how stupid his shtick is -- Tool is a band glibly unaware just how painfully mundane they truly are.

Tool is the worst kind of band, the kind of band who thinks their music is better than what it really is. Ultimately, they’re just a shitty industrial band -- probably worse than Ministry or Prong -- who think they can overcome their drabness by filling their music with creepy stalker poetry and Bill Hicks references. You know why Tool songs often drone on for more than ten minutes? Because it gives you ample time to get up and find something better to do with your life, that’s why.

Who Should Have Been Popular Instead? 

Far and away the best death metal band of all-time, and pretty much the act responsible for turning the genre from a goofy thrash offshoot into arguably the most intellectual and technically demanding genre out there. Truly intelligent people listen to “Human” and “Symbolic” -- mush heads keep waiting for Maynard James Keenan to write another song about egg recipes.

Nine Inch Nails

And speaking of shitty industrial acts, hey ya’ll its Trent Reznor and pals!

Really, NIN shouldn’t have had a career after “Pretty Hate Machine.” “Head Like a Hole” should’ve made them a one-hit-wonder, and they should’ve faded away into obscurity by the time the mid 1990s arrived. But somehow, they managed to become goth-rock-Prozac heroes with “The Downward Spiral,” the techno-metal-emo magnum opus that’s probably been the soundtrack to more teen suicides than any other album in history.

Magazines like Spin and Rolling Stone praised NIN for being “emotional” and “innovative,” which is codeword for “playing like shit, but since its arty, we want to sound enlightened too, so we like it.” With a rock world tired of “woe-is-me” mopey  flannel shirt shit-grunge, Reznor had the business sense to cook up some “woe-is-me” mopey black fingernail polish electro-shit-emo to fill the lucrative void created by Kurt Cobain’s doped up corpse. Like a turd that won’t flush, they float up to the top of the commode every four or five years, with another boring-ass album that sounds just like the last one, but rest assured, the NPR crowd will eat it up, anyway. They say all you need to make it in show-business is talent, hard work and a hell of a marketing campaign. Thanks to NIN, we know now you only need one of those to thrive in the recording industry.

Who Should Have Been Popular Instead? 

Quite possibly the best pure rock and roll band on the planet, and a group that’s been releasing consistently great dope smoke rock since the early 1990s. With a lead singer who looks just like the dude from “American Movie,” Monster Magnet is the kind of old school rock act that knows how to rip it up and get groovy at the same time. Whereas NIN is overproduced, computerized drabness, Monster Magnet is raw, mechanical sexualized fury -- in short, everything that makes actual rock and roll fucking awesome.


AFI was -- and still is -- the Backstreet Boys of goth music. 98 percent of their fan base are prepubescent teen girls (who may be in their late 30s by now), who dream of being seduced by some 120 pound weakling with a lip ring while “Invader Zim” romantically plays in the background. AFI is a pseudo-band who makes pseudo-music, and they’ve undoubtedly made a lot of money courting the Hot Topics crowd like Jerry Lewis serenading kids to the gas chamber.

AFI was NEVER a real punk band. Even their ‘90s stuff was more “Green Day” than “Suicide Machines,” and their post “Girl’s Not Grey” stuff might as well be considered Top 40 pop. Their dark-romantic-Victorian-kinda-emo-straight-edge hook is one of the most noticeably formulaic in all of music -- their songs seem structured to sell iTunes downloads to fat punk chicks who would recoil in disgust at G.G. Allin’s mere visage.

There’s not much of a difference between AFI and the All-American Rejects or Fallout Boy, except maybe the clothing is darker. It’s major record label, niche target youth-baiting claptrap all the same, made worse because AFI and their fans actually think they’re a real band. Show me someone who enjoys AFI’s music, and I’ll show you someone with about as much depth as a drained kiddy pool.

Who Should Have Been Popular Instead? 

Yes, GWAR, the group of Virginia art school students who dressed up like outer space bacon monsters and did stage shows filled with fake amputation and gallons of synthetic blood. To the untrained eye, it was all goofy showmanship, until you actually paid heed to the band’s lyrics, which were among the most subversively intelligent political satire of the last two decades. AFI are a bunch of rich pretty boys in eyeliner, whereas GWAR were a bunch of ugly motherfuckers who knew what TRUE art looked, sounded and sometimes smelled like. They were true audiovisual entertainment, not the commodified, Super Target discount bin-ready corp-pop that AFI has been for at least the last ten years.

Tori Amos

I don’t know which I detest more: Tori Amos, or Tori Amos fans. Let’s pick apart both, why don’t we?

Despite all of the accolades she receives,  Tori Amos is really nothing more than the female equivalent of Ben Folds. Except Ben Folds has dexterity, and he has the good sense to not make super-long paens to rape and domestic abuse staples of his catalog. EVERY goddamn Tori Amos song sounds the same -- breathless, absurdly forced egocentrically emotional pornography. “Look at me, I’m a woman, men are bad, I’ve been through bad stuff, women are good.” That’s pretty much the lyrical range to the entire Amos discography. PJ Harvey more or less had the same gimmick, but at least she has a decent voice -- Amos usually sounds like a raspy-throated Disney on Ice singer who stopped giving a shit a long time ago.

