As a high school music teacher, the question I am asked most by my students is what kind of music I’m into. I’m not sure why but my students want affirmation from me that their taste in pop music is in line with my own.
It rarely is.
Either way, one of my piano students brought up Green Day while wearing an American Idiot t-shit. When he asked me what I thought of the band my immediate response was that if they had gotten hit by a bus in 1995 and were eliminated from the planet, I could hold my head high and say that yes, Dookie was a great album. Nevertheless, the subsequent 15 years of garbage combined with the fact that they managed to somehow rebrand their image and force it down my throat is unforgivable. They should have gotten hit by a bus. After this conversation, I retreated to my office and compiled a list of artists whom alongside Green Day I would go back in time and hit with a bus.
In no particular order, here is that list along with the accompanying caveats of why they make my list.
THe Bus List Rules:
1. The list is a compilation of artists who at one time put out a product that was both popular and good. Subsequently, the artist must have released a product that while remained immensely popular (or at least remained in the limelight) is now unforgivably bad.
2. An artist may be exempt from the list is their slide into mediocracy is entirely innocuous or if they are simply growing too old.
Tom Petty is an example of the innocuous with the release of subpar material such as: “There goes the last DJ, who plays what he wants to play, and says what he wants to say, Hey Hey Hey”
The Rolling Stones and The Who are examples of aging rock stars who can be forgiven for looking really bad on TV and sounding rough around the edges because they are just way past their prime.
3. Niche or cult artists such as Tom Waits or The Cure are exempt.
4. The Bus List is a personal list and does not reflect the opinions of anyone other than its author.
The Bus List:
Aerosmith: The first sign they needed to get hit by a bus was the GAP commercial, the nail in the coffin was their single “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from the Armageddon soundtrack. Love in an elevator and death from a bus.
Coldplay: Their first two albums were great, and then they ruined it by becoming a droning, sappy, synth based U2 wanna be that steals from Joe Satriani (who incidentally would be on the bus list as well if anyone really cared about Joe Satriani).
Michael Jackson: Don’t be shocked; I love me some Michael, but I would hit his ass with a bus after the release of Dangerous. I would give Michael his marriage to Lisa Marie, I would give Michael the music video for “Do You Remember the Time” but I would bus him before his reputation got trashed with a decade and a half of court trials, molestation accusations, and baby dangling. This bus is a merciful bus after all.
Ozzy Osbourne: I would run Ozzy over the night before VH1 presented him with a contract for a reality show. Point in fact, I would run over every musical artist who ever got featured in a ‘Celeb-reality’ program. It is conclusively lame, and you get hit by a bus for it. I’m looking at you Bret Michaels.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers: You used to be a part of the counter culture. You used to be funky. You used to rock. Now you suck and only write mediocre songs about California. No one cares. I would bus the Chili Peppers after the release of Californication. They get one album about the sunshine state, and then it’s over.
Pearl Jam: Just stop it. 1995 called, it was fifteen years ago, we’re done now.
Guns & Roses: I’m pretty sure Chinese Democracy was finally released, and I’m also pretty sure no one noticed. I would bus G&R before the failed hype and before the snake pit.
The Black Eyed Peas: I’ve never liked these guys and part of me just wants to hit this band with a bus. Maybe they should get a pass for being 'fun' club music and not every band needs to be creating music with depth, but the way I see it, “Let’s get retarded in here” is a crass and Fergy definitely peed her pants on stage. I’m saving you from yourself Fergy. Bussed.
Bon Jovi: I’ve never liked Bon Jovi, but there is an ass for every seat and Bon Jovi had a special place in the 80s. Their music should have only survived the 80s by way of college football games and frat parties. The fact that Bon Jovi cut his hair and successfully found the limelight with a talk box in the 90’s and 2000’s is reason enough to hit these guys with my bus. It's my life? Nope, it's my bus.
No Doubt: Tragic Kingdom had it’s time and place, but it spawned the solo career of Gwen Stefani and that shit is B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Bussed.
U2: Uno Dos Tres Catorce Bussed. You Suck.
