As far as music goes, “the worst” is a slippery category: the worst album of all time was probably made by some godawful crunkcore/pop-punk band in a garage somewhere in 2004 and never saw a formal release. Still, there are better-known records that, for whatever reason, you never, ever want to hear again — the songs are awful, the band’s awful, the music’s awful, or all of the above! So, in the (lighthearted) spirit of our recent list of the worst films ever made, here’s a completely subjective list of the worst albums ever made.
Alice Deejay — Who Needs Guitars Anyway?
Guitars? Not at all. Songs that don’t make you want to take to your own ears with a chainsaw? Yeah, they’re probably a good idea.
Alien Ant Farm — Anthology
Worst band. Worst band name. Worst pun-tastic album title. Worst Michael Jackson cover. Worst, worst, worst. But wait, no, we’re only at the second page. It does get worse, somehow.
Attila — About That Life
One tends to find Billy Joel’s high school band Attila on lists like this — and, in fairness, their hilarious proto-metal (somewhere between The Doors and Spinal Tap, basically) is probably worthy of the ridicule it’s gotten, although it does seem mean to pick on a high school band. But hey, anyway, have you heard the present-day, totally unrelated Attila? They’re way worse!
The Black Eyed Peas — The E.N.D
Please refer to this for further information.
blink-182 — Enema of the State
I like the millennial generation. I have spent lots of time and (virtual) ink writing about how ridiculous and unfair it is for assholes like Joel Stein and Bret Easton Ellis to portray them as a collection of lazy stereotypes. I generally enjoy their company, and I respect their tastes… EXCEPT for their inexplicable fondness for blink-182. And pop-punk in general. But especially blink-182. C’mon, kids, I’m on your side. Work with me here.
brokenCYDE — I’m Not a Fan, But the Kids Like It!
It’s easy to pick on this band, but c’mon, have you actually tried listening to this shit? Round of applause for the self-aware album title, though.
Mariah Carey — Merry Christmas
Christmas is great. It snows, you get to eat all day, there’s mulled wine… there’s only one thing that ruins it, and that is the infestation of Christmas music that descends pretty much as soon as the clocks go back and the nights start getting colder. It seems to start earlier every year, and the evil beating heart at the center of the swarm is THIS FUCKING ALBUM. Kill it with fire.
The Clash — Cut the Crap
If only they had done. (“This Is England” was still great, though.)
Phil Collins — No Jacket Required
There are two schools of thought on Phil. One is that he was a perfectly good drummer who gamely took on vocal duties for Genesis once Peter Gabriel left, turned out to be a good frontman, and also brought a great deal to the production table with his gated snare™ technique. The other is that he is the actual Antichrist. The presence of this album, which was as inescapable during the ’80s as mosquitoes on a clammy summer night, probably speaks for which camp we fall into.
Chris Cornell — Scream
Seriously, though, have you heard this? I remember when I got a promo copy of it, put it on the office stereo for a laugh, and literally everyone in the place just sort of stopped work about halfway through the first song and asked as one, “What the fuck is this?!” The idea of teaming Cornell up with a way-past-his-prime Timbaland was questionable enough, but the results were more hilariously awful than anyone could have expected. Also, look, he’s smashing a guitar on the cover! Oh, the symbolism!
The Cranberries — To the Faithful Departed
“Zombie” was played to death, but No Need to Argue had some genuinely lovely and affecting songs on it (as, indeed, did The Cranberries’ debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?). Sadly, this record doubled down on the Dramatic Political Songs, which might have been OK if they weren’t laughably awful. If you’ve never heard Dolores O’Riordan proclaiming “I JUST SHOT JOHN LENNON” ad infinitum, you’re a luckier person than me.
Creed — Human Clay
I mean, obviously.
Drowning Pool — Sinner
This was used to torture inmates at Guantanamo Bay. I’m not kidding. The band’s response? “[We] take it as an honor to think that perhaps our song could be used to quell another 9/11 attack or something like that.”
Bob Dylan — Saved
Proof that even our greatest songwriters fall to pieces when they try to make Christian music.
