Our panel of experts answer the age-old question.

Who are the 100 Greatest Shitty Bands of All Time?

November 13, 2015 / by , , , , , , , / 4 Comments

39. (tie) Foghat

Analysis: “Slow Ride” sucked so hard on Guitar Hero. Foghat just sucks even harder, but in the same kinda great way that “Slow Ride” is great, by making you feel like you just did an 8 ball while driving your semi straight across I-80.
Commercial Success: 5
Influence: 3
Technical Virtuosity: 6.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 6
VARB: 5.5
Score: 5.2/10

39. (tie) Grand Funk Railroad

Analysis: Wait, was Grand Funk Railroad the direct predecessor to the Red Hot Chili Peppers? And, if so, would that make things better, or worse?
Commercial Success: 5.5
Influence: 3
Technical Virtuosity: 6.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 5
VARB: 6
Score: 5.2/10

39. (tie) Kings of Leon

Analysis: They’re not really that bad, and come on, who doesn’t want an excuse to listen to “Sex on Fire”? To be honest, Kings of Leon’s biggest crime was insane commercial success that one summer and having a really, really dumb name.
Commercial Success: 6.5
Influence: 4
Technical Virtuosity: 6
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 3.5
VARB: 6
Score: 5.2/10

35. (tie) Hootie and the Blowfish

Analysis: Hootie stumbled into a formula to make music as bland and inoffensive as possible in order to create an album that just about every human in America would purchase. Every record sold at Starbucks owes everything to Cracked Rear View.
Commercial Success: 8
Influence: 7
Technical Virtuosity: 3.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 2
VARB: 6
Score: 5.3/10

35. (tie) REO Speedwagon

Analysis: Do you like power ballads? How about long, curly hair on skinny white guys? Have you ever drank Rolling Rock in a bar in Peoria, IL? If so, then by god, REO Speedwagon is the band for you.

Also, and we don’t say this lightly, but we cannot even with that music video. That is hands down the greatest shitty music video ever crafted by an American with a video camera.
Commercial Success: 6
Influence: 3
Technical Virtuosity: 6.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 7
VARB: 4
Score: 5.3/10

35. (tie) Matchbox 20

Analysis: One of the first bands to really perfect the whole “acoustic guitars making your mom wet” thing. That’s not necessarily a compliment, but Rob Thomas did call dibs.
Commercial Success: 7
Influence: 4
Technical Virtuosity: 5.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 4
VARB: 6
Score: 5.3/10

35. (tie) Blur

Analysis: Blur is nothing but self-indulgent irony, but it isn’t even that fun of a joke. At least we can rest happy knowing that they totally deserved to lose to Oasis in the “self-indulgent asshole British band” battle of the 90s.
Commercial Success: 6.5
Influence: 5
Technical Virtuosity: 6
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 3
VARB: 6
Score: 5.3/10

33. (tie) Hole

Analysis: Hole proved that chicks could rock, and got rewarded for that by being erased from 90s alternative rock history. That’s partly because of sexism, and maybe in part because Love killed Cobain.
Commercial Success: 4.5
Influence: 7.5
Technical Virtuosity: 7
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 4
VARB: 4
Score: 5.4/10

33. (tie) Maroon 5

Analysis: If there’s two things Maroon 5 has nailed down, it’s being sexy and selling a gazillion records despite being pretty shitty. That’s some impressive work, Adam Levine.
Commercial Success: 8.5
Influence: 6
Technical Virtuosity: 4
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 5
VARB: 3.5
Score: 5.4/10

30. (tie) Styx

Analysis: So we can understand how suburban America got pretty into nu metal in the late 90s. It’s not forgivable, but we can at least understand the broader context that led to that tragedy taking place.

But we cannot for the life of us understand how the Midwest got so into such tremendously shitty bands like Styx, Kansas, Jethro Tull, etc. in the 70s and 80s. They’re weird, they’re dumb, and they’re lame, and yet thousands of people will go to the Horseshoe Casino to see Styx perform next time they’re coming through Des Moines with Journey. Maybe it’s just that these bands actually showed some love back to the Midwest and toured the crap out of second, third, and fourth tier towns, while so much of the rest of America/American bands couldn’t give less of a shit about what was in between Chicago and Los Angeles.

Call us crazy, but this band’s image just doesn’t jive with my conception of Blue Collar America:

Greatest Shitty Band of All Time

Commercial Success: 7
Influence: 4
Technical Virtuosity: 6.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 5
VARB: 5
Score: 5.5/10

30. (tie) Duran Duran

Analysis: Why do people like Duran Duran? They shouldn’t, because Duran Duran blows chunks. Even when people are clearly told that Duran Duran blows chunks, they insist on continuing to like Duran Duran. The world is a terrible place.
Commercial Success: 9
Influence: 6
Technical Virtuosity: 6
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 3
VARB: 3.5
Score: 5.5/10

30. (tie) The Doors

Analysis: Alcoholic assholes aren’t poets, they’re assholes. That distinction was mostly lost, however, on Jim Morrison. What’s most infuriating in the end about The Doors is that they constantly wavered between greatness and absolutely intolerableness.
Commercial Success: 6
Influence: 7.5
Technical Virtuosity: 7
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 2
VARB: 5
Score: 5.5/10

29. Jethro Tull

Analysis: ROCK FLUTE! ROCK AND ROLL FREAKIN’ JAZZ FLUTE!

