Good Artists Gone Bad

I guess that I must have poor taste.

I came across this feature today: Bad Songs By Good Bands.  Reading through the list, I found that not only did I like the songs chosen as “bad”, but many were my favorite songs by that artist.  I love the tracks that they singled out by Blondie, R.E.M., Guns N’ Roses, Depeche Mode, Paul Simon, Outkast, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, The Beach Boys, and The Clash.

But as much as I disagree with their choices, I know a good topic of conversation when I see one.

Perhaps some of you will disagree with me as much as I disagree with the good folks at Spinner, but here are some songs that I think are pretty bad, even though the artist is very good:

  • Faith Hill, “Bringing Out the Elvis” – “When I’m with you I never have to feel like a sardine in a little metal can. I’m more like  wild shark that travels in a pink limousine. Yeah, together with my fans.”
  • Toby Keith, “Whiskey Girl” – I’ll never forget my dad’s reaction to this as he watched the video: “Wow. He’s not even trying anymore.” He was a huge Toby fan, too.
  • Patty Loveless, “You Will” – Goes on forever without ever getting anywhere.

What do you think are perfect examples of good artists gone bad?


  1. -“Ticks” by Brad Paisley; obviously if we’re gonna discuss this one has to be one of the first mentioned.

    – “Me and My Gang” “Bob that Head” “Summer Nights” by Rascal Flatts; sorry it was really hard to single one bad Flatts song since there are so many.

    – “Last Name” by Carrie Underwood; I know this was meant to be the “Before He Cheats” of her sophomore album but I personally didn’t enjoy hearing her talk about how she was a bit of a, um, on a night out.

    – “Chicken Fried” by the Zac Brown Band; I will never understand this song…EVER! To this day, I still don’t get how in the world this song made it to number 1! Someone might need to explain to me this song to me because I don’t get it.

    The list could go on and on and on…but I’ll just keep it at those. I’m interested to hear what everyone else has to say about this one!

  2. I’ll second “Chicken Fried.” I’ve actually come around to enjoying most of the rest of their songs.

    Steve Earle “The Boy Who Never Cried”
    George Strait “River of Love”
    Johnny Cash “Chicken in Black”

    And my #1 example by far: “Tough Little Boys” by Gary Allan. I like or love nearly every other song from him… but I HATE that friggin’ song.

  3. But Trailer, from what I understand, “Chicken In Black” was a rebellious contractual obligation. He did that song just to piss off the record label. I could be wrong on that, but I feel like I read that somewhere.

  4. I remember “You Will” was the current single of Patty’s when I first started listening to country music. Lets just say I wasn’t an instant fan.:)

  5. I always hated “Whiskey Girl” until two good friends of mine (who are female and not country fans at all) starting imitating Toby’s performance of it after flipping channels and catching it on CMT. Then it just became hilarious.

    Anyway, the topic. Let’s see…

    Alan Jackson, “Country Boy.” He’s had a few bum singles over the years, but nothing else quite so glaring, I don’t think.
    Patsy Cline, most of the BS she was contractually obligated to record
    Trisha Yearwood, “Who Invented the Wheel” (don’t hurt me, I know some people love it, but the chorus is so un-subtle it makes me cringe)
    Keith Urban, Defying Gravity

    And I’m sure I’ll think of others. Good topic!

  6. Really Dan? That’s one of my favorite Yearwood songs!

    I have to say most of Lee Ann Womack’s Something Worth Leaving Behind album. I like the title track and “Forever Everyday”, but everything else is really boring.

    Reba’s Duets album is too boring too. Keith Urban’s latest album is pretty disappointing to me too.

  7. Almost all of Tim McGraw’s new stuff, post 90s. None of it has appealed to me, and I used to be such a fan of his music.

  8. I’ve been pretty mixed about Tim’s 00’s stuff myself. I love “Red Ragtop”, “If You’re Reading This”, and “Drugs Or Jesus”, and enjoyed most of the stuff on Live Like You Were Dying (never quite fell in love with the title track like everyone else did), but I could pretty much leave everything else.

  9. “Big Cry” by Sara Evans… everything else from her is amazing =)

    “All I Want to Do” by Sugarland… although there are a couple more on that album that are bad too, this one takes the cake for being one of the most annoying songs EVER

    “Cowboys Are My Weakness” by Trisha Yearwood… the song is just average up until the chorus when she starts whining on every word and its like being beaten over the head with a hammer at times

  10. ‘What A Way to Wanna Be’ – Shania Twain
    ‘Tequila’ and ‘Drop In The Bucket’ – Brooks & Dunn
    ‘Otis Redding’ Sara Evans
    ‘The Critic’ Toby Keith

  11. Dan, our McGraw Taste seems to be pretty similar in this decade. Although there is a decent amount of stuff that I’ve liked by him, it all seems to be pretty spread out.

