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The 10 Most Obnoxious Things Ever to Happen in Music

on February 03, 2014, 12:00pm
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Musicians can be so obnoxious. They can also be sociopathic, violent, and perverted. But we’re not writing about monsters here. We’re writing about assholes. We’re writing about celebrities whose self-absorption, immaturity, and craving for fame make them oblivious to decent behavior. We’re writing about that moment when you have to reconcile your feelings about the person with your feelings about their music. More than that, though, we’re writing about those moments that humanize, that transform our favorite musicians from infallible hit-makers to, well, people. Everyone’s a jerk sometimes, and here are 10 of the jerkiest moments in music history.

–Randall Colburn
Staff Writer

John Mayer and Adam Levine Open Their Mouths

john maroon The 10 Most Obnoxious Things Ever to Happen in Music

WTF Moment:

“Kiss and tell” doesn’t even begin to describe the epic douchebaggery pop heartthrobs John Mayer and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine have engaged in while talking about their love lives. For Mayer, a man known to shoot his mouth off, it all reached a fever pitch in 2010 when he gave an interview with Playboy Magazine where he dropped the N-word and described his business as a “white supremacist.” CHARMING. Levine has also had his cases of diarrhea of the mouth, including divulging details of exactly what he and his girlfriend did during the 2004 blackout in NYC.

Why We’re Still Annoyed:

With regard to Mayer, these days we get the sense that the only thing that’s changed is the addition of a speaking filter. As for Levine, well, the hits just keep on coming.

How Obnoxious?:

Hold your gender studies textbook close tonight. —Erin Carson

Kanye’s Bonnaroo Tardiness

WTF Moment:

Remember Kanye West’s 2008 Glow in the Dark Tour? If you only caught him at Bonnaroo that year, odds are you don’t. Originally scheduled to perform at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday night, the elusive MC shifted things to a late night performance to better accommodate his flashing lights and spaceships. But when 2:45 a.m. rolled around early Sunday morning, he was nowhere to be found — only video messages that prompted festivalgoers to stick around ’til 3:15 a.m., 3:30 a.m., etc. Of course, he didn’t actually arrive until 4:25 a.m., which didn’t go over too well with Bonnaroo’s most dedicated, who chucked glow sticks at the stage and chanted (and graffitied, no less), “KANYE SUCKS” throughout The Farm. By then, the stage show was reduced dramatically, the set was shorter, and the sun had begun its unapologetic return.

So, what happened? At the time, there were reports he was at another event and not even on the site. Though, true to form, he addressed the situation in his now-defunct blog with one of his most epic rants of all time. He almost broke his MacBook Air typing it, calling Bonnaroo organizers “squid brains” and explaining the tumultuous behind-the-scenes setup that was apparently limited by Pearl Jam’s performance and weathered equipment.

“It broke my heart that I couldn’t give these fans ‘Stronger’ at its greatest form,” he wrote. “By the time I got to ‘Stronger’ it was daytime and it broke my heart. I’m sorry to everyone that I didn’t have the ability 2 give the performance I wanted to … Sometimes I go 2, 3 days w/no sleep working on my performance … I have to ice my knees after every show and they hurt when I walk through the airport … having an expensive stage cuts my payday in half … call me what you want but never say I didn’t give my all!!!”

Why We’re Still Annoyed:

We’re not really. Kanye’s still far from being drama-proof, but it’s part of his charm. Also, he’s more likely to break a paparazzi’s camera than anything created by Apple, so that’s nice.

How Obnoxious?:

Ever deal with a hungry five-year-old in the grocery store while passing the bakery section? Get back to me then. –Michael Roffman

Fred Woos Britney

fred britney The 10 Most Obnoxious Things Ever to Happen in Music

WTF Moment:

In 2003, Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst told paparazzi that he was so in love with Britney Spears he’d “eat the corn out of her shit.” This was, of course, after he spoke at length to Howard Stern about her breasts (classy, guy) and swore on his son’s “baby blue eyes” that they hooked up (so classy, guy). Spears, of course, denied the claims, which Durst acknowledged to Stern by quoting new lyrics he wrote: “Ain’t it funny, scared to admit it / Very first night made the Limp dog hit it.” He claims they met while working on new tracks he’d written for her (shudder) but that she didn’t use them because, as he stated: “I’m very diverse. I write in a lot of different styles. It was very dark… too mature for her.” Sure, buddy.

