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


CHARGE AGAINST: Watered-down grunge as a platform for messianic egomania; Nickelback before there was a Nickelback

CASE FILES: These ham-fisted ding-dongs represented the grim nadir of post-grunge’s third wave: Somehow, everything about their music offended. Philadelphia Weekly even went so far as to run a 2002 cover story with the all-caps headline “WHY CREED SUCKS,” and the authenticity-obsessed argument that “Creed — and their torpid, halftime-playing, self-congratulatory type — are a cancer on the most beautiful thing God ever gave us in the 20th century: rock’n’roll.” To make it worse, frontdouche Scott Stapp couldn’t keep from shaming himself: He brawled with 311 in a Baltimore hotel, was rumored to have been punked by college kids while trawling for groupies at a Florida Denny’s, and found himself at the center of a (Kid Rock–enriched!) sex-tape scandal in which he allegedly sighed, “It’s good to be king.” Creed’s moment in the sun is when the trail blazed by Nirvana eventually dead-ended, a place where antiseptic, quasi-religious, self-serious bombast assumed all the rock clichés that grunge was meant to usurp.

THE DEFENSE: If we close our eyes, we can pretend the particularly melodic opening 12 seconds of “Higher” is really Candlebox. D.B.


CHARGE AGAINST: Making elevators seem safe since 1982.

CASE FILES: While the tenor sax honks with a satisfying bellow and altos wail out the depths of humanity, soprano sax — an essential tool in the easy-listening lexicon — is at once soothing and irritating, like a bath in boiling honey. Kenny G is the man with the tubular bell. Over the course of some 20 soporific albums, he’s eased his way through virtually every Christmas song and movie ballad you’d care to name. The Seattle native took the liberty of dubbing himself on top of an old Louis Armstrong record and releasing the resulting “collaboration.” That got people out of their recliners: Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny called it “unbelievably pretentious” and “cynical,” and attacked the saxophonist’s playing as “lame-ass, jive, pseudo-bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped-out,” and “fucked-up.”

THE DEFENSE: Sorry, the only plea here is nolo contendere. Nobody who makes such worthless, repugnant, soft-serve music should be so monumentally arrogant. The guy’s not even in Sting’s league, but how’s this for tone-deaf twattiness? “I’ve always thought it would be fun to do classical music, but I wouldn’t want to do a famous classical piece. I’d want to write a piece of music that sounds like a classical song, but is my own composition.” A Foster the People co-sign ain’t helping. I.R.