Two themes that will come up a lot on the list are both epitomized by Papa Roach, so it's only fitting that they kick things off:
(1) Aggressive, angry hard rock that's actually just suburban white guys whining about bullcrap. Papa Roach is the current world leader in Whine Rock... "Last Resort" is like the First World Problems meme set to music. I'm pretty sure "Last Resort" is about having a panic attack. Or maybe just being bummed because your manager at the DQ asked you to pull a double shift and you had plans to catch up on "Vampire Diaries" that night becuase you're already, like, 3 episodes behind!
(2) Rock songs that pause unnecessarily for bad white guy rapping. Hey, white guys in hard rock bands... you know how, when awesome rappers start doing bad autotuned R&B, everyone wishes they'd just go back to making great rap songs? You guys stopping the actual song for bad rapping is a lot like that. Only the song itself wasn't particularly good to begin with. What I'm saying is... STOP.
I'm pretty sure The Offspring have just been recording the same song over and over again since 1994's "Smash" and are just waiting for someone to actually call them on it. The song above is called "You're Gonna Go Far, Kid" and was released in 2008. That's FOURTEEN YEARS after "Bad Habit," and the two songs sound identical. Bart Simpson has changed more since 1994 than The Offspring's sound.
And it wasn't even a particularly good sound to begin with. Oh, sure, "Smash" was not without its charm, and was such a product of that moment in SoCal rock... it was hard not to yell "You gotta keep 'em separated" along with the radio whenever "Come Out and Play" would come on. But that was such a long time ago now. It's hard to believe that Dexter & Co. haven't had a single new moment of inspiration since the first Clinton administration.
There's a crazy amount of just blatant pre-packaged insincerity to everything 30 Seconds to Mars and its figurehead, semi-famous "character" actor Jard Leto, does that it's impossible to take them at all seriously as a band. And that's just the music itself, leaving aside their post-Bowie glamorexia guyliner aesthetic.
But "This is War," the song above, is also guilty of being an overblown wannabe musical "statement" about violence or human tragedy or some such horses**t. It's as much an over-reach as Aldous Snow's "African Child"; even Bono's not cheesy enough to dress up as a soldier and intercut himself posing thoughtfully in the desert in silhouette with clips of George W. Bush speechifying. This is rock music as a bad cologne ad. Leto should only be allowed inside another recording studio if it's for a role in another movie where Brad Pitt pummels his face until it's unrecognizable.
The Dirty Heads
YouTube makes you watch a soda ad before seeing the video for "Lay Me Down," which is redundant, because the song itself sounds like it was written for a bad commercial. I'm not sure whose decision it was - Rome or some record label or whomever - to exhume the corpse of Sublime and parade it around the radio as a sideshow attraction for nickels. But apparently it's working, because I hear nothing but this song on the radio.
Sublime itself had some songs that felt like another band kind of ripping off Sublime's style, but artlessly. ("Badfish," I'm looking in your direction.) So for all we know, this watered-down, lame story-song is what they'd be releasing these days if Brad's death hadn't taken them out at the height of their powers. But I'd like to THINK they'd have gone a different way. It's barely even a story! (So these two lovers are on the run... and then they get away... and, um, drink margaritas and bone. "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," it ain't.)
Goddammit, I thought we were done with Staind. I really did. Then I heard this new one, "Not Again," on the radio and knew they were still a viable, ongoing band, and sort of died a little inside. (The title is SO FITTING! It must be intentional.)
This is just about the least interesting or inspired music imaginable. Just a bunch of nonsense s**tty nu-metal bands have been wallowing in since Korn first pinched off the genre on to the unwitting chests of music fans more than a decade ago. It's so dull and predictable, you can listen to legitimately the first 20 seconds and know EXACTLY how the entire song will sound.
Rise Against commit many of the same musical crimes as other bands on this list, but they do get special recognition for having probably the most inane lyrics of any contemporary, popular rock band (with one exception to be named shortly!)
Just for the record, the first lyrics to be heard in "Help Is On the Way" are:
I have my mother's dreams,
I have my father's eyes,
You can't take that from me
Just go ahead and try.
Who is trying to take away the fact that he has his father's eyes, exactly? What would even be the purpose of that?
"Hey, Rise Against lead vocalist Tim McIlrath, you may have your mother's dreams... but you totally don't have your father's eyes! They looked nothing like yours!"
Coldplay is the most boring band in the world right now. There, I said it. There are bands that can "do a lot with a little," getting a ton of sound out of a small number of musicians or expertly using a minimalist approach to production. Coldplay is not one of these bands - the opposite, in fact. They're doing not very much with like 100 instruments per song and tons of bells and whistles. The video for "Fix You" leads up to this big crescendo-type moment where Chris Martin runs on stage in front of a huge crowd and swings this light around, and then these big fireworks go off and the place just goes nuts... but the song doesn't actually get any more interesting, to make the visuals. It's like the same drab, dreary 3 notes you've been hearing for 3 minutes, played a little faster. And always, always with that shrill, whiny screech on top of every note... It's kind of unbearable.
It's not hip-hop. It's not rock. And it's really really not good at all. So what P.O.D.'s "Youth of the Nation"?
Imagine the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And not even the cool late '80s Red Hot Chili Peppers. Today's version. Now imagine they're being forced - probably by some sort of judicial "community service" ruling - to write socially uplifting songs about how it's kind of hard for kids who don't got no friends. Now take away any desire from any of them to do anything even remotely different, fun or entertaining to try to hook the listener. Also, stab yourself in the ear with some kind of long, sharp implement, possibly a letter opener. THAT's P.O.D. in a nutshell. Sure, you could click play on the above video to get a sense for their sound, but my way's less painful.
I imagine Cage the Elephant came up with the song "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" by getting stoned and listening to Beck's "Odelay" on repeat, then replacing Beck's signature non sequitur lyrics with selections from Dave Navarro's LiveJournal. Seriously, it's like an entire song made up of homilies Hollywood starlets have had tattooed in cursive on their upper backs.
From the YouTube comments on this video:
"lol my bro and me were at my grandparents house and my bro said i like the gorillaz and cage the elephant then my uncle said sounds like youve been at the zoo lol"
And that's about the level on which Cage the Elephant is working. So let's just move on.
I really don't even think I need to get into reasons why Linkin Park sucks. Even their Wikipedia page basically lays it all out for you:
"[Linkin Park] adapted the nu metal and rap metal genres to a radio-friendly...style." Yeah, that pretty much explains it.
When your band needs to have a lead singer and a rapper to hold things together, that's not a great sign. When you also have to throw in a separate guy yelling in to a megaphone... that's when you know you have real problems...
This is "New Divide," a song so reprehensible, it could only have appeared on the soundtrack to a "Transformers" movie.