Hated in the Nation: The 30 Biggest Punching Bags in Pop History

We open up the case files to see who's gotten a bad rap and who's just bad

Rob Thomas / Stefan M. Prager/Redferns
Rob Thomas / Stefan M. Prager/Redferns
WRITTEN BY
SPIN Staff

28 NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK    

CHARGE AGAINST: Laboratory-assembled, faux-R&B pin-ups co-opting the cutest parts of B-boy culture, opening the door for everyone from Color Me Badd to 98 Degrees.

CASE FILES: From 1986 to 1991, nobody could turn on a radio, watch Saturday-morning cartoons, or even drink from a damn McDonald's cup without stumbling upon a piece of New Kids propaganda. Their ubiquity became their defining characteristic, well beyond their admittedly infectious tunes. "Blockheads," as devotees were known, were shoved into school lockers while the rest of the culture kicked in some larger-scale hate: New York's biggest Top 40 radio station whipped up a Christmas parody, "New Kids Got Run Over by a Reindeer"; The Fall of the New Kids comic book imagined their demise; and a producer who worked on one of the New Kids' albums accused them of lip-synching (which they rushed to disprove on the Arsenio Hall Show). Donnie Wahlberg, continuing to believe he was a viable rapper, led the band through a reinvention as the grittier, lamer NKOTB.

THE DEFENSE: "You Got It (the Right Stuff)" is pretty great, made even better by the fact that Jordan Knight was wearing a Bauhaus T-shirt in the video. The deep bonds forged with their fans in the '80s paid off in 2008 when the original members reunited for a series of tours that brought in a boatload of cash. Literally: Their annual cruise has sold out three years straight. CARYN GANZ

27 JOHN MAYER    

CHARGE AGAINST: Huge d-bag.

CASE FILES: He joked that his dick was racist, but his mouth used the N-word in Playboy. He broke Taylor Swift's heart. He equated the words "Jessica Simpson" and "sexual napalm." He wrote a song called "Your Body Is a Wonderland." He tried his hand at stand-up comedy. He has a Stevie Ray Vaughan tattoo. He makes dumb faces when he plays guitar. He broke Jennifer Aniston's heart.

THE DEFENSE: The guy is no stranger to poor judgment, but at least he's a legit guitarist who isn't afraid to speak his mind (or give his publicist a heart attack). He dresses up in a bear suit and messes with fans in the parking lot before his shows. He wore a very revealing, Borat-style thong to get a laugh. If his songwriting ever catches up to his quick tongue, he could become a viable voice for good rather than evil. C.G.

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