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

17. (tie) The Offspring

Analysis: History is littered with players whose influence you have to appreciate even if their actual work makes you uncomfortable. You know, people like Genghis Khan, Machiavelli, and Barry Goldwater. So that makes The Offspring the Barry Goldwater of 90s punk — fanatical leaders who sparked a strain of ideological revivalism among a mostly suburban white following.
Commercial Success: 6.5
Influence: 7
Technical Virtuosity: 4.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 6
VARB: 6
Score: 6.0/10

17. (tie) Coldplay

Analysis: U2 is too iconic to make this list. Bands who spent their entire career watering down what sounds like the most watered-down U2 songs are not.
Commercial Success: 9.5
Influence: 7
Technical Virtuosity: 4.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 3
VARB: 6
Score: 6.0/10

17. (tie) Black Eyed Peas

Analysis: If the Black Eyed Peas can somehow found gainful employment for a man who willingly calls himself “apl.de.ap,” then truly anything is possible.
Commercial Success: 9.5
Influence: 6
Technical Virtuosity: 4.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 3
VARB: 7
Score: 6.0/10

15. (tie) Dave Matthews Band

Analysis: The DMB touring bus once dropped 800 pounds of human excrement on a tourist boat in Chicago, and that’s still somehow not the shittiest thing to come out of that band over the course of their career. But props to them for being the most musically talented band that’s popular among the nation’s wealth management consultants.
Commercial Success: 7
Influence: 5.5
Technical Virtuosity: 8
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 4
VARB: 6
Score: 6.1/10

15. (tie) Green Day

Analysis: Is Green Day a good band? No. But does it matter? No. Being shitty was key to what made Green Day so great, and that worked for way longer than it probably should have.
Commercial Success: 7.5
Influence: 7
Technical Virtuosity: 4
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 6.5
VARB: 5.5
Score: 6.1/10

11. (tie) The Eagles

Analysis: Has their ever been a more perfect fusion of city (Los Angeles) and band (The Eagles) in the history of rock music? Both are loud, brash, obnoxious, fun when you’re high on cocaine, and ridden with sexually transmitted diseases.
Commercial Success: 9.5
Influence: 5.5
Technical Virtuosity: 6.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 2.5
VARB: 7
Score: 6.2/10

11. (tie) Foreigner

Analysis: Imagine you were putting together a movie about a fake hard rock band from the 70s and 80s, but the music they played was only real-life Foreigner songs. You couldn’t do it, because those songs are such stereotypically late 70s shit rock that it would literally be unbelievable. It’s great to be good at what you do, but if what you do is write and perform “Juke Box Hero” well into your 70s, then you might have a problem.
Commercial Success: 6.5
Influence: 6
Technical Virtuosity: 6
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 6.5
VARB: 6
Score: 6.2/10

11. (tie) Oasis

Analysis: The band that launched a hundred thousand shitty coffeehouse cover songs. What’s worst is that out of all the shitty bands in the course of history, Oasis definitely thought they were the most important. They’re not, but they were definitely the most obnoxious.

Commercial Success: 8
Influence: 6
Technical Virtuosity: 6
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 4.5
VARB: 6.5
Score: 6.2/10

11. (tie) The Proclaimers

Analysis: It’s unclear if their music is great or terrible, which indicates that they absolutely deserve to be at the top of this list — a group who’s great either in spite of or because of their terribleness.
Commercial Success: 6.5
Influence: 4
Technical Virtuosity: 5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 8.5
VARB: 7
Score: 6.2/10

10. Genesis

Analysis: Phil Collins sucks. Peter Gabriel sucks. Prog rock sucks. And putting the three together sucks the most.
Commercial Success: 7
Influence: 7
Technical Virtuosity: 8
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 4
VARB: 5.5
Score: 6.3/10

