The Worst Rock Band Of All Time: The Police

Written by | August 30, 2015 7:15 am | 45 responses

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To be the worst rock band you can’t just have been pretty rotten forever, both on record and in person, you must have also been well respected and very very big. So when in you think to yourself, sure The Police were bad but Styx were worse, well, yes, of course, but Styx didn’t matter. How about Phil Collins, or just about anything Genesis did once Peter Gabriel left? Sure, but what about everything they did before Peter Gabriel left? Also, Phil wasn’t Sting, he didn’t have all that preening egotism.

Coldplay are duffers, U2 still do it live, E Street Band were the worst of all time for 25 minutes at a rock and roll hall of fame gig two years ago,and they have yet to recover from the loss Of Clarence Clemons, but as late as 2010 you might have considered them the best. In 1982, on any possible rational critical consideration, the Rolling Stones were the worst people making the worst records and performing the worst live shows, of all time. Just listen to Still Life. But they recovered. So, yeah, it is difficult to be simultaneously that big and that bad, to be such egotistical monsters and yet such terrible performers and songwriters and humongously popular. It can’t be done, can it?

First runner up for worst band ever is Bon Jovi, who have parlayed a blonde bimbo and a handful of songs into a decades long career. Still, Bon Jovi have two redeeming qualities. If you can cut their set to 20 minutes -like they did at the Hurricane Sandy gig, they can be fun,  and they don’t take themselves that seriously.

As for the Police: This is what I wrote about Sting last year: “Sting is the worst major songwriter of all time. From the bland anthem “Brand New Day” to the bland reggae of “Roxanne”, he is unbearable…  Thursday a “The Hounds Of Winter” followed by “Driven To Tears” was a nadir not just of the night but the year, you want to walk out and never turn back till you reach the Pacific Ocean.”

I walked out on the Sting-Simon gig in 2014, I walked out on The Police reunion gig at MSG in 2008, I walked out on a Sting solo gig in the 1990s and a big league Police gig in the 1980s, and I am sure I’d have walked out on them in the 1970s if I’d seen them. Reggae may be a slow groove but it shouldn’t be this lugubrious bore through song after song after song.

This isn’t Stewart Copeland’s fault, undoubtedly the best thing about the band, he is performing the skittish dubby rhythms with absolute dexterity but it is reggae, it drags by definition. And it isn’t Andy Summers. It is Sting, the man who took sole songwriting credit for “Every Breath You Take” and responded to his teammates who co-wrote it (and hated him for excellent reason) complaints on record in a Revolver interview with, “Life… is… fucking… tough. Here I am in Tuscany…”

Yup.

But I’d forgive him if I the songs were only any good. I am listening to The Police’s Greatest Hits and my only fear is overkill, so let me tone it down. “Every Breath You Take” is a great song, “King Of Pain” is maybe their second best song ever. So let’s hand it to Synchronicty, the 1983 farethewell, which includes both songs. And if you can get past Sting’s misreading  of C.G. Jung, it is not the worst thing I’ve ever heard. It plods too much but  if I’d never heard of Sting, maybe I’d be kinder.

Better than I’d give that greatest hits, which doesn’t bare listening to. Sting is his own worst enemy, he can write the chorus or he can write the verse but he can’t write both on the same song. And mostly he doesn’t write either and ends up with  the  faux funk of “When The World Is Running You Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around” -a random choice from Zenyatta Mondatta, which should kill but the only thing that works is the bass lick.

But let’s stay with The Police’s  saddest mistake, the huge hit “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”, where the low-loud song kills itself midflight, with maybe the best chorus they’ve ever written you can’t get there in one piece, it’s like they wrote the verses to punish their fans.

Solo, Sting has given self-deprecating pomposity whole new levels of meaning. From tantric sex to last ship, every little thing he does is a disaster. I am sure the tax exile who dyed his hair to ride punk into the charts with his dreary reggae rip offs till he figured out how to write a chorus and then proudly stole the riff  from his former bandmates, isn’t all blowhard self-importance and arrogance. He probably never kicks his wife or beats his children, either. But one of the seven circles of hell is watching Sting reach for an acoustic guitar in an indoor arena. You know you’re in for it. As a toxic mix of sell out attitude ego, bad vibes and ruthless plagiarism they are unbeatable

Album Grades, and I must admit, hearing some of this stuff, much for the first time in 30 years, neither Ghost nor Synchronicity were as terrible as I remembered.

