David Byrne has done it right. Destined to live high on the hog by way of Talking Heads royalties until the day he dies, the adventurous quirkmeister has been nothing but ballsy since his seminal new-wave outfit parted ways. You may not like everything he's tried since his career apex, but complacency has, to his credit, been Byrne's worst enemy.
Sting, meanwhile, is another story. This turtleneck-sweatered Jaguar shill has so desecrated his Policeman legacy that we're not entirely convinced the current soft-rock incarnation isn't the original Sting's evil twin. He is, without question, the most hated man in rock.
A better question is: Who're numbers two through ten? According to San Francisco Chronicle pop-music critic Aidin Vaziri, the runner-up is Eric Clapton, a ranking based almost exclusively on the guitar god's synth-slop collaborations with Babyface. While we may not agree with this ranking, the criteria for what makes a rocker "hated" is more or less spot-on: Have talent, use it well for a substantial period of time, then intentionally squander it for commercial riches, fame, and/or forced mass appeal.
Admittedly, it is tough to find ten men who strictly adhere to such requirements, so we've chosen -- with the help of a secret eleven-man panel -- to implement a graded system in which talented sellouts merit weightier consideration than, say, Johnny Rzeznik or Fred Durst. That said, to exclude such ass-clowns from this list outright would be doing a public disservice. So too would including Sting, as he is as consensus a top dog as doggies can top. Without further ado, let the hatred begin!
1. Paul McCartney
Barely qualified to carry John Lennon's roach clip while both toiled with a grotesquely overrated boy band known as the Beatles, Sir Paul's true colors have reverberated loudly and horribly since Mark David Chapman put a tragic slug in Yoko's hubby. "Band on the Run" could have been written by a third grader, and McCartney's duets with alleged pedophile Michael Jackson -- and the ensuing public pissing match over Wacko Jacko's savvy purchase of the Beatles' catalogue -- cemented McCartney's legacy of poor taste and idiocy. And wasn't it great when Sir Paul, sharing the stage with Madonna at the close of the 1999 MTV Music Awards, thought Lauryn Hill was a man, referring to the artist of the year as "some guy named Lawrence Hill"? Nice one, asshole. Worst of all, who can forget the post-9/11 ode to freedom named, with typical genius, "Freedom"? Marrying a young, blonde, one-legged starfucker twelve hours after burying your hero-philanthropist wife was a good one too, mate. Go fuck yourself, McCartney. You deserve worse than that, but such dread is unattainable on this earth. We can only hope Satan delivers the goods to Sir Paul in hell, where knighthoods carry no currency.
2. Carlos Santana
Or else forget about it! We wish we could, Carlos. And that would likely be possible had you made just one album of duets with flash-in-the-pan pop stars such as Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas. But no, you followed it up with a little bit of this and a little bit of that with no-talent teen tart Michelle Branch on the dreadful Supernatural sequel, Shaman, and proceeded to ride the low-rent pop-culture train all the way to a spot on National Basketball Association playoff lead-ins with the Black Eyed Peas. Pathetic career trajectory for a man once considered to be the heir apparent to Jimi Hendrix, and Santana has no one to blame but himself. It's not as though his record label swooped in and said, "Say, Carlos, we need you to do this duet with the guy from Nickelback or else we're going to drop your ass." Look for him on the next Jennifer Lopez album.
3. Jimmy Buffett
Alcohol-rehabilitation counselors, antidepressant manufacturers, and shrinks should present Buffett with gold-encrusted plaques of recognition thanking the Key West ukulele hack for supplying roughly half of their paying clientele. Here's how the vicious cycle works: 1) Begin liking Buffett during perpetually drunk collegiate undergrad years; 2) prolong perpetual drunkenness by becoming a Parrothead and attending Buffett shows until the age of forty; 3) drunkenly crash car on drive back from Buffett show at Pensacola Fairgrounds; 4) enter court-mandated rehab program; 5) get sober; 6) recognize how bad taste in music and hollow life was during personal "Cheeseburger in Paradise" bender; 7) start seeing shrink and taking Prozac; 8) realize that entire wardrobe consists of imitation Hawaiian shirts, huarache sandals, golf visors, and jams; 9) start drinking again; 10) hit the road for Chattanooga stop of Buffett's "Four Inebriated Horsemen" tour with Alan Jackson, Clint Black, and Randy Travis. Margaritaville, unfortunately, has inescapable walls made of petrified ape dung, which is an apt description of Buffett's entire catalogue.
4. The Adams Family (Ryan and Bryan)
You've been asking for this double entry, Ryan, by refusing, time and again, to cover "Summer of '69" in concert. If you didn't want to be confused with Bryan Adams -- or, short of that, teased a little for being one consonant short of Canada's pint-size pride -- you should have changed your fucking name. Lots of rock stars do it, bro. Releasing three mediocre albums a year and mounting the likes of Winona Ryder and Parker Posey have done nothing to help R. Adams' credibility, either. Bryan, meanwhile, paved the way for mediocre soloists like Phil Collins and Patrick Swayze to cash in at the box office by contributing to Robin Hood. For this, the gravel-throated Canuck will never be forgiven, even if the aforementioned "Summer" is a true-blue gem.
5. Elton John
Bernie Taupin's not-so-tiny dancer was way better in the Studio 54 era, when he was as high as a Rocket Man and actually cranked out adventurous pop hits with gusto. Now sober, Sir Elton seems content to belt out cheesy power ballads for animated-feature soundtracks, host garish awards-show after-parties, and retrofit "Candle in the Wind" to cash in on the Dead It-Princess of the Moment. Leavin' Levon far behind, indeed, and much the worse for it. Heaven hope the sun goes down on this pasty, toupee-wearing key tickler ASAFP.
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