Don’t Call It a Sell-Out

I think we can all agree that we like money. We need it to eat, pay rent, and keep ourselves clothed in Tap Out T-shirts.

It does, however, get a bad rap throughout history as the root of all evil. I think we can stretch that premise a bit further and say it is perhaps also the root of all crap music.

We start to grow up “” bony-kneed, brace-faced, and pimply “” in a mashed-up cornucopia of crappy music, for the most part. And that’s OK, because these musicians and bands that are mostly lame are pretty mainstream (say, Hanson of the ’90s or Justin Bieber for today) and serve a greater good: They help us cut our little musical baby teeth “” they transition us to be ready for bigger and better musical steaks when we get older.

Yet sometimes, a band or artist will start feeding us filet mignon, then rip the meat of what made us love them out of their music forever, and it seems, as a fan, that the only reasoning behind why they’d rip the rug from under us is the almighty dollar.

Then there are bands and artists that come along to ride the wave of a musical change or fad, only to basically stop the wave in its track or ride it into the sandy ground.

“¦my brain processed this elderly-looking tranny in scarves handing civilians their BK Broilers”¦

Watching TV the other day, I saw what was basically the most disturbing sight in the history of television and life as we know it. Blind Lemon Jefferson would have cringed. Ray Charles would have nodded in agreement. Steven Tyler, of Aerosmith, was “¦ working in a Burger King drive-thru.

After my brain processed this elderly-looking tranny in scarves handing civilians their BK Broilers, I thought to myself, “This is how Don McLean felt when he wrote “˜American Pie.’ Music just died.”

It got me thinking about how far a musician will go to sell his very soul for cash, so I brought it up for discussion amongst some friends. Who has sold out their musical integrity beyond redemption? I mean, obviously, Aerosmith, but who, other than them, would you love to ask, “Why, bro, why?”

Without further ado, and as Joe Cocker famously sang, here I go, “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

10. Genesis

Let’s face it: Genesis was a fantastic band back in the day. Starting as a prog-rock band, they went all theatrical in the late ’70s before finally changing musical directions again in 1986 with Invisible Touch. Coincidentally, this was their best-selling album, released at the height of lead singer Phil Collins’ musical popularity. The friend consensus is that they sold out in 1986. Verdict: Not redeemable.

9. Red Hot Chili Peppers

The RHCP were a badass funk rock band until Anthony Kiedis let Rick Rubin or some such producer get ahold of a poem he wrote about his drug dependency. “Under the Bridge” was born, to be played ad nauseam, on so-called alternative radio and MTV for months. The public, who loves a slow song, begged for more. Those of us who preferred “Give It Away” would be short-changed for two decades and counting.

8. Incubus

I will let my friend Flux take on Incubus, as it is a festering boil on his music appreciation career that needs to be lanced. Publicly.

Says Flux: “They had their own unique sound on its way, making songs about evolution, and deeper thoughts, then between S.C.I.E.N.C.E. and Make Yourself “” or whatever that next album was “” Brandon (Boyd, lead singer) decided to take his shirt off and start writing songs about how it feels to be with his supermodel girlfriend, and the rest of the band decided it was time to get paid quick, so no more hard-to-digest music “” here is some super-easy-listening guitar pop.”


And ugh, on top of that, they’re Incubus.

7. Weezer

My friend K. believes age may be a factor in the slow degeneration of Weezer: “Weezer should just stop. They were cool when they were 20, but now they’re old and it’s getting creepy.”


6. Ozzy Osbourne

I’m hesitant to include Ozzy, because obviously, you can’t define the man as a sell-out. Oh, wait, I totally forgot he had a hugely successful reality TV show, not to mention maybe even a Burger King commercial, and that meets the standard we’re looking for. (Lookin’ at you and your skank bus, too, Bret Michaels, though I am pretty sure Poison was never, ever cool.)

5. Green Day

What we have here is a situation much like with Weezer and RHCP. Guys in bands grow older and try to grow musically into a different sound, with varying degrees of success.

My buddy A.H. weighs in: “Green Day. More than any other band I am emotionally invested in, they have greatly disappointed me. American Idiot does sound great but DAYUM “” why did they become one of those overproduced bands like U2?”

4.  U2

Speaking of U2 “¦ There is no way the same band that made The Joshua Tree came out with Achtung Baby. Just no way in hell. It’s like we all knew Bono before he became BONO. AND TAKE OFF THE DAMN SUNGLASSES, FFS!

3. Soul Asylum

Personally, I think Soul Asylum was born shilling its wares to the highest bidder, but my buddy M.J. went on such a tear about them that I had to at least give them a mention. Plus, he has a very valid point.

He says: “MOTHERFRACKING SOUL ASYLUM. Alternative music was alive and well, and then these bitches came along, sucked on Satan’s pecker, and cashed in on MTV. They single-handedly destroyed alternative music and laid the foundation for other bitch bands like Better Than Ezra, Bush, Seven Mary 3, the goddamned Spin Doctors, ball-licking Lemonheads, and every other sack of sh””t band playing on the radio today.”

He continues: “I’m generally a happy-go-lucky guy, but there would be no hesitation in my foot stomping the accelerator if I ever catch those Soul Asylum bitches crossing the street.”

Note: He is generally neither happy nor go-lucky; however, M.J. has perfected a Wild Turkey-based cold medication he hopes to one day patent.

2. Phil Collins

If you don’t count his sellout in the ’80s, both as a solo artist and with the band Genesis, surely his contract for Disney musicals may change your mind?

1. Metallica

Oh, Metallica. EVERYONE mentioned Metallica.

My pal G.H. said: “They should just be called Lica, ’cause there is no metal in it anymore. Lame asses.”

C.G. adds: “From The Black Album on “¦ What happened to James’ growl? It’s all crap now.”

Personally, I think Lars Ulrich is to blame more than James Hetfeld. He didn’t win any admirers in the late ’90s/early ’00 fighting Napster and the like.

And seriously, have you heard any of their late stuff? It’s just not very good, and that is disappointing when you still like to drive down the road screaming along to “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

There you have it: the best my finest musical friends and I could come up with. Feel free to add your own, but if you add Radiohead, please don’t show it to me. 

About Stephanie Landry

Stephanie Landry is a lover, not a fighter, with the exception of some inanimate objects. Sing out to her here, or stand at her window with your boombox blasting your mixtape. Either way.

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