The Good, Bad, And Ugly Of 2008

Whenever the yearly wrap-up is upon us, it's hard to not be at least slightly amused by the various rock star feuds that fueled the previous months' headlines.

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Whenever the yearly wrap-up is upon us, it's hard to not be at least slightly amused by the various rock star feuds that fueled the previous months' headlines. But for whatever reason, 2008 was a rather quiet, peaceful one. There will always be a few snide remarks that bands will hurl at one another, but this year those musicians were just too darn busy being productive.

We finally saw Metallica and Guns N' Roses put their latest albums to bed, while reunion tours of Van Halen, Smashing Pumpkins, and a host of hair metal bands kept fans smiling. In spite of all the economic woes, we at least could rely on rock. So when it came time to compile our list of the Good, Bad, and Ugly of 2008, we almost believed there might have been just a few more angels than devils. Well, almost.

Not to be outdone by previous years, 2008 did produce its share of trainwrecks. There weren't quite as many as in 2007 (Pete Doherty, where are you?), but musicians and their never-ending love for alcohol and/or drugs provided us with plenty of ammunition.

Giving drug addiction a run for its money were monster egos, which were also in ample supply in 2008. It's certainly a much healthier alternative, and diva fits will always be a welcome addition to our list of the Good, Bad, and Ugly. Thanks, Chris Martin, for making us smile.

The Good

Metallica's Glorious Return

It seems like a lifetime ago that Metallica had become the bane of metal fans everywhere. You just had to mention the words Napster and Lars in the same sentence, and there would be at least one person in the room ready to chime in with their anti-Metallica rants. The band's situation didn't improve with the release of 2003's St. Anger, with widely varying reviews that kept many fans with their grudges intact. But time has made the legendary metal outfit wiser, and thankfully, still capable of writing a solid album. Many are calling the new record Death Magnetic a return to form, even in spite of the mastering issues that have plagued the CD version. While some are insisting that a new-and-improved edition of Death Magnetic be released to make up for the distorted mess currently on the shelves, Metallica can at least sit back and know that their credibility in the metal world has once again been restored.

Video Games: The Best Publicists Around?

Okay, I can already hear hordes of you out there decrying the value of the Rock Band or Guitar Hero franchise, but it's hard to deny that video games are a brilliant means of promotion. Take a band like Fall Of Troy, for example. Vocalist/guitarist Thomas Erak admitted that sales for his album skyrocketed after his song appeared on Guitar Hero III last year. The biggies are also recognizing the power of the XBox 360, with former untouchables like Metallica and Tool giving Guitar Hero the right to feature their songs. The debate will forever go on about the value of playing a video game vs. actually playing a genuine musical instrument, but it's probably time for that battle to die. The fact remains that Rock Band and Guitar Hero often boost album sales just as effectively as the usual PR route, and that can't be such a horrible thing - particularly for up-and-coming bands that need all the exposure they can get.

Josh Freese, Family Man

For every self-absorbed, better-than-thou rock star is a guy like Josh Freese, who could give lessons in family values to all those right-wingers out there. Known as the go-to percussionist on the music scene (he's played with everyone from A Perfect Circle to The Vandals), Freese recently made the news when it was announced that he would be leaving his gig in Nine Inch Nails.

A headline like that usually signals creative differences or the age-old rehab excuse, but with a newborn child on the way, the drummer simply wanted to spend more time with his family. Kudos, Mr. Freese.

Axl Rose

He's a man of his word, that Axl. It didn't seem possible that we would ever get another studio album of original material from Guns N' Roses, but the man did it. In a way I'm sad that the running joke of Chinese Democracy's never-ending recording session is over, but it has indeed been promoted (or demoted, depending on your perspective) to that of a real, megabyte-holding CD. Despite the passage of time, Axl fans still exist out there, as was made apparent by Chinese Democracy earning the #1 slot on the iTunes Rock Charts - well, globally at least. The album didn't fare quite as well in the old USA (peaking at #4), but it's still likely that Axl and the ungodly number of rotating members of GN'R will eventually recoup the money spent in recording costs. Of course, it may take 17 more years.

