Too Disappointing: 10 albums that made fans give up on massive rock bands

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One of the important things an artist can ask for is to get the audience’s trust. Even though it might be easy for someone to spend their career chasing trends, hoping that fans will latch onto one of them, it’s much better to be reliable to your audience when it comes to making something that you know they will love. But there is a fine line between jumping into unchartered territory and artists like John Lennon ending up crossing it and never earning back their audience.

That’s not to say that all of these albums are absolutely terrible from back to front. The songs on the record were enough to see modest success then, but the more you dig deeper into the tracks, the more people started to realise that every part of what made their favourite act great was nowhere to be found on this album.

It might come from them mixing it up with a new sound that no one had wanted, but there were just as many moments where things just started to get too out of hand. For all of the ambitious projects that fell on their faces, half of these songs also managed to offend audiences with what they had to say or seem to be openly hostile towards those who liked them in the first place.

Some of the bands saw success while it lasted, but it didn’t take long for everyone to turn on them later, ultimately losing a good chunk of their fanbase once they decided to take another stab at it in the studio. They may have had a good run while they lasted, and they may have even revived themselves later, but for the greater public at large, you didn’t have to care about everything these acts said after one listen to this kind of record.

10 albums that made fans give up on massive rock bands

10. Victim of Love – Elton John

It’s about time people stopped hating everything that disco stood for. It might have been everywhere and could be more than a little bit annoying seeing it everywhere you went, but the core songs from the genre’s golden age are still among the greatest tunes to come out of the late 1970s and can still populate dance floors to this day. But when you get the biggest rock stars trying their hand at it, you get something like Elton John’s Victim of Love, which is better left in the 1970s than any of his other material.

While the idea of John trying his hand at disco music doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world, hearing him try to interpolate rock and disco simultaneously sounds like a mad scientist creating a monster out of nothing. Regardless of how many sweeping strings he wants to put on it, a cover of ‘Johnny B Goode’ should be nowhere near this long or not go anywhere within that runtime.

If anything, John did attempt a mulligan, eventually saying that he was out of his mind on cocaine when making most of this record. Victim of Love is far from a bad record if it were released by any other artist, but for anyone who came to Elton John for the roaring piano lines and the occasional guitar break, this signalled the moment to jump off right before the 1980s kicked everything into gear again.

9. Two Against Nature – Steely Dan

Steely Dan have always been on the fringes of being cool since the dawn of their career. They had absolutely no interest in catering to the rock and roll crowd, and yet some of their records are among the most celebrated in rock history because of how much they didn’t bother going with the program. That kind of post-modern cool is almost impossible to duplicate, but even when the core lineup got back together, the success of Two Against Nature may have been what killed it.

Largely because this is not the kind of comeback record that most people would want to hear. While the musical ability is still there between Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, their approach to rock and roll at this stage feels like a bunch of jazzy dads trying their best to sculpt together a decent jam out of nothing. If the album wasn’t great starting out, its Grammy win did nothing to endear it to fans.

Despite going up against the peak years of Eminem and Radiohead’s Kid A, the fact that Steely Dan won over everything else ended up putting them in the same relic bargain bin that made people start to loathe the award show in the first place. Far from a bad choice, but Two Against Nature became such a tainted product that it retroactively made the music business look out of touch by even speaking its name.

8. Behind the Mask – Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac’s track record for great albums tends to be a bit uneven. Although the classic lineup earned that title for a reason on records like Rumours, their original life as a blues-rock outfit often led to many lineup changes and LPs that sounded like they were transitioning between different sounds. It was one thing to have the group back together for Tango in the Night, but once Behind the Mask arrived, fans instantly knew that something was off.

Lindsey Buckingham may have been a nightmare to work with for some of the members, but the thought of putting together a great record without him didn’t seem all that likely. Since Buckingham was apparently so good that they needed two guys to replace him on tour, a lot of Behind the Mask feels like the group is treading water as they go through the songs that Stevie Nicks probably considered not good enough to put on her solo records.

