Last month Forbes released their list of the 25 highest-earning musicians of 2010, and the list contains several talents Rocks Off is happy to see keeping the lights on. No. 1 on the list, U2, is still a favorite of ours after all these years, and it's always good to see Tom Petty, Jay-Z, and Beyonce doing well.
Even some of the performers we really don't like, we can understand why they're on the list. Justin Bieber, for instance, while not our preferred brand of music, is undeniably an international phenomenon. And although we hate everything Bon Jovi has done except for exactly five songs - go ahead, guess which ones - the guy is a massive success and has enjoyed that success long enough to see pretty much every band on modern country radio start sounding exactly like one song he wrote more than 20 years ago.
We feel like some of the people on that list, however, don't belong, are inconsequential, or could be easily replaced. Here are the five most glaring examples of performers who made way too much money last year.
5. Boyd Tinsley, Dave Matthews Band
We've got nothing against this guy, personally. Yet since 1995, whenever we've been unfortunate enough to be forced to watch lawyer-rock mainstays Dave Matthews Band perform, there he's been, sawing away on his tiny fiddle and grinning like an asshole. Why is he there? Does he add anything to Matthews' notoriously mediocre songs? Is he supposed to add some kind of country flavor to the sound, or maybe some kind of Celtic vibe? Because he doesn't.
If not for his conspicuous appearance and the occasional solo, we wouldn't even realize he was there. Now, couldn't that have been said for any member of the Dave Matthews Band? Of course. But as a fiddle player, and a giant African-American one at that, Tinsley's sound should ideally be as distinctive as his appearance. As it is, every time we're flipping through the channels and come to rest on a DMB performance, we're always somewhat surprised to see him.
"Oh right... that guy," we think to ourselves, before changing the channel.
4. Toby Keith
Toby Keith has done a lot of admirable work performing for and otherwise supporting American troops. Literally everything else he's done has been entirely loathesome. From his terrible music to his thoughtless, un-American attacks on the Dixie Chicks, Keith's work is a parade of macho redneck overcompensation combined with a sense of naked commercialism rivaled only by Gene Simmons.
We were surprised it took Ford as long as it did to stick him in their commercials, considering both are towering icons for fake country-boy bravado with little actual substance beneath. He seems about as authentic as Larry the Cable Guy, and his lyrics are about as clever.
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3. Apl.de.ap & Taboo, The Black Eyed Peas
From a business standpoint, the two smartest things the Black Eyed Peas ever did were 1) Hire a pretty white girl; and 2) sell out. They had a choice: Remain respectable and keep garnering good reviews from critics and cultivate a small but loyal fan base, or start cranking out stupid shit like "Let's Get It Started" and become the sixth-highest-paid performers in the world. The choice doesn't seem to have been a difficult one.
While producer will.i.am and singer Fergie make quantifiable contributions to the band, there's a bit of a remainder. For instance, what does Taboo ever actually do besides model will.i.am's clothes with his admittedly fantastic cheekbones? He seems to rap occasionally, but mainly he's known for being the guy in the Black Eyed Peas whose racial heritage no one seems quite sure of.
Which, we suppose, is slightly better than being known as "the other black guy," a term Rocks Off does not approve of but nonetheless hears bandied around quite a lot in reference to the fourth Black Eyed Pea, apl.de.ap. Although what was he expecting? Apl.de.ap may just be the worst stage name of all time. It seems to be missing several letters, we're not sure how it's pronounced, it unnecessarily and poorly mimics will.i.am's e.e. cummings-esque layout, and it makes one day getting a sponsorship from Microsoft all but impossible.
Name aside, his presence in the group is so thin, we were certain he'd left the band after Bridging the Gap only to rejoin later. This is not the case; he was always there, blending seemlessly into the background until he came up with the bright idea of giving himself a mohawk, so he would at least no longer be mistaken for a piece of furniture.
2. Rascal Flatts
Rascal Flatts play what we like to call homeopathic country music. It's called country music, but it's diluted with other elements - rock, pop, gospel - to the point where little or no actual country particles remain. Nonetheless, they remain astoundingly popular, mostly among churchgoers who are open-minded enough to tolerate the word "ass" once every hundred songs and children too young to know better.
Rocks Off has seen them twice at RodeoHouston, and has been underwhelmed both times by lackluster, passionless performances. They don't make music because they care about music, they make music so that singer and Washington Avenue douchebag prototype Gary Levox can afford only the most finely frosted tips and artifically-ragged Von Dutch shirts.
Even if LeVox didn't look like the kind of guy we'd have to punch outside of a sports bar for refusing to stop drunkenly hitting on our cousin even after she told him she was married, they'd still be one of the least creative, most formulaic, laziest bands working today. But we suppose that's what the homeopathic country audience is looking for.
1. Sean "Puff Puffy P. Diddy Daddy" Combs
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The erstwhile Sean Combs got famous by attaching himself, tick-like, to the underbellies of both the Notorious B.I.G. and The Police, and sadly, that was his creative peak. He's gone on to release uninspired rock collaborations as well as original music without samples which was rightfully ignored by everyone but him, and star in a disastrous reality show well-known for featuring some of the most obnoxious and untalented people ever to appear on television (no mean feat for a reality show).
His recent success has nothing to do with music; he pops up in movies from time to time, and he's a "brand ambassador" for the wildly successful Ciroc vodka. We hope his acting and his commercial endorsements keep him busy, so busy that he never, ever has a chance to return to making music.