The most overhyped musical artists of all time.
Musical criticism and commentary

The Most Overhyped Musical Artists of All Time.

Every musician with a dedicated fanbase, no matter how good they are, has those fans that just love them a little too much. In addition to rabid fans, media, culture, band managers, et al – some bands and musical artists just get way too much hype. Still, some artists seem to get more overhype than others. Who are the most overhyped musical artists of all time? Which artists, despite their talent (or sometimes lack thereof) needs to tell their fanbase, management, and the like to just freaking chill? Keep reading and you’ll find out!

The Beatles

Remember 1992, when only old people listened to the Beatles? Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the younger generations (specifically Gen X and the first Gen Y/ Millennials) didn’t really care about the Beatles. Then seemingly spontaneously, everyone, despite age, loved the Beatles. What changed? The Beatles Anthology. Everyone watched the heck out of that show, and all of a sudden “She loves you ya ya ya” popular once more.

To be fair, the Beatles have some amazing songs. Their experimentation paved the way for so many other artists. Having said that, the Beatles got lucky. Before they wrote such gems as “I want to Hold Your Hand,” the Beatles were actually more like a punk band and less like the darlings on the Ed Sullivan Show. The proto Beatles bathed in urials, set condoms on fire, and all basically had a disrespect for all that was good and holy. As they grew in popularity, they cleaned up their act a bit and put on a good show. So…I guess that means the Beatles started their international career by selling out. But I digress.

Let’s take a look at the Beatles’ early music….Love me do? Yeah, that kind of makes me yawn. Most of the early Beatles songs were just kind of meh. Purely just pop songs with rock and roll elements, but certainly nothing revolutionary. Even when the Beatles started experimenting, their attempts were pretty mediocre. Don’t get me wrong – I love the Revolver album dearly, but half the songs just kind of fly under the radar. Even the songs that really stick out (Tomorrow Never Knows, Eleanor Rigby) feel like they could have so much more. Maybe if the Beatles had used some of that old proto punk angst they had in Germany. Even when the later Beatles albums had a fifty fifty balance between decent and forgettable songs.

The Beatles, depending on who you ask, are widely considered one of the best bands of all history. When half the Beatles songs are just kind of meh, maybe it’s unfair to call them one of the best bands in history. Maybe that’s an indication, instead, that the Beatles are one of the most overhyped musical artists of history.

My brain hurts ya ya ya.

Michael Jackson

I literally just said MJ had one of the best albums of the 80s. The man was a talented entertainer, and had some great songs. He also had a bunch of songs no one cared about. Seriously, in the 80s he recorded Thriller and Bad. Those albums were great, and a staple of my childhood / adolescence. After that – well – he didn’t do too much after that.

Dangerous has a few good songs. I liked “Black and White.” There was also a lot of lackluster songs. Let’s look at “Heal the World.” If that song didn’t have MJ’s name attached to it, we wouldn’t even be subjected to it’s over sentimental snoozefest of a…well, you get the picture. Don’t get me wrong, I get that MJ recorded the song out of a caring spirit, but still….this song makes me want to do terrible things….it’s just that horribly cheesy.

Even Thriller, which again, might be one of the best albums of the 80s, only had a couple really good songs. The rest of the songs are pretty forgettable. Bad boasts the same problem as Thriller. Then there’s the music Michael played in the 70s? Have you listened to it recently? Most of it has hasn’t aged too well.

The king of pop should have a lot more memorable songs than Michael Jackson does. That’s why I say Michael Jackson is one of the most overhyped musical artists of all time.

Listening to this song will make you want to do terrible things.

Nirvana

Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was supposed to be the battle cry of my generation. Here’s the thing – we forgot about this song’s “battlecry” as soon as we grew up. I’m not saying that’s Nirvana’s fault – it really wasn’t – it’s just the way things happen. Just as the hippies became yuppies, the Gen Xers became, whatever the heck we are now. We kept the music, but we forgot the message. Again, that’s not Nirvana’s fault – but to say they’re the voice of a generation, that’s a bold statement.