Outlandos d’Amour (1978) – One listen to “Next To You” and you’ll know why they went reggae. “Can’t Stand Losing You” is a goodie – C-

Reggatta de Blanc (1979)- white reggae -geddit? – D+

Zenyatta Mondatta (1980) – Here they are not just bad, they are bad and assholes about it – D

Ghost in the Machine (1981) – On top of the world, “Spirit In The Material World” is an exceptional song, a perfection of their reggae jones and without attempting for a hit, they layer a tantalizing lick on the bridge – C

Synchronicity (1983) – It can’t be a coincidence their three best songs are on the same album, their last one, when they weren’t talking to each other  – C+

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45 Responses to “The Worst Rock Band Of All Time: The Police”

  1. Rand

    A bit over the top, no?
    You even admit they have some great songs, and great musicianship. Since there are so many bands that lack both, and thus far more deserving of this enviable prize, the Police cannot be the “worst rock band of all time”.

    Reply
  2. Graham Stewart

    The Police were OK back in the day, and some of their songs have aged reasonably well. I lost interest after the second album, but I really don’t get the hate in this poorly-written piece. It’s not the Police you hate; by your own admission, it’s Sting. So why not just say so? Possibly because it would undermine the whole premise of this inflated piece of puff? Well, d’uh…

    And let me see – despite your abiding and all-consuming hatred for Sting you went to see him in various permutations no less than FOUR TIMES. FOUR TIMES? Are you a closet masochist? Or just can’t make decisions? But of course you walked out each time, so that makes it alright, doesn’t it? Well actually it doesn’t. It makes it worse; it means you never learn from experience and you keep on making the same mistake over and over.

    So here’s a suggestion. Give up writing stuff like this. In fact, give up writing. You know it makes sense.

    Reply
  3. Joe

    I don’t comment often. But I had to with this. Everything about your writing is so horrifically bad that I thought this was a troll piece. I’m not sure it’s not. And your point makes no sense. You don’t like the music of the Police or Sting. That is obvious. But you can’t even give a reason for what you claim is bad music. As a music writer/critic, you should be coming up with more than a few adjectives to critique music. … And I’m sorry, but musicians across the board think that the Police were one of the greatest bands of all time. And I’m not sure if you noticed, but renowned musicians, some of whom are some of the greatest to play their instrument (Clapton, BJ Cole, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney,… Even Stings right hand man, Dominic Miller) play with Sting. He may not be gods gift to world music, jazz or Broadway or even his native culture based music- but he has an insane talent for virtuosity and bringing knowledge of these musics to the masses. And he’s really good and really successful at it. That’s an impossible thing to do if you’re bad at it.

    Also- Styx is a major band. They’re not nobodies. Check your facts moron.

    Reply
    • Joe Fusco

      You’re writing is terrible and I’m pretty sure you’re just jealous I’ve seen this before. Musicians can’t make it. They see bands that did and have great singer songwriters at the helm and they write some two bit blog
      Post about how they suck. But at the end of the day they wish they were them, they wish they had half the talent. You wish you were Sting and from what I heard you’re in love with him..even obsessed. The police are one of the greatest trios of all time and you can’t stand it.

      Reply
  4. mel

    At first reading this I thought it’s some kind of a joke! ” “Sting is the worst major songwriter of all time. ”
    You are totally and utterly insane . Not sure whether it worth spending my time responding. Don’t know how you were aloud to public this rubbish. You definitely don’t understand great music.

    Reply
  5. Pamela R. Hudson

    I scoured this editorial for evidence of fact based opinion without success. However, there is ample evidence that the author is unwilling to acknowlegde any positive contributions of a man called Sting throughout a stellar, 40+ year career in music, going to great lengths to do so. Admittedly, the culture of Sting’s unique style has global appeal, yet it does not resonate with everyone, as nothing can. However, this author did not write from the perspective of a music critic, but rather a psychologically wounded victim of his own failure who lacks appreciation for what so many hold dear. It is clear to anyone who reads this article that the author hopes to attack Sting on a personal level, which is unprofessional at best.

    Reply
    • vandre felipe de oliveira nicolau

      perfectly
      It´s a personal problem between he and Gordon (sting real name)

      Reply
  6. hedgehog

    What can one say about this nonsense. At first I thought I’d be rude about the ignorant person who wrote it. That would be too easy. Anybody who writes such rubbish should just be ignored. Pointless article by a very pointless person.

    Reply
  7. Hans Jansen

    There are basically two ways you can interpret this blog. It might be a spoof, a satirical piece on music journalism or the music business. If that is the case, it should be at least slightly funny, in one way or the other. Which it most certainly is not. Slagging off famous rock bands does not automatically make your article humorous or even readable.
    The second possibility is that the author is serious, in which case he’s been listening to a LOT of music he sincerely dislikes. That can happen if you’re so interested in music, that you sample anything you can lay your hands on and make a choice.
    What eludes me is why you would want to elaborate on the music you hate the most. I can imagine it would be a lot more fulfilling to share your interest in the music you enjoy, but maybe that’s just the old hippie in me talking.
    In whatever case, the attempt has misfired quite spectacularly. In contrast to the (very) successful musicians that are mentioned, here’s an advice: don’t give up the day job.