Jack Johnson: He gets bussed for the same reasons as Coldplay. The first two albums were great and I wish I could still be a fan, but you can only water something down so much before it’s just filler.
2 Pac’s Ghost: You’re dead and I still have to hear changes. That seams unfair.
Carlos Santana: Carlos Santana got famous playing the music of Tito Puente and then tried to find the fountain of youth with Rob Thomas. He even played a duo with Michelle Branch. That warrants a bus.
Metallica: I would bus these guys right before the Napster debacle. Turns out, Lars Ulrich is the worst advocate for the sanctity of an artist’s rights ever, and then they came back by writing for the Mission Impossible II soundtrack. Oof.
Xzibit: I was never a fan of your music, but I loved Pimp My Ride. I would give Xzibit three seasons of this show before I bus him. After the third season Mad Mike ran out of ideas and just started putting too many TV’s into the cars. Maybe he could pimp my bus and I would let him go.
Cher: Cher was the first artist that I can think of to actively use the auto-tune in Pop music with her single “Do You Believe in Love”. By this logic, Cher is directly responsible for both T-Pain and the Bed Intruder song. She gets a bus.
*On the other hand, I got into an argument with a friend over Cher being on this list because she is such an icon for the gay community. I think we settled this issue by agreeing that Cher gets hit by a bus in exchange for Britney Spears.
Weezer: I’m sorry. The Blue album and Pinkerton are perfect for their time and place and of paramount importance in my own life; I love these records. Nevertheless, Weezer is a wretched and hot mess these days. I would give the band up to Maladroit before I cut them off.
Jay Z: The Yankees suck. This is science, it’s not personal. Nevertheless, the fact that Empire State of Mind by Jay Z and Alicia Keys has replaced Frank Sinatra as the theme for Yankee’s stadium is just wrong. No one messes with Frank. Sorry Hova.
Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown: These two were a public train wreck and it’s my prerogative to put them out of the game before the reality show, and before I ever had to know anything about their personal lives.
The Beach Boys: The Beach Boys are absolutely wonderful, a true treasure of American popular music. Nevertheless, I would like to remove Kokomo from the oeuvre of their work so they have to get a bus. Not even the muppets can make me like this song.
Phil Collins: Anything post Genesis earns you a bus. In the Air Tonight was good, but Tarzan was not. Bus.
Jennifer Lopez: I’m not saying that she is on this list because her music, acting, or dancing was ever good, but I am saying that THIS green dress was worth me dealing with her popularity. Then she paired up with Puff Daddy, renamed herself J Lo, and earned a busing.
Dave Matthews Band: I’ll give these guys up to the Lillywhite sessions before they should have disappeared from my radar. Everyday was a bad song and they simply wore out their welcome in the public forum.
Foo Fighters: You guys only get two albums and earn a bus after 1998’s release of The Colour and the Shape. That gives you Nirvana, Big Me, For All the Cows, Monkey Wrench, and There Goes My Hero (also featured on the Varsity Blues Soundtrack). Not bad Dave Grohl, now go meet a bus.
KISS: Having this here is so cliche I feel bad, but nobody needs to see Gene Simmons and his son endorsing Dr. Pepper, so it is Dr. Pepper, not midget Kiss cover bands, bad superbowl half time shows, or Lick It Up that earns Kiss the bus.
Puff Daddy: I’m still calling him Puff Daddy because he takes songs from the 80’s and makes ‘em sound so crazy. I don’t want to know P Diddy, and I don’t want to know what it sounds like to wake up in the morning and feel like P Diddy. Bussed.
Paul McCartney: Consider this an honorable mention. Wings was really mediocre, and I wish I you weren’t around to put “The Doggone Girl Is Mine” on Mike Jackson’s Thriller album.
Sidenote: This is possibly the worst pop tune ever, on one of the best pop albums ever. Who let this happen?
This is my list so far, but I bet I add more to it as soon as I turn the radio back on. Don’t like one of my selections? Leave a comment and maybe you can convince me to save someone from a bus. Did I miss someone who has got it coming? Let me know, I’d love to hear about it.