The voice of a generation should have much more sway on said generation. That’s why I say Nirvana is one of the most over hyped bands of all time.

Smells like my generation sold out.

Elvis Presley

I once saw Elvis at a gas station in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Just kidding – I’ve never been to Tulsa. Besides – Elvis is dead. Still, so many people believe that they’ve seen Elvis since his alleged death in 77, it’s ridiculous! Seriously guys, Elvis was NOT in Home Alone. Geez. Even if Elvis did fake his own death, the obsession with the sightings proves how overrated Elvis really was / is. You’d think the claims would go away now, as Elvis would be 86, but nope. Just four years ago, another claim surfaced.

That’s not the half of why the supposed king of rock and roll is overhyped. To put it bluntly, the songs of Elvis just weren’t that great. They were simplistic and sometimes Elvis forced his vocals too much. Look at his vocals in “Hound Dog.” Elvis sounds like he has a mouth full of gravel! Don’t get me wrong, the songs of Elvis are fun, but the songs of Elvis just seem so mediocre. Fun fact – Elvis didn’t write his songs. Elvis always got credit, but it was actually his manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker.

The so called King of Rock and Roll is one of the most overhyped musical artists of all time.

Seriously Elvis, take the gravel out of your mouth!

U2

I added U2 out of fairness. Yes, it’s certainly no secret that U2 is one of my all time favorite bands. In eighth grade, I dressed as Larry Mullen Jr for Halloween. If Bono walked up to me, I’d probably crap my pants and act like I’m crazy. Seriously, I love U2. A lot!

So – having said that, maybe, just maybe people make too much out of U2. I know millennials (and probably Gen Z) don’t seem to get U2’s music. I guess, I reluctantly admit that if such a large segment of the population doesn’t give two nickels about a band, said band probably is not as good as everyone says they are. There’s also the infamous auto download of “Songs of Innocence” to everyone’s iPhone. Then again – maybe that’s more of Apple’s fault. Credit where credit is due after all.

Maybe U2 is the Beatles of my generation, one of the most overhyped musical artists of all time.

I DON’T CARE I STILL SAY THEY’RE THE BEST BAND EVER!!!

Radiohead

I tried to like the last five or so Radiohead albums, I really did. Their early stuff was amazing. OK Computer might be one of the best albums of the 90s. Oh, and I’ve already mentioned that Radiohead plays their instruments masterfully. This fact alone makes me re-examine Radiohead every few years.

You know what? Everytime I re-examine Radiohead, I get the same results….their songwriting has become lazy. Radiohead tries the same tricks over…and over…and over again. One can only hear the same song so many times. That’s what Radiohead has been doing for over 20 years. Writing the same songs.

My guess on why they have such ravid fans is that they do know how to play their instruments so well. However, without decent songs to play, their music may as well not exist. This is why Radiohead is one of the most overhyped musical artists of all time.

Would someone please call the Karma police on Radiohead?

Nickelback

Yeah I include Nickelback as an excuse to crap on them once more. I mean, come on guys – write more than one song, mmk? Seriously. And for the love all that’s good and true, if you’re going to play guitar, play more than three chords. And if you’re going to play rock and roll, play rock and roll! Don’t water it down with little to no volume. Oh, one more thing, here’s your damned pickle. The only good thing about Nickelback is that it’s fun to rip them a new one. Seriously, they’re such a freaking easy target, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

So why is Nickelback one of the most overhyped musical artists of all time? Simple… any hype they receive is more hype than they deserve!

The most overhyped musical artists.
More popular than Nickelback.

Steve Miller

Steve “Guitar” Miller plays guitar like a high school freshman. Miller’s song writing sounds amature at best. Let’s look some of Miller’s lyrics: “Oh, oh big ol’ jet airliner  / Don’t carry me too far away  / Oh, oh big ol’ jet airliner  / Cause it’s here that I’ve got to stay” What an uninspired mess of a chorus.

