The Well Regarded Artist You Simply Cannot Stand; Except for That ONE Song...


Who is That Well Regarded Artist You Simply Cannot Stand? 

You know what we mean, it's the artist or band that EVERYONE seems to love, but you just can't get on board with them. You've tried over and over to understand or reason with others, but it just never meshes. We all have those artists. You just don't like them.... Well.... except... there's that ONE song... that... you kinda... well, you kinda like that one song. 

Right now, WYEP is in the nominating phase to find out the top "Well Regarded Artist You Simply Cannot Stand" among our listeners. Obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinions and this is definitely going to spark some debate. We asked WYEP's hosts to chime in on who they cannot stand... well, except for that one song.

Click here to nominate an artist you "Simply Cannot Stand."

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix Host)
Artist I Cannot Stand: John Mayer
The 1 Song I like by them: "Belief"

If you ask me to listen to an entire John Mayer album I’ll do it (if I like you enough), but be warned, I’m going to expect something in return and it’s going to be expensive.

Yes, I know he’s a brilliant guitarist, I’ve heard his live album with his trio. The Dead invited him to play with them because no other can capture the spirit of Jerry Garcia’s guitar better than he. His voice is pretty enough to woo susceptible female fans, but I’m not one of them. Mayer’s music is way too schlocky for my taste. His saccharine melodies and sopolistic lyrics play like teeth on a blackboard to my ear. His overt sexism, pompous self-regard, and adolescent sense of humor doesn’t help matters.

Despite this there was a momentary glimmer of hope from Mr. Mayer when in 2006 he released Continuum. Several songs on the album suggested that Narcissus had turned away from the gazing pool long enough to recognize a troubled world. One song in particular caught my attention and I attest to its merit. It’s called “Belief.” Its measured tempo and hypnotic melody draw the listener in then hits them with the concept of the shared fragility of human existence.

I don’t doubt in Mr. Mayer’s talent or intellect. I just hope he comes to recognizes that his brain is his most precious organ, and it is the one he should be sharing with the world.

 Joey Spehar (Morning Mix Host)
Artist I Cannot Stand: U2
The 1 Song I like by them: "Sunday Bloody Sunday"

U2 are a great band. They’re an important band. They’re popular for a reason. No, they’re popular and important and great for many reasons.

However, I just can’t stand listening to them. Maybe I find their music overly ambitious and a bit too epic in scale. Maybe I’m annoyed by those stupid “sunglasses” and hats that Bono and The Edge are always wearing, respectively. Maybe I’m holding a grudge against the guy who overrode all of my songs on the jukebox with his own personal U2 greatest hits that one time 13 years ago.

The real reason I don’t like U2 is probably because I was born too late to appreciate them. By the time teenage me became aware of this musical institution, they felt like caricatures of themselves. They were larger than life when I was looking for something a bit more intimate.

However, if I even hear so much as the first measure of drums on “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” I’m almost willing to let my grudge go. Those drums! That understated riff! Hell, even Bono’s little vocal warmups before the verse starts! It almost makes me want to go all in and try to change the world.

Kyle Smith (Midday Host & Music Director)
Artist I Cannot Stand: John Mayer
The 1 song I Like By John Mayer: “In the Blood”

John Mayer released his debut album in 2001 and dropped by the station for a Live & Direct Session before his first show in Pittsburgh at Club Café.  Room For Squares had just come out, the interview and session were top-notch.  John seemed earnest, musically proficient at the age of 23, and quite humble.  Room For Squares is an excellent debut, and a finely tuned pop gem.  He returned about a year later, after the pop world had discovered his music, and I heard a local interview with John on one of the big hit Top40 stations. His persona during the on-air spot changed completely to a sophomoric jerk that would jump into any room and morph into what was required.  It was a huge turn-off along with his subsequent melt-downs in two, rather controversial magazine interviews.  He ended up retreating from interviews and public life, had vocal cord surgery, and then focused more on other projects that highlighted his stellar guitar playing and songwriting.  After touring with The Dead & Company he returned with the album in 2017, The Search For Everything, and won me back over as a fan with the song “In The Blood.”

Cindy Howes (Evening Mix Host)
Artist I Cannot Stand: Phil Collins
The 1 Song I like by them: "Follow You Follow Me" (which is actually by Genesis)

Even though I know his music is pleasant enough, I don’t like Phil Collins. I think he’s corny and not as profound as others might find him. Also, I’m more into the depth, sincerity and weirdness that his former Genesis bandmate, Peter Gabriel’s solo material presents. The person who pointed all this out to me was Aimee Mann. Mann lost an Oscar for her song “Save Me” to “Phil Collins and his cartoon monkey love song” (according to Aimee). She tends to dedicate her losing song in jest to Collins, but I took her point very seriously. That being said, the one Phil Collins song I am okay with is Genesis’ “Follow You Follow Me,” which was actually written by Mike Rutherford (or so he says) on their 1978 album "And Then There Were Three." It’s a sweet and simple love song soaked in soft rock production that just steals my heart. Phil takes the lead vocal on the song, but the show is stolen by that sweet Moog run.

Brian Siewiorek (Production Director)
Artist I Cannot Stand: Wings
The 1 Song I like by them: "Live and Let Die”

Not to knock Sir Paul McCartney, especially his work with The Beatles and some of his solo work, but I have never been able to get into his Wings-era output. (Hell, Sir Paul isn’t even my favorite Beatle anyway.)  The one exception from his decade-long stint with Wings is the song, “Live and Let Die”. Written for the 1973 James Bond film of the same name, there is something so gleefully over-the-top about it, that makes it glorious pop gold. The piano, the strings, the brass, all produced by McCartney’s old pal, Sir George Martin (Beatles producer extraordinaire). There is just so much going on, that you can almost hear something new on each listen.  It’s a pretty fun rollercoaster of a song with it’s emotional peaks and serene, yet brief lows. But let’s not talk about that Guns N’ Roses cover, because that was dreadful.

 Mike Sauter (Director of Content and Programming) 
Artist I Cannot Stand: Kanye West 
The 1 Song I like by them: "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" 

It's pretty indisputable that Kanye West is a generally well-regarded artist; not only is his fan base huge, he has won more Grammys than any artist so far in the 21st Century, and he had three albums listed in Rolling Stones' 2012 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (same as The Beach Boys, The Clash, and George Clinton). And yet, I have never really been able to get into his music.

However, there is one of Kanye's songs I will listen to on repeat: his 2005 single "Diamonds From Sierra Leone." Built around a sample of Shirley Bassey's classic James Bond theme "Diamonds Are Forever," the music has a memorable sound and insistent groove. When Kanye reaches up in successively higher registers with his "forever-ever" chorus, something happens in the feel of the song that takes it to a new emotional level.

The song's original verses were mostly a spray of braggadocio, but Kanye remixed the song with fresh lyrics that acknowledge the dirty legacy of conflict diamonds and how innocent people can be harmed by flashy bling worn by blithely unaware Americans (most poignantly in the rhyme "I thought my Jesus piece was so harmless/Till I seen a picture of a shorty armless").

I'll admit, though, that I first heard the song with the original lyrics, and my enthusiasm for it was the same. It's not the enlightened message of the remix that makes me enjoy the song (although the remix's lyrics are much, MUCH better). It's the song's sound and vibe that keeps me captivated.