Over the years, a select number of albums have changed music forever. These are the albums that affected listeners worldwide and completely flipped the game upside down. On the other hand, some of these same legendary works also unknowingly helped create some of the worst musical blunders we wish we could all forget.
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10. Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine
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The nu metal rap-rock scene that exploded in the late-‘90s is easily one of the worst trends music has ever seen. From Limp Bizkit to Linkin Park, these bands somehow took influences from some very solid acts and generated a steaming pile of audio poop. The first real official rap-rock effort was probably Run–D.M.C. and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” but, in my opinion, the most influential band when it came to molding this genre has to be Rage Against the Machine.
From Zack de la Rocha’s scream raps to Tom Morello’s mind-blowing guitar trickery, Rage’s sound can be heard in almost every single rap-rock act that broke out on MTV in the late-‘90s and early 2000s. Unfortunately for us fans, they were all pretty much just paper-thin pop versions of the original formula. I do love Rage’s self-titled LP and think it’s a masterpiece in its own right, but where bands like Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, and even ICP took things made for very typical (as well as laughable) mainstream music.
After seeing the crowd at the Rage Against Machine reunion at Coachella a few years back it dawned on me how horrible things had really gotten. Most of the fans were aggressive frat douches who were only attracted to the aggression of the music and nothing more. They had no interest in the message of the music, all they cared about was screaming “F*** you, I won’t do what you tell me” just because they thought it sounded cool.
9. Appetite for Destruction - Guns N' Roses
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Easily one of the best albums of the ‘80s, Appetite for Destruction kicked lame-ass hair metal douches to the curb and showed the world what a real rock band was supposed to be. From Axl’s unreal vocal chops to Slash's virtuoso guitar playing, Guns were no doubt one of the most important bands of their era.
The only downside to this has to be the bands that were spawned from Guns’ sound, look, and all-around attitude. Somehow acts like Buckcherry and Hinder took heavy influences from this band and created some of the most horrific watered-down pop-rock ever heard. Thanks to GNR, douche rock was officially born. Even the success of this record transformed Axl from one of the greatest frontmen of all time into a raging egomaniac who completely lost focus on his art. The rest of the band was no different. And have you listened to Velvet Revolver? Nuff said.
8. Legend – Bob Marley
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We all know Bob Marley is brilliant and I don’t think there is a person alive that doesn’t like at least one of his songs, but the image of the reggae star that took shape after his death turned his deep musical philosophy into a corporate brand bought and sold at college campuses all around the world. In this specific case, I feel like this said state of affairs has less to do with the music and more to do with the image of reggae in general. How many more times must we see rich white kids from Vermont walking around with dreads and trying to preach about the Rastafari movement? I’m not saying that having dreads and smoking weed isn’t apart of reggae music, I’m just saying that it’s a tad deeper than that classic Catch a Fire album cover on every college dorm room wall.
7. Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols - Sex Pistols
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As a pet project of band manager and fashion designer Malcolm McLaren, the Sex Pistols were basically the Backstreet Boys of punk rock. I’m not saying that Never Mind The Bollocks wasn’t punk at its roots from the band’s perspective, but it is this most important element that helped commercialize the genre and turn it into a corporate brand. Sid Vicious is a prime example of this. His contribution to punk had more to do with heroin chic, leather jackets, and photogenic sneers than it did with ethos and artistic merit.
Where punk rock had started as an outlet for kids to express their creativity and individuality, the popularization of Never Mind the Bollocks ended up becoming the de facto uniform for both the sound and look of "punk" and also transformed the entire movement against its original purpose.
6. Paul's Boutique – Beastie Boys
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The funniest aspect about this record is the fact that it’s just as groundbreaking on the negative side as well as the positive.
First off, I’m pretty sure that Paul's Boutique has more samples in it than any other record ever made. The reason for this is because it was released before any real copyright laws had been set in place when it came to sampling. Over 105 songs were sampled on the album and the sampling for Boutique was uncleared. This was of course only possible before Grand Upright Music, Ltd. vs. Warner Bros. Records Inc., the landmark case against Biz Markie by Gilbert O'Sullivan, which changed the process and future of hip-hop sampling. Due to this court case the sound of hip-hop music was changed drastically and, if it wasn’t for Boutique setting these wheels in motion, who knows what might have been.
Either way, hip-hop records filled with literally dozens and dozens of samples could no longer be made. Now every single sample had to be cleared to avoid legal trouble. This gave huge names like Puff Daddy more power in this situation because they had the money to pay for any sample their hearts desired while underground producers could no longer experiment with unlimited samples and sounds. This drastically affected the evolution of hip-hop and the way it would go on being made. Although, the freedom supplied by the Internet has helped things in recent years...