Most of Christine McVie’s songs are still pretty good when you break them down, but that’s just trying to hide the writing on the wall. Fleetwood Mac had started to become a husk of themselves, and once Nicks left before the making of the album Time, all those sad fans still holding on were greeted with some of the worst material that they had left in the tank.

7. Raditude – Weezer

Every Weezer fan in existence has normally had to have a conversation with their friends about when they started to make bad music. Time has been kind to the critically-reviled Pinkerton, but that initial backlash must have messed with Rivers Cuomo’s usual formula for writing songs, considering their massive downslide in recent years. While everyone has a different opinion on when it got ugly, most fans are at least in agreement that Raditude was the point of no return for them.

Make Believe had shown us that the nerd rockers could write something dumb when they wanted to, but there’s a difference between dumb fun and sheer stupidity, and Raditude crosses that line far too much. Despite a handful of songs with promise, most of them are marred by awful lyrics like ‘In the Mall’ or collaborations that no one was asking for, like the Lil Wayne verse on ‘Can’t Stop Partying’.

If anything, the group’s follow-up Hurley actually makes the last record look worse by comparison, considering that they made the album with songwriters who actually knew what they were doing, like Linda Perry and Desmond Child. But when you take the hottest pop producers and put them together with the lovable goofballs of the 1990s, what you’re left with is the musical equivalent of that shy kid who never speaks up in class doing his version of what cool is.

6. Dynasty – Kiss

For any 12-year-old growing up in the 1970s, Kiss was everything they were looking for in a rock and roll band. Even if you didn’t care for their music, seeing them look like musical superheroes was enough to at least get someone interested before they realised that they were listening to a fairly by-the-numbers rock outfit. When you start messing with what constitutes a rock outfit, fans end up asking themselves the hard questions.

Despite Kiss having the ability to take a lot of twists and turns on LPs like Destroyer, Dynasty is the kind of album that no one seemed to want from them. Instead of trying to capitalise on the massive amount of rock and roll coming out, Paul Stanley’s ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’ was enough for fans to toss the record on principle, thinking that their favourite rock monsters had gone the way of Donna Summer.

The crazy part about it is that Dynasty is actually fairly decent outside its lead single, featuring Ace Frehley tearing it up on half of the B-side and a lot of the creepy lyrics of the last few records being kept to a minimum. But first impressions matter a great deal in rock music, and when you see the leisure-suit version of the group before anything else, would you really believe that they were the true titans of rock?

5. Van Halen III – Van Halen

Throughout the early 1990s, there seemed to be three constants in life: death, taxes, and Van Halen’s ability to make decent rock and roll. A genre like grunge should have killed them in theory, but the fact that they kept trucking with Sammy Hagar at the helm was a stroke of musical genius for them. Hagar may have left after Balance, but Van Halen could get the same magic happening again once Gary Cherone started singing, right?

Well, outside of the fact that Cherone ended up sounding like a worse version of Hagar, half of Van Halen III is among the most questionable pieces in the group’s catalogue. Compared to the massive hooks on all their other albums, good luck finding anything resembling a chorus on this record, especially since most of the songs don’t seem to have any sort of straight-ahead structure to them.

While Eddie’s playing is still as amazing as ever, everything that they stacked on top of it just seemed tainted. Van Halen had always been a band that everyone wanted to see succeed, but for as much heart as they put into it, Van Halen III feels like a hard rock car crash that’s too horrible to turn your eyes away from.

4. Some Time in New York City – John Lennon

Every one of The Beatles was going to be looked at as musical gods until the day they died. You don’t become one of the biggest stars in the world and redefine rock just to go away once the crowds stop screaming, and the rest of their solo careers saw each of them falling back down to Earth with ease. While John Lennon looked like the wise sage of the group that would lead the political side of music, Some Time in New York City was tainted from the minute you picked it up.

