Perhaps there is no harder or more important job in a rock band then that of the frontman. As the title implies, you’re right out in front and usually the singer. It’s also your job to supply the band introductions and the in between song banter with the audience. How would we, as a crowd, ever know if we were ready to rock if the frontman hadn’t asked, “Are you ready to rock?!” Furthermore, how would we know if the band was happy to be in our town if the frontman didn’t explicitly tell us, “It’s great to be in (insert name of town)!”
You’re also responsible to keep the show moving and the crowd involved. Mick Jagger is the master of this. When he writes up the set list he knows how to pace it. A good show starts with three or four hard rockers, then the audience is allowed to catch its’ breath. Keith Richards is usually brought up to sing two songs, then a duet with a “special guest.” Around this time, Mick realizes that we’ve been drinking a lot of beer and need to evacuate it so he thoughtfully tells us that they’re going to do some songs from the new album.
Other great frontmen include Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant, Thom Yorke, Beyonce, Bono, Freddie Mercury, etc. But for every great one, there’s a whole bunch of really bad ones. I’m not talking about common first day screw-ups like naming the wrong town or being so insecure that after he asks us if we’re ready to rock he then goes “Are you sure? You’re not screwing with me because that wouldn’t be cool!”
Nope, these are guys who can’t hide behind inexperience. These are just really bad frontmen. Please enjoy this humble list of the ten worst frontmen in rock history.
10. Patrick Stump of Fallout Boy
I flat out don’t get this guy because he makes some of the weirdest choices in show business history. Maybe we could blame it on sudden weight loss because Stumpy dropped over sixty pounds a few years ago and things turned strange. How strange? Stump, in order to hype his abysmal solo album, “Soul Pink,” made a series of videos of him in a tuxedo doing acapella versions of songs by Michael Jackson, John Legend, Andre 3000 and to top it all off, a medley of Grammy nominated songs.
9. Liam Gallagher of Oasis
Oasis is one of the most dysfunctional bands of all time. His brother, Noel, is the lead guitarist who writes all the song. Maybe it’s like the situation with the Beach Boys when Brian Wilson’s mother insisted that younger brother, Dennis, be in the band even though at the time he didn’t play an instrument.
You’d think that Liam would be aware of his good fortune and not rock the boat. Liam decided to go the other way and became one of the most arrogant rock stars of all time. He’s also deadly dull on stage whose one move seems to be standing with his arms clasped behind his back. Noel Gallagher, you have my deepest sympathies.
8. Adam Duritz of Counting Crows
Despite looking like “Sideshow Bob” from “The Simpsons” this guy has managed to date Monica Potter, Jennifer Aniston, Winona Ryder and Courteney Cox and that is a hell of an accomplishment. But the band is just terrible live. Not so much the band, but him. I respect him trying to change the songs up so it’s not exactly the same as on the CD but the versions should have some recognition to the original. He also has an annoying habit of laughing to himself then looking at the band with his back turned which is a bad idea because it makes his fat ass too easy of a target.
7. Mike Love of the Beach Boys
It’s unusual to have your frontman be the third best vocalist in the band but the Beach Boys aren’t your usual band. Both Brian Wilson and Carl Wilson have better voices then Mike Love and you can construct a pretty good argument that Al Jardine does too. So how did Mike Love become the frontman? It’s a mixture of arrogance, pity and bullying.
The pity part is born out of the fact that Mike Love doesn’t play an instrument so if he’s not introducing the songs while everyone else is tuning up or switching their guitars, Mike would look pretty stupid. The arrogance comes out of the fact that he thinks he has the most entertaining personality of the group which is arguable. The bullying part stems from the early days of the group where he threatened to punch out anyone who thought he shouldn’t be the frontman. What a guy!
