When I was 18 years old, I began working at a Tower Records in New York City. I would go back and work there over breaks from college, and I also worked in its Boston and San Francisco locations. I also played in a bunch of bands, from around the same time until my early 30s.

In both cases, I was told over and over again that a particular recording artist was simply the shit. That I must listen to it all the time. That if I didn’t like it, I should listen again. And again. Being a young and spineless guy I immediately reported for duty and checked out said artists.

For a long time, I felt like there must be something wrong with me if I didn’t like them. After all, my coworkers and bandmates told of their favorite artists’ brilliance like it was an article of faith. How could I miss it if they were as fantastic as my colleagues suggested?

Then, I had a son and turned 40, and immediately ran out of whatever energy I was using to try and make myself like this stuff. I can now say confidently that the bands that record store clerks and bandmates insisted I enjoy were complete fucking garbage. I have no idea why they liked the stuff so much. None of it was actual good music, like ABBA or Dio or Lana Del Rey. In fact, I would go so far as to characterize it as… overrated.

Please internalize the following list of overrated bands and artists that many people tried to get me to like over the years, for reasons best known to them, since all of it is actually shit. Then go listen to some good music to cleanse your ear palette, like the Scorpions or Jethro Tull.

The Beach Boys

I hate this band. Hate them hate them hate them. I always have, even when I was a little kid and didn’t know anything about them. I could say that roughly 90% of the people that I worked with in record stores would yammer on endlessly about the “Pet Sounds” album, how it was the most brilliant thing ever made and it’s a landmark and there would be no “Sgt. Pepper” without it, and so on and so on. Well, I’m as big a Beatles fan as they come, and I would gladly erase “Sgt. Pepper” from the history of the universe if it took “Pet Sounds” away with it.

KISS

I’m a heavy metal guy, and I have been for many years. So, I really should be all on board with the music of KISS. I mean, they’re “significant” and all that, and their fans sure talk them up a lot, so I should like them too, right? Well, no. Their music is garbage. If they didn’t use distorted guitars and if Gene Simmons didn’t breathe fire, they would be the Bay City Rollers, only less talented. If I want to listen to brain-dead two-chord hard rock, I’ll listen to AC/DC, thank you very much.

Motörhead

Not liking Motörhead is absolute headbanger heresy. I mean, Lemmy’s an icon, they invented thrash, sort of, and Lemmy’s face wart alone gives him tons of cred. All fine and good, except for the fact that their music is incredibly boring and does absolutely nothing for me. I know tons of people who love them, and I don’t doubt that their love is genuine. But Jesus Christ, every song sounds the same, and except for “Iron Fist,” who gives a shit anyway?

Santana

My hatred of Santana dates back decades before Carlos Santana teamed up with Rob Thomas. I was a young, teenaged guitar student, just learning my way around the fretboard, when my instructor gave me a cassette of some early Santana album and said it would blow my mind and make me think of the guitar in a whole new way. I have never been so bored in my entire life. Over the years, people I know who are accomplished musicians whom I really respect have tried to get me to reconsider, to just listen to this one jam, to just listen to this one solo, all to no avail. Well, at least they know how I feel when I tell them that “Grease 2” is superior to the original.

Steely Dan

Ugh, I hate this band. I’m not going to lie, a lot of the reason for that is personal. My wife’s name is “Asia,” like the continent, but when I introduce her to people, they think her name is spelled “Aja,” like the Steely Dan album. It’s also personal because every drummer I ever played with who was very technical in their approach loved this band and would give me endless shit for not listening to them. They also have a smooth, almost yacht-rock sound that makes me feel mildly nauseous. I will say, in their favor, however, that Donny and Marie did a great cover of “Reelin’ in the Years” on their old show, and unlike on the original, they used ice dancers. Also – Ruth Buzzi.

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About Author

Daniel Bukszpan is a freelance writer with over 20 years' experience. He has written for such publications as Fortune, CNBC and The Daily Beast. He is the author of “The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal,” published in 2003 by Barnes and Noble and “The Encyclopedia of New Wave,” published in 2012 by Sterling Publishing.

29 Comments

  1. We are all entitled to our opinion and some of yours I agree with . Never been much of a Kiss fan . I can even agree with The Beach Boys to a certain degree although they do have some good songs but Santana ? Come on dude ! Carlos Santana is one of the most incredibly gifted guitarists in the world . Steely Dan and Motörhead ? Can’t agree!

