Sometimes a musician gives it their all, and just doesn't make a good record. But other times, they have a terrible idea that nobody can talk them out of, push it as far as they can, and don't make a good record. Many of the best musicians of all time have faltered here and there, releasing their worst album, or a record that is just plain weird, and doesn't impress fans... or the critics. What are the worst albums made by great musicians and bands?
Nobody remembers the mediocre records, but everyone knows the terrible, career-killing ones. These are the worst of the worst, awkward veers into genres outside of their strengths, insane concept albums that nobody in the band understands, contractual-obligation filler, arrogant stabs at replacing a lead singer, or just flights of fancy fueled by cocaine and ego. And they're all by musicians that have done great, timeless, platinum-selling work.
Sure, some of these albums even went platinum. But that doesn't mean they were good. In fact, they were all odd forays into musical worlds unknown, that would probably have been better left unexplored. From Paul Simon's Broadway musical, Elvis's spoken word album, an Garth Brooks's alt-rock record released under an alter ego with a soul patch, these are the truly worst records by good musicians that would have been better left unrecorded.Upvote the most ill-advised and terrible records by great bands and singers in rock, R&B, and pop below... and listen at your own risk.
Lulu - 2011
Cantankerous rocker Lou Reed and speed metal mavens Metallica went together about as well as oil and vodka. Their joint album, 2011’s Lulu, was derided by critics as a shambling wreck, with Reed’s off-key sing speaking smushed together with some generic bar band thrash. The lyrics, based on German expressionist plays from the late 1800s, were all but incomprehensible, and nobody in Metallica sounded like they were playing the same song, much less working on the same album.The 90 minute mess was harshly reviewed and soon vanished. Sadly, it was the last album Reed put out before he died two years later.
In the Life of Chris Gaines - 1999
Bored with writing massively popular country hits, Garth Brooks grew a soul patch and rebranded himself as Australian alternative rocker Chris Gaines. The resultant album, 1999’s In the Life of Chris Gaines (also confusingly called Chris Gaines Greatest Hits), was intended to be the soundtrack to a film that was never made. While the album was a moderate hit, going double platinum, neither fans nor critics understood what Brooks was trying to do – and Brooks didn’t seem to, either.He quickly abandoned the whole persona, releasing a Christmas album just a few months later.
Van Halen Hit Rock Bottom
Van Halen III - 1998
In between an endless carousel of firing and rehiring lead singers David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar, Van Halen hooked up with former Extreme lead singer Gary Cherone to cut Van Halen III. The result was mostly an Eddie Van Halen solo record with some other guy on lead vocals and unsurprisingly, both fans and critics thought it was a terrible idea.Cherone was fired and the band wouldn’t record another album for 15 years.
St. Anger - 2003
Almost everything about Metallica’s 2003 bomb St. Anger was ill-advised, from James Hetfield’s sophomore poetry seminar lyrics to the complete cutting of guitar solos to the massively compressed sound that makes the record physically taxing to listen to.But maybe the worst decision was Lars Ulrich turning off the snares on his snare drums, giving the backbeat a distracting metallic pinging sound. Ulrich claimed he did it because it sounded “heavy metal” but fans and critics thought it sounded more like a toddler banging on a cookie sheet. One track of this experimental sound might have been a welcome change – but 70 minutes worth was exhausting.