Why a band "sucks"?

So I want to take a step back and talk about the culture of music. Why is it that we as people label certain bands as they “suck?” Just as a reference to what I am talking about, here are a few bands that come to mind that I feel have been given this tag.

Nickelback, Hootie & the Blowfish, Creed, etc. Heck, I did a quick google search for “rock bands people hate” and names like John Mayer and Dave Matthews Band came up. I even found Rush and Red Hot Chili Peppers in one associated article. Granted, I wholeheartedly believe that particular article was made for click bait. Regardless I digress.

Why is it that we do this? Is it the age old motivators of humanity that is acceptance and validation? Do we tear down one band in order to validate that the band that we like is indeed good? Do we trash one because the “sound” of a certain band sounds like one others have trashed before and we don’t want to be ridiculed?

Granted there are more non-musicians it the world than musicians, which skews things, but no one can deny the success of every band above. Which leads me to my ultimate question, and I’ll use Nickelback here to frame it. Personally they are neutral in my book, but if they are as “hated” as everyone makes them out to be. How is it possible they are as successful as they are?


True points to ponder :slight_smile:

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I do think a lot is jealousy. Like some people are bitter because a certain band is doing better than their favourite. I mean I’m sure we’ve all felt one of our loved bands is so much more talented than a super popular one but some people feel the need to put the other down because of it.
Also I have felt it a bit in just growing up. I used to like 21 pilots when I was about 15 but now I’m 19 I can’t stand them. Tho saying that their fans can also turn people off bands because I know theirs were particularly vocal.
Either way it doesn’t inherently link to talent at all imo it’s personal things. Also when any band gets too popular there are gonna be people who hate them just to be edgy.


I love those bands and their music. Who are these people who say they suck?

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Great, great points.

As someone who slogged (and continues to slog) it out as a career and touring / recording / performing musician… yes. Jealousy is a major factor in any bad-mouthing that goes on.
All most musicians know is: "those hacks are making money… and I just played soul-changing, challenging, world-saving music from 9pm - 1am at The Cranky Buffalo to 3 drunk guys for free drinks and an empty tip jar. It is rough on the soul, and jealousy and a deep seeded feeling of “this is not fair” is very understandable.

Identity is huge too. People build their identity around bands the same way sport fans do with teams. If you like the Giants, then you hate the Dodgers. If you like Mayhem, you hate Nickelback. What you hate on can be just as identity and peer-group identifying as what you love.
Not defending this, but it’s a massive part of what fuels the ire.

A desire to educate and cure ignorance is the best and most noble source of the vitriol. It can be brutal to the music teacher (ahem, me) when a slick, beautiful, photogenic and charismatic - yet musically banal and imitative - band starts to make waves, and money, and soaks up the glory and limelight. My way to explain this is by analogy. And, as most of my analogies go, this one has to do with food.

Imagine if you were a gourmet chef. Or even a very dedicated, idealistic farmer or cook at home.
And then McDonalds happens. It becomes the worlds most beloved food. Food magazines start writing about it because it is so popular. Followed by interviews with photogenic, beautiful actors in McDonald’s uniforms, talking about why their food is so good, and how hard they worked to make their food, and how great it is that so many people just love their food…

The more reactionary chef/farmer/cook would start shaking random passers-by and yelling “McDonald’s sucks! It’s all fake!! They’re not any good at cooking!!!”

I understand this.
It is, however, a terrible way to affect change. Because the root of this problem doesn’t lie in yelling the truth at people to their faces loudly and rudely. It lies in the response the McDonald’s loving public has to this yelling barrage of truth.

“But I like it,” they say. And well they should. Because that’s the honest truth.

So. How do you get someone to not like fatty, sugary, delicious tasting protein/organic matter that’s been scientifically engineered to make your mouth water?

You can’t.
It will always be delicious.

In the same way that beautiful people singing un-challenging, effective songs will always sound good to the ear.

