Five Unbearable Singers We Can Blame on Eddie Vedder
The Pearl Jam frontman's ugliest offspring.
There's no denying Pearl Jam is one of the great modern rock bands. They managed to weather the storm of grunge by diversifying their sound. They kept up their biblically epic live shows and fought against Ticketmaster. They stopped wearing such incredibly stupid hats. But while Kurt Cobain's untimely death seemed to keep most people from openly aping his vocal stylings, poor Eddie Vedder wasn't quite so lucky. Since Pearl Jam's heydey, a whole host of singers have emulated a vocal style critic Stephen Thompson has termed "hunger dunger dang." On the twentieth anniversary of Pearl Jam's first album, Ten, we now take a look back at the bastard children of Eddie Vedder's voice.
5. Scott Weiland, Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots were always a great three or four bands. By which I mean, when they all got on the same page as to who they were stealing from, they made rock music that you and your dad could probably both nod your head to. STP started out as intensely derivative of Pearl Jam ("Plush," "Wicked Garden"), and progressed to being intensely derivative of David Bowie; Scott Weiland's vocal style changed with the band, leaving behind Vedder's "chesty bleat" school of singing as it fell out of style. Thus, the early hit "Plush" is probably most indicative of the Vedder influence. It's included here in its Headbanger's Ball acoustic version, so ready your Bics.
Listen: "Plush (acoustic)"
4. Brett Scallions, Fuel
Now that we've dealt with the only decent music on this list, the kid gloves can come off. Fuel's frontman, whose name alone conjures rage (seriously: "Brett Scallions"), has made an entire career out of stealing Vedder's baritone histrionics, stripping them of subtlety, and repeating them, ad nauseum. I almost feel bad making fun of him, because his band only had three hits, and he looks like a weasel. But then I listened to those three hits again, and remember that Fuel deserves more scorn than I could possibly dish out. Each songs hits the same "I'm masculine as hell but I hurt" tone; it's like listening to the same damn song, three times, with different arrangements. I'm hard-pressed to choose which to include here, but I'll go with "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)," because I'm pretty sure I got to third base listening to it once.
Listen: "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)"
3. Gavin Rossdale, Bush
I forgot when I pitched this article that I'd actually have to listen to these bands again. Hearing "Glycerine" today reminds me of a dark time in the late '90s when sounding like you were struggling with hemorrhoids was somehow profound, as long as you had a chuggy guitar and a string section. Meanwhile, "Machine Head" sounds like the Smashing Pumpkins with a pompous, gravelly-voiced dickhead singing, instead of a bald, whiny-voiced dickhead. I've never heard a human being use such a ravaged voice while still sounding so inexpressive. At least Eddie Vedder always sounded like he meant it. Thank God Rossdale's known more for being a housedad these days than for making music.
2. Chad Kroeger, Nickelback
Take Eddie Vedder's voice; remove its flexibility and depth of expression. Take every lyrical banality possible, then add a lead singer who looks like a Muppet with a Jesus complex… and you won't even approach how awful Nickelback truly is. How this band snuck over the Canadian border to dominate radio for half a decade remains a mystery.
1. Scott Stapp, Creed
I might burst a blood vessel while writing this. More than any other band on this list, Creed made a career of Vedderian bombast. Melding Vedder's marble-mouthed baritone with rock's all-time worst messiah complex (except maybe Bono's) made Scott Stapp a star in the post-Nirvana vacuum of the late '90s and early 2000s; Creed has sold in excess of 28 million records in the U.S. alone. (There goes that blood vessel.) But whatever deal he made with the devil came due, as he was quickly undone in a series of highly public shamings, most of which involved him making a drunken ass of himself on camera.
Listen: "My Own Prison"