    Reply
  8. Reid

    The Writer evidently has no understanding of good or great music . He just wants his 15 minutes. Times up…

    Reply
  9. Rich Gowman

    Not too sure why this person selected The Police. He does not leave any evidence in his piece of what his actual music interests are, therefore, his writings do not mean much.
    I suppose if one were a hardcore jazz or Prog rock fan, then The Police does not work. If you love music by Madonna, or modern pop music, then The Police will not work for you. And, it is evident in this writing that he puts the blame on Sting for most of it anyway. We need a context for his musings.
    I would actually put The Police near the top of the pop writing world; yes there were some weak songs on each album, but the strength of the really good songs on each album overcomes those. Each of the 5 albums has at least a few really good songs with strong writing. Again, not if you are a Rush or Yes fan, or Genesis, or jazz, etc. But if you can appreciate good hook writing, along with a strong musical accompaniment, then The Police is a great choice. And, let;s face it, Andy Summers was a pioneer in creating the guitar parts he did. Stewart was a solid, full-of-life drummer, and Sting was a great vocalist and bass player.
    My tastes are narrow, admittedly. I enjoy Jimi Hendrix at the top, and a lot of Texas blues from the 1980s and 1990s, Primus, Rush, and other various artists. So I consider my narrow likes to be varied, and The Police certainly fits in with what I like.
    I listen for a strong rhythm section; if the drums and bass are not strong, then I do not prefer any music that has this weakness. Country is a fine example of weak rhythm sections; they write for the acoustic guitar and voice. Not my cup of tea. And most modern “pop” music is very weak in the rhythm section.
    AND I play in a Police tribute band, so I know more about the fine workings of the songs of The Police than most do.
    So I whole-heartedly disagree with this article.

    Reply
  10. Dude

    What a terribly written garbage clickbait article. You’re a fucking idiot joke.

    I can only imagine what sort of garbage you do listen to.

    Reply
  11. jeff

    This a troll piece. Dudes who write stuff like this are looking to drive people insane. They are usually non-musicians, hipsters, with terrible tastes in music. And I don’t even LIKE Sting.

    Reply
  12. TVcarls

    Dude you’re so bad at writing and must live in a cave and never heard real music before except for birds chirping and wind through the trees.. I can’t even comprehend this article.. Stopped reading after the first para-

    Reply
  13. Esarsea

    “Just keep your hands off my royalties”….Google that and you’ll know all you need to know

    Reply
  14. ROERIGRAIDER2

    THIS GUY SUCKS BALLS!!! THE POLICE ARE AND WILL ALWAYS BE MY ALL TIME FAVORITE. THEY HAVE EXTREME TALENT. AND WITH A THREE PIECE BAND THAT IS SAYING ALOT.

    Reply
  15. BG

    The last time I checked, Sting/The Police sold over 100 million records worldwide. The Police produced some real revolutionary music, and so did Sting on how own. “Synchronicity” is considered one of the best rock albums ever, and the likes “Dream of the Blue Turtles” & “Nothing Like The Sun” differentiated Sting from his peers and typical pop/rock music.

    Reply
  16. pete

    Well, I enjoyed it. To me, the ambivalence was obvious behind the surface animosity. I think Iman Lababedi deserves better readers! 🙂

    Reply
  17. Mike

    This article is complete garbage, the author is blowing wind and has no understanding of what music is and how to criticize it, it’s a “lets bash at Sting” because it’s too easy and jealous of his good fortune of writing pop classics. Dude, get a life ! Go criticize Kanye West instead and all the other garbage that generation Y are listening to or don’t critisize at all !

    Reply
  18. Thaddeus Lovelock

    I actually think the police were one of the better bands of the period. But it’s in interesting to here peoples opinions.

    Reply
  19. TS

    Sting is absolutely insufferable, I have to concur. His solo work should only be handled with a very long pair of tongs, if at all. The Police transcended Summoner’s suckage, and that is what makes them so great. Taking such a douchebag and making inspired, enjoyable douchebag-ade is about as impressive as it gets. Summers and Copeland deserve medals, actually.

    Reply
  20. EJP

    Sadly, I’m not a huge fan of the Police/Sting musiplex either. The lyrics do not speak to me (and actually the lyrics of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” scare me a little). I find the words a little obvious too, although really I see that they usually mean well. And most aspects of the music seem dischordant to me like something I might hear in a bad dream. And I say this as a fan of a lot of hip-hop.

    Does this make me a bad person? Probably… But for now, that’s how it is.

    P.S. I do think Sting is a decent human being, and I think all the band members work hard at their craft and are more talented than me. I just am not vibing with the music. Sometimes it’s a visceral feeling and can’t be explained rationally.

