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Talk:List of music considered the worst

RFC for album inclusionEdit

For many years, the requirement for a music album to be included in the article "List of music considered the worst" has been that there must be at least one source that calls the album, "the worst". While many albums considered bad are correctly included in this list with this unique requirement, many others which have a mixed or positive reception are also included, since at some point a critic called it "the worst", contradicting the general reception of the album.

We propose that the inclusion criteria changes, per the following:

  1. If an album contains a Metacritic score (being the original, remastered or new remix version), it has a score below 40, and at least three reliable sources call it "the worst", then it can be included in this article.
  2. If the album does not contain a Metacritic score, then a discussion will be made to review sources from WP:ALBUM. If >= 70% of the sources have a negative review of the album, and at least three of them call it "the worst", then it can be included in this article.
  3. If an album does not meet any of these requirements, and it's currently in this article (in any section of it), then it will be removed from the article, because it's understood that it is not considered to be "the worst", which is the title of this article.

WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 21:17, 30 August 2019 (UTC)


With this proposal, please vote Support or Oppose. If you're opposing the criteria, please recommend a new one in your comments, to help us improve this article. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 21:17, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

  • Oppose - I’m fine with tightening up inclusion criteria - there were none before I implemented the “at least 1 source calling it the worst” criteria - but this is too much. Too many arbitrarily chosen percentages, and just too much jargon in general. Asking anyone/groups to determine “whether or not 70% of sources call something negative” is going to lead to all sorts of disputes and arguments. It’s not practical. (And no surprise, most of the people who came with it have never written or enforced inclusion criteria before, and don’t know how these discussions go.) Sergecross73 msg me 23:16, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Support The criteria is reasonable, practical, doable, and is the same basic common sense criteria used by other "worst" lists on WP. Furthermore, the notion that it can't/shouldn't be up to editors to determine if the critical response is mostly positive or negative is laughable, since if you go to damn near any page for any moderately known album, movie, television show, video game, book, etc., you will find a critical response section where editors have made such a determination with "_______ has received generally positive/mixed/generally negative response from critics". (And no surprise, those pages didn't explode into chaos and need to be destroyed to prevent the outbreak of World War III, because it is not that hard to determine which way the wind is blowing when it comes to critical responses. If review after review after review are calling it great, it doesn't belong here.) 2600:1700:B280:B1C0:6D7E:DC53:B39A:9B47 (talk) 16:39, 31 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Thats easy to say, but that’s simply not how things have panned out over the 5 years of maintaining this article. Look no farther than these talk page archives to see how editors argue over single entries for months on end for this on this list. Yes, this proposal was obviously written with the ulterior motive of removing one of the contentious items on the list, but it’s not workable for the list on a whole. For years I’ve struggled to even get editors to provide a reliable source or two for entries. They’re not going to jump through all the hoops of finding every source they can, reading them, assessing them, and then crunching numbers to see if they meet at arbitrary percentage point. Whether pass or fail, there’s simply no one going to be motivated to do all this. Sergecross73 msg me 17:08, 31 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Is it remotely possible you can rein in the control-freakery and not try to get the last word in at every single damn exchange here ... You suggest looking at the talk page archives, well, I have, and it's a near-constant stream of people saying the article's a joke or stating their incredulity over the inclusion of Sgt. Pepper, especially, and you trying to justify the status quo on both issues. You consistently trumpet your role as if expecting some sort of credit – okay, but the article is shit, so you can have the blame too. You now say there's an "ulterior motive" behind this RfC – are you deliberately trying to be disingenuous? Of course, this RfC – like almost every thread above and in the most recent three-plus pages of talk archives – is in response to that album's inclusion in the list. FFS ... There's a question mark with that second question but, as with the first, it's purely rhetorical. JG66 (talk) 17:38, 31 August 2019 (UTC)
  • If editors are arguing for months on end about a single entry, perhaps that is a giant tip-off that entry should not be on the list. And whether or not the criteria was created with the ulterior motive to remove certain entries (which is a gross mischaracterization, as the editor who initially suggested it is the neutral party who ended the RFC from hell as no consensus [1]), the fact is the current criteria for this list is unbelievable pathetic. There are over 7.5 billion people alive today, so the notion that a grand total of two people calling an album the worst warrants inclusion is a joke. Furthermore, the actions by various users and a certain banned troll have made it to where creating a specific, stringent written criteria is necessary so common sense edits will finally be allowed and the article can be improved. 2600:1700:B280:B1C0:6D7E:DC53:B39A:9B47 (talk) 17:46, 31 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Alright, I’ll make no further comments on how unrealistic this proposal is then. As I’ve said, it doesn’t matter anyways. Whether it passes with flying colors or fails miserably, there’s simply no one out there who is going to take the time to implement and uphold such a convoluted criteria. Sergecross73 msg me 18:04, 31 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Support. I want to make a few comments here. First, for the user who's saying that is impossible to follow this criteria, perhaps you should look at other Wikipedia pages. Similar requirements are made there, for similar lists. And yet, people work together to make Wikipedia a better and more logical place. If you're not willing to do it, because having 1 source is easier than a specific requirement, maybe you should analyze that other users can follow it. The state of this article has suffered because the current criteria. It has been discussed over and over that it's ridiculous, and yet you have done nothing to improve it. Not even a suggestion.
Returning to the inclusion criteria itself, the one we have proposed seems logical to determine if an album is "considered the worst" - the exact title of the article. "Considered the worst" doesn't mean "called the worst by at least one source". It's considered the worst: the worst of albums. Albums who many, many people agree that they're bad. Also, the end is not to remove one specific entry from this list. Several entries suffer this problem - albums that had mixed or positive reception, and yet they appear in this list. Those should go. And this should never happen again, if we want to build Wikipedia and have people consider it reliable. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 18:28, 31 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is an improvement over the current standards, but it is still not good enough due to the arbitrary inclusion criteria (possibly violating WP:SYNTH), especially the impractical-to-test requirement that [at least] 70% of the sources [at WP:ALBUM] have a negative review. It would be much easier and more accurate to adopt a criterion scheme comparable to that of List of films considered the worst, whose talk page specifies that entries should be widely considered one of the worst films by a broad spectrum of both casual and professional film critics. –LaundryPizza03 (d) 16:53, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
I understand, but the problem is that, according to previous discussions, it is impossible for a particular user to understand that. When we have suggested that, he has said that "global consensus" is not defined, so he has opposed that. That's why we have come up with the solution of 70% of WP:ALBUM, because it is measurable. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 19:04, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Support This addresses a long standing problem with this article, namely that it violates WP:NPOV. Currently, in order to be on this list, you only need a single source claiming a piece of music is worst - regardless of whether there is any consensus for this opinion among reliable sources. In other words, the article is presenting WP:FRINGE opinions as mainstream viewpoints. I will support any proposal that helps address this problem. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 17:25, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose Sorry but this is a very shallow attempt to impose someone's idea of order on the article and pretend it's rigor. This is a totally arbitrary standard. It only looks surface-level Objective™ because there's (ad hoc) quantification, but this is not the kind of thing you can throw numbers at in the first place. This is quasi-scientific measurement applied to a decidedly non-scientific problem. Please note that "List of films with a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes" and "List of films considered the worst" are two different articles—Film Wikipedia got that one right, folks. A few problems that come to mind:
  • Why is 40% the bar? Who decides that threshold? Notably, Philosophy of the World by the Shaggs fails this test—the recent remaster has 86% on Metacritic—but any attempt to survey "music considered the worst" that omits the Shaggs is simply not credible.
But you could fix that by carving out another exception, right? Maybe, if an album has over 40% on Metacritic but five (or ooh, maybe six!) sources say it's "the worst", then it's still on the list. But then we're just contriving whatever "neutral", "purely numerical" standards we please. We make it seem like we're just calling balls and strikes, but really we're jerry-building our own set of "Objective Rules" that just so happen to produce the results we want.
  • Why "the worst", why is that the magic phrase that has to appear? What if the reviewer wrote "the worst thing I've heard this year"? Or "... this week"? What if it's "the worst thing I've ever heard in my life," but the writer is only 20 years old? What if they write "the most abhorrent, god-awful trainwreck you can possibly imagine"? Oop, then it's "Simon Didn't Say!"—I guess?
  • Why only WP:ALBUM sources, i.e., critical reviews (that can be found online, privileging recent music)? So we're excluding history books, academic articles, literally any other category of reliable source—why? Won't this result in a horrible case of recentism?
  • The failsafe in step two is silly. I get that it's trying to correct for the recentism bias inherent to using Metacritic as a yardstick, it's trying to allow an entrance for older albums that aren't necessarily on Metacritic's radar. But it's an absolutely preposterous mechanism: "if there's no Metacritic score, then we simply huddle and form our own phantom Metacritic of the Mind"? How is this not obvious WP:SYNTH? Are we going to ascribe scores, too, are we to decide the degree of badness an old review intended to signal? Again, are we only looking to reviews, historical analysis is cheating or something?
So, yeah. Oppose. This would be worse than the article's current state. —BLZ · talk 07:15, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment The reason the magical phrase "the worst" has to appear is because that is the current criteria. Right now, for an album or song to be added, at least two people must call it specifically "the worst". That's it. Critical reception doesn't matter, public reception doesn't matter, just two people calling it "the worst". If it is the best selling album in history ten times over and a survey of every living person on Earth ended with 7.7+ billion calling it the greatest album ever made and just two people calling it the worst, it can be included in this article. In an ideal world there would be no need for percentages and specific phrases and this article could operate under basic common sense standards likes List of films considered the worst and List of video games notable for negative reception which only includes entries that are widely regarded as being among the worst ever made, but certain editors and a very persistent troll will not allow that here. Thus you have the specific 40% on Metacritic because "widely regarded as negative" is "too vague". So while it may not be perfect, the proposed criteria is a hell of a lot better than the current standard, because someone merely calling a critically praised album the worst is not notable. 2600:1700:B280:B1C0:49E1:5AC6:CFFA:74A9 (talk) 19:16, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
