Which Alt-Rock Classics Do We Hate Most?

Earlier today, the R&B blog SoulBounce came up with an idea we’re kicking ourselves for not having come up with first: the editors’ and their friends’ (and their comments box’s) choices for the “Universally-Adored Soul Classic That [They] Hate.” (Funniest moment: site editor nOvaMatic’s dis of Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go,” one of two: “My god, is this song potato salad? Must it be at every Black gathering?” Funny it appears here so soon after they named it one of the all-time greatest soul songs, but then nOva didn’t write that one.) We like this idea so much that we’ve decided to rip it off, using a different category. After the jump, we’ll will pick our Universally Adored (or so it seems) Alt-Rock Classics We Hate.

Michaelangelo Matos: I have never understood the appeal of Nine Inch Nails. Oh wait, yes I have, because I was 12 once. That’s about the time where you need to leave the pettier of your emotions at the door, but no one told Trent Reznor, and he’s made a mountain of cash from them. “Closer” is one of those records I gave up actively hating a long time ago simply because you can’t fight anything that ubiquitous without expending more energy than it’s worth, but dear god what an awful song. I’m glad everyone got their little getting-away-with-saying-fuck-tee-hee buzz, but do we need to be repeatedly subjected to this insufferable plod all these years later?

Maura Johnston: I’ll rep for Nirvana, sure. Hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the first time was revelatory, their “worst live show” ever that I saw in Chicago in the early ’90s was gut-wrenching, and much of Nevermind still packs a punch today. But I’ll never understand why “Come As You Are” has stood the test of time as it has–with its moaning vocals and plodding rhythm, it damn near provided the template for every third-rate alt-rock band that flooded the airwaves in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. You’d think “In Bloom” would have been the non-”Spirit” track that kept getting spins, but I guess people weren’t comfortable with wondering if they could have been the people who knew not what Cobain’s cryptic lyrics meant.

Dan Gibson: Somehow, waiting for a new Stone Roses album for five years performed some trickery on my mind during the interval as I waited like everyone else for the band’s escape from a label imposed exile. I idolized the Stone Roses, forgetting that I didn’t really enjoy the act’s most famous song, “Fool’s Gold”. Still, the track comes up on nearly every Brit list of essential tracks, while I sit on the sideline muttering something about the genius of Shaun Ryder.

What’s yours? Answers, as always, in the comments.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Name a Universally-Adored Soul Classic That You Hate [SoulBounce]

  • Anonymous

    Sonic Youth, “Teen Age Riot.”

    I would love to hear everyone’s R&B choice, too; there’s no need to make this discussion an alt-rock ghetto.

  • Michaelangelo Matos

    @slowburn: In fairness to the SoulBounce post that inspired this one I wanted to limit this to alt-rock–R&B choices should really go to that comments box, though obviously I won’t yell at anyone who posts it here too. (Also, the SY song is from ’88. Any ’90s choices?)

  • How do I say this … THROWDINI!

    Sublime, “Date Rape”

    Look, I’m glad that the shithead rapist gets it in the end (no pun intended), but I don’t really need to hear a song so explicitly about rape every f’ing day of my life. I also know a girl who was date raped, and who told me that everytime she hears the song, it reminds her of that day and puts her in a bad mood for a while. And now of course I think of that every time I hear the song. Please, for the love of god radio-progammers, stop playing that song.

  • bcapirigi

    Mysterious Ways. While I totally understand why the U2 songs I actually like (Numb and Discotheque, to name about half of them) weren’t the popular ones, how anybody could get excited about Mysterious Ways totally baffles me, especially when most of that album is actually pretty tolerable.

    I’d also nominate any and every song by the Police, but I guess they fall outside of the confines of this thread. (Although alt-rock radio still played them all the damn time in the nineties.) But boy do they suck ass.

  • Chris N.

    I feel like we’re stumbling over the definition of “universally adored.”

  • Michaelangelo Matos

    @slowburn: I just realized–duh–that I said “alt-rock,” not “’90s.” Sorry–I was mixing up an IM conversation I was having about the decade with this particular question. Never mind the second half of my response, then.

