Hit singles are a double-edged sword for most bands: Everybody needs a hit song to get big, but nobody wants to be defined by their first song. MGMT fans recently had to learn this the hard way, when the band refused to play “Kids” on its latest tour. But while MGMT might be the latest group to sacrifice famous singles for hipster cred, they’re certainly not the first. Here are six more famous acts who hate the songs that made them famous.
If there were ever an ideal litmus test for gauging musical taste, it’s Radiohead’s signature hit “Creep”: If this is your favorite Radiohead track, you’re probably not a big fan of the band overall. Maybe that’s the reason the much-beloved Englishmen have mostly excluded the song from their live sets. As of now, the song hasn’t seen the light of day since 2009, when the band whipped it out as its opener at Reading Festival. Almost two decades later, and Radiohead is still trying to get this song out of the way.
If Radiohead doesn’t hate “Creep” but still plays it at shows, then Flock of Seagulls are polar opposites with their 1982 chart-topper “I Ran.” While the band didn’t go so far as to remove the song from its live sets, lead singer Mike Score did state that he'd gotten “sick of it” in a live setting. And with the song’s super-sticky synth lead and repetitive chorus, who in their right mind wouldn’t get tired of it after nonstop play?
“Harlem Shake” might have been this spring’s unexpected viral breakout, but Baauer’s off-kilter club banger started making its rounds in the blogosphere almost a year prior. Kind of a bummer, then, that “Harlem Shake’s” tweaked out danceability is now hopelessly tied to a played-out meme.
While Baauer doesn’t hate the song, he said in a recent interview that the backlash almost outweighs the popularity: “...It was this mix of "wow this is great," but also "this is f*cking awful. I got kinda depressed." To top it all off, because of legal issues, “Harlem Shake” hasn’t made Baauer a penny to date. Ouch.
When you make a song that satirizes dudebro party culture, what do you do when the dudebro party culture picks it up as its anthem? Well if you’re the Beastie Boys, you say “screw it,” and you ride that sucker to to the top of the charts. Later, you can give your real opinion in the form of a “hindsight is 20/20” epiphany. That’s what Mike D did. After admitting that the frequent misinterpretations had him somewhat upset, he went for a more specific call-out: “There were tons of guys singing along to 'Fight for Your Right' who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them.”
It makes you wonder what he might have thought about Coldplay’s famous memorial performance after the passing of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch.
"Brown Eyed Girl" is the pretty much the perfect oldie: It's carefree, it’s catchy, and it’s a timeless classic through and through. But Van Morrison doesn’t rank it among the best, even in his own library. In an interview with TIME Magazine, the singer-songwriter straight bashed his signature hit, saying: "It's not one of my best. I mean I've got about 300 songs that I think are better.”
Let’s be real, though — "Brown Eyed Girl" might not be Van Morrison’s masterwork (a title that probably belongs to his Astral Weeks album), but it’s still pretty damned good.
Before he was “that dude from Gorillaz,” Damon Albarn was frontman of another international super-band, Blur. And while Blur is still praised to this day for seminal albums like Parklife, Albarn is a crazy tough critic on his own works. Even though Blur's debut album Leisure showcased the band's strong potential and contained hits like “She’s So High,” Albarn called dismissed it as a “bad record” in a 2007 interview. Some people are just impossible to please.