6. Chester Bennington of Linkin Park
Chester has the distinction of ruining two different bands. Sure, you know about his work in Linkin Park and now he’s going to kill Stone Temple Pilots. STP’s loyal fans don’t seem to pleased about it but maybe the best strategy is for them to wait it out until Chester Bennington leaves and ruins the next group he joins. I’m hoping for Styx but any crappy 70’s band will do. Maybe I’m being a little unfair. The guy is a great screamer…but so is my two-year-old nephew and I don’t think he should front STP either.
5. Chris Martin of Coldplay
Yes, the soon to be uncoupled husband of Gwyneth Paltrow makes our list and is the only person on it who Bono called a “wanker.” Plus the guy can’t sing. Anyone who watched the 2012 Grammys know what I’m talking about. He performed alongside Rihanna and was consistently out of tune. Dave Grohl noticed and when he accepted his Grammy for “Best Rock Album” took a swipe at every performer who used auto-tune. Guess who he was talking about. I’m just glad that Martin‘s an adviser on “The Voice” so he can show a whole new generation to sing off key.
4. Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit
He is exhibit A of why I don’t like the ’90’s. Durst was one of the progenitors of rap / rock which is basically bad growling over an over loud guitar lick. This was the genius that gave us “Rollin'” and “Break Stuff.” It’s bad enough that you’re forced to see Limp Bizkit but what makes it even worse is that Durst is frequently tardy. It was not uncommon during their heyday that the Bizkit would be over an hour late. If you have to have a root canal, isn’t it better to get it over with then to stretch it out. Fred Durst is that root canal but without painkillers.
3. Scott Stapp of Creed
If you google “Scott Stapp douchebag” you get 3,350 listings. Why? Because Scott Stapp truly is a douchebag. From his overwrought power ballads to his drunkenly being obnoxious to Beth Ostrosky Stern, there is nothing to like about this guy. Now that he’s gotten sober, he’s become an even more boring performer. Lots of talk about personal empowerment and belief in God. If that’s what I wanted to hear, I wouldn’t go to a rock concert, I’d watch late night infomercials. Have I mentioned that “Higher” sucks? I didn’t? “Higher” sucks.
2. Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth
Steve Harwell suffers from an malady that is not uncommon for lead singers. It’s called charisma impairment and at present there is no cure. Usually one of the causes is not writing the songs that you are singing thus making you an empty vessel and there are few vessels less empty then Steve Harwell. He’s not even that good a singer. There’s several clips on youtube of just his vocal tracks and it drove my dog right out of the room.
If you’re at best an average singer then you’d better be a great live performer. Steve Harwell does not subscribe to this point of view. His stage moves consist of wearing sunglasses and crouching while gesturing with his arms. The other move is having the audience sing out the most popular lines to your songs. Hey Steve, we shelled out thirty five bucks to sadly hear you sing. On second thought, after hearing the isolated vocal clips, maybe I should take on the lead vocals for the rest of the show.
1. Chad Kroeger of Nickelback
People really hate this guy much more then anyone else on this list. Why? A Bunch of reasons. Like he’s an obnoxious drunk and is incredibly thin skinned. One time someone on facebook started a contest to see who could get more “likes,” Nickelback or a pickle. Needless to say that the pickle kicked ass. What did our boy, Chad, do? Did he laugh it off or ignore it? Nope. He found out the name of the person who started the contest and demanded that the page be taken down. As anyone with an i.q. north of 100 (which excludes Nickelback fans) could tell you, this action only made things worse. Before he knew it, Chad had a lot less “likes” then enough vegetables to make a really great salad.
Other reasons commonly given for despising the Chadster are that his lyrics are sophomoric and their songs all sound like really bad “Alice In Chains.” His fans often counter with the argument that if he sucks so bad, why did Nickelback have so many hits? The answer to that is pretty simple: his music is like McDonalds. You eat it and it serves its purpose by filling you up but later on you hate yourself for eating it. Okay, I get that by now it seems like I’m kicking a dead horse but I have to leave you with this quote from Chad, “If you listen very carefully, I sing with a whisper in my voice.”