Have you ever heard a catchy tune on the radio that gets stuck in your head like fresh harvest corn gets lodged into the crevasses between your teeth? No, I am not reminding you to floss here but I am referring to the plague of rock songs that sound cool at first but have the worst lyrics imaginable.
To be a truly bad rock lyricist/front man you must not only possess the English language proficiency of your average Guatemalan third grader but you must also delicately balance pomposity with insecurity. Truly, is there any more attractive combination in a human being’s character? No wonder so many rock bands break up.
Here are the ten worst male rock lyricists of all time. And, no, I don’t care if a professional “songwriter” helped them. It’s still their fault.
Scott Stapp (Creed)
We get it Scott, you love Jesus. You sing about being alive and being lifted higher but do you have to act like you are the savior himself? His lyrics are vague, offer little insight into who he is as a man and have the depth of your average “Nickelback” song. Scott Stapp perfected the art of being a D-bag before Kanye West and “The Situation” based their fame on the very concept.
Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit)
“I did it all for the nookie/Yeah!/So you can take that cookie/And stick it up your/Yeah!/And stick it up your/Yeah!” Add in one backwards baseball cap and this case is closed.
Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
I know I will get a lot of hate mail for this but go back and listen to any “Red Hot Chili Peppers” song and the lyrics are generally quite inane. Even “Under the Bridge” (which was about Anthony’s heroin addiction) takes you on some surreal tangents. Luckily Anthony has Flea and the boys there to make him look good.
Zach De La Rocha (Rage Against the Machine)
Zach gets by with his ferocious vocal delivery and generally surly demeanor. And it doesn’t hurt that he has three of the best rock musicians fueling the fire in “Rage Against the Machine.” But seriously, what does “rally around the family/and a pocket full of shells” mean? I am guessing something to do with Marxism or Che Guevara.
Paul Stanley (Kiss)
Okay, I do kind of like “Beth” and “I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night” but every other Kiss song is just an atrocity. A terrible, horrible affront to the basic concept of “verse/chorus/verse” that proves they really do need to keep their costumes and makeup on. Too bad you just can’t cover up bad lyrics with a clever outfit.
Gavin Rossdale (Bush)
Not one of Gavin’s songs makes any sort of lyrical sense. They are like stream of conscious word jumbles strung together in hopes that he will stumble onto a witty thought. Here’s an example plucked from his hit “Everything Zen”: “Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow.” What?
Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots)
This band was known by some as “The Clone Temple Pilots” in the 1990’s thanks to their grunge-lite sound. Here as evidence of Weiland’s sins are the lyrics to their hit song “Plush.” “Where you going for tomorrow/Where you going with the mask I found?/And I feel/And I feel when the dogs begin to smell her she wears the smell alone.”
Sammy Hagar (Van Halen)
What, exactly, is “Poundcake” and why did Sammy Hagar write an entire song about it? I know pound cake is a tasty treat but this is truly the lamest single sexual entendre in rock history. And that’s pretty bad.
No doubt Lenny is a talented musician (he plays most instruments himself), but his lyrics are usually very stupid. I admit I love the song “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” But it still includes the lyric “we’ve got to love/and rub a dub/and turn this planet back to one.” I guess world peace depends on everyone getting into a big bathtub for “rub a dub” time.
Adam Duritz (Counting Crows)
When I was in college the “Counting Crows” song “Mr. Jones” was hugely popular. I loathed that song with a fiery, venomous and all consuming passion because I think I was the only one to listen to the lyrics. “I will paint my picture/Paint myself in blue and red and black and gray/All of the beautiful colors that are very, very meaningful/Gray is my favorite color/I felt so symbolic yesterday/If I knew Picasso I would buy myself a gray guitar and play.”
Picasso, gray, meaningful symbolism and a guitar all come together in one giant car crash of verbiage thanks this mythical “Mr. Jones.” Also, Adam really needs to give up on the dreads now that his hair is thinning. To this day, I still hate this odious yet oh so melodious song. Look! That rhymed! Let’s write a song around it!
Neil Peart (Rush)
An amazing bassist and usually his lyrics are passable with one horrifying exception. Three words. “Roll the Bones.” This song features the worst rap ever recorded in the history of all recorded time and is an embarrassment to rock lyricists everywhere. Songs like “Roll the Bones” make me wish I only liked classical music.