Nothing will catapult you to the upper echelons of this list quite like a grown-ass man unironically whipping out a goddamn rock n roll flute solo.

Commercial Success: 5.5
Influence: 4.5
Technical Virtuosity: 8
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 4
VARB: 6
Score: 5.6/10

24. (tie) 2 Live Crew

Analysis: 2 Live Crew was the perfect group to capture the ethos of an incredible moment in the struggle against censorship and racism and Florida. Too bad the music just wasn’t that good.
Commercial Success: 3
Influence: 8
Technical Virtuosity: 4
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 7
VARB: 6.5
Score: 5.7/10

24. (tie) Santana

Analysis: Naming a band after yourself? Really? REALLY?
Commercial Success: 8.5
Influence: 4
Technical Virtuosity: 9
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 2
VARB: 5
Score: 5.7/10

24. (tie) Def Leppard

Analysis: What’s so great about Def Leppard, and what makes them an especially great shitty band is that, looking at their music videos, there is no questioning that they were 100% absofuckinglutely earnest about what they were doing. Which is crazy, because have you watched those music videos?
Commercial Success: 6
Influence: 2.5
Technical Virtuosity: 6.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 8
VARB: 5.5
Score: 5.7/10

24. (tie) Molly Hatchet

Analysis: Molly Hatchet is a black mark on the GSBOAT standings, but one with which we must come to terms. Their music was shitty. Their fans were shitty. And worst of all, their iconography ranged from dweebily shitty to terrible-racist-ly shitty.
Commercial Success: 4
Influence: 8
Technical Virtuosity: 6
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 7
VARB: 3.5
Score: 5.7/10

24. (tie) Jimmy Eat World

Analysis: Looking back now, Jimmy Eat World feels like a glimmering shimmer of what pop-punk could have been. They’re a band that fundamentally understood pop mechanics: three chords, keep it uptempo, and get the fuck to the chorus right away.
Commercial Success: 6
Influence: 4
Technical Virtuosity: 6.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 6
VARB: 6
Score: 5.7/10

22. (tie) Three 6 Mafia

Analysis: Bringing crunk to the Oscars was the best thing ever. Too bad it was also the best thing Three 6 ever did.
Commercial Success: 6
Influence: 6
Technical Virtuosity: 6.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 4.5
VARB: 6
Score: 5.8/10

22. (tie) Counting Crows

Analysis: The Counting Crows aren’t cool. They’re more popular than Nirvana, but they also perpetrated heinous acts on Joni Mitchell’s catalog and on innocent Americans with “Accidentally in Love.” The jury’s still out on whether they’re just Train with a better college education, or Pavement if Pavement was less interested in getting high and more interested in getting laid. Or maybe it’s a little of both.
Commercial Success: 8
Influence: 6
Technical Virtuosity: 6
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 2.5
VARB: 6.5
Score: 5.8/10

20. (tie) Bon Jovi

Analysis: Hair metal sucked, but nobody made something so shitty feel so right like Bon Jovi and their perfectly identical perms.
Commercial Success: 8
Influence: 5.5
Technical Virtuosity: 6
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 3
VARB: 7
Score: 5.9/10

20. (tie) Chicago
Analysis: I know the ’80s were rough on a lot of people, but how the actual shit can a band go from this:

to this:

or, worse, this:

over the course of one presidential administration?

Commercial Success: 8
Influence: 5.5
Technical Virtuosity: 6
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 3
VARB: 7
Score: 5.9/10

100-80 | 79-60 | 59-40 | 39-20 | 19-1


  • mysticnox

    You seriously have no taste.

  • Thaddeus lovelock

    A great list.

  • 136 or 142

    Agree with many here, disagree with some.

    The one very well known band that is considered to have made great music that I think are terrible are The Who.

    I like a lot of solo Pete Townsend and I guess Roger Daltrey is ok as well, but together I thought their music was loud, lacked melody and annoying and Pete Townsend mostly didn’t sing but shouted, and sounded very unpleasant doing so.

    I like Squeeze Box but that’s about it.

    I wouldn’t include them on this list because they’ve done some decent songs, but I also think Led Zeppelin is enormously overrated. I’d consider them as overrated as The Doors, who are on your list.

  • Isaiah Ounce

    Great list, but Pink Floyd should rank very high here.