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

2 LIMP BIZKIT    

CHARGE AGAINST: Soul-patch minstrel show, a hissing valve for pointless Cro-Magnon boy-rage, the 'roided-out Altamont stabbing of the '90s alterna-dream.

CASE FILES: Their macho, crowd-surfing, dunderfuck Woodstock '99 hulk-out session coincided with wanton property destruction and multiple sexual assaults, and Limp Bizkit were subsequently seen as single-handedly destroying all the hard work that alternatypes like Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails did creating a more sensitive space for heavy music. To wit, Reznor remarked, "Let Fred Durst surf a piece of plywood up my ass," and Courtney Love said, "He brought about the worst years in rock history." The list of dipshittery Durst involved himself in throughout the following decade seemed to have no end: Haplessly covering the Who, leaking a sex tape ("Touch my balls and my ass," he instructed), and proving his indie bona fides via Cobain chest tattoo. A Metallica crowd in Chicago rained a hailstorm of water bottles and coins on the band and chanted "Fuck Fred Durst." Also thank him for getting Staind and Puddle of Mudd record deals.

THE DEFENSE: Wes Borland is a tip-tapping Zornophile whose talents may be put to better use eventually. DJ Lethal has permanent immunity because he was in House of Pain. John Otto and Sam Rivers were a leaden rhythm section, but could hold down a groove. One of these things is not like the other. C.W.

1 MILLI VANILLI    

CHARGE AGAINST: Didn't even sing their fucking songs.

CASE FILES: The wizard's curtain was pulled back thanks to a skipping backing track, and it quickly became apparent that wiggling bike-short advertisements Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus were lip-synching on stage — you know, just like dance stars have been doing since time immemorial? But the real hammer blow came when it was revealed that the Teutonic twosome hadn't sung as much as a syllable on their chart-topping multiplatinum album Girl You Know It's True. Grammys were rescinded, records were taken out of print, class-action consumer lawsuits brought, and shock feigned over how pop-star sausage gets made. Milli Vanilli were never exactly loved to begin with — Rolling Stone named them the Worst Band of 1989 before the fallout — but the controversy made arguments about "authenticity" fly around like their luxurious dreadlocks. Pilatus died in 1998. "The press says Rob died of an overdose," Morvan commented. "I say no, he died of a broken heart."

THE DEFENSE: As Morvan gives more interviews, it becomes increasingly apparent that Milli Vanilli were just some good-looking, eager, broke kids who signed their lives away into a Draconian contract, remaining forever trapped in the cold gears of music-industry machinery. "We're victims," said Pilatus in 1990, "and we're portrayed as crooks." C.W.

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