The Bad

Axl RoseAnd The Dr. Pepper Fiasco

It took 17 years for this? For as thrilled as some are to finally have Chinese Democracy in their hands (and we're also still standing by Rose's slot on the Good list), there's a whole other segment of the population that is perplexed and dissatisfied.

Let's be clear - Chinese Democracy is not a bad album by any means, but it's hard to say if it's the grand opus that many envisioned. And if you're familiar with Axl's latest rift (check out the scoop here), then you know one simple question has overshadowed any comments about the music on Chinese Democracy. Where is my f**king Dr. Pepper?

Led Zeppelin Minus Robert Plant

When Led Zeppelin reunited to play a benefit concert in London last December, there seemed to be a unanimous comment from critics and fans alike: This is a band that is still at the top of its game. Many left asking, Is this a sign of new recordings to come? Maybe a full-blown tour? Perhaps, but therein lies the problem. Robert Plant has no intention of taking part in another reunion and Jimmy Page appears to be going forward with the idea. Talk of a replacement singer has abounded, leaving many Zeppelin fans with a foul taste in their mouth. We already are missing the late, great John Bonham (son Jason filled in during the reunion), and now Plant is going to be a no-show? You could get the best frontman out there to replace Plant, but you would still be approaching GN'R territory or even Smashing Pumpkins' skewed version of reunion. Nobody wants that, Jimmy.

Billy Corgan Vs Concertgoers

There's a love/hate relationship involved with reunion tours. Certain rules apply for the artist most of the time: Play the hits, keep the crowds happy, and they might just be willing to hear a few new tracks. But as any fan of Smashing Pumpkins is well aware, Billy Corgan has his own playbook. During many of his live gigs this year, Corgan has appeared conflicted and agitated after seeing that concertgoers are less than thrilled with the unfamiliar setlist. At one particular show at the Chicago Theatre, Corgan questioned, Why are you so upset with us? It's because we don't do what you want us to do. He topped it all off with, We don't know what the f**k you want from us. It's probably not a wise idea to spit venom at your fans, but only a rock veteran who's been playing gigs for at least 20 years would understand that.oh, wait. Billy, do some serious soul searching - or at least look into perfecting the art of interpersonal communication.

Travis Barker's Plane Crash

Tragedy tends to hit the rock world every few years, and on September 9 it seemed like another talented musician might be lost. It was on that day when drummer Travis Barker was critically injured when the Learjet 60 he was aboard crashed in South Carolina. The accident killed 4 and injured fellow passenger/friend DJ AM, while Barker was left with serious burns.

As horrific as the incident was, it seems to have put things in perspective for his bandmates in blink-182. Ever since the pop punk group disbanded in 2005, bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker have made no secret as to their dissatisfaction with guitarist Tom DeLonge's lackadaisical involvement during the band's final days. The plane crash has seemed to open up the lines of communication once again, however. It's too early to expect a full-blown reunion tour, but Hoppus did report on his blog that the trio has been reconnecting as friends.

The BBC Interview With Coldplay's Chris Martin

Journalists and Coldplay fans, take note: Don't ask too many details about the meaning of Chris Martin's songs. Apparently public figures who write albums for millions to hear get a little freaked out when asked such questions - or at least that was the case for Martin back in June.

When probed about whether he was preoccupied with death (alluding to his new album Viva la Vida or Death And All His Friends), Martin accused the reporter of twisting his ideas and proceeded to excuse himself from the interview. There are certain stars that can pull off that type of move, but a man who writes soft rock tunes like Yellow and The Scientist doesn't quite make the grade.

The Ugly

Scott Weiland

Leave it to Scott Weiland, the epitome of the turbulent-yet-consistently-charismatic rock star, to keep the ugly coming each year. No one can take away the fact that Weiland is a phenomenal performer and carries the attitude and star power of a modern-day Iggy Pop, but the vocalist is not always the most coherent. If you saw the American Music Awards, then you witnessed Weiland's awkward presentation of the singer Pink. Speaking in long, slow sentences, the audience was left wondering if the STP frontman was back to his old bad habits.

Well, if Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan was speaking the truth on a Seattle radio morning show in November, the demons are still aplenty with Weiland. While the AMA appearance wasn't a total trainwreck, the frontman was indeed a spectacle, particularly considering he announced that Pink's new single is called - and this is no joke - Sober. Ladies and gentlemen, Scott Weiland. Master of irony.