  • westartedthis

    “Give It Away” seems like the Red Hot Chili Peppers song it’s “okay to like.” i might be wrong about that, but what i’m not wrong about is how many better songs can be found on the same album. “Give It Away”, from its embarrassing, “heroin, dude!” lyrics to its thin guitar wackity-wack, and last but not least Flea’s *infuriating* bass zoops, sounds like the birth of a frathouse classic. which sounds kind of like the birth of Cerberus’ screaming, shitting puppies to my ears.

    and we are talking about the effing red hot chili peppers here. it’s not exactly a fine wine no matter what vintage.

  • RaptorAvatar

    I find the whole institution of Radiohead exhausting. It isn’t even that they’ve become a hopelessly trite badge of having “taste.” “Kid A” still holds up as a good record, but I feel like if it was THAT great, I’d actually crave it occaissionally. As it is, I feel like a lot of the goodwill I have for it is inextricable from how revelatory the whole thing felt when I first heard it at 17. I know something is a slept on classic if I regret not having it on my ipod, something that hasn’t happened with that band. I feel like, were half of the oxygen sucked up by and the ink spilled over Radiohead during the past 10+ years doled out to 20 other bands at random, the result would almost certainly be a more interesting indieverse than the one we have now.

  • The Illiterate

    Does Jane’s Addiction count? Otherwise, Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder, from everything I’ve heard, is a wonderful, sincere guy, but anyone with a shred of sense would have been embarrassed by “Jeremy” within a year after recording it. Last I heard, they still play it.

  • spankyjoe

    I’ll bite: Blur earns a thundering Meh from me.

    Despite the accolades Park Life gets, Damon Albarn’s output perpetually has been one of those musical things that have never fully clicked with me. It’s not just Blur – neither Gorillaz nor The Good, The Bad & The Queen have really gotten to me, either.

  • Anonymous

    Butthole Surfers “Pepper” just annoys me to no end. The spoken word/rap part, though I’m sure at the time was unique, just grates on me.

  • miryam

    @RaptorAvatar: Word, word, word. The amount of times my intelligence has been called into question by Radiohead fans for voicing that opinion proves its validity to me.

    My least favorite alt-rock gem is “There She Goes” by the Las. Like Fool’s Gold, it’s on every Britpop/rock compilation, and its whiny sing-songiness makes my teeth itch. It sounds like something that belongs in a feminine hygiene ad. I got a bonus dose of it when Sixpence None the Richer covered it a few years back, I was thrilled.

  • spankyjoe

    @The Illiterate:

    As Ritual de lo Habitual came out in ’90, I think Jane’s counts. I’ll give you half props – I think Side A of that tape + “Three Days” off Side B were amazing, but the remaining three awful songs really killed things for me.

    So, ~2/3rds props, really.

  • spankyjoe


    I had forgotten “There She Goes” existed. Ugh. Now I need to go drink clorox until that part of my brain gets fuzzy again.

  • Anonymous

    My biggest issue is the near universal praise of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Not really “alt-rock” but within that whole milieu, methinks. It’s just so boring and my tolerance for drone records is fairly high up there: Coil’s Time Machines? Thumbs very up. Stars of the Lid? Thank you! Selected Ambient Works II? Passed out on the floor.

    Also the Beatles.

  • teknohed

    311 – Down

  • Norman

    Maybe I have selective memory, but was “Fool’s Gold” really the Stone Roses’ “most famous song?” I would have said that was “I Wanna Be Adored.”

  • Michaelangelo Matos

    @Norman: Are you English, perchance?

  • D.R. Mosby

    I was a devout New Order fan for many years, but I’ve never understood the appeal of “Bizarre Love Triangle”. It sounds an album-filler to me – the chord progression is boring, the arrangement is simplistic and the vocal melody is sing-song. Compared to NO classics like “Age of Consent” or “Everything’s Gone Green”, BLT is a real dud. And yet, half the time when I hear NO on the radio, they’re playing BLT. (The other half of the time it’s the completely unnecessary remix of “Blue Monday”.)

  • R. Morast

    “creep,” radiohead. too many memories of flava of the moment jocktoids playing air guitar to it.

    also, i don’t mean to repeat but it can’t be said enough: NIN’s “Closer” never needs to be played again. that song was THE college party anthem for, like, 9 years. it probably still is. fuck. i’m getting old.