Actually, it's worse than that. To be in the current article, a single critic must have named the album as "the worst", regardless of the rest of critics or public reception. Your example still applies. That's the state of this article. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 19:56, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Music "considered the worst" is a cultural condition, not a mathematical condition. We should not be looking at statistics of an album. The only thing that matters is that several reliable sources called the music "the worst". Binksternet (talk) 14:55, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
We agree with this, but an album being called "the worst" by two or three critics should not be put here if the rest of the world believes that the album is one of the best, if not the best, of all time. That weights more. But according to the current inclusion criteria, it doesn't. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 18:33, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
"We" who? If an album is called "the worst" by two or three reliable sources then it absolutely belongs here. The article is not called Music considered the worst but not the ones that are also good. If the music in the entry is also reviewed positively, even overwhelmingly postively such as Sgt Pepper, then we certainly should tell this to the reader. But don't start making a barrier for entry based on statistics. Binksternet (talk) 01:21, 19 September 2019 (UTC)
Really? So you'd agree if I put The Godfather in List of films considered the worst, because I can find one or two underground critics that called it 'the worst' (and I have found them, I have brought up this example a few times before). But of course not, because that movie is considered one of the best. General consensus matter in these things. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 06:35, 19 September 2019 (UTC)
Sounds like your problem is with the word "considered", which is a general term. What about if this article is moved to List of music that has been described as the worst? In that case, anything described as the worst by a few sources would be included, without the onerous task of weighing every source to see whether it was really the worst. Binksternet (talk) 03:44, 20 September 2019 (UTC)
Why are we still discussing statistics and trying to figure out what a Metacritic-based inclusion criteria would look like? It's a waste of time since "music considered the worst" has nothing to do with statistics. The RfC should be closed soon so to save energy. Binksternet (talk) 12:53, 8 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Support. Basically, I'll support any firm criteria for inclusion that lifts this article from its current deplorable state. I like the idea that LaundryPizza03 proposes above about adopting criteria comparable to List of films considered the worst, where entries are widely considered one of the worst films by a broad spectrum of both casual and professional film critics. But I don't see the need to differentiate between "broad spectrum" and what's been proposed here, and I feel the feet-dragging that's been taking place here for months on end is reflective of how this article has no place on Wikipedia – it's a magnet for people to ensure a song or album gets the stick they feel it deserves. As I've said before, List of films considered the worst has a genuine place on the encyclopedia because of the level of attention the concept of "worst films" receives outside of individuals' personal opinions (the lead section there makes that clear). There's no comparable logic to any worst songs or albums list – music critics (and some we're using don't deserve that description) just shoot from the hip, and we're buying into that vacuousness and turning it into a credible subject. Imagine this: We have, similar to films, an article/list titled "Music considered the best", and because a couple of critics state in passing or with tongue firmly in cheek that Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music or Kylie Minogue's Enjoy Yourself is the best album in the world, ever ever ever, those albums would appear in such a list, alongside 20 or 30 that are undisputedly most critics' best albums of all time. It's ridiculous. JG66 (talk) 15:40, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
I agree, that's the whole point of this. If we leave the criteria as it is now, then we could later create a "List of music considered the best" article. And it would follow the same criteria: only one critic has to name it the best and it appears on that list. You know how many albums would appear there? Probably more than 60% of all music albums ever created, because at some point some critic named it, in his regard, "the best". It's ridiculous. The same logic applies here. We have to determine *how* can we say that an album is considered the worst, and that's why we have proposed a new inclusion criteria. People who are opposing it aren't proposing anything new. This all reminds me of the last RFC. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 16:14, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
While obviously it would be ideal if those in opposition were coming up with better ideas, it's still sensible to oppose an idea if you think it would make things worse. Popcornduff (talk) 23:01, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
They're not opposing it because they think it's better; they oppose it because it keeps certain entries on the list. 2600:1700:B280:B1C0:49E1:5AC6:CFFA:74A9 (talk) 00:38, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
JG66, I take your point about pop-music criticism being less rigorous than film criticism, and the counterfactual posed by both you and WKMN?L imagining the kind of standards we would enforce for a "best" music list—although that would be unmanageable for an entirely different set of reasons. I still see the new proposal as a very bad and arbitrary standard, but these last two comments do have me rethinking some of my earlier stances on Sgt. Pepper's (but for other reasons; may unpack later).
I follow the ongoing non-RFC discussions on this page on and off, so help me out if I'm wrong—but, this is still fundamentally about Sgt. Pepper's being on the list, right? Because Sgt. P's aside, in my view the list of albums as currently composed is a pretty unobjectionable round-up of the consensus musical Anti-Canon. I haven't seen much fuss over Federline being there. The few I haven't heard of, like the Eoghan Quigg album, seem adequately justified. If anything, it's missing a few obvious candidates like The Glory (????) of the Human Voice by Florence Foster Jenkins—again, Metacritic's no help there. I don't see how this proposal would improve the list overall, other than excluding the most controversial entry. —BLZ · talk 01:24, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
There are several albums that don't belong in this list, because they're not considered "the worst" by any means; they just happened to be named the worst by one or two critics. But the rest of the albums got a mixed or positive response. And yet they appear here. The focus on Pepper is that it is the most ridiculous example here. 99.9% of the reception was positive, if not excellent, and yet one or two sources named it "worst", so it can appear here. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 18:43, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
Oppose as per BLZ's rationale. If there is a problem here, this isn't the solution. Popcornduff (talk) 23:00, 6 September 2019 (UTC)
What is the solution then? We have spent months arguing about this. We finally concluded that if an album appears in this list, it should be because its general consensus is negative. However, a certain editor and a troll said that we can't put albums here based on that, because "general consensus" can't be measured and it's "too vague" (the kind of things we have to discuss...). So when we discussed in the section #Defining general consensus, what "general consensus" should mean, we all agreed that Metacritic is a fine indicator, and mostly everybody in that discussion agreed. So that's why I'm proposing now to adopt that criteria. If you didn't agree back then, why didn't you say anything back then, and only now, with the real RFC? It seems that people omitted voting back then, just to oppose the current RFC, just to leave a certain entry in the article (ridiculing Wikipedia), without proposing anything new. You say that the proposed criteria is incorrect; well, guess what, the current criteria is 100 times more ridiculous, and yet you have said nothing to improve it. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 18:38, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
There seem to have been similar objections in the pre-RFC discussion, like Mr swordfish's objections to arbitrarily privileging Metacritic above other reliable sources. —BLZ · talk 22:57, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Support This proposal is a step in the right direction. I'm not swayed by arguments that the lines it draws are arbitrary; it's no more arbitrary than requiring one article calling something the worst or four articles calling something the worst. We must do our part to ensure we're not giving WP:UNDUE weight to WP:FRINGE idea. That's something that this article has spent years doing.LM2000 (talk) 01:05, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
"It's arbitrary, sure, but it's just as arbitrary as other, extremely similar arbitrary alternatives" is perhaps not as compelling as you intended. Hard numerical requirements are inherently arbitrary and ill-fitting for subject matter like this. —BLZ · talk 01:35, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose Any album noted for being "considered the worst" should merit inclusion. However, sources that are simply stating an individual's opinion should be avoided. In other words, limit inclusion criteria to sources that are speaking about a group of people who view an album as "the worst". No further criteria necessary. ilil (talk) 00:38, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - (Summoned by bot) "Worst" is subjective when it comes to opinion of music so to make it on the list, multiple reliable sources need to describe it as such. Meatsgains(talk) 22:35, 17 September 2019 (UTC)
Isn't that what we are proposing? The current criteria is that only one source must name it the worst. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 22:22, 18 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Overly arbitrary criteria. How do we decide which sources (and/or reviews) to consider when determining e.g. whether >70% call them bad? feminist (talk) 07:40, 6 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose/comment/alternative: I came here with a view to possibly closing this RfC. I have previously briefly looked at the article in consequence of a notification about Sgt Peppers. I left with a very negative impression about the article - even to the extent that it probably should be deleted as a consequence that I don't believe that it complies with core policy. The music industry has a fascination with superlative lists - usually for the best or top, where songs or albums can be ranked by at least nominally objective criteria such as sales. The article title therefore creates an intrinsic or implied expectation that it will be a compilation of lists. This is not the case. Worst is largely subjective. As a superlative, it is also an exceptional claim that might reasonably require exceptional sources. Critics are are partial to hyperbole. There are some dozen odd albums and three-dozen odd songs listed in the article, where the basis for inclusion appears to be, how many critics have used hyperbole in their reviews of individual albums or songs. Individual reviews do not have, as their objective, an aim to be comparative. To conclude a superlative, one should do so from a comparative basis.
I applaud the intent of the RfC to make the basis for inclusion more objective, however, the proposed criteria do not address (I think) the issue of hyperbole in reviews. Further, the criteria seems too much like WP:SYNTH. I also note that the reference to a Metacritic score is unclear to an outsider but assume that it is per the link? I therefore oppose the proposal but also oppose the status quo.
I would propose that the criteria for inclusions be based on published lists rather than individual reviews, requiring inclusion in at least two lists published in well recognised sources. However, some care and discretion may be needed to ensure that this is not biased to the US or UK but inclusive of the English speaking domain (on the basis that this is En WP) - ie it should strive to be inclusive of, say the top five or so nations contributing within the domain. The finer detail may need further discussion. Regards Cinderella157 (talk) 10:36, 8 October 2019 (UTC)

