10 of the Most Unnecessary Side Projects in Music History


Things about which we are tired of hearing include: Wavves. As such, we greeted the news that Nathan Williams has a bitchin’ new side project with his bro with stony indifference — frankly, the last thing anyone needs to hear at this point is Wavves and his brother making a hip-hop record under the adolescent-tastic name Sweet Valley. (You’ll never guess, but he’s done an interview with VICE about it, in which he answers the hard-hitting question “Are you bored with rock ‘n’ roll?” with a deeply heartfelt “Yeah, I suppose so. At times.”) Still, it’s not the most gratuitously unnecessary side project in music history… Not compared to the ones after the jump.

Dee Dee Ramone’s hip-hop side project

The gold standard for ill-advised ventures into rap, although at least Ramone’s inexplicable decision to reinvent himself as Dee Dee King had something of a cheesy, so-bad-it’s-actually-kinda-awesome appeal. Among other things, Standing in the Spotlight — the one and only album Ramone recorded under the Dee Dee King moniker — included a song called “Commotion in the Ocean,” which contains the lyric, “A lesson I learned out of this/ I am not a fish.” Quite.

Fat Les

Soon-to-be-Conservative-cheesemaker-and-Blur-bassist Alex James teams up with his mates from London’s Groucho Club — specifically Keith “Father of Lily” Allen and Damien “Father of Dismal Conceptual Art” Hirst — to make a football song. What could possibly go wrong? (See also: everything else involving Alex James that isn’t Blur.)

Me First and the Gimme-Gimmes

Hilarious punk covers of popular songs! Made by the guys from NOFX and various other Cali-punk also-rans! Nine fucking albums‘ worth, in fact! For the love of God, just shoot us now!

Goat Punishment

While we’re on covers, here’s Weezer covering Nirvana. The key question here is: what did the goat do to deserve this?

The Strokes, generally

When an artist’s “main” band grinds to a halt, the temptation of the side project can be irresistible. Sometimes the results are great (The Breeders are a classic example, along with Tom Tom Club, Fever Ray, and various others). Sometimes, they’re the Nikolai Fraiture solo album. So it goes.

Tin Machine

Last time we said anything nasty about Tin Machine, it led to an almighty battle in the comments section — but the thing is, while Tin Machine and Tin Machine II weren’t necessarily as bad as people seem to like to make out, they were still an entirely unwelcome distraction at a pretty low ebb of David Bowie’s career. If anyone else had made these records, they’d be acceptable (if not earth-shattering) late-’80s rock. If the person making them is the same guy responsible for Low, then they’re gonna be judged harshly.


Oh, come on. Yes, “No Pussy Blues” was great, and there were a couple of other decent moments, but on the whole, two albums’ worth of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ ongoing bromance was about one-and-a-half albums too many. The Bad Seeds were, and are, way better. We’re glad Cave pulled the plug on this when he did.

Scars on Broadway

In which Daron Malakian differentiates his solo work from his work with System of a Down by writing political rants set to music that is “something very heavy mixed in with traditional Armenian and thrash, death, doom, black and dark metal influences.” Um…

Wicked Wisdom

Behold: a nü-metal band fronted by Jada Pinkett Smith. This really truly did happen, although any day now the Will ‘n’ Jada publicity juggernaut will probably succeed in perfecting a time machine and journeying back to 2002 to expunge it from history entirely.

KISS, generally

Only once in history has a band decided that it’s a great idea for all four members to release solo albums simultaneously. Only once. And this is why.

(Oh, look, fine, the Melvins did it too. But it was only EPs, not albums, and anyway, the Melvins are awesome.)