Granted, it’s not like Lennon wasn’t going for a unique idea here. The core of political writing is about capturing the moment, and framing it like a piece of newspaper with every song serving as an article feels like a brilliant idea, but opening up with the ‘Intellectual Beatle’ shouting racial slurs would not endear him to the public.

Although it’s likely he didn’t mean the phrase to be demeaning to anyone of colour, the opening track’s title is one of the biggest lapses of judgement in any Beatle’s solo work, especially when it’s done to compare the suffering of racial inequality with women’s liberation. It’s one thing to think that way, and Lennon is more than entitled to his opinion, but he probably had to have known that he was going to be in for a clubbing the minute that he released the record.

3. Just Push Play – Aerosmith

Aerosmith had already been going through a pop metamorphosis as far back as the early 1990s. They had flirted with becoming the Bostonian answer to Bon Jovi on Permanent Vacation, but at least Steven Tyler’s amazing vocals and unique sensibilities, when it came to lyrics, were still intact. Once they started to work with professional songwriters like Diane Warren, Just Push Play didn’t even have a whiff of the group that made Toys in the Attic.

Outside of the occasional decent song like ‘Beyond Beautiful’, much of this record is about getting some of the most half-arsed attempts at pop tunes and putting them through the Aerosmith funnel to get an extra boost on the charts. The band didn’t even want to do half the material, either, with ‘Girls of Summer’ being a glorified Steven Tyler solo track that was cut from the album yet still became a charting hit.

There was a group named Aerosmith that popped up once again to make bluesy records like Honkin’ on Bobo and even managed to get back up on their feet with Music From Another Dimension, but the rough and rowdy rock transplants of those early days were officially gone now. The touring circuit may have treated them well, but from now on, it seemed like the group were more interested in making songs that could compete with NSYNC than making a proper blues rock scorcher.

2. Chinese Democracy – Guns N’ Roses

For a good decade, one only spoke about Guns N’ RosesChinese Democracy in hushed tones. The rock icons had already lost every single original member save for Axl Rose, but given that everyone else had gone on to work in acts like Velvet Revolver, who’s to say that the frontman couldn’t come up with something equally as good? After becoming one of the most expensive albums ever made upon release, the LP’s official release date finally arrived, and Rose got a reaction no one wanted to hear: indifference.

Since bootlegs of a handful of the songs have been floating around online, a lot of Chinese Democracy tends to sound like the ramblings of someone who’s been stewing on their material for too long. As much as Use Your Illusion was big and extravagant, it at least earned it by being a pretty damn good project. This one feels more like Rose just wanted to get the record done in order for it to finally be off his plate.

Are there good songs on it? Sure. The title track and ‘Shackler’s Revenge’ kick open the door alright, and ‘This I Love’ is at least capable of tugging on one heartstring, but what we’re left with is not really a Guns N’ Roses project. No matter how hard Rose tried to make the magic happen again, the only album that feels similar is Eminem’s Encore from a few years before. Both of them were highly anticipated; both of them were produced through the roof, and they both ended up falling on their faces because the artists just wanted them to be done.

1. Songs of Innocence – U2

Giving up on an artist is usually only something that happens over time. You always want to give someone the benefit of the doubt when they make something that you, in particular, don’t care for, but when they keep making disappointment after disappointment, it’s hard to really excuse after a while. In the case of U2, though, many fans seemed to be turned off the moment that Songs of Innocence came out.

Which is a shame because the record is actually fairly solid. For an act that had made sleeper hits across No Line on the Horizon, this felt like they had got some steam going again and were back to making the amazing albums that everyone had loved. All the makings of a great U2 record were all there, so why the hell did they make everyone take the LP by force on release day?

After striking a deal with Apple, Songs of Innocence suddenly appearing on everyone’s iPhone led to even die-hard U2 fans shaking their heads at the fact that the band could have done something this pretentious as if everyone would feel like they were being gifted a full-length effort rather than actually choosing to buy it. There’s a good record lying somewhere in there, but it’s just trapped beneath every angry comment someone left about them and Bono’s own inflated ego.

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