    Reply
  21. Sean Moloney

    Wow, this is 1. Way too harsh, and 2. God awful writing. I’ll let the second one go, but to say that the Police is the worst band ever is insulting. I’m not a huge fan, but Stewart Copeland is deservedly on most lists of best ever drummers, and Andy Summers was so influential in his mixing many different styles of guitar into the Police’s work. Sting? Sure, he is a bit egomaniacal, but as a songwriter and musician he’s brilliant. I prefer him with the Police as opposed to his solo work but that’s just my taste. As a band, they deserve every accolade they receive, and while I think there is a good deal of filler on their first 3 albums, Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity are both fantastic. And not a human being can go wrong with their greatest hits collections. Worst band ever? Good God no. Not in a world where Limp Bizkit and Nickelback exist.

    Reply
  22. Russ

    The Police just suck!! Rock stations play them. They are NOT rock!!! Not by a long shot!!! STYX are worst??? What a stupid statement! SYTX are great, they ARE a ROCK band. The Police are boring!! Blah,blah,blah!!!

    Reply
  23. Biff

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. The most overrated band maybe in the history of planet earth. Sting’s ego is insufferable- and since music is spiritual in nature and reflects the spirit of the artist – that makes his music hardly bearable as well.

    I fear that I may pay pay for my horrible sins of indulging in horrible 80s synth pop in the afterlife – in my recent past.

    But kind sir, thank you, thank you, thank you again for cleansing – no… purifying my soul with this unapologetic and brutal review of this horrible band!

    The only band whose music has aged nearly as bad is U2.

    Though Bono gets kudos from me for his genuinely wonderful work helping downtrodden all over… but I digress… thank you again kind sir for this wonderfully horrible review.

    Reply
  24. You are terrible

    Your analysis is so flawed – you contradict yourself in your own writing. You are a disgrace to journalism and the fact that you even attempt to criticize one of the best musical groups ever is pathetic. I would seriously consider changing “careers.” You are scum and will never write a piece worth publishing. Please, go deeply consider your future

    Reply
  25. jedrthepro LOOK Me up on fortNite TRacker

    Legitimately it is pathetic that you even publish this crap, is everyone allowed to publish this stuff? I sure hope not but as it is they should delete your account. This is not even elementary level writing. The only two things that actually make sense are the grammar and the spelling. This just proves that you are incapable of writing a review. As someone with no experience whatsoever in music i should ask you, What makes you think you can criticize a band that has been around for 40+ years and has hundreds of millions of albums sold. The police are one of the most iconic, revolutionary bands out there and you have no experience in journalism or music whatsoever and have no supporting evidence that your point is valid. This article being completely pathetic, uncreative, and completely illegitemate, I suggest that you crawl back into whatever cave you came out of and discontinue your pointless and utterly depressing career and find something useful to do in life or just kill yourself.

    Reply
  26. F the police

    I just heard “sending out an SOS” for the millionth time in my life and still hate the song with the utmost vitriol. literally, 1 minute and 18 seconds of the song is not repeated, 3 minutes and 34 seconds of the song is repeated droning over and over and over until it ends. when you can make the same 18 lyrical lines last three and a half minutes, you have serious talent problems. this is the same for almost every song the police have ever made. absolute garbage.
    I like all kinds of music, but I could never find myself excited that the police was on the radio. in fact, I rather turn the stereo off and drive in silence.
    since you guys want to get mad that the article writer didnt give a good enough reason to call the police the worst band ever, i gave you a reason why people should call them the worst band ever.

    Reply
  27. Samantha

    Music is subjective. A masterpiece for one person is torture for another.

    I was amused that the author criticizes The Police’s “lyrics/grammar” yet has no idea now to use quotation marks… or is just too lazy to perform spell check/grammar check on his/her diatribe.

    You know what they say, critics dont have the ability to create, so they spend their time trying to tear down the creations of those who DO have the ability/drive to create!

    “One becomes a critic when one cannot be an artist, just as a man becomes a stool pigeon when he cannot be a soldier.”
    -Gustave Flaubert

    Reply
  28. JL

    Some fair points were made. I respect your opinion, though I mostly (respectfully) disagree. And the main reason I disagree is because the band KISS exists. You know I’m right.

    Reply
  29. Richmond

    Sting is boring and his songs are dull. He’s not that bad to be called the worst, though. He’s also a decent bassist.
    The Police was alright, the songs were definitely simple but catchy enough. I’d rather listen to the Police than the Beatles, to be honest.
    And at least The Police had a stunning drummer.

    Reply
  30. Jay

    The Police were absolute garbage and everything negative that this guy wrote is accurate. Their music is simply unbearable if you have any taste or brains. I feel sorry for those of you who like it.

    Reply

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