The Top Fails Of The Decade: Celebrating Those Who Brought The 'Ugly' To The 2000's

date: 12/24/2009 category: features
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For every Dave Grohl or Thom Yorke charmed individuals who always seem to make all the right moves in their musical careers there's a musician who has mastered the art of f--ing up. More often than not, these artists once were living the dream and earning our gratitude in the form of CD purchases and ticket sales. Sadly, these troubling artists have seemingly extended a half-hearted middle finger to their fans because, well, apparently it's exhausting to maintain a respectable career. To these once-endearing musicians, we pose the question: What the hell happened to you over the past ten years? Most reasonable music fans can forgive a horrible album or two. We give the musicians a slap on the wrist by not purchasing their latest album or posting the foulest commentary that we can possibly fathom on a MySpace or Facebook official band page. Bands like Metallica seemed to take such blows to heart, releasing vastly improved material that (almost) erased the memories of that enigma of an album, St. Anger. Of course, that's not to say that Metallica didn't make a mess in other areas during 2000s. Not a fan of downloading, that Mr. Ulrich. Musical quality aside, never underestimate rock stars' ability to find other creative ways of wasting their 15 minutes of fame. The tried-and-true method of demon alcohol and/or drugs often rears its ugly head, and a few of this past decade's rockers have given the Woodstock generation a run for its money. Whether you call it a disease or not, substance abuse has been keeping some potential musical masterpieces from being created. Instead of albums, we receive ugly headline after ugly headline. We're talking to you, Pete Doherty. Regardless of whether it was a solo artist, band, or even a big-wig company at fault, the usual suspects dominated the music news, often taking St. Bono and other seemingly immaculate artists out of the limelight (not that we don't love a break from seeing the U2 frontman wearing shades at night and/or indoors). These figures caused us shame. They made us rethink the machine that is the music industry. And more often than not, they provided better entertainment than any Will Ferrell movie.

The Long Wait For Chinese Democracy Is OverUm...Thank You, Axl?

Well, we now know what happens when it takes 15 years to record a follow-up album to The Spaghetti Incident. I believe the response meh comes to mind. If Axl Rose's whereabouts are any indication (i.e., Missing In Action), then it's possible he is rethinking the whole go-over-everything-with-a-fine-tooth-comb approach. Rose started out the decade as a recluse, slaving away at the then-mythic Chinese Democracy, and he has ended 2009 in much the same fashion. According to a Rolling Stone article from back in May, Rose is so depressed over lackluster sales that he has locked himself in his house. It's a horrible move, particularly considering that although not a classic like Appetite For Destruction Chinese Democracy wasn't that bad of an album. Some waste a decade by drinking themselves into oblivion. Axl's obsession with hiring and/or firing guitarists and refining the song Madagascar apparently were quite time-consuming as well. With the mysterious frontman yet to emerge from his lair, let's hope against hope that he'll skim the next writing/recording process down to at least 10 years. Baby steps.

Ringo Starr Will Deny You

He has some moxie, that Ringo. In a bold move made by the man who has often been considered the weakest link of The Beatles, Ringo Starr posted a video in 2008 declaring that he would no longer sign autographs. I'm warning you with peace and love. I have too much to do, so no more fan mail. The speech, in which he used the unconvincing words peace and love more times than deemed necessary, stated that anyone even remotely asking for Starr's John Hancock after Oct. 20, 2008, would be denied and their request tossed in the trash. Oh, so we should basically mimic what we have done to any post-Beatles albums you've recorded? We get your drift now.

Creed's Scott Stapp Makes Great Use Of His Free Time

Remember when Creed used to be labeled a Christian band? Yeah, funny stuff. It's difficult not to chuckle at such an idea when you read through vocalist Scott Stapp's laundry list of one no-no after another. While there are plenty of you out there who will claim Creed recording/performing any kind of music is the most notable fail of the decade, it's Stapp's own bravado that makes us shudder. This is one man who seems to have been a victim of the faulty reasoning gene. Whether sucker punching 311's drummer (only to accidentally hit a woman) on Thanksgiving back in 2005 or getting arrested for assault (a charge later dropped by his wife) in 2007, he's the antithesis of clean living. Stapp's screw-ups were made even more hilarious given that fact they happened not-so-long after he stated that the film The Passion of the Christ inspired him to readdress his feelings about love and what true love is. Apparently Stapp and Mel Gibson attended a similar Bible study session.

Gibson's Rosewood Scandal

As one of the top-selling and most noteworthy guitar makers out there, Gibson hasn't had too much to worry about since being founded way back in 1902. Fast forward to November of 2009, and the stalwart company was suddenly thrust into an uncomfortable situation when its plant was raided under suspicion of purchasing illegal wood. Those cute little lemurs in Madagascar have seen their rainforest habitat quickly eradicated due to the sales of exotic woods such as rosewood, which is why the U.S. Lacey Act (banning such activity) was enacted. The verdict is out whether Gibson knowingly purchased such controversial wood or not, but the raid certainly put a smudge on Gibson's pristine image just in time for our Top Fails list.

