We don't always hate John Mayer. No, really. Sometimes dude seems downright likable, like when he's hanging out in the Comedy Cellar in NYC, or releasing self-effacing web videos, or popping up for cavalier, amusing chats with our XM favorites Ron & Fez. Even his Twitter account is worth reading on a regular basis. And who could forget his appearance on Chappelle's Show? We haven't. But then we hear one of Mayer's songs, and our goodwill instantly evaporates. From the simpering nature of the lyrics to the ultra-diluted, pinch-of-blues pop "rock" they're wrapped in, there isn't a single thing about his music that doesn't irritate the living shit out of us. Is anyone still buying his "lovesick troubadour" act? Does anyone besides the shallowest of pre-teens listen to his lyrics and think, "I relate to this"? And for God's sake, do girls really fall for shit like "Your Body Is a Wonderland"? The old "Nice shoes... wanna fuck?" is more sincere. Since Mayer sells himself in song as an all-too-sensitive wisp of a soul, we're going to take that at face value and present some artists manlier than John Mayer. 1. Paolo Nutini: Joining Mayer in the "Largely Impactless Pop-Rock Mostly About Apologies" genre, Nutini is another in a long line of musicians who your girlfriend claims to hate because you hate them, but whose babies she secretly wants to birth. His gentle Scottish warble sends shivers down her spine even while she curses herself. Don't be judgmental, though; remember, it's mainly due to us men that Paris Hilton ever had a career. Guys in the doghouse, you can score huge brownie points by taking your girl to Nutini's show Friday at Warehouse Live without even being asked. Finishing Move: Nutini will use his foreign charm to steal huge chunks of Mayer's female fanbase, then coerce one of his converts into poisoning Mayer's morning latte.
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2. Moby: Tiny and fey even for the electronica set, strident vegan Moby's soft-spoken activism has always been undermined by his palpable insecurity. In the liner notes of his Animal Rights CD, he begged "Please listen to Animal Rights in its entirety at least once," as if apologizing for it ahead of time. What Moby - who visits Warehouse Live October 2 - should have apologized for are the long-winded, humor-free screeds included with each of his albums. Just because you know how to work an 808 doesn't mean we want to know your feelings on runaway consumerism, okay? Finishing Move: Presenting a small target, Moby will evade Mayer's punches just like Floyd "Money" Mayweather, the entire time spouting off endlessly his opinions on politics, religion and anything else that catches his eye. By the fourth round, Mayer will be so mentally and physically exhausted that Moby can simply push him over. 3. Conor Oberst: Indie-emo darling turned folk-protest maven Oberst has been in more bands in his 29 years than Mayer has songs that are secretly about the clitoris -- well, maybe not, but it's close. The Bright Eyes frontman is a pescetarian and a vocal supporter of PETA and Barack Obama. Known for his never-quite-complete songwriting method and vulnerable, emotional lyrics, Oberst makes us wish there was a stronger word than "bleat" to describe his singing style. Seriously, we like the guy, but it gets pretty sheep-like at times. Finishing Move: Oberst would simply find Mayer at a rally for one of the causes they both support, sneak up behind him, and bash him over the head with one of Oberst's many acoustic guitars he almost certainly claims were once owned by Woody Guthrie. 4. Pink: You won't have to go to her concert (September 24 at Toyota Center) to see that Pink is kind of a badass; just listen to her songs or watch an interview or two. Not only will you be forced to notice her strong athletic build, but it will become obvious that she's more than ready to unload on any target worth her ire, and completely unwilling to take shit from anyone. We're not going to lie, not only could she hand Mayer a quick ass-flattening, she could march right on and give the folks here at Rocks Off a thorough shellacking as well - except for maybe William Michael Smith; that guy is way ornery and we're pretty sure packs at least three switchblades at all times. We're not completely averse to the idea of getting beat up by Pink, either, but then again we've got issues that go years back. Finishing Move: We'd like to come up with something clever, but honestly, it probably wouldn't be anything more complicated than a right cross to the jaw. 5. Lady Gaga: Too obvious? Maybe so, but we really, really wanted to share this video. Finishing Move: Simply put: Mayer will be dick-slapped into a bloody mess. The CSI boys will have never seen so many mushroom-shaped contusions in all their lives. Billy "The Kid" Grabowski, the rookie, will vomit copiously into the bushes, and for the first time since he's been on the job, the veterans on the force will not tease him about it in any way. Their jaws set grimly, one will simply mutter "I hate this goddamn job." 6. Taylor Hicks: Forecasts call for a fast-moving front of suck to hit the Houston area around the evening of September 14, when Hicks and his thoroughly soulless white bread rhythm(less) & blues(-free) act play Warehouse Live. Packing all the punch of a wet handkerchief thrown by a polio-stricken toddler, Hicks is able, simply by opening his mouth, to profoundly and immediately remind us all that American Idol and all its spin-offs and clones are nothing more than the worst kind of culture poison. Conceived in a Petri dish some years ago by mixing DNA from Michaels Bolton and McDonald, Hicks was raised and sent back to this worldly plane by the Devil himself, something you may have seen him tearfully apologizing for on Dateline last year. "I went too far, it's just too much," sobbed the Prince of Darkness; "I wanted him to be awful, but he was never supposed to be this fucking awful." Finishing Move: John Mayer's genuine love of the music he butchers will be his downfall; Hicks' jaw will unhinge and he will begin singing a hymn of horror and sorrow that will cause Mayer's head to burst like an overripe persimmon, shortly before the Earth itself twists into a black hole, obliterating us all like we were never here. Unfortunately, guess which world-ending Devil-spawn will be waiting for us in Hell with an all-new roster of indescribably mutilated Sam & Dave covers. Okay, we admit, we cheated with that last one; Hicks only beats Mayer not by being manlier, but by being so much shittier. Honestly, Taylor Hicks makes John Mayer look like Muddy Waters with three dozen extra testicles driving a monster truck made out of the swords of fallen Knights Templar. We also feel it's worth mentioning that Mayer just a few days ago donated a bunch of money to some animal rescue charities, thereby furthering our "Good guy, terrible music" theory.