    Nicolas, too bad about “Cowboys Are My Weakness.” Love that one.

  12. I’ve got to echo Tara’s sentiments on post 90’s Tim McGraw. It’s not that I’ve hated his output this decade, (except for the ridiculously overplayed “Live Like You Dying”) it’s just nothing has really stood out to me.
    Toby Keith was probably my favorite male artist until he lost me with back to back dreadful single releases of “The Angry American” and “Who’s Your Daddy”. Also I was a moderately big fan of Kenny Chesney’s earlier output up until “No Shoes No Shirt No Problems” when “Island Kenny” took over. I’ve pretty much disliked everything I’ve heard from him since then except for “I Go Back” which is one of my alltime favorite songs.

  13. This discussion is bound to create some friction. My best friend Angel and I are fans of the same artists, but we tend to like completely different songs. For instance, I am not a fan of Reba’s songs like ‘Why Haven’t I Heard From You’, ‘Take It Back’, or ‘My Sister’, while those are Angel’s favorites.

  14. I guess I’ve never really hated Patty’s “You Will” but it’s never wowed me either. I also have to disagree with the Dixie Chicks’ “I Can Love You Better”. I enjoyed that one too. I will agree with Alan Jackson’s “Country Boy”. I hate that one. Can’t stand it! I’ll also add Brooks & Dunn’s cover of John Waite’s 80s hit “Missing You”.

  15. 95% of Clint Black’s stuff since his first album. I think there have been two decent songs since then, which is sad because I think all but 2 songs on the first album were great.

  16. “We’re So Good Together” – Reba (I’m still traumatized)
    “Bringing Out the Elvis” – Faith Hill
    “Waiting” – Deana Carter & Dwight Yoakam (Just so boring.)
    “Her” – Chely Wright
    “Endless Helpless Hoping” – Josh Gracin
    The entire You Light Up My Life album by LeAnn Rimes
    “Forever Everyday” – Lee Ann Womack
    “When You Love Me” – Martina McBride
    “Saints & Angels” – Sara Evans
    “I’m Holdin’ On To Love (To Save My Life)” – Shania Twain
    “All Of A Sudden You Disappeared” – Shelby Lynne
    “I Wanna Go Too Far” – Trisha Yearwood

  17. I like ‘I Wanna Go Too Far’.

    And I want to echo what Todd said about Toby Keith. I was a big fan of his music right up until his Pull My Chain album. He had a few clunkers before then like ‘Big Ole Truck’ and ‘Country Comes To Town’, but for the most part, I liked every single he put out. But since the turn of the century, Toby Keith’s output has been seriously lacking. He’s probably the one artist I am most disappointed in.

  18. Oh yeah, on the subject of the original list by Spinner, I liked a lot of those songs, too. It struck me as a bit of a snobby set of choices, honestly.

  19. I thought that whole Deanna Carter album was excruciatingly boring and it could have been something interesting.

  20. I actually like Patty’s “You Will”,.. a lot. Granted, it is somewhat repetitive, but it is also very dynamic, like so much of her work. It’s also somewhat of an antidote to “Blame It On Your Heart”…”Unlike Blame”, in “You Will” she is willing to take him back. (The guy in “Blame” must be a bigger scoundrel ;)). Once again, two sides of Patty’s musical persona are on display here with these two songs (love ’em both) and this is another example of how Loveless tries to make music that ultimatly both men and women can relate to.

    I also really like the Dixie Chicks “I Can Love You Better”

    As for hits by great artists that I wouldn’t have missed, I would cite Brad Paisley’s “Alcohol”, a staggering headache of a song.

  21. I’ll add tracks 2. Just When I Thought I’d Stopped Loving You, and 7. Pink Guitar(complete with a Johnny Cash named drop) from Reba’s upcoming album, just previewed it on her site, and it’s not what I would have hoped from an artist like her at all.

  22. @Rainbow: “Saints & Angels” isn’t Sara’s best by any means, but that song is still a great one imho =)

    And I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves “I Can Love You Better” … that song will never get old xD

    Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” although popular, isn’t a very good song imho… I had heard so much hype about it and when I finally listened to it, I was like: “Time to listen to Jolene” =P

  23. Hmm…this is a VERY interesting topic and I had to go rack my brains but I do agree with the majority of commentary appeal of the latest efforts of McGraw, Chesney, and T. Keith that their earlier stuff before they hit the big time certainly resonates me way more than their current works. I’ll throw a major curveball here in adjusting the question by answering this: I am a big time fan of Randy Travis and even though I don’t listen to his stuff too much anymore due to rising collection that, over time, had catalogued him into the back burner (I know…I deserve a whipping!) I never understood and admittedly dreaded his spiritual/Christian projects after he established himself well into the traditional mode. Granted, a few songs here and there were good but only because they RESEMBLED his traditional roots than the spiritual project he felt he owed to himself and God. Hence, I must say that if he ever actually returned to the roots, I’d feel tons better and would have that silly smile on my face again.