Further discussion re: Sgt. Pepper'sEdit

BLZ, thought it best to reply here and keep the RfC voting relatively free of clutter.

This is indeed fundamentally about Sgt. Pepper's inclusion, because it's such an extreme example of how a best/worst list can go off the rails. As archives 4, 5 and 6 show, the album's inclusion has dominated discussion here for months. If it were simply a claim or statement appearing in a genuine article on the encyclopedia, that level of complaint would have seen the contentious point removed, I'm convinced of it. The difference here is that the list seems to be saying, "No, it's okay, bring all your marginal/fringe theories on critical reception; justice is blind and we're robotic." Unlike some who have opposed its inclusion, perhaps, I've got no warm feelings towards the album at all, but I'm pretty knowledgeable about its impact and standing over the last five decades, and it's on that aspect I view its inclusion as indicative of how the foundation for this list is total mush. I started compiling a list of sources for "worst albums of all time"; there's a book co-authored by Rolling Stone contributor Jimmy Guterman that can be added to that, mentioned here, here and here. Maybe among those various sources there are some answers to the points you raise re other albums currently appearing in our list, I don't know.

A bit of context on the December 1998 Melody Maker poll, which is the sole reason for Sgt. Pepper being included in this list: The magazine was in desperate trouble by then, most of its decent staff had decamped to Uncut from 1997 onwards. Select had grabbed the rest of its target audience. The poll followed the enormously successful Beatles Anthology project and reverence afforded the Beatles by many of the leading Britpop acts, and it followed the height of Britpop and coincided with a general backlash against that movement, particularly Oasis, champions extraordinaire of all things Beatles. So, you've got a publication that, in its '90s incarnation, had positioned itself as dedicated to furthering indie and other new music but was fighting for life and relevance, mixed with a mood of exhaustion with both Britpop rhetoric and what was the (or one of the) most successful legacy-related campaigns in pop culture history.