Appreciation is the exercise that starts to broaden palettes (both musical and culinary) and moves from merely accepting the most un-challenging, easily accessible option, and starts to activate the inquisitive, thoughtful, creative part of the brain that likes to explore.

This happens over time through bang-up musical education, and through a broader cultural shift from Franchise Culture ( “I want the same thing every time no matter where in the world I am”) to Local-Mom-and-Pop-Culture (“I’m interested in experiencing something unique in this unique time and place”).

I believe that creativity is something that has to be fostered at every level, and needs to be the primary focus of education at every level.

And then there’s world peace.

Wyld Stallions 4 Lyfe.


Excellent take.

I think my favorite response to this was by the KLF in the late '80s. If you don’t know the KLF, they were these two amazing electronic musicians that made pretty killer music as The Timelords and The KLF (among other names) that was themed on fringe conspiracy theories about ancient illuminati, Sci-Fi, Doctor Who, and other unusual things, and were a total send-up live - they would get on “Top of the Pops” for gigs and show up dressed as druids, etc, and at one point simply deleted their entire catalogue and burned a million quid - all of their profits - just for shiggles.

Anyway at some point they looked around and said basically, “If all these talentless guys can make #1 hits, so can we.” So they studied, actually did it, and wrote The Manual.

It turns out The Manual, despite being a total send-up itself, actually worked. It worked for The KLF:


It worked for Edelweiss:


It worked for Chumbawumba:


Those were all huge hits. It just worked :slight_smile:

Anyway these guys (Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty) were my heroes for a long time. One of them went on to found The Orb, one of the biggest electronica bands of all time.

If you don’t know them, I recommend checking them out.


Love this bit with Tammy Wynette, it’s so deliciously weird and infectious.



When I was in high school with my friends, we always talked about music (early 80’s; a very interesting time).

My friend John was a huge Beatles fan, and it was very annoying. It got the better of me, and I said something really stupid…

Ken: The Beatles suck!

John: No, the Beatles don’t suck. You just don’t like them.

Sometimes a band “seems” overrated, and we’re tempted to say they suck. Admittedly, I didn’t learn to appreciate the Beatles until later.

If a band annoys us for any reason, we’re tempted to say they suck. That was me!


Wow, this gets philosophical fast…

I think we got some good reasons already: jealousy, envy, peer pressure, … probably should add “zeitgeist” - there is a period where some music works/fits, and others where it “sucks”.

But, I also found the we often find that a band sucks and it has almost nothing to do with the music they play. Through whatever mechanism (press, word of mouth, own experience, …), we get the impression that the singer/frontman(woman) is a jerk/asshole/bitch, or the entire band, because of the way they behave, they speak, they treat their fans etc. - and then we project all that onto their music and the whole thing sucks.

We often don’t realize (although intellectually we know) that the musicians in those famous bands are just as much actors as musicians - they put up an act, they create a certain image (maybe because marketing says so), and sometimes this calls for being a bad boy or even a jerk. I am not immune to that: take Marylin Manson - I hated his guts, certainly didn’t care much for the music, but almost loathes his appearance and behavior! Bam, put a label on that guy - done!

Then, I saw him being interviewed in “Bowling for Columbine” and I realized it was me who had been the jerk and an idiot… I had gone after the man instead for the ball! I can still think the band Marilyn Manson sucks (because I don’t like the music or their antics), but I shouldn’t judge the singer on what little I know of him. Because, really I don’t know him and never will…

So, yeah, it is so easy to say something sucks - it takes much more effort to appreciate something, because often we have to look for the “cool” stuff underneath smokescreens, fake personas, and a lot of misinformation.


When the Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show on Sunday, February 9, 1964, I knew then that I couldn’t stand the shit-birds. On Monday, February 10, my intuition was solidified when Debbie Duncan, (we all called her “Double D’s”),… my 6th grade crush dropped me like a two ton turd and decided that she would be devoting the rest of her life on planet earth bearing Paul McCartney’s children instead of mine.

