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

12 MICHAEL BOLTON    

CHARGE AGAINST: Perma-frizzed goon constantly melting down Motown and Stax 45s for lukewarm easy-listening spa treatments.

CASE FILES: There isn't a song this guy can't soften into a flavorless, gray paste. Combine that with Bolton's general ubiquity (more than 50 million records sold!), and he's simply fated to be one of the easiest punch lines available. In the cult flick Office Space, no destiny was crueler than being software programmer "Michael Bolton," who shared his name with "that no-talent ass clown." Conan O'Brien has been working him into his monologue for years, and Dave Attell once said, "I listened to a Michael Bolton tape and I got my period." Even the softball throwers on Whose Line Is It Anyway? do Bolton bits. Hell, we'd make fun of him a little in this paragraph, but, honestly, it seems pretty hacky.

THE DEFENSE: Bolton's teaming with the Lonely Island for the gently self-mocking "Jack Sparrow" received the first Grammy nomination he actually deserved. C.W.

11 NICKELBACK    

CHARGE AGAINST: Jock-rock oafs.

CASE FILES: After lucking out with "How You Remind Me," maybe the catchiest song Candlebox never recorded, these dunderheaded Canucks showed their true colors with the repulsive "Figured You Out" ("I like the dirt that's on your knees / And I like the way you still say please"). In a long decade of peeved grunts that followed, they slowly moved from Nerf Neanderthals to formulaic flyover jammers, representing everything arrogantly gluttonous about post-Creed modern rock: pristine Mutt Lange production, immaculately styled hair, collabos with at least two American Idol losers, and even more entitled songs about blowjobs. America fought back online. One careful listener posted audio of "How You Remind Me" and 2003 single "Someday" playing simultaneously as scientific proof that this band writes music like they're filling out Mad Libs. The Facebook page "Can this pickle get more fans than Nickelback?" received an affirmative. Our nation's true, pathetic answer to the Arab Spring was the much-supported (if ultimately failed) petition to prevent the band from playing the halftime show at the Detroit Lions' 2011 Thanksgiving Day game. Said Black Keys' Patrick Carney in an interview: "Rock'n'roll is dying because people became okay with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world."

THE DEFENSE: It takes a special kind of rock star to write a song as hilariously self-aware as "Rockstar," and these dudes do it while being more famous than Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show ever were. K.H

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