We couldn't help but notice that when they released the Grammy nominations last week, neither Kanye West nor Taylor Swift received nods in the Album of the Year category, despite both having released worthy albums within the requisite period. Surely, we can expect a classic Kanye meltdown any minute now. Every time Kanye pitches a meme-generating, embarrassingly entitled fit, or Morrissey makes another cringe-worthy comment, you wonder why you continue to support them by listening to their music. But the fact of the matter is: They are too damn good to quit.
These performers are so talented, it negates the suspicion that you wouldn't want to meet them. And yes, there are a lot of classic jerks in the music industry (Gene Simmons and Axl Rose come to mind), but you wouldn't die if you never heard "Sweet Child O Mine" again. "Be My Baby" is another matter. So without further ado, here are the ten biggest jerks we just can't give up.
10. Lady Gaga
Sometimes when you try so hard to be "provocative," you wind up just being an asshole. Sure, she stole Jerry Seinfeld's private box at the Mets game. But I'm talking about the endless variations on arriving-in-eggs and dildo microphones that keep playing out month after month, year after year. It's tiresome at best, plagiarism at worst.
He's a convicted murderer. He used to keep his wife Ronnie Spector of The Ronnettes locked in their house for weeks on end. But where would we be without "Be My Baby," Let It Be, and the Wall of Sound?
Marshall Mathers clearly enjoys being confrontational and controversial-- the "feuds" section of his Wikipedia article has eight entries. There's probably been dissertations written about his homophobic and misogynistic lyrics. At least he is marginally self-aware about it, going on Anderson Cooper and critically evaluating whether he takes more heat for his verses than other rappers because he is white. "There are certain rappers that do and say the same things that I'm saying and I don't hear no one say anything about that," he told Cooper. Em's no prince, but at least he's toning it down a bit in old age. He gave his support to gay marriage, telling the New York Times Magazine last year, "I think that everyone should have the chance to be equally miserable, if they want. It's the new tolerant me!" Okay, that made us laugh.
If nothing else, she should be on the list for making one of the best albums of all time, dropping off the face of the earth, and then making one of the worst albums of all time. The amount of lawsuits she attracts argues that she is a difficult personality. Then there's the performance she gave in Oakland in 2007, described by the San Jose Mercury News thus: "How bad was this concert? Well, calling it a fiasco would be an insult to fiascos everywhere. It was so bad that it sent 75 to 100 fans into the lobby only four songs into the set, all of them grumbling loudly and demanding refunds. Those were the smart ones - the rest of us remained in our seats and watched what amounted to a two-hour train wreck." The ultimate sign of a true diva? At Sundance this year, she required everyone to address her as Ms. Hill.
Disregarding the controversy that arose a month or so ago when he sicced his fans on us for suggesting they were lame, what really stands out is his reputation for temper tantrums, hissy fits, and outbursts of every variety under the sun. He has had audience members kicked out for talking over his set, or, even worse, committing the cardinal sin of requesting Bryan Adams songs. Overly sensitive, much?
Metallica's problems with the internet (and thus, their fans) are legion. This headline from Idolator pretty much sums it up: "Metallica Wants Bloggers To Hear, Not Blog, New Album." Basically, they held a listening party for bloggers, then sent cease and desist letters when bloggers (gasp!) wrote about it. Even though they said nice things. I also read that James Hetfield once closed the bar at a gig they played because he's a recovering alcoholic. Also, they're responsible for Lulu. What other proof do you need?
4. Billy Corgan
He did amazing things in The Smashing Pumpkins and hasn't stopped being an asshole since, even when he hasn't released any good music since 1995. You'd think when you've alienated/fired your entire band (multiple times!) you'd give it a rest. Since his musical decline, he's always trying to figure out ways to make a buck, once charging fans to view his blog. To make matters worse, he's a huge fan of the corporate alliance, licensing songs to commercials, releasing an album exclusively through Target and Best Buy, and supporting the LiveNation/Ticketmaster merger. However, all this makes for excellent reading with delightful titles like "Billy Corgan, Asshole" and "Billy Corgan Possibly the Biggest Hypocrite in Music."
Every time Kanye opens his mouth outside of the recording studio, a child (by which I mean me) starts to cry. Where to begin. He compared himself to Jesus in a Rolling Stone interview (he's also compared himself to Hitler in the past). He threw a tantrum when he didn't win at the MTV Europe music awards. I'm sure you all remember the time he leaped onstage during the 2009 VMAs and rudely interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech. After being called out for that one by everyone from Katy Perry to President Obama, he agreed he needed to take a period of self-reflection. Since then, he's been on relatively good behavior (I'm not counting a few Twitter meltdowns). However, the ego-monster knows no bounds, and I'm sure we can look forward to more gems from Mr. West in the future. But hey, at least he's responsible for causing an "all-time low" of the Bush presidency.
2. John Mayer
Dude can play guitar. But should that really excuse the decidedly-not-funny jokes, the "accidental" racism, and the trash-talking of his (many) high-profile exes? The man's ego knows no bounds. FYI, John, apologizing for using the n-word doesn't really cover this quote (from the same Playboy interview) about interracial dating: "My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I've got a Benetton heart and a fuckin' David Duke cock." Gross.
I've always suspected that insufferably militant vegan Morrissey prefers animals to people. Perhaps that's one reason why he finds it acceptable to consistently make racist comments. He's been in trouble since the early nineties, when he said some things about race relations that seemed dated at best. He's currently embroiled in a lawsuit against British music magazine NME for a 2007 interview in which he lamented the loss of the British identity due to immigration. And that's not even counting the comments he made last year describing the Chinese as a "subspecies" for their treatment of animals. As a huge fan of both The Smiths and his solo work, this entry pains me the most to write. Morrissey, it seems, is just a terrible person.
Know a bigger jerk? Add your vote in the comments!