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22 Awful Records That Sold Millions

Nostalgia kills. One minute, you’re dealing with society. The next, you’re remembering CDs existed. Compact disks. L-O-L. Those circular, scratchable and ultimately fine artifacts were the gold standard of a music industry bubble that burst by the mid-to-late 2000s. Outside of major label artists who sold and will continue to sell millions, album sales torpedoed as audiences moved away from Sam Goody and into Spotify. 

Part of my masochistic pandemic spiral is to remember how the most cringeworthy record could sell a million copies or more. I’m sure the steady crawl toward butt-rock reappraisal is part of a lot of other folks’ masochistic spirals, too — it’s no coincidence so many of those bands made the list. Thanks, nostalgia. 

What follows is a list of the absolute worst platinum and multi-platinum records of all-time, followed by a shortlist of dishonorable mentions. 

Less Than Jake - Silver Linings. New album out December 11, 2020.

Eagles — Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) 

Sales: 38 million 

Your step-dad loves The Eagles, but honestly, the band is the Anthropologie of rock ‘n’ roll. Like the overpriced store, the band offers annoying blandness to upper-class whites who aren’t quite ready to commit to Margaritaville, cruise vacations, or swinging. 

The Big Lebowski Hate The Fucking Eagles Man GIF - TheBigLebowski HateTheFuckingEaglesMan TheDude GIFs

Matchbox Twenty — Yourself or Someone Like You

Sales: 12 million

Heavy metal Hootie & the Blowfish. 

 

Kid Rock — Devil Without a Cause 

Sales: 11 million 

“Bawitdaba” is what Walmart plays to amp up Black Friday crowds. 

 

Nickelback — All the Right Reasons 

Sales: 10 million 

Heavy metal Matchbox Twenty. 

 

Live — Throwing Copper 

Sales: 8 million 

When in doubt, Christian camp counselors sneak out to their shacks, blare “Shit Towne” and gulp down a gallon of Jim Beam. 

 

3 Doors Down — The Better Life 

Sales: 7 million 

This band’s existence is as pointless as the corporation for which they shill

 

Limp Bizkit — Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water 

Sales: 6 million 

An album with a title that means “asshole and semen” sold more than a million copies in its first week, and 400,000 copies in its first day. 

daniel day lewis gifs, paul thomas anderson gifs, daniel plainview gifs, there will be blood gifs

Creed — Weathered 

Sales: 6 million 

Once Alice in Chains went on hiatus, Creed filled the void of rock bands fronted by dollar store Jim Morrisons (see also Godsmack, Our Lady Peace, everything KROQ played in 1996) and brought the holy spirit into the mix. Though earlier albums featured thought-provoking tunes, this album gave us the T.I./Scott Stapp collaboration we never knew we needed

 

Staind — Break the Cycle 

Sales: 5 million

Staind is music for dudes with goatees who feel pain. Like real pain. But, they also like real country

 

Puddle of Mudd — Come Clean 

Sales: 3 million 

Fred Durst “found” Puddle of Mudd, signed them to his label, then let the band wreak havoc on rock radio. If you were to ask Wes Scantlin about this album — or anything else — he would tell you that his memory is “blurry.” 

 

Smash Mouth — Astro Lounge 

Sales: 3 million 

After the success of “All-Star,” Smash Mouth became Shrek’s house band. It’s an inspired move, considering lead singer Steve Harwell looks like Shrek and is a real-life monster. How the mighty have fallen.

Allstar Smash Mouth GIF - Allstar SmashMouth Change GIFs

 

Metallica — St. Anger 

Sales: 2 million 

What’s worse: St. Anger’s drum sound or the fact that the band and producer Bob Rock still defend it? The answer is none of the above: St. Anger is a repetitive embarrassment that makes Creed Shreds videos sound like “Enter Sandman.” 

 

Hoobastank — The Reason

Sales: 2 million

Fuck Off Brian Cox GIF by SuccessionHBO 

 

Moby — Play

Sales: 2 million 

The musical equivalent of Saltines.  

 

Crazy Town — The Gift of Game 

Sales: 1 million 

If you can’t competently ripoff Red Hot Chili Peppers, just steal one of their songs!  

 

Korn — Untouchables 

Sales: 1 million 

The intro to “Here to Stay” sounds like guitars running through a garbage disposal. In 1998, that was cool, but by 2002, everyone moved on to that real emotional shit. 

 

Kiss — Lick it Up 

Sales: 1 million
What happens when Kiss gets serious and ditches the makeup? Well…

 

Crossfade — Crossfade 

Sales: 1 million 

Crossfade is what I imagine the comedown from steroids sounds like — a bunch of dudes in a gym, yelling “I’m vulnerable!”    

 

Primus — Pork Soda 

Sales: 1 million 

Primus is that band you listen to when you want to re-live eighth grade for some reason, because, like every 13-year-old, Primus is weird, heavy, and super fucking annoying after five minutes. 

 

Bloodhound Gang — Hooray for Boobies

Sales: 1 million 

When this was released, my friend threw it in his boombox, blasting “The Bad Touch” on repeat. After a dozen times of giggling to the “ain’t nothin’ but mammals” song, I asked, “Does this have any other songs on it?” He turned off the repeat function, then we quickly learned that no, Hooray for Boobies does not have any other songs on it.

 

Guns N Roses — Chinese Democracy 

Sales: 1 million 

Chinese Democracy is the most expensive rock album ever made, costing more than $13 million to make. 

daniel day lewis gifs, paul thomas anderson gifs, daniel plainview gifs, there will be blood gifs

 

Thirty Seconds to Mars — A Beautiful Lie

Sales: 1 million 

It’s bad enough dealing with Jared Leto as “an actor,” but then he started a half-ass emo band and shot a video inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Bury me, indeed. 

 

Dishonorable mentions: Vanilla Ice’s To the Extreme (7x platinum); Evanescence’s Fallen (7x platinum); Metallica’s S&M (5x platinum); Spin Doctors’ Pocket Full of Kryptonite (5x platinum); Barenaked Ladies’ Stunt (4x platinum); Eiffel 65’s Europop (2x platinum); Breaking Benjamin’s We Are Not Alone (platinum); Weezer’s Green Album (platinum)

 

Follow Matt on Twitter @MatthewSigur