11 beloved teenage bands that completely went to shit
Ever heard the phrase "Always leave them wanting more"? Well, these guys never did.
Music is one of the most important parts of growing up. The bands and artists you listened to as a young 'un helped shape and define you. They gave you the tools to deal with your conflicting and ultimately pointless teenage feelings; they gave you songs to dance to, songs to cry to, songs to jump around and push each other about to.
But inevitably you get older and so does your music, and not everyone involved makes it through the growing pains. Some bands manage to keep up the quality and are still making great records today. These are not those bands. These are the other bands.
1. Kings of Leon
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Remember when Kings of Leon were just the coolest fucking band to ever walk the earth? The beards, the skinny jeans, the no-bullshit rock ‘n’ roll. No teenage party was complete without a group of boys jumping around to 'Four Kicks' or 'Molly's Chambers'. They had no idea they were cool, which is what made them so fucking cool in the first place, and if you liked Kings of Leon, you were cool by proxy.
Then four albums later, they released 'Sex on Fire', which turned them from indie darlings into An Actual Pop Band. Not wishing to sound like too much of a hipster, but they sold the fuck out: when you hear a club remix of a band in Oceana, you know their time is up. After that they just became a generic festival headliner and everyone stopped caring about them.
High point: All of Aha Shake Heartbreak
Low point: Cancelling a show because they got shat on by pigeons
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Back in the ‘00s, the worst accusation you could throw at Muse was that they were just trying to be Radiohead, which was nonsense. Muse were an unashamed rock band, full of scope and ambition. They had monster riffs, piano solos, wailing vocals, all the while their tongues gently nudged the inside of their cheeks.
Then they stopped ‘trying to be Radiohead’ and decided to be U2 instead. In fairness to them, Muse were always destined to be a huge arena rock band, but they took the grandeur and theatricality too far, then tried to mix it with politics, the result of which sounds like the work of a Sixth Form guitar virtuoso who discovered Queen and anarcho-syndicalism at the same time.
High point: 'Knights of Cydonia'
Low point: 'Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)' from the Twilight soundtrack
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers
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The Chili Peppers have been going since 1983, so it’s no surprise that there have been some ups and downs in their level of quality. Some will argue that Blood Sugar Sex Magik marks their peak, but for people who were teenagers in the '00s, it was By The Way. It had proper songs with proper melodies and proper rock bits and proper sad bits – if we had to sum it up in one word, we'd say it was "really very good indeed".
Things went downhill after that. The needless double album that followed, Stadium Arcadium, had enough good songs to fill out a three-track EP, and the releases that followed it were just as, if not more lacklustre. The Chili Peppers should have stopped around 2004; they would have gone out as one of the best bands ever, instead of milling about as funk rock’s embarrassing uncles like they are now.
High point: By The Way (the album and song)
Low point: 'Hump de Bump' (that's literally the lyrics of the chorus, over and over again)
4. Bloc Party
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Even now, 10 years after its release, it's impossible not to get excited when you hear the drums leading into 'Banquet'. Bloc Party's debut Silent Alarm was pretty much perfect, and their second album A Weekend In The City saw them start to get creative with their soundscape without betraying their indie rock roots. They were on the brink of being one of Britain's biggest and best guitar bands.
Then came their third album Intimacy, preceded by the single 'Mercury', which basically saw them ditch the guitars for loops and synths. To be fair, 'Mercury' is a bit of a banger, and you can't blame a band for trying to move with the times, but if you really loved Bloc Party's razor sharp guitar lines, the dance direction of Intimacy was a hard pill to swallow. Then they just kind of stopped. Two band members left, two new ones rejoined, and now Bloc Party have returned, but their comeback single 'The Love Within' was, how do you say, rather annoying and not very good. A damn shame.
High point: 'Banquet'
Low point: When they decided to 'do a Radiohead' and have a crack at electronic music
5. The Strokes
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Has any band every had a better first album than The Strokes? Before you answer, let us just say this: no. No other band has had a better first album than The Strokes. Is This It literally reinvented indie rock and set the tone for the rest of the '00s, but it was also an immaculate piece of craftsmanship.
They were hailed as geniuses, visionaries, and everyone wanted to know what was next for The Strokes. The follow up, Room On Fire, was the most hyped album of the decade, but was ultimately a disappointment.
It's not entirely The Strokes' fault - they could have released Sgt. Pepper's: Part II and it wouldn't have lived up to the expectation that was heaped upon them. There were a few good tunes on Room On Fire, but if the first album kicked the doors down, this one meekly stuck its head round the corner. The Strokes never got better, they just dipped and plateaued again. Most bands have one good album in them; The Strokes got theirs out of the way early on.
High point: 'Someday'
Low point: 'Ask Me Anything' (the chorus lyric is literally just "I've got nothing to say")
6. Linkin Park
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There are two kinds of people in this world: people who owned and loved Linkin Park's first album Hybrid Theory, and people who need to go and sit in the corner because they're dirty, rotten liars. Hybrid Theory was angsty, brash and full of spunk, just like the teenage boys who so closely identified with it.
The album was bursting with smash hits: 'Papercut', 'Crawling', 'One Step Closer', 'In the End'. It was all a bit "woe is me", but that's what nu metal was all about. Your mam didn't understand, but Linkin Park did. Or at least pretended to for money.
But, like the wounded blobfish that it was, nu metal had to roll over and die eventually. Linkin Park, however, had other ideas. They cleaned up their sound, toned down the angst and turned themselves into a rent-a-rock-band. If you want a song for your movie soundtrack, Linkin Park will bash one out for you.
