Most overrated album of all time? ’Tis a query for the ages; or at least the decades, when rock and the critics that followed shifted the landscape, and we saw an uptick in those lovable means to quantify LPs — stars, ten-point scales, and our beloved shit lists. The end result is hyperbole, disagreement, discontent, jealousy, and, in fairness, some degree of scholarship.
On that note, the Guardian put together a fun piece, rounding up a bunch of musicians you know and love (or think are, like, totally overrated) to select and explain how albums you know and love are, like, totally overrated. The musician list includes Craig Finn, Eddie Argos, Alex Kapranos, and Peter Hook, while the records blasted therein span treasured works by the Smiths, Arcade Fire, and of course, the Strokes. We organized ’em into a cute little list, but first we thought it’d be fun to see the fiery side of psych-circus ringleader Wayne Coyne as he explains his distaste for Nirvana’s breakthrough, with a little Nickelback on the side.
It’s better to be overrated than underrated. Besides, it’s not the musicians’ fault Nevermind is overrated – it’s the public’s, or the critics’. But you don’t find yourself ever longing to listen to it, because there were – still are, in fact – so many mediocre bands that sound like it, that you’re constantly experiencing it.
I never get out Nevermind and think: what great production, what great songs. Nevermind had a poisonous, pernicious influence. It legitimised suffering. The sainthood of Kurt Cobain overshadows the album: Kurt’s lyrics, his attitudinising and navel-gazing, were hard to separate from the band’s image. You can never just hear the record. For me, Bleach and In Utero are superior. Even the album cover seems cheap: that stupid dollar bill just seems to have been airbrushed in there. If Alice in Chains had done it, we’d have thought it was a joke, but because it was Nirvana we thought it was oh-so-clever. If you think you’re going to hear an utterly original, powerful and freaky record when you put on Nevermind, as a young kid might, Christ you’re going to be disappointed. You’re going to think, “Who is this band that sounds just like Nickelback? What are these drug addicts going on about?”
Here’s the rest of the list…
- Tupac Shakur – All Eyez On Me … Nominated by Mark Ronson
- The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds … Nominated by Luke Pritchard (The Kooks)
- The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses … Nominated by Eddie Argos (Art Brut)
- The Strokes – Is This It … Nominated by Ian Williams (Battles)
- Television – Marquee Moon … Nominated by Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand)
- The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band … Nominated by Billy Childish (prime mover of British garage rock)
- Abba – Arrival … Nominated by Siobhan Donaghy (former Sugababe turned solo artist)
- Arcade Fire – The Neon Bible … Nominated by Green Gartside (Scritti Politti)
- Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon … Nominated by Tjinder Singh (Cornershop)
- The Doors – LA Woman … Nominated by Craig Finn (The Hold Steady)
- The Smiths – Meat Is Murder … Nominated by Jackie McKeown (1990s)
- Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica … Nominated by Peter Hook (ex-New Order and Joy Division)
- Velvet Underground and Nico … Nominated by novelist and music lover Ian Rankin
Head over for their detailed explanation, and feel free to play “rock star for a day” with your nominations for overrated LPs. Your scorn is welcome here.