In the list, Sgt. Pepper currently sits under the subheading "Backlash", which is a drastic improvement on how it appeared before – it was first up under "Albums", as the earliest release, thereby heightening the sense of what-the?! that, I imagine, informed many of the complaints here over the last year and the attempts to delete it from the list. Seems to me it's just a bandaid solution, though, and I'd understand it if editors were to object to the imposition of a Backlash category because it suggests subjective editorialisation and original research. Just as the introductory sentences under "Albums" are tagged as unsourced, this issue is symptomatic of how the list lacks the credibility and foundation that's evident from the start at List of films – ie, who says, who identifies, backlash as a factor in music considered the worst, explicitly? (Of course it is, but where has the subject "music considered the worst" received the level of attention in its own right that would allow for identifying such influences and characteristics? Nowhere, I think, other than Wikipedia pulling a page like this together.) Having said that, it would be a useful means to contextualise this and similar entries. With that in mind I included in my sources list the BBC 6 poll of overrated albums, which from memory includes Nirvana's Nevermind, the same Beatles album, Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, Radiohead's OK Computer ... There's some overlap between that poll and the 2007 Guardian piece currently cited in our paragraph on Pepper. I mean, why exactly we include Billy Childish's comments from The Guardian I don't know – I find myself nodding in agreement with several points he makes, but he doesn't say a thing about Pepper being the worst album of all time ...

So: what are we doing – are we indulging in sideways editorialisation in this list? In which case, there's an argument for extending the backlash/overrated theme to include the other albums identified by BBC 6 and the Guardian contributors; an added benefit might be that Sgt. Pepper's inclusion becomes more credible. Or, if we're not, Pepper should logically return to its position at the top of "Albums", which would put it right back in the firing line for readers visiting the page for the first time. JG66 (talk) 11:27, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

@JG66: What I'm concerned about here is that the entry was added by block-evading sockpuppets of The abominable Wiki troll. Per evidence I had gathered, the IP address that re-added the entry back in September 2018 (WHOIS info here, edit here) and an IP address cited in an ANI discussion ("Community ban for User:The abominable Wiki troll"; WHOIS info here) share the same geolocation information - both are assigned to Sky UK broadband, based in the UK. Other IPs coming from there that have edited the page around the same time include ([2]) and ([3]). The entry was previously added back in 2014 by User:Trying to envelop, a blocked sockpuppet of User:The abominable Wiki troll, as shown here. Another blocked sockpuppet of The abominable Wiki troll, User:Goblinostic, defended the album's inclusion in the edit summary for this edit and in this talk page discussion. The relevant SPI case files are here and here. I am still trying to figure out if WP:DISPUTE trumps WP:DENY in this case - I opened an inquiry at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#Content disputes and block evasion, but have only gotten one response so far; I am seeking the opinions of multiple admins and experienced editors. The Grand Delusion(Send a message) 23:32, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
The Grand Delusion, I don't doubt what you're saying for a minute, but as someone says at that VP(P) discussion you started, the point's somewhat moot because other editors can and do reinstate information added by sockpuppets. Way it goes, I guess. What I noticed years ago at the Pepper article (when I wasn't even aware of this list) was someone, or perhaps more than one editor, adding almost anything derisive they could find about the album, without any allowance for balance or the fact that, certainly in 2017, many more writers and critics were saying very positive things about Sgt. Pepper. JG66 (talk) 05:37, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
So are you saying that mostly everybody who agreed to keep Pepper on the list was the same troll with his Sockpuppets accounts, and one specific admin? Picture me surprised... WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 18:42, 8 September 2019 (UTC)