Why We’re Still Annoyed:

Durst’s comments conjure the worst kind of bro, the kind that repeatedly objectifies the person he claims to love. Also, the kind that conveys love with fecal metaphors. Also, the image of eating corn out of someone’s shit is hard to shake. (Give him credit for that, I guess.) “I just guess at the time it was taboo for a guy like me to be associated with a gal like her,” he said in 2009, because he was still talking about it in 2009.

How Obnoxious?:

That “Nookie” song, but with the word “nookie” replaced by “Britney”. –Randall Colburn

Anything Involving Axl Rose

axl rose

WTF Moment:

Oh, where do we start? What about the diva moments before every performance? The time he told Kurt Cobain to shut his “bitch” up? The quote about him wanting to kill poodles? His bout of homophobic and racial slurs on “One in a Million”? His domestic abuse charges? Those cornrows? The entire process behind Chinese Democracy? The way he reportedly coerced his bandmates into giving him the band name? The 2002 Video Music Awards on MTV? Should we keep going?

Why We’re Still Annoyed:

If you still can consider yourself a Guns N’ Roses fan, you have every right to be angry at him. After all, he couldn’t even show up to their Hall of Fame performance, an unsurprising “fuck you” to friends who would drop everything to play with him again. Oh well, looks like a headlining Bonnaroo performance will never happen.

How Obnoxious?:

I get a slight pang in my left ear every time I think about the guy. –Michael Roffman

Vanilla Ice Denies Ripping Off Bowie and Queen

WTF Moment:

Shortly after “Ice Ice Baby” became a mega-huge (and mega-obnoxious) single in 1990, Vanilla Ice was accused of lifting the bass line from David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure” without giving credit. His response was that there was enough difference in the sample he used that he shouldn’t be accused of stealing. In the MTV interview above, Ice says that the pickup notes leading into the hook are different, so there is not even an argument—even though everyone else in the world said otherwise. In a 2006 interview with the Iowa State Daily, Ice admitted to using the sample, stating that what he said in the interview was a just a joke, and Bowie and Queen were given payment and songwriting credits for the sample.

Why We’re Still Annoyed:

Even though we now live in a post-Girl Talk sample bonanza, where DJs readily sample others without much recompense, Vanilla Ice’s blatant rip-off and idiotic denial still rests as a great example of a greedy, fame-starved music industry using the genius of the past—albeit in a dumbed-down iteration—to push forward more flat music. Whether the record label assisted in the denial or if all that rests on Vanilla Ice’s shiny shoulder pads is irrelevant. Ice can say the denial was all a joke, but in the end, the joke lies on the man rather than the act.

How Obnoxious?:

A group of drunk, young, white girls scream-rapping “Ice Ice Baby” into a small, distorted microphone in an otherwise quiet bar because it’s “TOTALLY OUR JAM!” –Nick Freed

Courtney Love’s Ill-Timed Plug

courtney love

WTF Moment:

Hole’s indisputably great Live Through This came out the Tuesday after Kurt Cobain’s suicide. In an interview with Tabitha Soren the day after his death, Courtney Love, vocalist for Hole and Cobain’s widow, found time to promote the forthcoming record. “How’s that for sick?” Love asked, bemused. Subsequent interviews took a similar tone, with Love continuously using Cobain as a means to generate media attention. According to her own father, “Courtney knew it was the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Why We’re Still Annoyed:

Because Cobain’s suicide was tragic by any measure, and Love’s seemingly calculated grief registered as disrespect to the songwriter’s considerable legacy. And disrespect is the last thing one wants leveled at their musical icon, especially from the person who was ostensibly closest to them at the time of their demise. Also, whenever we seem to forget about her, she trashes Dave Grohl, a crime most music fans would deem punishable by law.