  24. Toby Keith is the biggest example of a good artist gone bad. I thought his first 3 or 4 albums were great, but I haven’t been impressed much since with the rest of them.

  25. Josh, Randy Travis pretty much returned to form with his last album Around the Bend, which was a solid secular project. I really liked his Worship And Faith album, but didn’t really get into the others as much. Worship and Faith may be one of my favorites by him quite honestly. I love the rootsy production.

  26. Kathy Mattea pretty much post-“Time Passes By”. I still love to listen to her early stuff but then the Celtic-thing and obligatory Jon Vezner song for better or for worse. The deal was pretty much sealed when she drank the Algore kool-aid. How disappointing (IMHO).

  27. I’ll probably get some extremely shocked looks for saying this, but “High Sierra”, whether on FEELS LIKE HOME or the TRIO II album, isn’t one of my favorites of Linda Ronstadt–far from it. It’s not that it’s a badly written song, but Linda’s performance, to me, sounds way too mannered, a strained attempt to sound high and lonesome when, twenty-five years ago, she would have aced this. Sorry, but that’s the way I’m calling it.

  28. Scott, that’s when there was a definite shift in Toby’s music, I agree, a mostly downward shift.

    Kevin’s Diamond Rio review makes me feel the need to add that song to this discussion.

  29. To Mr. North, who was dissapointed with Linda’s performance of “High Sierra”. I know that’s your story and you’re sticking to it, but..Who are you and what have you done with Erik? ;)

  30. I never intended to deliberately shock anybody with my choice, but it was a totally honest one. I’m a big fan of Linda’s, but I did not like the way she sang “High Sierra.” End of story.

  31. “All I Wanna Do” by Sugarland!!

    As well as that Faith Hill song. Ugh.

    The new Kenny Chesney stuff. It’s all getting boring. “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” was okay, but “Shiftwork”…”Down the Road”….No.

  32. Here are some true clinkers:

    “Ito Eats”
    “There’s No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car”
    “Do The Clam”
    “Fort Lauderdale Chamber Of Commerce”
    “Quennie Wahine’s Papaya”
    “Song Of The Shrimp”

    Now, no one worth his or her salt would even think of doing songs with titles like that. But those six clinkers are exactly the kinds of songs Elvis was forced to record for those largely hideous B-movie musicals he did throughout most of the 1960s. Here he is, one of the great American singers in history, doing tripe like the aforementioned, for films like CLAMBAKE, SPINOUT, and the like, while the Beatles were doing A HARD DAY’S NIGHT and HELP! Stuff like this damn near ran Elvis’ musical career into the ground, and those films wiped out his considerable acting potential.

    Still, it doesn’t erase obvious gems like “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, “Viva Las Vegas”, or “Kissin’ Cousins” from the mind. And Elvis’ standing in pop music was revived as the 60s came to a close.

  33. Oh yes, poor Elvis definitely did some clunkers during his run. I’m glad it didn’t ruin him, but I think it would have taken a lesser force down for sure.

  34. Not takin’ the bait Leeann, you won’t get me to say anything bad about Patty, lol…

    Hey, just cuz I defended “You Will” (and I stand by that).. But if Erik can come clean, so can I…

    OK, this is just between you and me…and if you quote me on any of this, I will deny it. ;)

    There are actually a few obscure album cuts by PL that aren’t my favorites, songs that I almost dislike and almost always skip over…but I don’t think I actually hate them. On “After All” (was that a single?) and “A Little On the Lonley Side” Patty sounds like she is straining on some of the notes…(did I just say that?!) But I do like those two songs anyway..Not crazy about the opening of “If You Think” either.

    And most recently, I dont really like the chorus opening of “I’ve Forgotten More, Than You’ll Ever Know About Him” The verses are great melodically, but the song-title refrain is an akward construction.