9. Devo

Analysis: Ping them for “Whip It” and the nerd hipster rock they’d bring about two decades later — if their music came out in 2009, Pitchfork would give them an automatic 9.2. But don’t even try to say that this video isn’t awesome.
Commercial Success: 4.5
Influence: 8
Technical Virtuosity: 6.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 6.5
VARB: 7
Score: 6.5/10

7. (tie) Journey

Analysis: A band physically incapable of not making mega-hits, and “Don’t Stop Believing” is the ultimate song you can love ironically or love earnestly, but can’t not love, no matter how much you wish you didn’t.
Commercial Success: 8.5
Influence: 4
Technical Virtuosity: 6.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 8
VARB: 6
Score: 6.6/10

7. (tie) Thin Lizzy

Analysis: Lots of things are fucking awesome about Thin Lizzy, including (but not limited to) their politics, race, and shitty rock. A band from both sides of the Irish border, and both sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide, with a black lead singer-slash-BASSIST playing heavy blues rock?? That’s awesome even without their music, which was the perfect distillation of what this list is about.
Commercial Success: 7
Influence: 4.5
Technical Virtuosity: 7
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 7.5
VARB: 7
Score: 6.6/10

6. Mumford & Sons

Analysis: In a vacuum, Mumford and Sons are surprisingly probably not that shitty of a band. But what’s really terrible about Mumford has always been the attitude and music they engendered, from assholes in chukkas playing banjos to The Lumineers. Listening to acoustic-ish music and wearing wayfarers doesn’t make you a better person, no matter how much you’d like to think that it does.
Commercial Success: 7.5
Influence: 8
Technical Virtuosity: 6
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 4
VARB: 8
Score: 6.7/10

5. The Monkees

Analysis: The OG’s of the GSBOAT category, The Monkees all but invented the shitty-but-awesome band. They were a joke, but they were in on the joke, and they earnestly embraced both the goofiness of themselves and the music they played (and played well). Bands like KISS or Blink-182, who traded in the idea of what it means to be a rock band while also mocking that very existence, owe everything they have to “I’m a Believer.”
Commercial Success: 8
Influence: 6
Technical Virtuosity: 6
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 6
VARB: 8
Score: 6.8/10

4. Red Hot Chili Peppers

Analysis: Any old band can put socks on their dicks and get on this list. But it takes a special kind of shittiness to do a good job while performing with socks on your dick.
Commercial Success: 8
Influence: 8
Technical Virtuosity: 7
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 3
VARB: 8.5
Score: 6.9/10

3. Meat Loaf

Analysis: Meat Loaf has sold approximately 80 million more albums than he ever should have. Somehow people like him, despite his cover art looking like it was designed by an 11th grader with photoshop in 2002. It doesn’t get more gloriously shitty than good ole Meat Loaf.
Commercial Success: 9
Influence: 3
Technical Virtuosity: 8
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 8.5
VARB: 7
Score: 7.1/10

2. KISS

Analysis: KISS didn’t just invent shit rock, they just about perfected it too. No joke was ever so enjoyable or so real than KISS, with their earnest belief in the ridiculousness that is fundamental to being a great shitty band.
Commercial Success: 7.5
Influence: 6
Technical Virtuosity: 6.5
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 9
VARB: 7
Score: 7.2/10

1. Blink-182

Analysis: Blink-182 is the platonic ideal of a shitty band: Loud, obnoxious, probably not that talented, outlandishly popular among girls you had a crush on in middle school, and fun as hell. At first you were embarrassed to say how much you enjoy them, until you realize that everybody else loves them too. Have no shame — Blink-182 worked hard to produce 2-and-a-half minutes of pure pop joy that takes absolutely zero effort to enjoy, and they own their shittiness until it’s a part of impeccable the Blink-182 brand.

Blink-182 is love. Blink-182 is life. Blink-182 is unquestionably the greatest shitty band of all time.

Commercial Success: 9
Influence: 8
Technical Virtuosity: 7
Ironic Re-Listening Value: 9
VARB: 9
Score: 8.4/10

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.