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The Worst Rock Band Of All Time: The Police

The_Police-Reggatta_De_Blanc_Japan-Back-

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+

53 Comments

  1. Rand on August 30, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    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”.

  2. Graham Stewart on August 30, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    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.

  3. Joe on August 30, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    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.

    • Joe Fusco on April 5, 2020 at 1:37 am

      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.

  4. mel on August 31, 2015 at 7:06 am

    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.

  5. Pamela R. Hudson on August 31, 2015 at 8:11 am

    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.

    • vandre felipe de oliveira nicolau on October 23, 2019 at 3:54 pm

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

  6. hedgehog on August 31, 2015 at 9:51 am

    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.

  7. Hans Jansen on August 31, 2015 at 9:57 am

    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.

  8. Reid on August 31, 2015 at 10:03 am

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

  9. Ezius Mondatta on August 31, 2015 at 10:23 am

    You are ready for a musical instrumental TSO

  10. Rich Gowman on August 31, 2015 at 10:24 am

    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.

  11. Dude on August 31, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    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.

  12. jeff on August 31, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    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.

  13. TVcarls on August 31, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    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-

  14. Esarsea on August 31, 2015 at 2:31 pm

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

  15. ROERIGRAIDER2 on August 31, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    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.

  16. BG on August 31, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    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.

  17. Jim on August 31, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    ABSOLUTE RUBBISH……They will let anyone write nowadays won’t they?

  18. pete on September 1, 2015 at 1:08 am

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

    • admin on September 1, 2015 at 5:20 am

      Thanks Pete -IL

    • admin on September 1, 2015 at 5:20 am

      Thanks Pete -IL

    • Graham Stewart on September 1, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      I smell astro-turfing (i.e. fake grass roots)…

  19. Mike on September 14, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    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 !

  20. Thaddeus Lovelock on March 4, 2017 at 6:37 am

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

  21. Cptn. Wolfe on March 7, 2017 at 3:48 am

    The mental hospital called, they asked how you escaped

  22. TS on April 15, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    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.

    • jedrthepro LOOK Me up on fortNite TRacker on December 29, 2018 at 11:16 pm

      are you fucking serious pete, tell me how many albums did you sell how many grammys have you won, it seems like i should return you to the mental hospital

  23. EJP on April 24, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    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.

  24. Be. U on May 8, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Sting is the worst artist in modern history.
    A fact….

  25. Sean Moloney on June 3, 2017 at 2:10 am

    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.

  26. Russ on November 12, 2017 at 6:33 am

    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!!!

  27. Biff on November 15, 2017 at 11:14 am

    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.

    • Timothy M Schimick on March 13, 2021 at 9:35 am

      Oh, do you mean the U2 ranked number 26 on Rolling Stones best bands of all time? With the Police #70? I think I’ll take experts over people who couldn’t tell a good song if it slapped them in the face.

  28. DARN YOU VILE POLICE HATERS on February 12, 2018 at 11:06 am

    SHUT UP THE POLICE IS LEGENDARY! ID LIKE TO SEE YOU GUYS PREFORM ONE OF THOSE SONGS FLAWLESSLY! #TRIGGERED

  29. John Sherwood on May 7, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    well these guys clearly disagree. i think they’re a new band they look young but the similarities are striking.
    https://youtu.be/-el0SDihvEI

  30. You are terrible on August 5, 2018 at 12:19 am

    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

  31. jedrthepro LOOK Me up on fortNite TRacker on December 29, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    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.

  32. F the police on December 30, 2018 at 1:37 am

    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.

  33. Angel Fausto on January 20, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Sting Stinks!!!

  34. Samantha on February 2, 2019 at 2:48 am

    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

  35. JL on May 12, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    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.

    • Kevin on October 7, 2019 at 9:48 am

      I was thinking the exact same thing.

  36. Richmond on June 14, 2019 at 10:59 am

    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.

  37. Jay on May 23, 2020 at 12:18 am

    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.

    • Timothy M Schimick on March 13, 2021 at 9:30 am

      I feel sorry for someone like you who has zero taste in music and further mocks others who are clearly more intelligent than you.

  38. Patrick on July 11, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    I eagerly listened to synchronicity on the strength of “every breath you take”…. Where’s the rest of it! So average I’d literally forgotten most of the record 5 mins after it ended. Listen I don’t think the police are crap, they are just nowhere near as good as folk make them out to be. I reckon they just got a lucky break somewhere down the line. Mom had the same experience when she was young, only she had to fork out 12 quid in 1983 yikes. (I found that out after I had listened to the record by the way)

    • Bob Newhart on March 13, 2021 at 9:37 am

      Yeah, they had 3 #1 hits and 7 top 10 hits. Must have been a “lucky break” somewhere. Do you think before you speak?

  39. Scott on September 1, 2020 at 11:50 pm

    Just came across this being board.

    Whom ever wrote this it’s THE biggest douche bag. Sting doesn’t even come close to you.

    He’s too busy counting the millions of dollars he continues to receive yearly from his royalties.

    He’s one of the Top 5 in that category in the history of music.

  40. Bob Newhart on March 13, 2021 at 9:22 am

    So if you’re counting the worst bands of all time and you put The Police at the top then that would have to make you the most tone deaf, self proclaimed music critic of this generation. You have no clue what you’re talking about and I’m somewhat surprised you didn’t put the Stones and Beatles on your list as well. You’re a joke and a hack. I’m glad I didn’t read all of your drivel so I didn’t waste too much of my life on your ridiculous unfounded criticism. It’s clear by this article alone you have no clue.

  41. The Fonz on September 29, 2021 at 9:11 am

    “Styx was worse”?

    Please listen to Styx 2 – their second album and you will re-emerge with -if not a love for Styx – then certainly a healthy respect.

    Until this very week – I had always denigrated Styx. No more.

    In a fit of absolute boredom and purely on a lark I found a gem of a record.

    Yes the Police and lead narcissist Sting were terrible (as well as terribly overrated) – but I beg of you – do not put down my newest discovery.

    And in the name of truth – give that darned record a listen.

  42. Thomas on October 6, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    Good accurate stuff. Fanboys don’t like the the truth that’s why they boo hoo…saddos!.
    The Police like many many other music acts in history have the right connections and big money behind them to promote their tat to the gullible masses who fall for the media hype. They were a brand, a commodity, a third-rate embarrassment like Boomtown Rats, Simple Minds, The Jam, U2, Duran Duran, Gary Numan ect….. Nostalgia does funny things to peoples minds.

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