Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Seven Sell-Outs

I have a feeling this post will upset a lot of people, but it's seven artists who I feel have completely bent over and taken it up the arse for a dollar. Whether it's appearing on an advert, changing your image or even worse, changing your entire music style in an effort to become more mainstream, this is some of the worst I can think of. If you agree, disagree, or can think of any more then comment below. This is a good place to start and if we can justify more, I'll put more up with your comments and stuff. These aren't necessarily in any order.

1. Biffy Clyro

Having been a fan since before Blackened Sky even came out about a decade ago, it was only until the world first heard Puzzle that we knew there'd be trouble. It was such a jump from Infinity Land which was quite experimental to something so, uninspired. Fortunately, there were still some good tracks but something had changed since they left Beggar's Banquet to Warner Bros, oh that was it, they no longer cared. Since then Only Revolutions has to be one of the most clearly sell-out records ever when compared to the masterful songwriting on Blackened Sky - and it was this album that got a Mercury nomination. Ridiculous. Not only that, but they've been whoring their name out to all and sundry that will take them on - doing so many corporate shows even Jimmy Carr would be jealous. So here are two tracks, the first is their first video for Justboy (look at how young they all look) and the second is the OTT, shit Captain. Compare for yourself.

2. The Offspring

If ever there were a tale of how selling out is a short term solution to your problems, it's The Offspring. Having already done well with their first album Smash in 1994 and the incredible Ixnay On The Hombre, they got so greedy that they went from being dark, moody, California punkers who started the entire 90's scene there (kinda) to pure pop sell outs. It's not as if they didn't have mainstream songs already, people would argue Gone Away etc. were their 'ballads' but they still kept an air of dignity. However, since Americana and the single Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) got released, it's become nothing short of embarrassing. They've now tried everything to not only win back the mainstream audience, but to also win back their original fanbase. However, it's too little too late and they are still releasing albums. I think it's time to put this band to rest once and for all. Selling your soul doesn't always pay kids.
To commiserate, here's a live version of 'All I Want' (one of the first covers I played live when I was about 16 - ahh, memories) and Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) at Woodstock 99 - look how bored they look, there's only three years difference or something between the two tracks.

3. Iggy Pop

The fact that one of the Gods of rock will now be better known as the guy that sells car insurance is enough to make me cry. Why do it? The supreme case of selling your legend, your persona, something you've worked on for decades, something you've been building up, a respect amongst the world that can only be earned, just to sell it to buy a bigger house. It's disgraceful. For anyone who wants to know more go out and buy the book Wonderland Avenue, he's not the focus but it's a great insight into the man.

4. Idlewild

A band that I have probably seen more times live than any other. They started off as a post-grunge alternative rock/indie pioneers for the modern age, and bands today probably don't even realise it. They played music they enjoyed and that was the main thing - they never catered for what the record companies or the audience wanted, which is the way it should be. After all, that's why people enjoy it right? Unfortunately, by the end it was only the lyrics of Roddy Woomble that held it together. Everyone started doing solo projects to try and recreate their own sound again, but they had turned Idlewild into a money making beast that soon everyone got bored of. It was the style change and the release of 'The Remote Part' that signalled the end, yet it was their most successful album. It sounds as if the band have split but they are currently touring playing 100 Broken Windows in it's entirety to celebrate the re-release. Once again, you can't claw yourselves back guys. Here's what it sounds like to be good and then to sell out.

5. Green Day

Anyone remember Kerplunk? Back in 1992, it became an underground hit that broke Green Day free from Lookout records and took them straight to Reprise Records where the punk scene had then already dismissed them as sell-outs, but unfortunately it got even worse. Dookie was released and MTV played Basket Case to death. Their popularity started to wane after Warning pretty much bombed, so after selling out, how could they regain their popularity? By riding on the wave of emo and selling out all over again. By 2002, they had already had two Greatest Hits albums released and when they finally came out of hiding with American Idiot, an entirely brand new teenage audience welcomed them with open arms. After some more awful 'punk' songs, the band now have a Broadway musical, a game and more. They don't mind anyone using their songs and will basically let themselves be pissed all over for a couple of hundred bucks. Don't believe me? Well here's the difference.

6. Kings Of Leon

I can't go into the whole Kings Of Leon debate again (Look at my album review last month) but it's safe to say no-one in the most recent years has probably sold out more than Kings Of Leon. Here's the proof.

7. Sex Pistols

It's hard to say about whether Sex Pistols (mainly John Lydon) ever sold out because the punk movement, anti-establishment in nature, was just a money making machine. If it wasn't for punk, Virgin would never have come about as a multi-million dollar industry. People forget that punk didn't start in England, it started in America and was copied over here to sell clothes from a store called Sex run by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. It was all about creating controversy for the sake of making money, Sex Pistols were a boy band way before Take That. So in a way, they were made to sell out but the punk ethos of anti-capitalism etc. should still ring true today and John Lydon, who was so outspoken against the bourgeoisie mainstream culture, has in fact, much like the rest of the band, turned into it. What a shame. I mean Christ, there's even a Sex Pistols perfume out.

OK so I could go on and say Ozzy Osbourne, but in fact I don't think he even knows what's going on anymore and his solo stuff is still shit. Muse might have changed their sound to complete space-cock-rock anthems, but they just got really popular and it seemed they didn't change their sound on purpose, they just got shit. Ramones might have sold out with their logo emblazoned on everything, but half of them are dead now and they did keep on doing the music they wanted to do, even if it got shit near the end. Lemmy in the Kronenburg advert might seem a bit much, but Motorhead were never known for being underground - Ace of Spades is used for everything. Korn, Limp Bizkit, some argue even Metallica, but for the most part if you sell out, then you take the risk of losing more money in the future. Slow and steady wins the race.

There could be a debate about what exactly classifies as selling out, but if you're making music which you know is shit and you don't care how your band looks as long as you get paid, I'd say that's selling out. There's one thing playing music you love, becoming successful and maintaining your dignity, selling out packed stadiums and yet not selling out (Radiohead for instance) but it's another thing being a whore.



  1. Pretty sure Idlewild aren't making that much money.

  2. not anymore, but they went pop to try and make some more money, and it didn't work out. so now no-one wants to know them.