    I hope all this re-establishes, (or establishes) my credibility …

    I’m glad we had this little talk, but I gotta go hide now, the apocalypse is coming…

  35. Not even Linda Ronstadt’s favorite bunch of in-house Desperados, The Eagles, are immune from going off the rails at times. “Teenage Jail”, “The Disco Strangler”, and “The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks”, all of which come from their 1979 album THE LONG RUN, are rather camp, and I’d have to qualify these as clinkers, even though I do largely like these guys. They were in a very fallow creative period at that time, and frequently at one another’s throats, trying to follow up a masterpiece like HOTEL CALIFORNIA; and, not coincidentally, they had addictions to a fine white powdery substance whose name stars with a “C”. But those three songs aren’t ones they’ll be remembered for. “The Long Run”, “I Can’t Tell You Why” and “Heartache Tonight” (also from THE LONG RUN)–those are another story.

  36. Tim again, “Indian Outlaw.” Call me PC if you like, but I thought it was offensive as well as just plain stupid.

  37. Anything off of “Taking the Long Way” by the Dixie Chicks. No one even knows any songs off the record, and with the benefit of hindsight, the entire album feels indulgent, overwrought and (worst of all) very Bush-era.

  38. Woah, what a remark from cuttingthetreacle! It’s almost like he knows Taking the Long Way is one of Kevin’s favorite albums and is deliberately cutting it down on his blog just for the sake of being contrarian! How unexpected!

    But really. I personally don’t like Taking the Long Way nearly as much as Home or Fly, but I would hardly write it off as such an utter failure. I found “Not Ready To Make Nice” to be a bit of a spectacle, but “The Long Way Around” is one of my very favorite Chicks songs, and there are a handful of other songs off the album that have really stuck with me – none of which are specific to the Bush era or “the incident” at all.

  39. I am contrarian. And it’s still true: musically, it’s an utterly forgettable album. The secretary who used to sit outside my office had the CD cover from the album taped next to her John Kerry bumper sticker on her file cabinet. I asked her how she liked the album. Her response was basically that she hadn’t listened to it and bought it because of Bush (or, more likely, because she hated Bush). I’ll concede that some folks on her probably know some of the songs, but that’s the very rare exception. It was an album that had lots of political support, a lot of awards and no songs that anyone listen to. Give me Crazy by Gnarls Barkley any time instead. That secretary ended up replacing the Dixie Chicks album cover with a Hillary Clinton last spring.

  40. I would believe that a lot of people “like” the album just because of what they think it stands for, the same way a lot of people “like” Johnny Cash just because of how the media supersized his cool factor when he died. But the shallowness of certain fans shouldn’t be a reflection on the art itself. We know Johnny Cash was a great artist even though a lot of his recent support seems superficial; likewise, the fact that some people dig the Dixie Chicks exclusively for their views (and I have met people like that, too, coming out of a very liberal area) doesn’t inherently make their music any less substantial. I personally don’t care as much for the album, and agree that some of it is forgettable, but that opinion is informed exclusively by my listening experience.

  41. I’ll add that “Not Ready to Make Nice” is a very well-known song, and it was a huge hit despite it not getting very much radio play. It was one of the first country singles to go platinum in the digital era. That’s still a rarity today. I think that the only other country artists who’ve had a million-selling single are Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift.

    I think it’s the second best Dixie Chicks album, right behind Home. I like Fly quite a bit, but Wide Open Spaces? Not so much.

  42. Toby Keith – just about anything he’s released since the “Pull My Chain” album.

    Brad Paisley – “Alcohol,” “Ticks,” “Online,” and “I’m Still A Guy.” Didn’t find them funny. Just annoying.

    Kenny Chesney – any of his countless songs about either being in the islands or remembering his youth. “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” is not too bad, though.

    Craig Morgan – Loved his debut on Atlantic and his second album is mostly good, too. Can’t stand all the “I’m country and proud of it” ditties he’s released lately like “Bonfire,” “International Harvester,” and “A Little Bit Of Life.”

  43. The Beatles “Revolution #9” is a real clinker as well (tape reversal effects symptomatic of the time it was made [it’s from 1968’s THE WHITE ALBUM]; the repetition of “Number 9, Number 9”). Here, you’ve got to blame Lennon for this. It’s definitely not his finest hour, let alone for the Fab Four in general (IMO).

  44. I think that any faith hill or shania twain album made after 1999 deserves to be on this list. also any toby keith song that is upbeat, i hate all his upbeat numbers, but the sad songs are good.

  45. Bob Dylan without a doubt a good artist gone bad. He gets mad when people want to hear the classics. The last few times Ive seen him he was so whacked out on stage you could not understand a word he said. Sad.


  46. Well, nobody ever said that Dylan wasn’t his own biggest critic. He does what he will; and if it means people don’t hear “Like A Rolling Stone” every time out, that’s the way it’ll have to be.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Sara Evans Settles Suit; Jack Ingram Bests Taylor Swift; What’s Country? | The 9513

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.