The Eagles, generally
You know that passage in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Hunter S. Thompson writes about how you can stand on a hill and see where the wave of ’60s culture broke and started to roll back? Well, The Eagles were what was left on the shoreline, a sort of bloated beached cultural narwhal that thrived on cocaine and smelled increasingly awful as the ’70s went on, all the while steadfastly REFUSING TO DIE.
Foxygen — We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
Every bit as insufferable as its title suggests.
The Grateful Dead — Terrapin Station
Not even Deadheads like this.
Green Day — American Idiot
“Hey, guys, I’m tired of singing about wanking. What say for this album we become U2?” “Sure, Billie Joe!”
Happy Mondays — Yes Please
* Yes, for the person who remembers Melody Maker making that joke, I stole it.
Mick Jagger — Primitive Cool
By the mid-’80s, the Rolling Stones’ previously flawless run of albums had come to a grinding halt. You might think, then, that the band’s members might have concentrated on putting their house in order, getting their mojo back, etc. But no, Mick Jagger decided that what the world needed was a Mick Jagger solo album. The results were undeniably primitive, but most certainly not cool. Not cool at all.
Jay Z — Magna Carta (Holy Grail)
Less an album, more the musical equivalent of the sort of tasteless but incredibly expensive statuette that rich people give pride of place in their hallways, not because it’s beautiful or of great artistic merit, but because it’s a way of demonstrating just how insanely cashed up the person who owns it is. In fairness to Jay Z, rapping has been a fair way down his list of interests since the turn of the millennium, and it’s great that he’s come from humble beginnings to a sort of Gatsby-esque position of fantastic wealth and influence, but dude, just stop making albums.
Jet — Shine On
An album that will always be remembered fondly for inspiring what remains Pitchfork’s single greatest moment.
Billy Joel — River of Dreams
“In the middle of the night! (In the middle of the night) I go walking in my sleep! (I go walking in my sleep)”
Yes, you’re gonna have that stuck in your head for the rest of the day. I mean, you’re halfway through a list called the 50 Worst Albums ever. This was always going to be a risk. (Also, Attila is wayyyyy better than this.)
Hootie and the Blowfish — Cracked Rear View
This was at the top of the US charts less than three years after Nevermind happened. If you want to know how long it takes for corporate America to appropriate, monetize, and thoroughly sanitize a trend in youth culture, there’s your answer: less than three years.
Dee Dee King — Standing in the Spotlight
One can argue that Dee Dee Ramone’s rap career falls into the “so bad it’s actually kind of amazing” category. It’s certainly entertaining, although the comedy value is rather tarnished by the fact that its creator got turned on to rap at a rehab center and recorded it in the midst of what sounds like the mother of all midlife crises (he’d just quit the Ramones, left his wife, and was trying to get off drugs).
KISS — Lick It Up
In which KISS make an album without Ace Frehley, without masks, and… oops! Without songs, too! (Also, the album title: ewwww.)
Kula Shaker — Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. So it went with hippiedom, which disappeared in a haze of failed idealism circa 1975, only to be marched back into the daylight 25 years later in zombified form by a floppy-haired twat named Crispian. Their debut K was bad enough, featuring a tribute to Jerry Garcia, two songs with titles in Sanskrit, and a whole lot of pseudo-subcontinental noodling, but this was even worse — doubling down on the sitars and omitting anything vaguely resembling an actual song.
Lady Gaga — ARTPOP
Gaga has never quite become the art/music crossover behemoth that she aspired to be, but circa The Fame Monster, she was a pretty impressive exponent of the pop song. By the time ARTPOP came along, though, she was the musical equivalent of a sculpture by her pal Jeff Koons. This is not a compliment.
Len — You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush
The ubiquity of “Steal My Sunshine” only goes to prove that the album title is entirely correct.
The Libertines — The Libertines
Look, I actually liked Up the Bracket. I am not a card-carrying Pete Doherty hater. But this record… sure, the history behind it is well documented and kinda compelling if you like junkie melodramas, but the songs aren’t a patch on their debut, and the whole thing sounds half-finished because it was half-finished.
Limp Bizkit — Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog-Flavored Water
It might have been more subversive to effectively call your album “Asshole and Toilet Water” if that phrase hadn’t been such an accurate description of the record’s contents.
