We can all agree that Creed was a terrible band. Front man Scott Stapp was like Eddie Vedder if Eddie Vedder lacked charisma, self-awareness and the ability to write a halfway decent tune. The band’s fake-brooding style and sanctimonious lyrics didn’t do them any favors, and Creed’s domination of late-'90s pop-rock radio overexposed the band to even its most ardent fans.
In short, I turn the channel as soon as Creed comes on the radio, unless that Creed song is “My Own Prison.” See, Creed – like a number of others – was a terrible band that didn’t always produce terrible music. So with Stapp playing a solo gig at the Pub Foundations in Stafford on Saturday, let’s take a look back at ten mediocre artists who, in spite of themselves, occasionally produced quality music.
10. THE BRAVERY
“An Honest Mistake” (2005)
There was a time when the Bravery and the Killers were considered rivals. Both were American bands that sounded British. Both rode the synth-dance wave to mainstream success in the mid-2000s. Each featured an arrogant-yet-magnetic front man in Sam Endicott and Brandon Flowers, respectively. And both stormed the mainstream with a smashing lead single – the Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” and the Bravery’s “An Honest Mistake.” The Killers followed that up with other hits, such as “Somebody Told Me” and “Smile Like You Mean It.” The Bravery followed “An Honest Mistake” with singles that, unfortunately, weren’t “An Honest Mistake.”
9. MOTLEY CRUE
“Kickstart My Heart” (1989)
Mötley Crüe is Patient Zero in the case study of bad bands who sell millions of records despite a catalog that pretty much sounds the same; see Poison and early Linkin Park for other examples. But what the Crüe lacks in talent, it more than makes up for in rock-star cred. Tommy Lee drums upside down and uses Playboy as his own personal Match.com. Vince Neil killed a guy. And Nikki Sixx momentarily died of a drug overdose, which, coincidentally enough, inspired the band’s best single.
8. PAPA ROACH
The lyrics aren’t especially deep; after all, it’s a Papa Roach song. That said, there’s a certain talent to crafting a pop-rock hit, and Papa Roach nails it on this one. Take note of how the music and lyrics energetically progress into the chorus – this song was tailor-made for a stadium-size singalong.
7. MASTER P
“Ghetto D” (1997)
No one was ever going to confuse Master P for Rakim, not with tracks like “Make ‘Em Say Uhh” and “I Got the Hook Up.” That said, the opening and title track to P’s multi-platinum Ghetto D literally provides a crash course in how to cook and distribute crack cocaine. Plus, it features P’s brother, Silkk the Shocker, the best of all the No Limit Soldiers.
“Wait and Bleed” (1999)
A melodic thrash song that was somehow catchy enough to launch the band onto the rock radio scene. The good news – this song is awesome. The bad news – it exposed the world to every Slipknot song that followed.
5. LIMP BIZKIT
“Take a Look Around” (2000)
Look, no song penned by Fred Durst is gonna get confused with Abbey Road. But this track – the lead single from the Mission: Impossible 2 soundtrack – personifies a band that had finally found its platinum-selling comfort zone. Plus, “Take a Look Around” earned the distinction of being literally the only good thing to result from Mission: Impossible 2.
“My Own Prison” (1997)
And here we are. The chorus is catchy, Stapp successfully channels his inner poor-man’s Vedder and the opening guitar solo kinda sounds like Tool-lite. Many like to hate on Creed, and rightfully so. Stapp’s self-righteous lyrics (later exposed as total BS once his life fell apart) are enough to turn anyone off, and no one will ever accuse Creed of taking chances musically. But before it all went south, and before Stapp started thinking he was Jesus Christ with a microphone, early Creed wasn’t nearly as terrible as some like to recall.
3. IGGY AZALEA feat. CHARLI XCX)
Poor Iggy. She never became the female Eminem. A would-be world tour was cancelled partly because of sluggish ticket sales. And fiancé Nick “Swaggy P” Young was recently outed – by a teammate, no less! – as a serial philanderer. But before it all came undone, Azalea and Charli XCX brought us the song of the summer in 2014.
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2. BACKSTREET BOYS
“I Want It That Way” (1999)
Backstreet Boys were not a good group. Hell, they weren’t even the best boy band of that era. They did, however, produce one of the best pop songs of the late ’90s, a sentimental ballad (a boy band staple) that beautifully crescendos into the final chorus. Hey, Justin Timberlake wasn’t the only good thing to emerge from the late ’90s boy band boom.
Is there any other band that could occupy the top spot on this list? No, no, there is not. Before Nickelback became a musical punchline while souring airwaves with pop-rock cheese like “Photograph” and “Rockstar,” the band wasn’t that bad. Basically, Nickelback was the Canadian Creed, and “Breathe” was its “My Own Prison” – a solid track that set the table for years of decidedly non-solid followups.