(Caveat: this is a response I wrote mostly earlier today, and I hadn't seen The Grand Delusion's message. I agree, of course, that we should monitor and address policy violations and manipulative behavior. That said, my focus is on content and reaching a constructive outcome that makes the most sense in light of policy and a coherent reading of reliable sources. At this stage I'd rather discuss the content on its own merits, taken separately from consideration of the user's actions, especially because JG66 and others have made excellent points that have made me begin to rethink my stance and to consider some new alternatives.)
JG66: A lot of what you've written above is along the lines of what's been on my mind. You're also dead-on in your reading of the Melody Maker poll and its likely motivations. My feeling is that those kind of historically contingent "events" in music criticism/journalism are interesting in their own right, though they shouldn't be mistaken with some kind of real, final determination of the actual "worst" music, as if such a thing is possible—and again, that's part of why the list isn't called "List of the worst music". Anyway: I don't outright dismiss the MM poll, I think it's still valid to some degree, but I think we're on the same page about the problematic aspects you brought up and those should be kept in mind and better contextualized. Also, just to declare my priors again since some editors have tended to read bad intentions into any position anyone takes: I don't hate Sgt. Pepper's, I think the Beatles overall were incredible; imo Sgt. Pepper's is very good but not quite capital-G "Great", maybe their fifth or sixth best effort.
Expanding the "backlash" section of this article would be necessary, at a minimum, to keeping Sgt. Pepper's on the list
Moving Sgt. P's to a dedicated "backlash" section was a good idea, but now it sticks out like a sore thumb in a different way—it's conspicuously the only member of that section. I agree that, at a minimum, it can't continue to be the only one there if it stays.
Off the bat, some other candidates for inclusion in that section are Be Here Now and Saturday Night Fever. The latter is a good example of how culturally and historically conditioned "backlash" to "music" can be (i.e., the backlash to disco was at least as much about bigotry as it was about the music itself). Conversely, Be Here Now is probably the best example of genuine consensus whiplash: it wasn't just a small but vocal contingent of listeners/critics who turned on it, but rather the entire consensus view reversed from "one of the greatest of all time" to "bland/overblown at best, awful at worst".
The catch is that "most overrated" is not necessarily the same as "worst"—"most overrated album of all time" can mean critics/listeners hyped an album way out of proportion to its merits, but that all the while the album itself is fundamentally decent or middling, maybe not actually outright bad. Still, I think this is a compromise direction that could be productive. There's no doubt that if Sgt. Pepper's does stay on this list, it can't remain the only entry in its category.
Deeper problems with different, irreconcilable meanings of "the worst"
But—and I say this as someone who's defended Sgt. P's placement on this listed up til now—there's definitely some major tension between definitions of "worst". Or to entangle it a little further, since "worst" just means "most bad", it's different definitions of "bad" that are most at issue.
Clearly, the kind of "badness" that unites the Shaggs, Attila, Elvis Presley's worst shit, etc. is something like "ineptness", "cluelessness", "reckless disregard for the audience". Other adjectives could be used, but you get the gist. (Totally irrelevant sidebar: I would assign Metal Machine Music to the last of those three, but not the first two—I promise I'm not being a facile ironist, though I know what you mean about the kind of smug superior shithead who decides something like that is "actually good" and "you just don't get it", which is grating beyond belief).
On the other hand, the type of "badness" that (purportedly) afflicts Sgt. Pepper's is not ineptness or reckless disregard for the audience. Maybe cluelessness, but a very different cluelessness than the Shaggs. No one could credibly say that it's not a well-composed, layered, dazzlingly artful musical effort–it's just that they hate it for those very reasons. One man's treasure is another man's trash. "It's fancy bullshit," "it's fakery," "it took rock music in the wrong direction," etc. These are legitimate viewpoints, but they're very different types of viewpoints than the ones that say the Shaggs et al are "the worst". At the core of what's fueling these talk page debates, I think, is a fundamental disagreement about whether we can plausibly house these very different meanings of "worst" under the same roof without misunderstanding.
My preferred solution— A dedicated "backlash" subsection at Sgt. Pepper's would be better, more informative, and more nuanced. Far more critics have claimed Sgt. Pepper's is really bad than have claimed it's The Worst.
I think it may be better to incorporate the "worst" entry for Sgt. Pepper's into the actual Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band article, as a subsection on critical/cultural backlash to the album. Hear me out, because with your Beatles background knowledge and experience writing Beatles stuff on here, I think you're probably the ideal person to help make this compromise work. The "Retrospective appraisal" section sort of gestures weakly at the backlash without diving into the backlash's substance. It doesn't quite give a fair hearing to the critical opposition to Sgt. Pepper's, it takes a few strongly anti-Pepper sentiments and sprinkles them throughout. It would probably make more sense to have a consolidated, focused subsection on the backlash. It would make sense, because whatever one thinks about it personally, there's no denying Sgt. Pepper's is the only Beatles album with such targeted disdain—other Beatles backlash tends to target the band as a whole, rather than an individual work of theirs.
Most importantly, this solution would also allow the integration of criticism that doesn't go as far saying Sgt. Pepper's is the Transcendental Signifier "The Worst", but that does say it's terrible or overrated in other ways. A lot of these anti-Pepper's sources are actually far more interesting (because more nuanced) than the cherrypicked subset that happen to invoke the magic phrase "The Worst". This would include the Billy Childish comment in The Guardian, which is very useful as a comment on the album taken at face value but is, admittedly, an edge case for saying it's been called "the worst". For example:
List of useful "Sgt. Pepper's backlash" sources
  • "It sucks dogs royally", opines leading American music journalist Jim DeRogatis. It's actually incredible how negative his review gets without saying "the worst" or anything equivalent, and it's certainly a far more devastating treatment of the album than some of the currently cited sources calling it "the worst". Another illuminating way it differs from what's cited in this list: DeRogatis says Sgt. Pepper's tries, and fails, to be a great work of art—he cites seven other late-60s albums he holds superior—whereas most of these "The Worst" sources implicitly reject the idea of Great Works of Art as such.
  • From DeRogatis's Kalidoscope Eyes (perhaps an ironic title, though later republished as Turn On Your Mind), we have Julian Cope at p. 16: "There's no denying that the genre [psychedelic rock] has resulted in some pointless indulgence. 'Sgt. Pepper's was the thing that did it, psychedelic punk Julian Cope said. 'That was the kiss of death, with people taking themselves way too seriously. I could sit down and say, 'Look, man, you've got to understand where I'm coming from, 'cause it's deadly important!' But the greatest artists have to accept that it has to be top entertainment. There's got to be that side to it, otherwise it's not rock 'n' roll." DeRogatis is otherwise agnostic about Sgt. Pepper's elsewhere in the book.
  • From The New Yorker: "But the most prescient criticism came from the British critic Nik Cohn, who agreed that Sgt. Pepper 'was genuinely a breakthrough,' but complained that 'it wasn’t much like pop. It wasn't fast, flash, sexual, loud, vulgar, monstrous, or violent.' Cohn's words presaged the rise of punk, which emerged, a decade later, as a corrective to the rock-as-art pretensions that Sgt. Pepper represented. 'The Beatles make good music, they really do,' Cohn concluded, 'but since when was pop anything to do with good music?'" — Not only does this cite a contemporaneous source that is currently missing from the Sgt. P's article, it also gets at the thing about why "bad" doesn't just have to mean "inept".
  • "Rubbish", says no less than Keith Richards. (Taking the opportunity to trash his own band's Sgt. Pepper's-inspired Their Satanic Majesties Request, too, but there's no mistaking this as a diss directed at the latter-day Beatles and Sgt. Pepper's in particular.)
  • Aimee Mann got a whole op-ed in The New York Times to criticize Sgt. Pepper's circa its 40th anniversary. This is certainly the best example of a nuanced anti-Pepper's take from a musician, since the over-arching reason she's over the album is that she (and the culture) have so thoroughly digested it that it has nothing left to offer her, and seems flatter than some of the later music inspired by it.
  • Written shortly after Aimme Mann: David Browne on Sgt. Pepper's backlash (and generalized Beatles backlash) in The New Republic
  • Two Slate articles (one by Jody Rosen, another by Simon Reynolds) alluding to Revolver's slow-but-steady ascendance as the critically favored apex Beatles album.
  • Can't find it now but I swear I found another source yesterday suggesting Sgt. Pepper's was always put on a higher pedestal and seen as uniquely important much more in the US than in the UK, where (especially after punk) listeners were more readily wary of it. It may be buried in something else I've already shared here, but I think it was from JSTOR.
Let me know what you think. These two ideas aren't incompatible: we could conceivably add more entries to the "backlash" section of this list and develop a "backlash" section of Sgt. Pepper's itself.
P.S.: The Guterman/O'Donnell book is available to borrow from here or here. I feel like it's underused compared to, say, Google Books because the book text isn't searchable directly from a search engine, but itself lets you text search everything in their database. If you haven't used the Internet Archive library yet, I strongly recommend it. Works the same as a real library, you just need an account to check a book out and if someone else has checked a book out you can't have it until their loan ends. The same two authors also did a book of bests. —BLZ · talk 03:17, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
A lot to digest there ... Working backwards (sort of), the hidden portion containing Pepper backlash sources is just that – hidden, nonexistent – it's only after opening the edit window that any content appears. That's how it is for me, at least. [...]
(Editor's note: fixed. I goofed the template.)BLZ · talk 19:59, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
[...] You seem to be saying that because Cohn's comments don't appear in the Pepper article, it's a notable omission(?). Despite how Jonathan Gould presents them in the New Yorker piece, and in his book Can't Buy Me Love also, Cohn's words are from his 1969 book Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom (and/or Pop from the Beginning, not sure). Cohn's views are notable, and notably contrary [see the same ext link] – but those were not from a contemporary review of the album, if that's what you meant. Jim DeRogatis' view of Pepper is well-known, and it's mirrored in and it informs his clear love of Revolver (love one to spite the other, and vice versa). I didn't include much in the way of commentary, let alone personal opinion, from DeRogatis at Revolver and neither at Sgt. Pepper – simple reason being that there are dozens of similarly notable assessments for both albums and there's simply not room for it all. In the same way, with regard to Childish's and Richards' opinions, it's difficult to justify their inclusion when hundreds of laudatory opinions from musicians have no presence either in these Beatles album articles. I am thinking of adding a quote from John Sebastian or Brian Wilson at Pepper, and mention of Dylan's dismissal of that album, because those views seem especially pertinent to its initial impact. (I can't emphasise enough how much commentary there is out there on the Beatles; as June Skinner Sawyers wrote in her role as editor of the 2006 Penguin book of essays Reading the Beatles: "[Sgt. Pepper] has been called the most famous album in the history of popular music. It is certainly among the most written about. It is still being written about.")
As far as including a Backlash section in the album article, I think the first thing is to carry out the restructure I mentioned on the talk page and in a couple of comments with my edits (sort of notes-to-self at the time). So much among the retrospective assessments is informed by the album's impact with regard to development of rock music, cultural legitimacy of the genre, representation of the counterculture and Summer of Love, popularity of concept albums and studio creations, etc, so it's only logical to move most of that text forward. Other thing to mention is that an album's critical reception section should reflect the reviewer ratings for the most part – try as I have, I just can't find a professional review of Pepper that gives anything below the equivalent of 4 out of 5. Tempted to go on here, but it's probably best we continue this over at Talk:Sgt Pepper. Happy to ping you when I return to the album article, soon I hope.
I'm in total agreement with much of what you say regarding this list. I appreciate your ability to view the potential of an article as being this wide, and there are certainly categories of "worst". Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music and Elvis' Having Fun have a reputation for being utterly dire; one would expect to them in a "worst albums" list, just as Ishtar and Heaven's Gate would be in most worst-films lists. Oasis' Be Here Now is an perfect example of a severe backlash-type "worst" album. The Pepper backlash is different, though, because the album was so culturally important it was ultimately blamed for the very things for which it was originally lauded.
But again, none of this is relevant to a list on Wikipedia until reliable sources give the subject a conceptual framework, right? Unfortunately. I say that because you do make it sound interesting and a subject worth pursuing. (Can you get on to PopMatters or something better, and get them to publish your views on this ...? No, seriously!) Because, without some sort of coverage of what constitutes "worst music", we're still at that WP:LISTN violation issue raised by A Quest For Knowledge back in March, as far as I'm concerned. JG66 (talk) 17:36, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
