Does your favorite band have blood on its hands? Did they put out an album or even just a song that perfectly summarized a genre so well that any follow-ups would be an insult to taste and reason alike? Was it talent or a complete lack of it that catapulted their sound into annoying ubiquity? Some bands are so good that they own their own genre and sublet the space to other bands until the city deems it uninhabitable and bulldozes it for a Dress Barn. Other bands ruin their genre by spawning endless imitators, each one more obnoxious than the last. Did they do it on purpose? Did they hold a burning contempt for humanity so fierce it’s reserved for motherless demons that service each other only when a child goes missing? Regardless, these bands ruined their genre not all too different from how my mom said I ruined the genre of sons.
Ska: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Thanks to these guys, music has a ‘year zero.’ There’s ‘pre-having a guy in the band that just dances’ and ‘post-having a guy in the band that just dances.’ A ‘bosstone,’ if you will. The original has a name and it’s Ben Carr and by all accounts he is a very sweet man. Let’s face it, other bands have hypemen – Flavor Flav (short for Flavid) and Avail’s Beau Beau, but the matching suits were the smoking gun. They created the expectation that every ska band needs a guy who just dances and I find that mildly inconvenient. What can I say, it’s the impression that I get.
Indie Rock: The Strokes
Depending on which Wikipedia article you scan before you lose service on the F train, rock ‘n’ roll experienced a golden age for 50-160 years where a band having a name starting with ‘The’ wouldn’t garner a second look from even the toughest music critics. Enter The Strokes. Fueled by good looks, industry connections, ample resources, and some darn fine hooks, The Strokes made it significantly more difficult to start a band. Suddenly, having your band name start with arguably the most common word in the English language drew instant comparisons. For shame, The Strokes. Where does it end? Did you hear my friend Jessica’s band: The Year of Living Dangerouslies? Of course not. Lost in the industry shuffle and not because they never released any albums, played any shows, or were actually the name of a trivia team in 2006.
Nu-Metal: Limp Bizkit
Did the red-behatted Sir Frederick Durst and his band of not-so-merry stuff breakers ruin the genre (in between bouts of breaking stuff, obviously)? Looking back, it was pretty ruined to begin with, but you can’t deny it was fun. Birthing countless copies, LB took a newish metal and made it the nu-metal we know today. They also had a wacky guy in the band who wore spooky outfits and contact lenses. Did nu-metal reintroduce their own version of the ‘bosstone?’ Perhaps, but what they introduced full-stop was a soundtrack for Monster-swilling suburban doinks to wail on meeker doinks and perfect their handheld bottle rocket trajectories. I like their cover of George Michael’s ”Faith” and one time I had the best time in an Amsterdam coffee shop watching all the videos back to back with another guy named Mike C.
The Hard Times Editor-in-Chief Bill Conway suggested this one. And rightfully so, this band basically sold audiences a pop-punk shoe that was too big and loaded it with a padded emo in-soles that prevented blisters and shin splints. Did Paramore ruin emo? Who’s to say? Answer: me! But more accurately Bill. And, yes, after Paramore it became legally mandated for people to discuss any new music artist by opening with “Do they sound like Paramore?”
Oi!: Hard Skin
What started out as a tongue-in-cheek comment on the naturally anthemic streetpunk genre favored by skinheads, football hooligans, and people who follow every sentence with “innit?” HS turned out to be better than most oi! bands doing it sincerely. Insult to injury, HS included alumni from politically minded punk bands Thatcher on Acid and Wat Tyler which were antithetical to the entire scene. Also, my band Family Fun opened for HS, and while staying completely in character Fat Bob, Nipper, and Johnny Takeaway said we sounded like pure unadulterated ‘shite.’ Hilarious, guys!
Parody: “Weird Al” Yankovic
Homie ruined the genre for everyone else (except maybe Hard Skin because I’m pretty vague on the definition of ‘parody’). You can’t take an existing song and rewrite the lyrics without someone asking if you’re trying to be Weird Al. And you know what? He fucking earned it. Hell, he pretty much owns songs about food, so good luck trying to write a country song about rice pudding or a polka about Jolly Ranchers. He ruined all your parody, food, polka, novelty careers with an accordion and a legion of refreshingly unfashionable fans.
Weimar Anarcho-Punk Cabaret Death Klezmer (WAPCDK): World/Inferno Friendship Society
Band leader Jack Terricloth passed away two years ago but not without creating a frothing waltzing fanbase that destroyed venues while wearing suits for 25 years before he departed this earthly plane. It’s incredible that so many WAPCDK bands would start in WIFS’s wake, but maybe that’s because it’s so easy to dress like a time-traveling anemic private detective trying to catch and kill Peter Lorre. #ripcloth
Swing: Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
The ‘90s were a dumber time with kids all over the world buying zoot suits and pocket watches with their paper route monies. The ‘90s were so all-in with this band that they let them play the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards… even though they were called Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. Why not have the Sack Fondling Uncles play your son’s first communion? Their biggest hit was “Zoot Suit Riot” which was also an account of a horrific racially motivated riot in the 1940s which was totally “not money.”
Industrial: Nine Inch Nails
This band wrote the playbook on the genre and made it so every performance had to look like a combination of “The Crow” and Burning Man: leather in the desert, goggles in a basement. Did NIN invent industrial? Heavens to Betsy no!! But musical architect and future Golden Globe Winner Trent Reznor made it impossible to exclude the word ‘industrial’ when discussing bands influenced by his own. But hey, at least it paved the way for Ministry’s Al Jourgensen to win a Kids Choice Award for “Dark Side of the Spoon.” What is going on with those awards?! “Hey Kids, get ready for a slutty new ode to sex from Orgy!”
It seemed like Kurt knew it too. Personally, I always preferred Candlebox.
Everything: The Beatles
Those silly b-boys as they were first known made the people want to dance, which made the people forget the majesty of the Lord, and there is no sin greater. The Beatles ruined the genre of life. Our minds were a temple and their charismatic melodies welcomed in the merchants and money lenders. What followed was years of untold depravity and even our children’s children will not be safe. However, I think we can all agree ‘Octopus’s Garden’ is a stone-cold groove, bay-bays!