    • well everybody has a right to the differint types of what one likes and doesn’t. c’mon “would take sgt peppers into the musical abyss of bad rock and roll. actually must be young, not to appreciate the greatest album of the millenium. i was in scotland in 1966 when pet sounds was released may ’66.mojo magazine over in england and europe top rock magazine. voted pet sounds as the greatest album of all time. and on this side of the atlantic. rolling stone magazine votes pet sounds at number 2 and sgt peppers at number 1. so i think it.s 99-1 and you are the 1. sorry, but it’s true. pet sounds for eternaty. yours alastair mcrobert..

  2. Your reason sound immature and personal for no reason. Steely Dan and the Beach Boys? Grow up Mr. Musician. You are entitled to your opinion but not this fuggin job.

  3. Steely Dan…. Great Musicians, well worked vocals and vocal harmonies, but never did it for me. Always sounded like they were trying too hard. We’ve got great vocals and vocal harmonies and we’re going to use them, whether appropriate or not. Always f’king hated Reelin’ In The Years. Thought it was a grossly over-rated track. Donny and Marie only make it slightly more bearable (but still unlistenable). oh, and I f’king hate U2, Oasis & Bruce Springsteen aswell!

  4. This pinhead can’t actually be a musician… Steely Dan are the gods to most serious players and their audiences seem to be 70% musicians. Putting them on this list shows the writer has not one clue. Not one.

  5. gonna go way out of bounds here, but mostly agree with this list. oh, i agree with others here, that U2 is the definition of over-rated, which is probably why there is no reason to list them here- it’s obvious. i kinda liked the beach boys, so i would have put the rolling stones there, but other than that, a fairly solid list. KISS always sucked, and most of their hits were written and played by Reb Beach and Kip Winger anyways. Santana can play a great guitar solo. ONE great guitar solo, and he’s been playing the same one for 50 years, and everyone gives him a pass. (and if Gregg Rollie isn’t singing before and after that solo, it sucks ass.) I don’t know why Steely Dan gets so much cred when their music is mostly boring, and their only real claim to fame is naming their band after a vibrator. not sure why you spelled soundgarden as ‘motorhead’, but both were overrated and sold more records than either ever had a right to…..

  6. Winston seymour on

    Flaunting your bad taste does you no credit sir! You’re right about Kiss though. Load of crap!

  7. OK, so Steely Dan, The Beach Boys and KISS are… over-rated. And what, say… crappy Oasis or The Doors … AREN’T ?? Nothing to see here kids. Move along.

  8. The author’s distaste for Steely Dan does, in fact, make him mildly nauseous. There’s a case where his misuse of that word is actually fitting. His writing leaves me mildly nauseated.

  9. You sir are an idiot who probably thinks U2 is the best band ever. I’ve read many of your “lists” and continued time and time again to try to respect you and take it all with a grain…however, you either think you’re funny and enjoy being fecicious or your taste in music is that of a 12 year old girl with only access to a pop station and a cassette of the dirty dancing soundtrack. Most overrated albums, songs, bands, etc? U2 and anything by U2, Which you probably adore because you have diarrhea ears and also wouldn’t be able to think for yourself for 20 seconds if your life depended on it. So enjoy your Hozier cd and have fun at the Florida Georgia Line concert next week. That is if you can stop playing with the Zoom drum machine your mom got you for Christmas long enough.

  10. I have to agree with others….Steely Dan had a unique and awesome sound,and The Beach Boys sound had significant influence on the Beatles themselves, including Paul McCartney’s bass riffs

    I respect the author, but believe this is clearly just a matter of individual taste and opinion

  11. Grow up. If we all liked the same stuff it would be a pretty boring world. These are mostly cheap shots based on the pervasive nature of commercial success. The need to rain on other people’s parade with such superiority is childish. Click bait much?

    I remember my 20s, too.

  12. honestly, I hate your opinion even not deeply caring for any of these bands above. only because you seem like that douchebag who works at the record store always giving his snarky opinion about every band even when he isn’t fucking asked. have you ever played in a band? have you ever released multiple albums and gone on tour? so maybe no one gives a shit

  13. Michael Morse on

    Putting Becker and Fagen in this company is like comparing Gandhi to Trump because their both politicians. And it proves a totally deaf philistinism in the writer. Fagen and becker are major composer/songwriters, fantastic band leaders, and exquisite studio craftsmen. Comparing them to the self-aggrandizing stumblebums on the rest of the list is egregious.

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