Agreed with most of what's being said here. My proposal of actions:
1. Establish a new inclusion criteria for this article. This should have been fixed years ago. If you haven't voted, please vote now.
2. Remove the "backlash" section of the article. If there's such a section, many other albums should be there. But this is a list of music considered the worst - it's not an article about music considered the best with some backlash. That's why I said that that section has no room in this article, with its current title.
3. Since criticism of Pepper existed at some point, pass some of it to its main article. Perhaps a section of "Criticism" under its "Retrospective appraisal" section (note: that section was called "Retrospective criticism" years ago, and it was full of negative bias against Pepper. You can guess which user with some Sockpuppets were responsible for it.)
Those are my thoughts. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 18:45, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
JG66, WKMN? Later: I will say that I've come around on the backlash section and at this point would support its removal. But the idea of properly defining the scope of a "worst backlash" section and managing it indefinitely would be too difficult, if not impossible in light of strongly contrary opposition. It could be interesting if properly done, but it's just not worth it. What you've said, JG66, about the necessity of a "conceptual framework" on hand is the key thing—these are articulable ideas, people conversant in rock history would "get" the scope, but it would take some work to actually find someone spelling all of this out in one place. As far as I know, there's not really a readymade critical framework that could be plugged into this kind of article in a way that conforms to Wikipedia's standards. The backlash thing is not quite a best–worst spectrum thing, it's a different axis—stuff like No Jacket Required, Metallica, and most U2 would also totally be on it. Given that a more robust backlash section would be necessary to defensibly keep Sgt. Pepper's on the list, it's probably gotta go. I'm still strongly opposed to the Metacritic proposal, though; see the subsection below.
I remain convinced that the Sgt. Pepper's stuff could be usefully applied somewhere else, where it would benefit from being mellowed, away from a setting limited (quite correctly) to the few sources that happened to use the term "worst". There's no doubt that, of the Beatles' work, it's received uniquely harsh criticism from certain corners of (generally punk-oriented) critics and musicians. That's partly the predictable result of being so consistently crowned number one—backlash from the ones who are just "sipping the Haterade"—but there is a significant contingent of dissenters who have articulated gripes with the album that are more than just kneejerk contrarianism. Where that would go remains to be seen. —BLZ · talk 23:52, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
I'd have a lot of respect for those who have long argued for retaining this list if they'd put some thought into its scope and how it is that certain albums and songs appear. If I fancied myself as a virtual traffic cop, that's what I'd have done a year back rather than perpetuating a mood of dysfunction; I'd take the list into draft space or a sandbox and work on making the piece sufficiently robust to withstand the constant drive-by criticism and ridicule. And not just to satisfy the requirement for lists on Wikipedia, which is the bare minimum, but to make sure it's a useful addition to the encyclopedia. The lack of a "List of music considered the best" makes its existence doubly perplexing.
Terms like "worst" and "best" are bandied around in music journalism with complete abandon. Way more so than in film criticism, a particular work, if not an entire act, can be branded with extreme superlatives simply to exaggerate a point or signify a changing of the guard in what has always been a generational thing. You're right to highlight the punk aesthetic, BLZ, but equally an anti-rock backlash was the foundation for a UK publication such as Smash Hits in the early '80s and other voices that might be considered part of the rockism/popism debate. Even before then, the NME totally reinvented itself – pre 1972, it was the most pop, most populist, most shallow basically, of the UK music mags. Charles Shaar Murray's pieces in the NME and Tom Hibbert's for Smash Hits are legendary for their irreverence; I can almost guarantee that Hibbert or someone at Smash would have come up with lists of the best and worst music ever in the whole wide world – that sort of rhetoric was their currency, and readers loved it. Q then formed from the same team behind Smash Hits, but with a mission to support many of their former victims in a bid to capture the older/richer audience with the arrival of (expensive) CDs. Zig-Zag, punk 'zines, Select all had their own, uncompromising outlook on music old and new, and to various degrees caught and created the zeitgeist at any one time: if it wasn't always youth-centred, "good/bad/best/worst" was rigidly aligned with the "cool" quotient. Within that editorial positioning, a once "great" piece of music was practically demanding to be shot down. In the case of Sgt. Pepper, it's unquestionably in the bull's eye: parents, musicologists and posh people liked it – aargh!! It represented the pinnacle of a movement in pop that was unprecedented, when untrained rock 'n' rollers increasingly sought to improve and progress artistically. None of the preceding works in this escalating process – usually identified as Rubber Soul, Pet Sounds and Revolver – nor the inferior albums or songs Pepper was blamed for inspiring have received this level of derision, not withstanding Pet Sounds' inclusion in two of those backlash/overrated-related pieces. All of which is why I was calling for more context for Pepper's inclusion here, if it's to be retained. Yes, the album has had its share of detractors beyond the fickle motives of repositioning and trend-chasers and -makers, but the key point is it's the totem for all things musical and cultural in 1967, if not the entire decade. So it's the most famous "bad" album. And, btw, the "worst"/"best" journalistic shorthand was never more commonplace in the UK than during the '90s, with the rise of Oasis and lads mags such as Maxim ...
None of this gets us any closer to a solution, I realise. When it comes to determining criteria for inclusion here, I can't help thinking most people would recognise the need to introduce something that ensures the list is more logical (more responsible, I'd call it) if we had a corresponding "best" list – and they wouldn't hang about it either. As mentioned, I envisage a list of "best" albums and songs filled with entries that apparently merit inclusion because the likes of Hibbert or CSM enjoy throwing a fly in the ointment for effect, or a publication is trying to carve a niche for itself (or it's hanging on for dear life, per MM in late '98). In such a scenario, we could have several entries that have no place at all in the vast majority of critics' "best" lists – the albums and songs could even be critically reviled – but without a criteria that places overall reception above isolated polls and assessments, anything goes. And that would be a joke, and not the funny kind. JG66 (talk) 14:33, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
@JG66: I think you're right about all of this. I first waded into this discussion on a whim after getting an RFC notice—the ultimate folly—and as such I had blinders on and really considered it as a question of just one album's inclusion or exclusion. But these kinds of questions really do require deeper holistic thinking about the article's overall scope and condition.
I think the most boiled-down method to question the intention of "worst ever" polls would be to ask: "Is the intention of this source to tear down/upend 'the Rock Canon'? Or is it to define an Anti-Canon?" I think that's the critical distinction. It's also why Philosophy of the World should remain on the list, despite recent positive reassessments: it's a quintessential entry of the rock Anti-Canon, it would have never been rediscovered otherwise, and any reassessment starts from the position that it is notoriously awful but deserves the benefit of the doubt. In this way, Philosophy of the World is the ultimate anti-Sgt. Pepper's, because it inverts the love-hate relationship: if Sgt. Pepper's haters are necessarily dissenters, then Shaggs lovers are necessarily apologists. Sgt. Pepper's most ardent critics hate it most for its showy artfulness (i.e., the very same things that make it capital-G "Great") and its all-consuming acclaim, while the Shaggs' defenders recognize its notoriety—probably found out about them only because of that notoriety—but nonetheless find charm and sincerity in their woeful amateurism (i.e., the same quality that makes them capital-T Terrible in the first place). Some hate Sgt. Pepper's because it's "Great", and others love the Shaggs because they're Terrible—but make no mistake, even if they're lovable, they are indeed Terrible.
You said "None of this gets us any closer to a solution, I realise," but... I think actually you're onto something. We both know there are countless sources that critique endless "best"/"worst" lists as provocative-but-shallow (or, conversely, endless reaffirmation of the same boring old picks). In a future definition of what counts or doesn't count as a "worst album", we could include a footnote explaining in detail why fleeting "worst of" lists published by magazines don't carry much weight—along the lines of what you wrote, but substantiated by credible sources making the same or similar points about the list-making culture industry. And what would be a better example of why we're filtering those kinds of polls than to mention: "For example, a 1998 Melody Maker poll named Sgt. Pepper's... [etc etc]"? It would convey two important messages. To any future editors thinking of adding Sgt. Pepper's, it would signal that "yes, we do realize this poll exists, but here's why it's not a good idea"; and to most readers, it would illustrate why why we're tuning out these sorts of sources with an amusing example: "truly dear reader, what better example of the kind of goofy, flippant outcomes these polls are capable of producing than Sgt. Pepper's?"
Speaking of scope... I tepidly raised this question below, but I do think this list should be renamed to something like "List of musical recordings considered the worst". The content wouldn't really change at all, as it's already impliedly the subject of the article. However, this would be of much greater importance for any future "best" list. As if things wouldn't be heated enough already—imagine having to balance 18th-century classical symphonies and legendary (but unrecorded) historical concerts alongside, like, Nevermind and what have you. A section providing the best classical music recordings would be manageable, but leaving it open-ended as just "music" it could very quickly become an apples-and-oranges thing. —BLZ · talk 20:47, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
BLZ: Whether the motivation is to "tear down/upend 'the Rock Canon'" or "define an Anti-Canon" – absolutely, you nailed it. But, as encouraged as I am that you think my contention has some legs to it after all, where is the commentary on this division? You mention "countless sources that critique endless 'best'/'worst' lists as provocative-but-shallow", but are there sources that critique "worst" lists? Perhaps I'm missing something (eg I know I linked to a fairly withering, Washington Post review on the Guterman book, and maybe there are other pieces), but it's the lack of coverage of the concept of "worst music" that's apparent to me, and the reason this list fails to satisfy WP:LISTN. No?
There's no doubt that the tear-down-the-Rock-Canon aspect is a key point in the evolution of pop music from 1977, if not before. And this issue interests me in the development of rock criticism, having done some work at Music journalism#20th century rock criticism (led there, incidentally, by reading so much about Pepper's reception and impact). As you've said, U2 are in the line of fire as another "great" act to be torn down; I think we can agree Lou's Metal Machine Music and Elvis' Having Fun, and the 1978 soundtrack for Stigwood's Sgt. Pepper film also, are firmly in the "define an Anti-Canon" basket. If we're at all able to contextualise Pepper and any other "great=>worst" albums and songs in the way you're suggesting, then the list would have that essential, "useful" (rather than mischievous) quality by offering clear examples that reflect major developments in pop culture, or at least each generation's attempts to signal them. That would be fantastic – I'm in. But per my original point about "sideways editorialisation", I can't see that there's any commentary that allows us to take the subject in that direction. Again, apologies if I'm being a bit dim on this; I'd love to be proved wrong, I just don't see it yet.
Will reply below on your point about the list title. Your reference (way above here) to Florence Foster Jenkins had got me thinking about that issue anyway. Funnily enough, while searching for sources for a conceptual framework for this list, I came across one Darryl W. Bullock, "acclaimed British biographer" (per Kirkus), for his 2016 book on Ms FFJ (also reviewed in the NYT), author of two books on the worst music of all time, and presenter of a radio show with the same theme. Perfect, I thought – but the first of the two volumes of The World's Worst Records appears to be self-published ... JG66 (talk) 06:30, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
"Where that goes, remains to be seen". In its main article, under reception. A paragraph starting with, "Conversely..." would suffice. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 16:19, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
I'd previously mentioned that it should go in the article's "Retrospective appraisal" section, yes. To clarify, it's not an issue of placement so much as integration of the available material. There's a balancing act between providing sufficient context and giving the naysayers their due consideration without going overboard (as, it seems, the original anti-Sgt. Pepper's sockpuppeteer-crusader was doing). —BLZ · talk 20:47, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
I would like to go ahead and notify some editors who participated in a previous RfC so that they can weigh in - SummerPhDv2.0, ILIL, Tosk Albanian, Herostratus, Jayron32, GenQuest, Hunter Kahn, LM2000. The Grand Delusion(Send a message) 23:35, 9 September 2019 (UTC)