Sony BMG's Rootkit Debacle

Record companies began scrambling to create preventive measures when downloading became the craze of choice over the past decade, but so far there haven't been any homerun solutions. One attempt, although possibly executed with good intentions, ended up wreaking more havoc than any insignificant file sharer could have even possibly imagined. Sony BMG, in an effort to support the Digital Rights Management (DMG) initiative, installed rootkits on CDs that inadvertently created accessible backdoors for hackers and other nuisances. Compared to the Tylenol Scare of the 1980's, these rootkits not only led to Sony BMG recalling millions of CDs (thus losing revenue), it also likely caused damage to at least 500,000 infected computers in 165 countries.

Scott Weiland: The Man Who Loves Wasting Golden Opportunities

The man had it all, many times over. Riding high on the success of Stone Temple Pilots, easily one of the top grunge acts of the 1990s, Scott Weiland was one of the foremost frontmen in rock. His problems started long before this decade, already having been arrested for cocaine possession in the mid-90's. The singer seemingly had cleaned up his act just in time to start fresh with a new decade, but then there was that pesky domestic abuse arrest in 2001. That incident seemed to trigger a variety of other incidents that would pepper the decade, most significantly a dispute that dissolved STP. Enter supergroup Velvet Revolver. After a brief honeymoon period with Slash and the boys, Weiland once again fell into his old habits: a DUI, rehab, and conflict galore with his bandmates. Although it was entertaining to see Matt Sorum use the Velvet Revolver website as a passive aggressive sounding board toward Weiland, it also signaled the end of yet another era. It's highly possible that the vocalist has finally cleaned up his act with an STP reunion, the release of the solo album Happy In Galoshes (although his decision-making skills are up for debate given the odd title) and another STP album in the works, but we have a feeling that he's still got plenty to offer the new season of Behind The Music.

The RIAA (And Metallica) Versus File Sharing

While Metallica finished up the decade on a high note, it's hard to completely wipe away the image of millionaire/drummer Lars Ulrich decrying Napster and/or any fan who downloaded his band's music for free. While the importance of a payment system for bands (at least the ones who want to make an actual living) is obviously essential, the 2000's often felt like a witch hunt rather than a crusade for justice. Never did this become more obvious than when the Recording Industry Association of America began suing everyone from mothers to 12-year-olds for file sharing. To be fair, BPI exec Geoff Taylor admitted back in June that things were handled badly with the whole Napster debacle. Guess who is sticking to his guns? That lovable curmudgeon, Lars Ulrich.

Courtney Love, We Can No Longer Keep Track Of Your Fails

After enjoying platinum success with Hole's Live Through This and Celebrity Skin in the 1990s, Courtney Love ventured out on her own and created more tabloid headlines than actual music. The 2000's have been marred by Love's erratic behavior, which would possibly have been tolerable had she produced a solid album. No, America's Sweetheart ain't cuttin' it. From air rage to drug abuse to breaking into her manager/boyfriend's apartment, Love is the personification of an epic fail. While we commend her brief efforts to maintain the good name of Kurt Cobain by refusing to allow her late husband's animated character play anything but Nirvana songs in Guitar Hero 5, her motives never seem truly pure. After all, Love is playing the Hollywood game as an executive producer for an upcoming biopic on Cobain.

Amy Lee And Her One-Woman Show

In 2007, Amy Lee made herself the ultimate villainess when she accomplished every dictatorial vocalist's dream: Declaring herself to be the only original member left in Evanescence. Although there was a murky period after the 2003 departure of Ben Moody, the former guitarist (and boyfriend) who co-wrote such hits as My Immortal, one could have passed it off as residual feelings from love gone wrong. We couldn't support that theory when 2007 rolled around. Guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray were suddenly given the boot, and more sources than not pointed the blame at Amy Lee's tightening grip on the band. One particular quote from Gray certainly gave us pause: The way they spin it, I'm not even allowed to say I quit the group, I guessI need to have a lawyer read over all that mess to tell me what, when, and how I can tell you all THE REAL FANS what really went down, if I ever can, haha. A word of warning to guitarist Terry Balsamo and the other current band members: It might be wise to have a little somethin' somethin' on the side.

Pete Doherty, Rehab Connoisseur

What can you say about Pete Doherty? This is a man who kept business booming for rehab clinics over the past 10 years. As lead vocalist for The Libertines, Doherty experienced short-lived success that was squandered by growing drug problems. Bandmates would fire and rehire Doherty a few times before finally calling it quits. So what's a free agent to do? In Doherty's case, start raising Cain. With his follow-up gig in the group Babyshambles, the singer has taken the rock star lifestyle to a level of excess that almost makes Ozzy look like a piker. The last half of the decade has been a game of Let's Guess How Long It Takes For Pete To Go On A Bender After Leaving Rehab. It looks like Doherty has no intention of becoming a fine, young citizen if his latest shenanigans are any indication. Recent update: Not long after he offended thousands at a Munich music festival by inserting Nazi connotations into the German national anthem, he was arrested for allegedly throwing a bottle at a parked car window. Isn't that a nice little bookend for the decade?