Linkin Park — Hybrid Theory
The theory, such as it was, was uniting metal and electronic music/rap. This a) wasn’t new (Body Count did it to far better effect a decade earlier) and b) wasn’t a particularly great idea, because the results tended to sound like… well, like this.
Live — Secret Samadhi
Say what you like about Ed Kowalczyk, but Throwing Copper was Live being good at being Live. Its follow-up, however, wasn’t even that — it was Live being Live, badly. And extra-creepily.
Metallica — St. Anger
When your most productive band member is the life coach you’re paying $10,000 a week, you’ve got problems.
Mindless Self Indulgence — How I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence
How, indeed? Also, look, if you’re over 40 years old and still calling yourself “Jimmy Urine,” you probably need to re-evaluate.
Alanis Morissette — Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
Basically the musical version of Eat Pray Love, although at least Elizabeth Gilbert doesn’t seem to harbor an ongoing grudge against the English language.
Mr. Blobby — Mr. Blobby — The Album
This list could be pretty much all risible novelty acts, but where would be the fun in that? For a start, most novelty songs are one-offs, not giving rise to full-fledged novelty albums. Mr. Blobby — The Album, however, is a thing that exists in the world, and it’s just as awful as one might expect.
Nas — Nastradamus
The thing is, if you’ve created a masterpiece, then everything you do afterwards gets judged in relation to that. If some unknown MC had made this, it would have been a mediocre collection of songs centered around a silly pun, some dull beats, and a nonsensical conceit of predicting the future. If, however, you’re the same guy who made Illmatic barely five years earlier… the fact that Nas still manages to produce some inspired rhymes on this record, on the rare occasions he rouses himself from his artistic slumber, only makes listening all the more frustrating.
Nickelback — All the Right Reasons
You didn’t honestly think we were gonna forget Nickelback, did you?
The Notorious B.I.G. — Born Again
The aural equivalent of one of those holograms that get beamed out at festivals these days, but arguably worse, because at least those festivals don’t try to create a new album “by” an artist five years after his death, wherein said artist’s only involvement is his presence on a bunch of discarded vocal tracks dug up by his loyal producer/friend to milk some more cash from his back catalogue honor his legacy.
Oasis — Be Here Now
Julian Plenti — Julian Plenti Is… Skyscraper
True story: around the time this album was released, Paul Banks (for it was he!) insisted on being interviewed as Julian Plenti, and refused to answer any questions not addressed to “Julian.”
Puddle of Mudd — Come Clean
We look back at the Grunge Years with distinctly rose-colored glasses these days. Nirvana! Mudhoney! L7! So many good bands! Sadly, though, grunge led straight to post-grunge, a genre that retained grunge’s guitar sound and jettisoned everything else that made it special. The result was torpid pseudo-grunge made by the sort of bros who Cobain would have loathed. Like this album, for instance.
Rolling Stones — Their Satanic Majesties Request
The best thing about the Stones was that they never bought into any of the stoner Maharishi bullshit that the Beatles waffled on about from about 1967 onwards. The worst thing was that they tried to make a psychedelic album anyway.
Ed Sheeran — x
It’s not Sheeran’s fault that he got voted the UK’s most influential person in black and urban music (no, honestly). It is his fault that he released this album. Isn’t that right, Google?
Shania Twain — Come On Over
I once saw Shania Twain play at an Amnesty International concert in Paris. She was bottled off stage after two songs. At a charity concert. God bless the French.
Thirty Seconds to Mars — Thirty Seconds to Mars
A celebrity musical project that has one yearning for the halcyon days of Dogstar.
Various Artists — Woodstock 1999
Featuring live songs from Korn, Limp Bizkit, Godsmack, The Dave Matthews Band, both Everlast and Everclear… and poor old Elvis Costello, who presumably spent the entire fateful weekend barricaded in a small corner of the VIP bar as the apocalypse unfolded around him, alternately praying for deliverance and cursing the name of his booking agent. Listening to this now is just like being there all over again, except — thankfully — without the fires and the possibility of being raped or murdered.
Weezer — Raditude
Flavorwire Music Editor Jillian Mapes’ heart just broke. Sorry, Jill.
Scott Weiland — The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Scott Weiland’s Christmas album. No, really. Only a cynic would suggest that he did this because he needed drug money, but… oh, OK, fine, he probably did this because he needed drug money.