And goddamn, are Tori fans the most annoying throng of wannabe intellectual artistes this side of the Animal Collective fan club. They’re all so emotionally distraught over the most menial wrongs that have occurred to them. The aggregate Amos fan isn’t some chronically abused outsider, but some suburban mall rat whose worst day ever was the time she got the wrong coffee at Starbucks and what’s-his-name from geometry class never accepted her friend request. Liz Phair beats the shit out of Tori Amos any day of the week -- I’d rather listen to a scratched disc version of “Exile on Guyville” than ANYTHING this overrated ginger has crapped out.

Who Should Have Been Popular Instead?

Matthew Sweet is the single most underrated artist of the 1990s, and under complete obscurity, he’s released nearly thirty years worth of the best guitar-driven power pop in the history of recorded music. If you want overblown, self-righteous sentimentalism, Amos is your girl; when you’re ready for no-frills, old-school emotional rock and roll, Matthew Sweet is waiting for you.


In a just world, Radiohead would have gone the way of Wax, Greta and Quicksand. “Creep” would have been a popular contemporary hit, their follow-up albums would have sold like crap and with enough luck, Thom Yorke would’ve died of a heroin overdose sometime in 1998. Alas, the winds of fate have blown the other direction, and as a global society, we’ve all had to suffer.

There’s no way around it: Radiohead is the pussiest band in history. They make Morrissey sound like Slayer and The Cure sound like Deicide in their prime. You MIGHT be able to give their guitarist credit, but that still leaves three-fourths a shitty band to deal with. And then, there’s the discography as a whole.

“OK Computer” is the most overrated album of the 1990s, and its not even close. From “Kid A” to “In Rainbows,” they’re discography hasn’t gotten any better, with their subdued, low-key high production value-low-fi sound becoming the aural template for countless Euro and US suck-core acts such as The Killers and Coldplay. More than any band of the last 30 years, Radiohead has been the most responsible for popularizing wuss-rock, the effeminate, absurdly morose wannabe art house genre that more or less represents rock and roll music as a whole today. For that alone, Radiohead deserves the world’s collective scorn. And they probably deserve even more than that for simply being Radiohead.

Who Should Have Been Popular Instead?

Most folks only know Local H for their minor 1996 hit “Bound for the Floor,” and that’s a real shame. Unbeknownst to 99 percent of humanity, the Chicago post-grunge act has gone on to release outstanding album after outstanding album ever since, producing super-smart alternative rock that puts all of those egghead college rock groups to shame. Radiohead is music people listen to because they think it makes them look hip and intellectual; Local H is the kind of music people listen to because hot damn, does it ever rock.

Neutral Milk Hotel

Without hyperbole, “In the Aeroplane over the Sea” is the single worst thing I’ve ever heard in my life, and I once heard the death scream of a kitten before. I’m not trying to sound acerbically humorous when I state that I have no earthly idea how anyone could find this type of “music” pleasurable. It’s so pretentious, and inauthentic and insincere -- authentically shitty music, I can handle, but disingenuous shit like this? It’s the absolute worst of the worst.

Neutral Milk Hotel isn’t a band. I’m convinced of it. It’s actually some kind of far-reaching, longitudinal MK Ultra experiment on mimetic desirability or something. The masterminds at DARPA used algorithms to create the absolute shittiest kind of music possible, and via media engineering, have convinced all of the pop music barons that it’s actually great, and since kids today are a bunch of mush heads who can’t think for themselves, they too, have convinced themselves that NMH is, and I definitely quote here, “good music.”

Between Jeff Mangum’s make-believe hillbilly yelp, the band’s inability to find a rhythm of any sort and the group’s sickeningly avant-garde for the sake of being avant-garde shtick (hey, let’s make an alt-country concept album about Anne Frank!), Neutral Milk Hotel is -- without question -- the single worst alt rock act to achieve critical or financial success in the 1990s. They may not have recorded any music since 1999, but they made enough shit from 1992 onward to forever leave their undeniable streak mark on the industry. I can be flexible on most things, but if you’re into Neutral Milk Hotel, I automatically hate you. It’s something much worse than having bad taste -- it’s a sign you, as an individual, have absolutely zero ability to think beyond what shitrags such as Pitchfork tell you to. To summarize: fuck Neutral Milk Hotel, and everyone on planet Earth who likes them.

Who Should Have Been Popular Instead? 

If you want REAL alt country, it doesn’t get any better than Vic Chesnutt, the Athens, Ga. singer-songwriter who is probably best known for being the guy in the wheelchair in “Sling Blade.” With soulful, haunting songs about faith, disease and depression, Chesnutt was an artist who really made music that connected with you. As insincere as Neutral Milk Hotel is, Vic Chesnutt is every bit the real deal; as much as you owe it to yourself to avoid Jeff Mangum, you definitely owe it to yourself to give Chesnutt a thorough listening.


  1. I like a few Tori Amos songs a lot, but you are correct when you say Liz Phair is much better. Her debut is still incredible and puts all the other "angry woman" CDs to shame. And she still released some good material afterwards, despite what her critics may think.

  2. Fuck off, Radiohead are legendary you tedious cunt. Try listening to them rather than repeating third hand outdated criticism that never applied anyway.

  3. I thought this guy was trying to be serious, but then he called Tool boring (a weird criticism, but legitimate nonetheless) and suggested Monster Magnet- perhaps the blandest group of people to ever pick up instruments- as an alternative. Then I got to GWAR and realized it's trolling.

  4. what a retard, Radiohead is not overrated at all

  5. what a retard, Radiohead is not overrated at all

  6. None of the stuff listed here is any good except for Death, and their magnum opus was released in the 80s.

  7. Couldn't agree more that NMH is a steaming pile of pretentious shit.


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