Some bands have unquestionably earned their place among the greats. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd- the list goes on. It’s pretty much just the roster of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
And some bands are pretty widely regarded as, for lack of a more elegant term, bad. Nickelback, Green Day, Boston, Van Halen before 1985, Van Halen after 1985, Bon Jovi- again, the list goes on. Again, it’s still pretty much just the roster of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Now, I’m not going to make the case that Pink Floyd is actually terrible or that Bon Jovi is actually good. We’ll acknowledge that every great band has released some absolute bullshit (Yellow Submarine) and that every awful band strikes gold now and then (Rock You Like a Hurricane), and we’ll move on to the point.
Whether or not you’re a fan of a particular band, we all generally agree on a level of rankings. Def Leppard is better than Creed. Foghat is not as good as Journey. This is Music 101, people.
But of all the bands that we universally agree are top-ranked…
…someone still has to get ranked last.
Of all the great bands, one of them has to fill the slot of “still great, but definitely not as good as the other ones.”
The worst of the best.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I posit to you that this band is The Doors.
Hear me out.
I like The Doors. Everything about their image and their sound epitomizes the oxymoronic “carefree yet intense” attitude of the 60s counter-culture. And I’m the first to admit that Jim Morrison is an icon for a reason. I find him to be one of the most captivating and charismatic figures in the history of rock music. People with more knowledge on the subject than myself have written in agreement time and time again. The Doors are a great band, and I do like them.
But here’s the thing about The Doors.
People talk about how iconic they are, and the influence that they had on the scene and subculture of the time, and on the future of music and our idea of the modern “rock star.” Because those are the things that make them great.
You know what no one talks about? Their music.
It’s not about the music. If it was, they’d never have gotten off the ground. The Doors were a mediocre rock band that happened to get lucky and be at the right place in the right time, when the world was happy enough with mediocre rock as long as it had a larger-than-life god of the Cult of Personality to sell it. The Doors are great because they, and specifically Jim Morrison, define the era.
But you take The Doors out of the 1960s, and it’s like taking the prom queen out of her little hometown: instantly drops from a perfect 10 to a 6 at best.
I have a lot of respect for The Doors for figuring out how to tap into that je ne sais quoi, that inscrutable “x factor,” and become much more than the sum of their parts.
But I also have ears, and with those ears I have listened to the song Hello, I Love You.
While sober and paying attention?
I didn’t think so. Here:
To be clear, this isn’t like I cheated and picked a generally unpopular album or a song that everyone considers one of their worst. This is track #3 off The Very Best Of. This is quintessential The Doors.
And honestly? It just isn’t very good. Sure, we all enjoyed listening, Yes, we all sang along a little bit. True, no one feels like they wasted two and a half minutes of their lives for having sat through it. But…
Do you really need more convincing than that? If so, I invite you to try listening to literally any other song by The Doors. If you want to save yourself some time, start with Gloria.
The Worst of the Best of the Bands is The Doors. I rest my case.