Frontwoman Stabs Guitarist For Flubbing A Riff

It's not uncommon to witness tension amongst bandmates onstage, but 19-year-old Italian heavy metal vocalist Cristina Balzano apparently doesn't want to waste time with verbal arguments.

The frontwoman of Soul Cry opted to stab her guitarist when he apparently failed to deliver the perfect riff. The 16-year-old victim made it out alive, but Balzano is a reminder that metal is not always pretty.

Arrests Galore

In 2008 there were assorted rock stars arrested for drugs and/or drinking, but if you take a look at the past few decades, addiction is not necessarily a new thing in the music world. Although tortured soul Steven Adler's arrest for drug possession in July was yet another sad incident in his ongoing battle against chemical dependency, seeing straight-laced musicians like Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora arrested for drunk driving or Barenaked Ladies' Steven Jay Page nabbed for cocaine made for some of the more shocking headlines of 2008.

Amy Winehouse

Winehouse could very likely be the trainwreck of the century. She's more R&B than rock, but we had to add her to the list.

After all, she makes Scott Weiland and Courtney Love look downright professional.




By Amy Kelly Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2008

174 comments sorted by best / new / date

    MuffinMan
    flyrocker wrote: I dont understand how everyone of us is a musician, and we all understand that as we play and mature our music style changes and adapts, and yet we are the first to bash on bands (metallica)because they aren't the same band as they were 20 years ago. Get over it people. Bands change and so does their music. If you dont like it sit in your room and listen to records in your little time bubble.
    It's not because they're the same band, it's because they're not good anymore. If they changed and made music that was worth a shit, it would be different.
    pootoob
    weemansyndrome wrote: Chi Cheng's coma should be on the "bad" list.
    This and Axl should be on the Ugly list too. Ginga corn rows anyone?
    Guitar-N-Bass
    I agree with Chunky_Lover guitar hero encourages us to have money-wanting people in the music industury. To play well you need a solid heart of Rock'N'Roll!
    brantlymurphy
    And "pantallica95" you make me, and everyone else that believes in REAL music sick. Fuck you, wall-mart, Microsoft, and unfortunately music today. Fuck! this is depressing.
    brantlymurphy
    Last thing: Rockband Guitar Hero are the end of all music as we know it. Give it a decade or so and all you non thumb monkeys will be listing to guitatherorockband BANDS. Human kind is soulless and ****ed.
    theotherguy7145
    Guitar Hero might promote good music, but despite what the article says, i have yet to see someone actually try playing REAL guitar because of it, or to buy the actual album of the band for that matter. :/
    koolfoolinapool
    rocker20 wrote: Serjem wrote: 1. stop flaming amy, she's had enough already. 2. guitar hero should be on the bad list 3. too much of axle rose on the news all the time, we dont need him on the good list, right? (tbh i disliked chinese democracy) 4. the rest is ok 5. wut? blink reunion?... is that why there is a blink wallpaper on the 1st page in between AC/DC and Metallica ones xD dude stop crying, 1. amys an idiot 2. guitar hero promots good music, im happy to here that sence that game came out, i have been hearing alot more rock then rap 3. ur jellouse that axel rose is more famouse then u 4. the rest is ok
    No one is jealous of you. You can't spell jealous or famous. lol It's than not then. What the **** is jellouse?! lmao
    Onzaso
    Serjem wrote: 1. stop flaming amy, she's had enough already.
    Sound familiar? Just leave Brittney alone!
    esyrnyk
    Chunky_Lover wrote: Guitar hero should be on the bad or the ugly or both
    why?
    esyrnyk
    flyrocker wrote: I dont understand how everyone of us is a musician, and we all understand that as we play and mature our music style changes and adapts, and yet we are the first to bash on bands (metallica)because they aren't the same band as they were 20 years ago. Get over it people. Bands change and so does their music. If you dont like it sit in your room and listen to records in your little time bubble.
    with you 100% on that
    flakeoff101
    I think whether you like Metallica's DM or not depends on what you were expecting when you first heard it. Everybody I know that expected it would suck thinks it sucks, and everybody I know that hoped it would be good thinks it's awesome. Just my opinion.
