Rock History’s Most Notoriously Terrible Lead Singers
It isn’t rock ‘n’ roll without a great frontman (unless, of course, they’re busy successfully going solo), but you wouldn’t know it from the following list of god-awful lead singers running around like jackasses on stage. Based not just on physical appearance, these atrocious frontmen are the reason classic rock is long gone and electronic boom boom rooms are flourishing. So without further ado, here is our ode to rock history’s most notoriously terrible lead singers, the leading cause of death for music’s proudest genre.
Fred Durst, Limp Bizkit
It goes to show that even the most hard-ass rockers aren’t afraid to pander to mainstream success while resting on the shoulders of their guitar players. More of a persona than a singer, Fred Durst prided himself on being the whitest rapper in America since ’94 until Eminem came along and ruined everything. Limp Bizkit’s debut album “Three Dollar Bill, Y’all” was pretty decent (despite its title), but then Durst gave it all up for “The Nookie” and a shot at pop culture’s pearly gates, “TRL.”
Chad Kroeger, Nickelback
Despite selling more rock albums than most alternative bands in the ’00s, Chad Kroeger has managed to piss all over the radio with his overplayed, bleached-out Jesus persona. I can actually hear his stupid hair on the radio, which is why I don’t listen to it anymore. If I hear “How You Remind Me” one more time, I’m just going to snap.
Scott Stapp, Creed
After allegedly going broke, having a meltdown and begging Creed for a reunion, Scott Stapp lost what little respect from people he had left. Consider it another self-imposed God complex that eventually shriveled down to someone actually wanting a Creed reunion. “With Arms Wide Open,” you say? How about “With Ears Fully Plugged” instead? Not even Creed wants Creed to reunite.
Steve Harwell, Smash Mouth
Steve Harwell must be gluten-free because he hates when fans throw bread at him. Singer of the most infectiously terrible song “All Star,” he has managed to fill our heads with more than a mouthful of his putrid filth despite his mercilessly painful vocals, pencil-thin beard and chubby build. “Hey now, you’re a failure. Take your 15 minutes of fame, go…home.”
Mark McGrath, Sugar Ray
When you can’t cut it in rock ‘n’ roll, you get softer and softer until you have nothing left to offer but token summer songs. Then you switch over to hosting entertainment shows like “Extra.” Mark McGrath was once a fairly hardcore singer — listen to Sugar Ray’s debut album “Lemonade and Brownies”; totally different band — but now the only thing he uses the microphone for is to read cue cards into. Wait, it appears he went solo this year with an EP called “Summertime’s Coming.” SO glad I found out about this in time for the autumnal equinox.
Wes Scantlin, Puddle of Mudd
The poor(er) man’s Kurt Cobain led this hate-alt-rock band with their cookie cutter ’90s style debut album “Abrasive,” which couldn’t have been a better title unless it was called “Aborted.” Despite the band’s absence for more than six years, they managed to squeeze out an album of cover songs in 2011 called “Re:(disc)overed.” Aside from the building number of DUIs on his record, Scantlin has managed to realize they’d be better off playing other people’s songs than making more of his own.
Rob Thomas, Matchbox Twenty
Having both gone solo and collaborated with Santana, we can say with a fair amount of certainty that nothing helps when it comes to Rob Thomas experimentation. That song is still stuck in my head 20 years later. Which one, you ask? All of them. This year marks the release of Thomas’ third solo record “The Great Unknown,” with its first single titled “Trust You.” Well, we trusted you, Rob, and look where that got us.
Axl Rose, Guns N’ Roses
This man needs no introduction, as his general appearance, demeanor, reality persona and haircut — cornrows are coming back around — say it all. There was a rumor he passed away in 2014. Some of us weren’t as relieved as we should have been to discover it wasn’t true.
Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day
“Green Day,” a classic intro to ’90s pop punk, is the plague of the radio today. When “American Idiot” and its countless singles cursed the airwaves, it was the beginning of the end for our love of Billie Joe Armstrong and company. Nothing since 1994’s “Dookie” has been worth a damn. Maybe we’ll give them “Nimrod.” Remember not so long ago when Armstrong freaked out on stage and told everyone how long he’s been around? Since ’88! Such a classy guy.
Someone who was once the inexperienced singer of a semi-respectable Irish rock band in the ’80s is now the overdone, relentlessly diseased appendage of our iTunes library. Yet, we don’t know how he got there. The last good thing Bono did was “Joshua Tree,” and that was nearly 30 years ago.