So, do the Beatles “Suck”?? To me,… NO… But they did manage to convince me that with some fancy-ass boots and a little more hair on my head that I’d be able to at least have a chance to compete with all the males in the entire 6th grade class for the one remaining girl that wasn’t love-struck by any of the “Fab Four”… “Cross-Eyed” Kate Carson…!!!.. Guess it kinda makes sense though since she didn’t know which one of the eight of them damn beatles to choose from…

Keep on Humpin’, Thumpin’, and Kickin’ Ass!


I didn’t respond to this initially @PamPurrs as the answers that have trailed in were largely what I thought. More often than not its somehow tied to insecurity.

I started this post ultimately in hope that I could help everyone keep the right perspective when it comes to any and all music. While there are certainly outliers that are just in it for the money/fame, I have to believe a large majority of all musical performers are musicians at heart. Even the extreme pop artists (there are pop artists in nearly, if not all genres, not just “pop” music) many times are true musicians that have just been overhauled so much due to their label that they are hardly themselves anymore. Granted they’ve made the choice to allow that.

Nevertheless, before jumping to conclusions and claiming a particular artists sucks. Put yourself in the shoes of the artist. Is the song and therefore the artist achieving the purpose of the song? Then hats off to them. Now that’s not to say you must like and enjoy the song, artist, or genre. However, if it’s hitting the mark, at the very least it doesn’t suck.


It’s a somewhat related topic, but I’m reading a book about how the music business works in today’s world, and, when you get into the nuts and bolts of what makes a band “successful”, it seems, so little of it is just about the band’s talent. So many other steps factor in, that, what is commercially successful really does end up being the “McDonalds” of music.

That, coupled with music / musicians being such an emotional thing for people to wrap their ears around, causes this sort of love and hate extreme views on it all.

Great viewpoints on this thread so far!


That’s so funny and I totally relate to it!


Video really did kill the radio star. Today’s music judged on appearance and the life story of the artist. I’ll cite the the TV show, “The Voice” and rest my case right there.


It’s always been that way, though. Pat Boone got rich off of inferior versions of Chuck Berry’s hits.


Another thing is that if we like something, we want more of the same (until we don’t like it anymore). So, if a band/performer had a great, say, blues album that we liked, and then follows it up (not for marketing reasons, but because he/she wants to shake things up as an artist and perhaps got bored by blues) with a Dubstep/Folk crossover featuring DJ Ötzi, 99.99% of their “fans” will say “This sucks!!”

It is the reason why McDonald’s and franchises work - you know what you get, and you get what you like! It is also the reason why McDonald’s is unlikely to introduce a McSashimi combo anytime soon!


Yeah this is something I personally was only able to come to terms with in my mid 20’s @joergkutter. Even now its still sometimes hard to accept it but I certainly understand and respect their choice to do so now. However, I have always thought. Why not just name yourself a new band. Same people and everyone knows what’s going on. It’s not like you’ll fool anyone, but it think it would help people accept it a bit more if you are upfront in “Hey this new album doesn’t sound anything like we have in the past. We wanted to do this and stretch our artistic muscles. We will probably go back and write more old band stuff in the future.” A large majority of that is IMO by just using a new name.


I’ve wondered this, while at the same time, been “that guy”. I find it difficult for me to appreciate The Beatles the same way most of the world does. I used to say “they suck” like others have brought up, but recently realized, they made some very good music, as well as songs and a tone I just don’t like.

Nickelback seems to be the band people love to hate, and yet, I find their songs easily relatable, and understand why they’re successful.

As someone who grew up with Hip-Hop, these same feelings apply, but with reason. Unlike music from the 80s and prior, in which the best songs were the ones you heard on the radio (Opinion), I feel it became the opposite past the 90s. Today’s artist will make some silly or catchy songs to get Air play, and leave the meaningful songs for those who actually listen to the entire album. Many artists have admitted to this, with pressure from the record label.