    metalonastrat
    Ed Hunter wrote: Metallicas Glorious Return When did this happen?
    we just want 1986's metallica back...
    myoxisguitarguy
    EyeOfThePantera : All the big thrash bands changed their sound in the 90's, if its Metallica's Black Album (which wasn't as bad as these butthurt fans think), Megadeth's Risk, or even Overkill's I Hear Black (thrash to post-thrash, its still different). Everyone just likes to take a cheap shot at Metallica for one reason or another, but honestly, they didn't do so much wrong, its just all this backlash from butthurt fans who won't stop dwelling on previous Metallica albums.
    exactly a band is allowed to change its called maturing. And the rest sounds about right Dr. Pepper was being sarcastic about the thing then GNR releses it ant their like oh s*** we actually have to try and follow through with this! nice and fair list.
    koolfoolinapool
    jamisonsalamand wrote: Masterquibo wrote: Guitar hero is awsome. I love the game! Anyone who says it sucks just dosent have the talent to play the game. Hahaha. You fail. It's awesome until the point you start using "I can play Dragonforce on expert" as your source of a pride and purpose in life. I have the talent to play it, and I used to before I picked up a real instrument and decided it's more worth my time. And the people saying Guitar Hero sucks are the ones with REAL guitar talent
    Truenesssss
    schizz
    Factor13x wrote: metallica is still amazing but theyre just not as good as other bands out there now. when they first started they were starting something different but now theyre just your above average metal band. hetfield and hammet still can thrash but not like some of these hardcore and metalcore guitarists can. im sure if you went and asked who influenced most metal bands metallica would be on almost every list. so for those of you that hate their new album SUCK IT UP!!!! things change over the years and you wouldnt like it if it was the same damn album as and justice for all or master of puppets. sure youd like it but it would get boring cuz it would all be the same!
    Wrong. Stop judging music on a linear scale. That's where bands like Dragonforce and the many %@&^@%#-core ****ers come from.
    Serjem
    1. stop flaming amy, she's had enough already. 2. guitar hero should be on the bad list 3. too much of axle rose on the news all the time, we dont need him on the good list, right? (tbh i disliked chinese democracy) 4. the rest is ok 5. wut? blink reunion?... is that why there is a blink wallpaper on the 1st page in between AC/DC and Metallica ones xD
    Ozwal
    Schmeg Junior wrote: I personally hated Chinese Democracy, but apparently people liked it.
    what are you talking about?!?! I can hardly find ANYONE who liked it, EVERYBODY hates it, It would be more realistic to say "I personally LOVED Chinese Democracy, but apparently people HATED it." which is my opinion...
    MetallicGod07
    dgme92 wrote: I would place AC/DC's return as a better moment this year than Metallica's album. Their album took longer to make, sold more copies, and has showed that these guys pushing 60 still have their A-game.
    Factor13x
    metallica is still amazing but theyre just not as good as other bands out there now. when they first started they were starting something different but now theyre just your above average metal band. hetfield and hammet still can thrash but not like some of these hardcore and metalcore guitarists can. im sure if you went and asked who influenced most metal bands metallica would be on almost every list. so for those of you that hate their new album SUCK IT UP!!!! things change over the years and you wouldnt like it if it was the same damn album as and justice for all or master of puppets. sure youd like it but it would get boring cuz it would all be the same!
    Terastr
    Joe4/4/1992 wrote: what about mitch mitchell's death? one of the greates drummers (in terms of what he did for the songs) died this year, the original Jimi Hendrix Experience have now all passed and yet there is no mention?
    I finally managed to put it behind me, this is like when someone mentions your dead mother.
    b4t3man
    Chunky_Lover wrote: Guitar hero should be on the bad or the ugly or both
    Get over yourself.
    J_Se7en
    Chunky_Lover wrote: Guitar hero should be on the bad or the ugly or both
    yes i agree
    <Paper Cuts>
    Ed Hunter wrote: Metallicas Glorious Return When did this happen?
    ROTFL! Amy Winehouse making Courtney Love look professional? Impossible. No one can manage that!
    ShootToKill