  • MayhemintheHood

    Closer by NIN is a great choice, and would probably be one of the first to pop into my head after giving it some thought.

    A few others off the top of my head:

    Pearl Jam-”Alive” or “Jeremy” I love Pearl Jam, but I’d be okay with never having to hear either of those again.

    Soundgarden-”Black Hole Sun” Loved it in the 7th grade when it came out. I had some of the lyrics written on my backpack…I’d like to forget the backpack AND the song.

    REM-”Losing My Religion” and “Everybody Hurts”….these songs suck. Even as a 11/12 year old, I knew these songs sucked.

    If Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” would count at all in the alt-rock genre, that’d be high on the list too.

  • Norman

    @Michaelangelo Matos: I’m not, but I love Spicy Beanburgers, trainers, and the word “massive”!

  • Tauwan


    OOOOOH! The Beatles. Did you go there?

    Yes, yes you did.

    P.S. I get sick of hearing about that damn band too. People on here may get pissy about Radiohead, but before there was praise for all things Radiohead, there was praise all things Beatles. Yeah I like a few selected tracks here and there, but damn, “get off the nuts” people!

  • dyfl

    To me, Perry Farrell pretty much just sounds like what happens when you wring out a cat the way you would a wet towel. So I’m gonna have to put down for Jane’s Addiction too. Which song? Everything except “Been Caught Stealing.” Yes, I like their big obvious hit and hate everything else; I’m proud to be anti-cool that way.

    Anything recorded by Sublime also definitely counts.

  • adoinel

    I have two candidates:

    “Down By The Water” – PJ Harvey and “Love Song” by The Cure

    The former is not a completely terrible song, but it is the one that track by Ms. Harvey that I wish could be erased from her discography. It doesn’t have carry any of the weight of the stuff on her first two albums, or many of the albums she has done since, or even a good portion of To Bring You My Love.

    The latter is just a bad song all the way around. Cloying lyrics and middling music to go along with it. That it has been covered incessantly since then by idiot groups like 311 only bolsters my nomination.

  • sicksteanein

    As a huge fan of British music, I have never understood the love for Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve. Is it the sample? Cause it’s just ok. And the melody just does nothing for me.

    Also: Spoonman is awful. Awful.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I’m thinking Alt-rock that crossed over, but was really, really shitty.

    I would nominate “Under the Bridge” and “Black Hole Sun” first. And anything by Cake. Sorry, I said it.

  • PeterBjorn&Yawn

    Portishead. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a negative thing about them.

    I felt really old at a No Age concert last week, trying so hard not to elbow any teens in the pit. It was awful feeling ancient like that – but then I can just go put on any Portishead song and feel superduper young and vital again, just knowing that I’m not that cool/tasteful old dude who is SO into the intricacies of the production. I mean praising Portishead, to me, sounds like you should start talking about how you’re developing a palette for wine and complaining about all the youth sports equipment clogging the trunk of your Prius. People give Coldplay and popular beige bands so much shit for being boring and uninspired, which would be the first two words that jump to my mind with Portishead. Great, every little piece of the compositions fit together just so and it’s a wonderfully textured tapestry of musical intellectualism and understated beauty. And it makes me want to die.

    Give me the first two Tricky albums w/ Martina Topley-Bird any day of the week over this stuff.

  • spankyjoe


    No worries. If it makes you feel any better, I’m still a NIN fan at age 27, and I’ve never been accused of having good taste in music. If there’s ever an opinion to discount it would be mine…

    I also don’t get the acclaim of the Pixies, for the record. There’s nothing patently offensive about their music, I just don’t think it’s Promethean genius, either. They don’t suck, though.

  • baconfat

    I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned the Beastie Boys yet. I can’t be the only one who thinks their post-Paul’s Boutique material (“Sabotage” video excluded) is pretty meh. Not that I hate it, but someone out there must.

  • rowdielou

    As I am sorely lacking in my music repertoire, I’m not sure if this song would be considered an alt-rock classic, but I absolutely abhor “Loser” by Beck. To me, it’s equivalent with “With Arms Wide Open” by Creed. I apologize if I offend anyone’s taste. :)

  • Lucas Jensen

    @DJorn: THANK YOU. One of the biggest farces thrust upon the American people ever.