Again – Steve Miller plays guitar like a teenager. He learned a few good riffs, and thought he could make a career out of it. He even got the nickname “guitar” which, whatever. How conceited to take that nickname – it’s almost like he’s saying he’s the best guitarist ever.

Steve Miller is ok in small doses mind you, but anymore than a song or two and I just get bored. I’d rather listen to a real guitarist. Steve Miller is one of the most overhyped musical artists, and surely THE most overhyped guitarists of all time.

Big ol’ snooze fest of a chorus.

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton knows how to play guitar well, that’s an indisputable fact. Clapton has been part of so many amazing bands, Derek and the Dominos, The Yardbirds, not to mention two of modern music’s first supergroups, Cream and Blind Faith. But…what has he done for us lately?

Clapton really doesn’t do much of anything new anymore – just kind of rides the coat tails of his early career. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this mind you. Clapton has earned that right. Still, Clapton’s career has been rather stagnant for decades. There were a few decent hits in the 80s and 90s (Tears in Heaven for instance), but really Clapton has not done anything innovative in 25 years (and honestly, that’s a generous number). Clapton has basically stalled.

For the record, Clapton himself stated: “Some people talk about me like a revolutionary. That’s nonsense. All I did was copy B.B King.” Does this quote show Clapton as one of the most overhyped musical artists of all time, or just a humble man?

Great song, but I want more!!!

Bruce Springsteen

Let’s talk about “The Boss.” Firstly, what a nickname…The Boss. I get it..his fan base consists of a lot of working class types. The nickname “the boss” reflects a sort of respect to a great musician. Here’s the thing though, Springsteen really isn’t that great of a musician.

Like several of these artists, Springsteen isn’t bad, he’s just not great. He knows the technicalities of making a song and playing guitar, but he doesn’t innovate. Springsteen’s songs are stuck in 1984.

To make matters worse, I’m pretty sure Springsteen’s lack of innovation is on purpose. His core audience tend to be simplistic in their preferences. I won’t mock that, but Springsteen obviously panders to this audience when he could write better songs if he tried. Oh, he’s totally written some amazing songs by the way – “Jungleland,” “The River,” and “Because the Night.” Springsteen has shown us he can do better, yet he chooses not to. Still, his fans call him “The Boss,” and worship every note he belches. Yep – Springsteen is one of the most overhyped musical artists of all time.

More like this, less like Dancing in the Dark please.

KISS

When KISS came on the scene in the 70s, they were wild and rebellious. Their makeup, theatrics, and rebellious attitude….this was surely where punk met hard rock! Well, not really – but it was obvious KISS was important.

Eh – maybe not so important. When KISS decided the makeup was holding them back, and wanted to be taken more seriously, they put out an album called “Lick It Up.” Honestly, this might be one of the worst hard rock albums of the 80s. The title track, the most popular song on the album, feels souless and boring. I could give you specifics about “Lick it Up,” but the song just isn’t worth critiquing any further. Every album KISS released post make-up feels like one big cliche’ after another. Recycled songs from other hard rock artists, and just not worth it. I will say their cover of “God Gave Rock and Roll to You (II)” was quite amazing – but it was still a cover. They didn’t write the song. They just copied someone else’s music.

KISS is only good when they run with their gimmick, and one of the most overhyped musical artists of all time.

Like a dog to its vomit, so does KISS command us to lick it up.

Which most overhyped musical artists did I miss?

I’m sure there’s a few bands out there I missed. An early version of this article had a few other names, but for varied reasons, I struck them out. Still, I feel like this might be the first article in a series. So many artists have so much overhype. So, let me know…tweet at me, Facebook me, or leave a comment below. By the way, if you’re in one of these bands and you feel I offended you too much, take comfort in knowing you have a lot more money than I do – so maybe give me a break here. Oh, and what’s with Gene Simmons’ look in that video still? He looks like he’s trying to channel Andre the Giant! Yeah – KISS is going to sue me, sigh.