5. Van Halen - Van Halen
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We all know that Van Halen I is one of the most important and influential albums of all time and that it single-handedly helped usher in the glam metal/hair metal era that ruled the entire 1980s. Even though Halen destroys almost every single band of this genre, their undeniable influence helped create a buttload of trash that totally devolved rock.
One of biggest elements to blame in this situation is Eddie’s rapid guitar-playing chops and teeth metal attitude. His guitar-playing sent shockwaves through the world of rock ‘n’ roll and made a bazillion other guitarists/bands think they should try and follow suit. It would have been amazing if most of these acts were even half as good as Halen, but we all know now that this was very far from the truth. Hair metal/glam metal was more decadence than substance and almost ruined popular music in the process. Oh, and if anyone out there tries to say that the Bulletboys were awesome, my head might just go ahead and explode, y’all.
4. Nevermind – Nirvana
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How could something as big as Nevermind not hurt things as much as help them? It couldn’t. It became a beast that not even Kurt himself could control.
The album's overwhelming success single-handedly destroyed hair metal and ushered in a whole new musical movement known as grunge. I could've put albums by bands like Alice and Chains and Pearl Jam on this list for helping spawn s*** acts like Nickleback and Godsmack, but if it wasn’t for Nirvana breaking into the mainstream these bands never would've been promoted so heavily in the first place. Nevermind hit on so many levels that it’s very obvious now how many popular artists each took something completely different from Kurt and the record. Puddle of Mudd and Staind are great examples of a bands that totally f***ing blew it. Just because you're depressed doesn’t me you can write a great song.
3. Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A.
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This is obviously a classic and a landmark in the genre, but as CB4 pointed out a long time ago, N.W.A. unknowingly created a cartoon-like character for gangsta rap and gave every up-and-coming rapper a brand new blueprint for how to sell records in the music industry. Enter the studio gangsta.
If you don’t believe me, take look at the state of hip-hop today. MCs that have tattoos and spit raps about saying true to the streets sell millions of records and get heavy rotation on BET and MTV, while other rappers with a more intellectual outlook on things can barely get any love at all. Without NWA, Tupac never would've been able to promote his Thug Life persona to the world and we all know what that unleashed.
And don’t even get me started on what NWA did to white America. The second Eazy and his crew broke onto the scene every single white kid in Middle America wanted to be a gangster and rap. On certain levels this was a very good thing for music as well as America, but it also helped create ridiculous knockoffs, as well as fools like Fred Durst and Marky Mark. Idiots like these would have never started rapping if it wasn’t for the beast that NWA released.
2. Thriller – Michael Jackson
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Oh, Thriller. After the passing of Michael Jackson, there was endless talk about how Thriller was one of the most groundbreaking and important records of all time. But the only thing I could think about while this praise was going on was all of the horrible artists that were spawned due to Jackson’s MTV pop formula.
Yes, the record broke down doors, but it also gave kids around the world the idea that they should take a shot at the musical brass ring. From Britney Spears to the Backstreet Boys, MJ’s Thriller made everyone want to be on MTV doing synchronized dances and lip-syncing bubblegum pop hits. It unknowingly helped turn pop music into watered-down cookie-cutter garbage. The fact that MJ performed with 'N Sync and Britney Spears during a televised reunion with The Jacksons is enough proof that genre was artistically finished by the late-‘90s.
Pop stars in the ‘80s were mostly talented session musicians that were in the right place at the right time and basically got thrown into the spotlight. Take, for example, Lionel Richie. The man could do everything by himself with ease. Name one pop star now that can actually read music as well as write and produce their own s***. Pop stars nowadays seem to have little to no creative input when it comes to their music and are completely manufactured by their labels from the very beginning. Pop music could be good if done right. Too bad Thriller totally f***ed that up.
1. Frampton Comes Alive! – Peter Frampton
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Frampton Comes Alive! literally changed music overnight and turned the record industry into very big business. Think of it as the Star Wars/Jaws of the music biz. Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 Rumours is a close second in this category, but it’s Frampton Comes Alive! that officially gave the music industry its ‘blockbuster’ frame of mind.
I'm In You, Frampton’s follow-up to the 1976 smash, is a perfect example of where pop music was heading after this landmark occurrence. From label pressure to put out a record as successful as Comes Alive! to the album’s pinup boy-like cover, the music world had changed and most certainly would never be the same again.
The fact that Frampton Comes Alive! went on to become the biggest selling live album ever in such a short period of time showed that there was big money to be made in music. This made labels totally rethink everything and pushed music further away from its artistic roots and brought it face-to-face with Wall Street. It ushered in the era of pop stars and turned musicians into products and brands overnight.