  • Anonymous

    @spankyjoe: I am unfortunately of the mindset that anyone who doesn’t appreciate the Pixies should be condemned to listening to Top 40 for the rest of their lives. But that’s probably extreme and I apologize. To each his own.

  • Lucas Jensen

    @galactus5000: Brave souls, really? Yes, it was truly courageous when all of you stood up on an internet comments section and declared the Beatles and Radiohead as overrated. Would that there was more bravery in the world like yours.

    This post is quickly devolving into a “your favorite band sucks” thing.

  • BeGee

    I know we’re supposed to genuflect before that Mother Love Bone album (dead guy = classic?), but it’s just warmed-over, chops-free metal to my ears. And while I certainly don’t spin the Pearl Jam black circles that often, I’ll always reach for Ten before the MLB disc. Bleh.

  • dippinkind

    virtually all of them. the whole rise of “alt-rock” on the radio in the 90′s led me back to the joys of top 40 bubblegum pop after being focused on punk/post-punk/college radio throughout the eighties. i think pearl jam was what pushed me over the edge, so to pick a ‘hit’ to hate i’ll go with Jeremy. god, that singing style was a plague on rock for the entire decade.

  • Al Shipley

    The only honest answer I can come up with to the question this post poses is “at least half of them.”

  • Dick Laurent is dead.

    R.E.M. – “Losing My Religion”

  • Anonymous

    @dippinkind — Have you listened to alt-rock radio lately? It’s not gone.

  • natepatrin

    It doesn’t take bravery to call Radiohead and the Beatles overrated, since they’re the two most popular targets for that kind of accusation on the whole damned internet. Saying the Smiths and Sleater-Kinney are overrated, though — well, OK, that doesn’t take bravery either, but I don’t expect a huge groundswell of people to join in on that particular cause.

  • westartedthis

    @Dick Laurent is dead.: definitely overplayed (to this day, even!), but naw man, i actually love that song.

  • Anonymous

    Are you really comparing the mind of a 12 year old (or at least their
    emotions) to a past and present Trent Reznor? A mountain of cash? If you
    were truly a fan of Musicians and their art you would know that the
    mountains of cash were generated from the greed of the record company and
    quite possibly are a bi-product for Trent Reznor. Trent or Nine Inch Nails
    (he is the only official member) have not stayed consistent, let me break it
    down for you: Pretty hate Machine- I will give you this, it was an angry
    emotional young adult getting his frustration’s out from childhood, broken
    hearts, etc and putting it on a record that may have just helped mold Alt
    Rock (as you call it) to what it is today. Broken- Was a emotional “F” You
    to the record company and one guy in particular. This is well above a 12
    year olds emotional capacity and is quite frankly genius. Instead of putting
    out a “Crap” record, he did just the opposite a pulled off perhaps one of
    his finest records (see also hidden tracks 98 and 99). Fixed- remix.
    Downward Spiral- Let’s just say that Trent Reznor rose to the next level in
    the hearts and minds of not only his closest fan’s, but those close minded
    minions who only listen to the radio to here that months Top 40 latest and
    Greatest (no offense). I do want to mention all of the side projects that
    NIN did during this time (Natural Born Killers, Lost Highway, Quake, etc
    etc). The Fragile- A man’s final descent into his own deepest darkest fears,
    spirals and demons. This is not his most popular, but to experiment with
    sounds and instruments the way NIN did and then to turn it into up till this
    time, the best live show NIN has done, WOW.

    With Teeth- NIN emerged from the muck, drug free, a freaking monster
    physique and a song list stronger than any bullsh*t group like Panic at the
    Disco or any other crap that is played on the so called Alt rock stations
    today. Year Zero- Are you kidding me, this is going to revolutionize simple
    “noise” and turning it into hard hitting tracks that will blow your mind.
    And will most likely be turned into a 2 year long TV series. The Slip- Well,
    record company free NIN released this album for free (and is still available
    online-for less than a mountain of cash I might add) and has attracted fans
    from hard core NIN fans in their 40′s to teen’s still in High School!