    Guitar Hero is a video game. It's purpose is to entertain people, which is does. My 10 year old cousin loves it. Get over yourselves. If you don't like it, don't use it. It's as simple as that.
    PleasantStreets
    Metallica-- I could understand they had a good return after the weird St. Anger. But Metallica haters as I, must understand when time changes, music changes. Needless to say, grow the hell up, musical tastes mature through time.
    rocker20
    Serjem wrote: 1. stop flaming amy, she's had enough already. 2. guitar hero should be on the bad list 3. too much of axle rose on the news all the time, we dont need him on the good list, right? (tbh i disliked chinese democracy) 4. the rest is ok 5. wut? blink reunion?... is that why there is a blink wallpaper on the 1st page in between AC/DC and Metallica ones xD
    dude stop crying, 1. amys an idiot 2. guitar hero promots good music, im happy to here that sence that game came out, i have been hearing alot more rock then rap 3. ur jellouse that axel rose is more famouse then u 4. the rest is ok
    DeathzMetal666
    PleasantStreets wrote: Metallica-- I could understand they had a good return after the weird St. Anger. But Metallica haters as I, must understand when time changes, music changes. Needless to say, grow the hell up, musical tastes mature through time.
    when music changes from thrash to shit, we have to protest dude, till death
    LosT.Teddy.
    Chewy120 wrote: Teh Skisgaars wrote: Megadeth2011 wrote: Metallica only made a glorious return to those who have only heard the Black Album and Load. not true. i am obsessed with metallica and have listened to all the albums many many times my favourite being ride the lightning but death magnetic is a return to the thrash days while incorporating the many different genres that metallica has experimented with over the years it is a culmination of the last 26 years. a return to glory if i ever did see one the true metallica fans see this. +1
    this is the truth man you got it
    icantbuyafender
    Its a really touching thing when even the ugliest of band break-ups and bitter feelings can take back seat when a disaster such as Travis Barker's crash. The exile of Tom DeLonge being at least for now thrown on the backburner is evidence enough that tragedies can end the ugliest of fueds. Im glad, even if it does not lead to a blink reunion.
    YamiJoey
    Ed Hunter wrote: Metallicas Glorious Return When did this happen?
    2003, St. Anger. Their new album's crap, though. lol Guitar Hero > Rock Band, and it's a totally different skill. Even the drums are different, which was difficult for me to understand until I tried it. Factor13x: Listen to "All Nightmare Long", then listen to "Enter Sandman" and tell me they're not just doing the same stuff as they used to. Parts of Trapped Under Ice remind me of Iron Maiden, FFS. (I'm not a big Iron Maiden fan - not at all.) RE:GH again; There've been a lot of bands that have gotten a massive boost from it, and I do love the idea behind it. An Endless Sporadic must be the most incresed band (If you know what I mean) by the game, though. I don't think they've even gotten an album or anything, just a MySpaz. YJ
    jamisonsalamand
    Masterquibo wrote: Guitar hero is awsome. I love the game! Anyone who says it sucks just dosent have the talent to play the game.
    Hahaha. You fail. It's awesome until the point you start using "I can play Dragonforce on expert" as your source of a pride and purpose in life. I have the talent to play it, and I used to before I picked up a real instrument and decided it's more worth my time. And the people saying Guitar Hero sucks are the ones with REAL guitar talent
    rocka120
    wrote: Ed Hunter wrote: Metallicas Glorious Return When did this happen? ROTFL! Amy Winehouse making Courtney Love look professional? Impossible. No one can manage that!
    it would take the majority of southeast U.S.A. to accomplish such a feat.
    pratt121
    Ah yes, the UG formula: -bash bands like Fallout Boy, MCR, and Coldplay -brown-nose the hell out of bands like Metallica and G'n'R -let the e-tards drool!
    Nightfyre
    Satch suing Coldplay belongs on the ugly list just for how poorly Colplay is dealing with the situation. Metallica and GnR don't belong on the good list... DM and CD were horrible.
    Strat132
    sorry not all the comment posted, Not a huge metallica fan although i like some of their stuff, GNR was a huge letdown personally for me, I loved Black Ice since im an ACDC fan and i thought koalabacon's post was awful no human should go through somethign like that