Top 10 Skeletons in Musical Closets

[Brent Chittenden has come up with a good list of regrets held by some rather famous people.  You can’t run from your past, people. None of us can. – AC]

Ah, the New Year. A time to reflect on the many things that went wrong with last year that you hope to get right this year. I imagine it’s the same for musicians but sometimes, there’s a skeleton in the closet. Something so horrible it refuses to go away.

And I’m not talking “What was Brittney thinking when she read the script to Crossroads?”, even worse than that. And for that, we have made a list. The Top Ten Skeletons in The Musical Closet!

10) Jewel’s Pop Phase

When we were first introduced to Jewel, she was this kinda quirky, singer song writer. Not my cup of tea but you could tell she had talent. At some point someone convinced her to do a pop album and to be fair it did great sales but in my mind, it damaged her image amongst her actual fans as opposed to just those who bought that one album due to a shampoo commercial. She’s tried her hand at numerous genres since (country and lullabies.. for kids and adults?) but nothing seems to have stuck.


9) Tori Amos – Y Kant Tori Read’s “The Big Picture”

This isn’t as bad as others on the list as it’s kind of obvious this is Tori trying to find her way, musically. The video above however is rather awful.


8) Alanis Morissette – Alanis “Too Hot”

Alanis Morissette doesn’t hide from this particular skeleton but it is in there. After a stint on You Can’t Do That On Television, Alanis dropped her last name and became a pop star four years before she took her Jagged Little Pill.


7) Pantera – “Metal Magic”

For some reason, when anyone wants to tease a Pantera fan, they bring up the album Power Metal. In my mind, Power Metal isn’t that bad. It’s not great but you can get a glimpse of where they were headed. “Metal Magic” on the other hand…


6) Trent Reznor – Option 30’s “Der Kommissar”

Once again, an artist trying to find his way in the world but still, this Falco cover is kind of awful and Mr. Reznor isn’t fond of discussing it (if I’m not mistaken, Alan had the balls to bring a physical album up to Mr. Reznor in person.  [And he wasn’t happy. – AC]). But if I were Reznor now, I would take that garbage and make it mine. Do another version of it with a bit of heaviness and a little irony.


5) Dr. Dre – World Class Wreckin’ Cru

I’ve never actually read what Dr. Dre makes of his electro-rap past due with World Class Wreckin’ Cru. I imagine this is in part to any interviewer probably way too scared to bring it up. But it does answer one question I’ve always had. Apparently Dre’s doctorate is in mixology.


4) Alice N’ Chains (or is it Chainz?) – Lip Lock Rock

I feel a little bad about this one as I don’t like to speak ill of the dead but WOW! Before the Alice in Chains we all know and love, Layne Staley had a glam rock/metal band called Sleze. Sleze eventually changed it’s name to Alice N’ Chains (I’ve also seen the Chainz spelling but can’t confirm it, but it would fit the time period). When They were done, Layne took the name with him and wrote a lot better songs then the crap above.


3) Chris Cornell – Scream

I imagine that he’s really hoping all the buss about the reunited Soundgarden will let this Timbaland monstrosity die quietly in the background.


2) Ministry – With Sympathy

Make no mistake, that is Al Jourgensen, the same guy who would go on to pen Thieves and NWO. With Sympathy was released in 1983 and it comes off as bad new wave synth pop record… because that’s what it is. When brought up, Al usually calls the album an abortion.


1) David Bowie – The Laughing Gnome

Bowie has put out so much great music that I imagine this still must taste a little bitter when it comes up. Capitalizing on the novelty Chipmunks-like sound, “The Laughing Gnome” is pretty terrible but refuses to die. Released early in his career in 1967, it would take two more years before we’d get S”pace Oddity.” When Bowie went to retire a majority of his back catalogue in his Sound+Vision tour, he set up a phone number to help create the playlist. NME set upon a campaign to get the Laughing Gnome as part of the set list. Despite large amount of votes, Bowie decided against it.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37451 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

3 thoughts on “Top 10 Skeletons in Musical Closets

  • Technically, Trent Reznor did a cover of a cover. After the Fire did the English version of Falco's German original.

  • Wow Dave, I've never actually seen or read that before you posted that link… just wow. Thank you very much for the input, I think a list of Decisions that Hurt careers might be in order.


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