If you need a sort-of heavy band that sort-of normal people like to headline your festival, Linkin Park will do that for you too. Linkin Park are everything you want them to be, and therefore they are nothing.
High point: 'Numb/Encore' from Collision Course, the mash-up album they did with Jay-Z
Low point: 'The Catalyst'
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While all the middle class kids who were angry about their homework were listening to Linkin Park, the real teenage outcasts were blasting Korn. Unpolished, ugly and heavy as fuck, Korn made weird, slinky, funk-inflected metal music that felt completely authentic. Singer Jonathan Davis really went through some shit in his youth, and you could feel that in their songs.
Their hip-hop influences were also a way for suburban kids to get into rap, which is no bad thing - the song 'Children of the Korn' actually features the actual Ice Cube. Korn were pioneers of a misunderstood genre that represented the misunderstood, which is why they still have a loyal fanbase even to this day.
But, like Linkin Park, Korn had to evolve or die with their genre. Linkin Park chose to widen their net and started taking bookings for weddings and bar mitzvahs, but Korn decided to take a gamble and zone in on a popular genre of the time: dubstep.
Partnering up with recovering metalhead and superstar producer Skrillex, they released The Path of Totality and the single 'Get Up!', which was as confusing as it was awful. Dubstep and metal share some similarities - they're both loud, heavy and full of bass, and fair play to Korn for trying something new, but hoo boy, it did not work.
High point: Freak on a Leash
Low point: Any song that's followed by: (feat. Skrillex)
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Everyone had a soft spot for Blink-182 when they were kids, even if you weren't really into rock music. They were fast, funny, heartfelt and didn't take themselves seriously in the slightest. You'd need at least 10 extra fingers to count the classic Blink tunes on one hand, and you can guarantee that some house party somewhere is blasting 'All The Small Things' right now, and everyone's loving it.
But, as every band made of mortal human beings must do, Blink-182 got old, and eventually you have to accept that fucking a dog in the ass can no longer be the prerogative of a middle aged man. After one good late period album (self-titled) and one completely half-arsed effort (Neighbourhoods), Tom DeLonge quit the band and was replaced with former Alkaline Trio singer Matt Skiba. Another album later (California) and we're wondering why they're still bothering: if nobody likes you when you're 23, what hope do you have when you're in your 40s?
High point: Enema of the State
Low point: Tom DeLonge’s verse on I Miss You (here's a 10 hour loop, don't ask why)
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Coldplay are an easy target, but it's hard to actively hate them. They got off to as strong a start as a band could hope for: Parachutes is a great, great album, and 'Yellow' is a stone cold classic. A Rush of Blood to the Head is also pretty good; if you don't get a lump in your throat every time you hear 'The Scientist', there's something wrong with your throat. In fact, they have a lot of very high quality, well crafted songs that millions of people adore.
The problem with Coldplay is that as they got bigger, they also got emptier. Their songs are trying so hard to be anthemic and uplifting that they lack any actual substance. By all accounts Chris Martin is a lovely fella, and there's no denying they put on a hell of a show, but the songs they're playing the shit out of are kind of vacuous. And Jesus Christ, if 'Fix You' doesn't make you want to vomit into your own ears, it should.
High point: Shiver
Low point: When Chris Martin decided that falsetto/world peace should be his default register
10. Bring Me The Horizon
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Alongside Foals and Biffy Clyro, Bring Me The Horizon are Britain's only shot at having another big guitar band this decade, so it's hard to blame them for shooting for the big time. If you listen to anything from their first album Count Your Blessings however (try Pray for Plagues), you'd be amazed that this band had any chance of being listened to by anyone at all, let alone the hordes of fans they command now. Their early music is corrosive and deafening, fed by impressively technical guitar work and neck-busting breakdown. However you really can't help but imagine frontman Oli Sykes vomiting black sludge into the microphone every time he opens his mouth.
That is not the band that Bring Me The Horizon are now. They've recognised that they have an opportunity to become bigger than they ever imagined, so they've ditched the shredding and death screams, opting for a cleaner, more radio-friendly sound (which explains why they're on the radio now). Seriously, listen to 'Throne' from their latest album and try not to compare them to Linkin Park; the chorus is basically the same as 'Faint'. Obviously the definition of what is good and bad depends on your point of view, but it's definitely fair to say that BMTH are a lot less interesting these days.
High point: Chelsea Smile
Low point: When Oli Sykes dropped the growls in favour of singing 'clean'
11. Green Day
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Green Day weren't as universally adored as Blink-182 (probably due to the lack of songs about fucking dogs in the ass), but everyone knew the words to 'Basket Case' and could make a decent go of 'Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)' on the guitar. Green Day already had a major smash with Dookie, but American Idiot took them from big-time American pop punk band to international superstars. Oh yes, 2004 was the year of Green Day and frankly, they earned it. American Idiot was as ambitious as it was catchy - how many punk bands make an album with two songs over nine minutes long?
Then everything kind of fizzled out. The follow-up, 21st Century Breakdown, felt very much like a difficult second album, despite it being their eighth release. The singles were desperately generic, with lead track 'Know Your Enemy' sounding like a reheated American Idiot leftover and '21 Guns' clearly nicking the chorus melody to 'All The Young Dudes'. Then came ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré!, an ambitious but misguided triple album release that felt like a last stab at making the headlines. Green Day already put out two generation-defining records, and it's possible they've got a third. Pretty fucking unlikely though.
High point: Dookie
Low point: Thinking anyone cared enough to release three (THREE) albums back to back.
*This article first appeared on JOE.co.uk*