The Smashing Pumpkins' Reunion That Wasn't

Most of us can appreciate the fact that a musician might want to reclaim his or her title at the top of the Billboard charts, but Billy Corgan bordered on being that annoying ex-boyfriend who can't seem to get a grasp on reality. During his Smashing Pumpkins reign of the 1990s, the singer/guitarist churned out platinum album after platinum album. The momentum waned slightly with the release of 2000's Machine/The Machines of God, the final album featuring the original lineup, and a breakup would soon follow. This is where things get uncomfortable. Corgan's next endeavor Zwan only lasted a few years and disintegrated after a war of words among bandmates. It's around this time where Corgan opted to take out a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune expressing his desire to reform Smashing Pumpkins. While in theory it was somewhat inspirational, the urgent plea never lured bassist D'Arcy Wretzky or guitarist James Iha back into the group. Jimmy Chamberlin (the last remaining original member other than Corgan) parted ways earlier this year, but it does seem (shock of all shocks) that Billy will march forward with the Pumpkins moniker.

Ronnie Wood: Infamous Lothario

We all have probably assumed that rock stars particularly ones in a megagroup like The Rolling Stones have participated in their share of indiscretions. One would hope that, at the ripe old age of 62, guitarist Ronnie Wood might be ready to settle down (or at least stick to gals no more than 30 years younger than him). This task proved to be far too difficult for Wood, who allegedly carried on an affair back in 2008 with barely-legal Ekaterina Ivanova. If he offered any excuses, Wood's wife wasn't hearing any of it. A divorce was set in motion and granted this year, but the Stones legend decided he had another epic fail in reserve for this decade. In December 2009, Wood was arrested on suspicion of assault in connection with a domestic incident. That man is certainly making Jagger and Richards look like a few saints these days.

Corgan's Next Logical Step: Midlife Crisis

While the whole Chicago Tribune debacle was certainly an embarrassing career move on Corgan's part, the desire to reform Smashing Pumpkins could be described as noble or at the very least nostalgic. It appears that Corgan may very well believe that he is still a fresh-faced (and horny) 25-year-old. Just this month ABC News published an article dedicated to Corgan's bizarre dating history (The Many Loves of Billy Corgan), which just doesn't seem to click with the Corgan of old a man once enamored with the highly respectable photographer/art director Yelena Yemchuck. We threw up a little in our mouth when Corgan showed up at Bravo's A-List Awards with Tila Tequila back in April, and now the singer has opted for John Mayer's sloppy seconds with Jessica Simpson. While these are obviously attractive women, we just expected Corgan to not be such a creepy old man at this point. Corgan, just go get yourself a Corvette and silly hairpiece, and be done with it. Please.

Queen Carries On Without Freddie.Oh, My... Abort Mission!

Ever since Bohemian Rhapsody was brilliantly used in Wayne's World, the already impeccable Queen was injected with new life and a fresh fan base. Had the masterful frontman Freddie Mercury not experienced such an early passing, there wouldn't have been any question that Queen should continue onward and upward. On the other hand, you can't fault a band for wanting to make a living, even without the figurehead that was most associated with the band. So the logical next step was to find a competent singer, and who better to take on such an intimidating role than Free/Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers? It's true that Rodgers handily covered most of Queen's greatest hits, but the collaboration always seemed a little sacrilegious. What was once bearable became cringe-worthy when Queen and Rodgers decided they were ready to take their relationship to the next level by writing music together. Big mistake. There was little evidence of Rodgers' bluesy past or Queen's epic masterpieces. Instead, the album The Cosmos Rocks was so uninspired that Blender Magazine only gave it one out of five stars, while Metacritic named it the 24th worst-rated album in their archives. Don't worry, Queen. Kevin Federline and Limp Bizkit are way ahead of you on the Metacritic crap list.

Chris Cornell Discovers His Inner Pimp

Wow. I must have put in the wrong CD. That's the reaction that many of us had when first hitting play on Chris Cornell's third solo record Scream, which was released this past March. Gone was the stripped-down acoustic offerings that Cornell always seemed to perfect. And if you were hoping for the singer/guitarist to resurrect his Soundgarden days, a rude awakening awaited you as well. Scream, heavily embedded in a synth-driven, club sound and crafted by pop/dance icon Timbaland, even made Audioslave naysayers crave the sound of Cochise. Beating out Vanilla Ice and Paris Hilton as one of Entertainment Weekly's worst albums of the decade, Scream was compared to everything from a car collision (Allmusic) to a consumer product to be shelved next to the novelty t-shirts in Spencer's Gifts (Pop Matters). How the mighty have fallen.
Text by Amy Kelly Illustrations by UG Team Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2009
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