How Obnoxious?:

More so than Eric Erlandson’s wretched Letters to Kurt, which is saying a lot. —Randall Colburn

Mike Love Talks Smack at Hall of Fame


WTF Moment:

Everything was fine until Mike Love took the mic (fast forward to the 4:35 mark above). During The Beach Boys’ 1988 induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Love decided to follow Brian Wilson’s heartfelt, gracious speech with a rambling, half-coherent diatribe in which he called out and challenged Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger (described as “chickenshit”), Billy Joel, Diana Ross, and Bruce Springsteen for various reasons. Example: “The Beach Boys have continued to do, about, we did about 180 performances last year. I’d like to see the Mop-Tops match that!” Nevermind that John Lennon was already dead by that point.

Why We’re Still Annoyed:

One of the last times we heard from Love, he had decided, as the legal owner of the Beach Boys name, to continue touring without Brian Wilson, Al Jardin, or David Marks. So much for good vibrations.

How Obnoxious?:

If Facebook had existed in 1988, you would have hate-posted that business. –Erin Carson

John and Yoko Bed-In

WTF Moment:

In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married and decided to use the publicity that came with it to stage a protest of the ongoing Vietnam War. They called it a “Bed-In for Peace” and invited reporters from around the world to come to their Amsterdam hotel room to interview them, chat with them, and ogle at them for a week. Afterward, Lennon tried to play it off like it was all a big joke on the press saying, “It’s part of our policy not to be taken seriously. Our opposition, whoever they may be, in all manifest forms, don’t know how to handle humour. And we are humorous.” No one believed him. Especially since a month or so later, he and Yoko held another one. This time in Montreal, and this time they invited musicians, friends, drug lords (Timothy Leary), and other vagabond hippies. This iteration of the bed-in was where “Give Peace a Chance” was recorded as everyone sat on and around John and Yoko’s hotel bed.

Why We’re Still Annoyed:

Musicians and artists sharing their political opinions was commonplace beginning in the ’60s and ’70s, and Lennon was definitely a big voice on that front. The reason this one still sticks in our craw is because of how…just…well, hippy it is. The touchy, feely guitars and flowers and peace signs scene makes my stomach churn and a loud “GUH!” escape from my burning throat. How Lennon thought sitting in a deluxe hotel suite was going to change the plight of Far Eastern Communist countries we’ll never know, but he got a super, slightly atonal campfire song out of it, so there’s something.

How Obnoxious?:

“Hey anybody have a guitar? Right on! You guys wanna jam? Let’s start with like ‘3AM’ or something.” *Party gets quiet. I burp.* “I’m gonna go…” —Nick Freed

Tommy Lee Sex Tape

tommy lee pam anderson The 10 Most Obnoxious Things Ever to Happen in Music

WTF Moment:

In 1995, a sex tape recorded during the honeymoon of Tommy Lee (of Mötley Crüe fame) and Pamela Anderson (of boobs fame) surfaces on the Internet, becoming the world’s first viral porn video. Horny viewers hoping for some primo footage of Anderson were instead subjected to Tommy Lee using his penis to blow a boat horn.

Why We’re Still Annoyed:

Because, in 2014, that six or so minutes of queasy, shaky-cam intercourse seems to eclipse Lee’s tenure in Mötley Crüe. Sure, Vince Neil and the boys were a bunch of d-bags, but who’s gonna dispute Lee’s pants-shittingly awesome solos inside a floating, rotating drum set? Lee himself hasn’t helped matters by writing a song about the scandal (the moronic “Get Naked”, featuring Fred Durst, of course) or by starring in the hilariously fake Tommy Lee Goes to College, a reality show he’d never have scored without the notoriety that comes with a sex tape (hellooooooo, Kardashians!).

How Obnoxious?:

“Look at it, isn’t it fuckin’ rad?!” Tommy Lee says in reference to his dong. No, really, he does. –Randall Colburn

Lars Ulrich

larsulrich The 10 Most Obnoxious Things Ever to Happen in Music

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