Under the Metacritic criteria, what would the list look like?Edit

The discussion is getting a bit too abstract and is becoming a referendum about the value of having any criteria, not the effects of the proposed criteria. We don't need to speculate, because it's very easy to find out what the article will look like if these criteria are adopted. The list will have 15 entries and it will look like this, sorted chronologically:

Metacritic score:  34  based on 7 reviews: 4 mixed, 3 negative
Metacritic score:  33  based on 11 reviews: 1 positive, 4 mixed, 6 negative
Metacritic score:  37  based on 7 reviews: 1 positive, 4 mixed, 2 negative
Metacritic score:  35  based on 8 reviews: 4 mixed, 4 negative
Metacritic score:  39  based on 14 reviews: 1 positive, 9 mixed, 4 negative
Metacritic score:  15  based on 7 reviews: all 7 negative
Metacritic score:  37  based on 10 reviews: 6 mixed, 4 negative
Metacritic score:  39  based on 12 reviews: 4 positive, 2 mixed, 6 negative
Metacritic score:  37  based on 21 reviews: 1 positive, 9 mixed, 11 negative
Metacritic score (link broken):  39  based on an unknown set of reviews; the link is 404 even in the Internet Archive
Metacritic score:  34  based on 17 reviews: 9 mixed, 8 negative
Metacritic score:  39  based on 8 reviews: 4 mixed, 4 negative
Metacritic score:  38  based on 14 reviews: 2 positive, 9 mixed, 3 negative
Metacritic score:  37  based on 7 reviews: 4 mixed, 3 negative
Metacritic score:  38  based on 11 reviews: 1 positive, 6 mixed, 4 negative

Some noteworthy aspects of this list:

