12 Embarrassing Albums That Everyone Owned Back In The Day
It’s difficult to explain the music industry in its prime to young listeners. First of all, it was participatory — ads and artists weren’t served to you, you had to go out, buy records, concert tickets, magazines. And if/when you did, you got inundated with what the industry had decided was cool, or what they wanted you to buy. These trends always stemmed from something they didn’t fully understand and couldn’t invent themselves — you should’ve watched the piranhas surge when Slipknot blew up — but the amount of money, effort, and forced style put into them was mind-blowing.
Maybe that’s how we ended up owning all these mortifying albums. Somehow, in an age where you still had to pay for physical CDs, every single person on earth owned a handful of albums that were kind of embarrassing from the moment you purchased them. Even if a few of them had a solid single or two — the compilation albums and soundtracks were especially cringe-worthy — they weren’t the sorts of records you were proud of your friends finding in your car.
Here are 12 albums that we all owned for some goddamn reason…
Full Devil Jacket, s/t (2000)
When your best song is titled “Mr. Wiggly,” you know you’re not going to top the rock charts. Full Devil Jacket were big for a hot second, playing alongside acts like Slayer on big bills like Tattoo The Earth. Maybe that’s why everyone owned this record, even though it was the most standard not-quite-nu-metal album out there. Definitely one where you didn’t want anyone to stop and read the band name.
The Misfits, Project 1950 (2003)
The Michale Graves Misfits albums were actually really solid, and before we knew Graves was a hardcore pro-cop nutter butter, the band were like, “Danzig who?” But their entrenchment in then-ultra-nerdy horror fandom resulted in this EP, which features Jerry Only taking over as lead singer for covers of “The Monster Mash” and “This Magic Moment.” The band’s renewed popularity ensured everyone bought it, but it quickly remained interred in your CD binder.
Various Artists, MTV: The Return of the Rock (2000)
Man, the cover of this compilation CD, illustrated by satanic garage artist Coop, probably wouldn’t fly today. What’s worse, though, is the general tone of this record – this embracing of rawk, but the lack of balls needed to put an actual nudie devil girl on the cover. Instead, you’ve got MTV trying to tell us that a red-skinned-but-hornless groupie in a pink tank top is somehow the height of contemporary rock and roll. You didn’t even need to listen to any of the tracks on here to cringe at this cash-grab.
KISS, Psycho Circus (1998)
For KISS fans, Psycho Circus was a big deal because it featured the original line-up, together again at last. So why the fuck did the rest of us buy it? Probably because between the cover art, the Todd McFarlane action figures, and the brutal promotion of the record that was repeatedly shoved down our throats, there was a feeling that this was somehow a monumental record. But it was just a KISS record, as we all learned spinning it and wondering why we spent $19 on this aggressive comeback attempt.
Rob Zombie, American Made Music to Strip By (1999)
Man, why the hell did we all buy the Rob Zombie remix albums? At least with White Zombie’s Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds, there was a feeling of novelty. Electronica and metal! Crossing genre border! But with American Made Music to Strip By, the statement seemed to be, I’m just doing one of these for every album now. That said, the “Dragula” remix was everywhere, so you kind of had to own it. Definitely what your aunt got you for Christmas.
Bleeding Through, This Is Love, This Is Murderous (2003)
This was just a perfect storm of crossing trends. You had your heartfelt metalcore, your HIM-driven love metal, your Cradle-based cinematic black metal – it all came together on This Is Love This Is Murderous. Bleeding Through‘s big album album managed to work its way into even death metal fans’ CD binders due to the gory cover art. But it also felt eyeliner-fueled and emotional enough that you still felt the need to explain it away.
Various Artists, Spawn: The Album (1997)
In a lot of ways, the Spawn soundtrack was the ultimate late-’90s crapfest. At the time, the cross-genre thing felt so powerful – Rock and electronic acts, together at last! This’ll be cool in the club! But the tracks were so ball-chain-necklace basic and the movie was such an overwhelming shitshow that the record quickly became a symbol of anger taken out at the Auntie Ann’s at the mall. Somehow, it was still the best thing about this flick.
Iced Earth, Horror Show (2001)
Horror Show had a phalanx of excuses going for it. Iced Earth were super old-school metal! It’s just about monster movies, so there’s nothing challenging or political about it! But it’s also some American power-chug, so it feels kind of manly and rugged! And yet together, that makes this album – a huge one for the band – a gem of total wackness. It’s too trad, too nerdy, too earnest. And now, of course, it shows that you’ve long been a fan of the New American Revolution or whatever the fuck.
Amen, We Have Come For Your Parents (2000)
If you want to blame anyone for your ownership of We Have Come For Your Parents, you can blame Kerrang! and Metal Hammer. The UK press got behind Amen in a big way, touting their mixture of punk, thrash, nu-metal and the then-exploding emo-goth aesthetic as the next big thing. And while the record has some excellent moments of extremity, it just felt too petulant and fashionable to be really cool. By then, though, it wasn’t even worth returning to Sam Goody.
Drain STH, Freaks of Nature (1999)
Even we can’t remember how Drain STH’s Freaks of Nature ended up in all of our possession. Maybe it was that “Simon Says” was one of those songs that made it way onto a lot of bad soundtracks. Or maybe it was that an all-female Swedish aggro metal band was novelty enough to be touted by every magazine looking to promote diversity in metal. Either way, we all owned this disc, and it was never a favorite.
Six Feet Under, Maximum Violence (1999)
For a hot second, your average metal fan was convinced that Six Feet Under were rad. Look at the Paul Booth cover art! Listen to “Bonesaw” and “This Graveyard Earth!” So we all spent $17.99 on it, and then guess what, it’s just a lot of plodding riffs and RAA RAA RAA. Even before Chris Barnes lost his shit in front of the entire metal scene, this album was kind of a cuckoo’s egg. It found its way into our cars and discmen, but no one was proud of it later.
Kid Rock, Devil Without a Cause (1998)
We’re gonna blame this one on the singles – “Bawitabaw” and “Cowboy” were huge enough that we ended up owning this record whether we liked it or not. Kid Rock also was the favorite of kids who weren’t ready to go full metal, and enjoyed the rap-metal-country mix of the album. Hell, even Metallica got behind him. But for the record, none of us knew exactly what a dingus Kid Rock was at the time. I mean, we should have. Listen to this record, what a mess.