    I guess my whole point is, broaden your horizons! I like Nirvana, Sublime,
    Alice n Chains, Pink Floyd, STP so on and so on. BUT I will never bow to the
    horrendous groups like Buckcherry, Papa Roach etc which are “cash cows” and
    nothing more, they will never be remembered and will most likely fade away
    faster that they can count their dollar bills. Listen to the music, let your
    emotional guard down and let the music take you were it was intended. Go see
    some live shows, enjoy the music and the art!


  • TheRunningboard7

    @RaptorAvatar: I’ll go with Radiohead, sans 2 big exceptions: In Rainbows and OK Computer. I really don’t care if In Rainbows was free or not, but I like songs on it, which is more than I can say for any other album they made that wasn’t called OK Computer.. That album is one of my favorite albums, but anything before or after it until recently was just… torturous.

    @Dick Laurent is dead.: I, too, have never liked that song, but I love that album.

    Were I to add anything, it would be Portishead. In the world of repetitive, one-trick songs, only Depeche Mode can keep me interested.

    Were I to go local and reflect upon my old college campus: what’s so special about Headlights?

  • Anonymous

    @spankyjoe: THANK you! I feel exactly the same way, barring “Here Comes Your Man,” which always sounded like an indie “Shiny Happy People” to me. Brutal.

  • dippinkind

    @goldsounds: that is a great shame. i do catch some on occasion when searching for a country, ‘blazin hop-hop and r&b’ or classic rock station, but my “alternative” listening i prefer to pick out on my own, the stuff that makes the radio playlists is almost exclusively godawful. i don’t mean the rare stations like wmfu or kusf or such, of course, just your average local ‘modern rock’ affiliates.

  • DJorn

    Wow. NO ONE’s said anything by Hole? The enduring appeal of the entire Live Throught This album continues to baffle me to this day. So my picks are like, “Doll Parts”,… whatever else was on that shitty album.

  • kicking222


    I do not care how many arguments I hear to the contrary- Nirvana is the most overrated band in the history of rock music, and nobody can convince me otherwise. Sure, Dave Grohl has some talent (I’ve never been a huge fan of Foo Fighters, but I can at least understand why others are), but Kurt Cobain was a godawful musician. He couldn’t write songs, he couldn’t sing, and he couldn’t play guitar… so what, exactly, could he do, besides do drugs and marry a tramp? There are plenty of bands that I don’t like yet greatly respect- Led Zeppelin, Pixies, and Pink Floyd chief among them- but I will never respect Nirvana as a band. I appreciate what the aforementioned groups did for music; opening up grunge to popularity is not something I can appreciate in Nirvana… nor can I appreciate their terrible, nigh-unbearable (and, frequently, simply unbearable) songs.

    Let me see if I can rephrase this somehow: Fuck Nirvana. They sucked, and if they pull out a million more “You Know You’re Right”s, they’ll suck a million more times.

  • spankyjoe


    I’d never genuflect before Mother Love Bone, but I’ll note that they’re actually a pretty good palate cleanser if you’ve been listening to dour stuff (like, say, Pearl Jam) but don’t want to listen to straight-up pop/funk/hair metal from the same era.


    Yeah, I’d second that comment, but to be fair, I don’t think there will ever be a chance of topping Paul’s Boutique in today’s world of sample clearances.


    Apology unnecessary, but appreciated nonetheless. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the Pixies. I own Surfer Rosa and Doolittle, and I’ll give ‘em a spin every few months. They just haven’t made my personal Pantheon, as I live in the Heavy Metal Ghetto.

  • cheesebubble

    Anything by Hootie & The Blowfish can rot and die. Some might call their output “alt-rock classics” but I certainly do not. And I’d like to say that although there are definitely some good tunes by The Rolling Stones, radio’s decision to play the same several selections over and over again kills my enjoyment. Stop playing “Start Me Up”!

    As for the couple Beatles naysayers, what gives?! If you’re tired of commercial radio flogging the same handful of songs like “Drive My Car” then so be it. But there’s greatness to be found – just look beyond the familiar singles. And please remember that The Beatles will always be better than Radiohead (as lovely as those fellows are).

  • revmatty

    @VivaLaMainstream: As a massive Faith No More fan, I concur that Epic is their one song that I absolutely hate. Possibly due to the fact that it was on MTV/Radio about every 12 minutes for a year.