  • 8 albums from the 2000s, 7 from the 2010s. No albums from the 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, 1960s, or earlier.
  • No reissues. All of the surveyed albums are "the worst" on the basis of contemporary reviews only. The one album that has been reissued, Collins's Testify, has no reviews based on its 2016 reissue (which may well be because there were none, but the point stands that these are all first-impression reviews).
  • Only one album in common with our list so far: Federline's Playing with Fire, which is on the list in part because it is the very lowest-rated album on Metacritic.
  • All of the scores are in the 30s except for Federline's, the only true outlier at 15. The second-lowest, Limp Bizkit's, is 33.
  • Four of these albums are scored at 39, which is one point away from the cutoff. Just over the line at 40 is Liz Phair's 2003 self-titled album, which received a rare 0 from Pitchfork but also an A from the Village Voice's Robert Christgau.
  • Six of the albums received fewer than 10 reviews. Of those, five were in the bottom 10 and three were in the bottom five. Therefore, most of "the very worst" are also the least-scrutinized. (I'm not saying they would have been saved from their low scores by more reviews, because the reasons publications overlooked them or chose not to review them are too varied and may or may not have had nothing to do with quality, e.g. some may have been genre-specific publications, while some may have chosen to skip the album based on the terrible early reviews or word-of-mouth. Besides, imagine how Pitchfork would treat Kevin Federline. Nevertheless, it's true to say that the lowest-ranked also have some of the smallest pools of consensus.)
  • One of the albums, United Nations of Sound, seems to have a broken link on Metacritic and isn't even retrievable through the Internet Archive. Currently, we have no idea what reviews they included or how they came to that score. This especially matters because Metacritic assigns its own scores to unscored reviews.
  • Very few, if any, of the individual reviews directly critique the albums as "the worst". Only the accidental composite effect of the scores condemns them as such. This potentially exacerbates a concern about relying on sources that don't demonstrate a clear critical intention to label an album as "the worst". It makes me wonder about albums with Metacritic scores in the 40–49 range or so, which may have had more virulently negative reviews overall yet were saved from the 40% cutoff by one or two isolated high scores.
  • Related to the above point: reading the excerpted reviews, recurrent themes are blandness, staleness, high forgettability, unremarkableness. Like I said in an earlier comment, there are many different forms of "badness". This is just an observation.

The thing is, all or almost all of these could be added to the list no problem. "Lower than 40% on Metacritic" could be a useful inclusion criterion for this list, but it's still a very bad exclusion criterion that, by itself, would lead to a very narrow, skewed list. —BLZ · talk 22:57, 8 September 2019 (UTC)

Perhaps it would be easier for us to determine what albums merit inclusion if we could guage the percentage of negative reviews left, rather than fixating on an album's Metacritic rating. The Grand Delusion(Send a message) 23:05, 8 September 2019 (UTC)
The Grand Delusion: What you're proposing sounds like reverse-engineering a Rotten Tomatoes-style score using Metacritic's review aggregation. (For those who don't know: Metacritic averages critics' actual scores, while Rotten Tomatoes deems a review either positive or negative and gives a score based on the percentage of positive reviews. For an album/film/game to get 100 from Metacritic, each review would have to give a perfect score, while a film can achieve 100% on Rotten Tomatoes without receiving any perfect scores from individual critics. For example, a movie with 50 three-star reviews would get 60 at Metacritic and 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.)
So: I'm throwing out United Nations of Sound, because the link is dead and we have no idea how to re-score it. Out of the 14 remaining, seven received at least one positive review. That includes Results May Vary, the second-worst ranked. That leaves seven:
More editorializing: What strikes me about this Tomatoes-style list is that, perhaps counter-intuitively, it filters out a lot of the "bafflingly terrible" entries and leaves a concentrated pool of the "profoundly mediocre" ones. Rebirth, a head-scratcher for the ages, is expunged. However anyone feels about Limp Bizkit or 6ix9ine, there's no doubt that they evoke visceral reactions, but they're both gone; meanwhile, Charlie Puth's music may be awful but it's also the kind of anodyne stuff that plays from speakers in grocery stores without incident.
Another important difference between Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic is that Rotten Tomatoes counts reviews as either positive or negative and does not have a category for "mixed" reviews. "Mixed" reviews seemed to be those valued in the 40–60 range; I think score up to 59 would all default to "negative" at Rotten Tomatoes (given that a film with an overall score of less than 60% is deemed "rotten"), but some would have been counted as positive (a       review at Rotten Tomatoes is considered positive—and again, remember that Metacritic assigns its own scores to unscored reviews and a different person may interpret an unscored review's "value" differently).
Only Playing with Fire received exclusively "negative" reviews under Metacritic's definition of "negative", so it would definitely get the Rotten Tomatoes 0%. Whether any of the other ones would also get a Rotten Tomatoes 0% depends on how Rotten Tomatoes would sort the mixed reviews.
Assuming all "mixed" reviews on Metacritic are counted as Rotten Tomatoes "negatives", then albums with scores of 40 or higher on Metacritic could achieve a Rotten Tomatoes 0%. Behold:
Metacritic score:  42  based on 15 reviews: 9 mixed, 6 negative.
No positive reviews under Metacritic's reckoning, so Somethin' 'Bout Kreay would get 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. Three of the reviews were scored as "60", which I think would be weighted positive on Rotten Tomatoes, so the score could also be 17% on Rotten Tomatoes, depending on which parts of either site's systems you choose to adopt.
For comparison:
  • Liz Phair (2003) – Liz Phair
Metacritic score:  40  based on 21 reviews: 6 positive, 4 mixed, and 11 negative.
Liz Phair would get roughly 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, well above Somethin' 'Bout Kreay. It could also get 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, because two of its "mixed" scores are 60 and would tip into the positive side.
These two albums can be scored very differently with the same datasets, all depending on the methods by which the data is measured, weighted, averaged. This effect, by the way, is exactly what I mean about Metacritic's system being essentially arbitrary. It's true that the outcomes produced by a given system are not arbitrary; they reflect the system's chosen procedures for weighting and averaging numbers. However, the choosing of certain procedures and not others is where arbitrariness seeps in.
It's okay for Metacritic's system to be (essentially) arbitrary! It's still a valid, self-contained system of measurement and a valiant effort to roughly quantify critical consensus, something that is not truly measurable. But it wouldn't be okay to exclusively rely on one arbitrary system at the expense of others. —BLZ · talk 00:52, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
The proposed criteria establishes that if an album doesn't appear on Metacritic, it can be included if the >=70% of WP:ALBUMS has a negative critic of it. As I said in the beginning, many albums don't appear on Metacritic, so that fallback can be applied. WKMN? Later [ Let's talk ] 16:26, 9 September 2019 (UTC)

"List of recorded music considered the worst"?Edit

Not to open another can of worms, but surely the current title is over-broad, no? —BLZ · talk 01:28, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

BLZ: I agree, the list does focus solely on recorded music, so ideally the title should reflect that. Alternatively, as you've said previously, perhaps the inclusion of an artist such as Florence Foster Jenkins (rather than a specific work) would allow for the broad scope suggested by the current title. That is, with FFJ, her claim to "worst" fame appears to be based around a judgement of her as a performer. I imagine there might be a few others who fit in that category. JG66 (talk) 07:46, 17 September 2019 (UTC)

Why isn't The Wall on here or maybe angelic 2 the core?Edit

Not pink Floyd's The wall Doug Walker's the wall I get why but just add it already,this will make that article no longer an orphan Tee wew28 (talk) 04:39, 11 October 2019 (UTC)

Return to "List of music considered the worst" page.