10 Bands Destroyed By "Selling Out"

Street cred? What street cred?

Bono U2
Wikimedia Commons

Selling out is a strange concept. By our very nature, we as humans are designed to want to succeed at things. If we didn’t, we’d all just sit around on the couch all day eating Doritos and watching Loose Women. Some of us do that anyways.

But in music, there is a very fine line when it comes to success. On the one hand, as an artist you want to be able to make enough money to pursue the venture as a full-time career, while also building a legacy that ensures you are remembered beyond the confines of your allotted 15 minutes of fame.

On the other, the last thing you want to do is alienate the fans who helped you achieve any reputation you might have built up by changing your output or principles too drastically. It’s kind of like that scene at the end of The Incredibles where they finally let Dash compete in his school sports day - win the race, but don’t win it by too much.

If you do, you risk being slapped with a label so stigmatic that it’s harder to shift than a three day hangover: sell out.

With that in mind, here are 10 artists who have destroyed their street cred by auctioning off their creative souls to the devils of commercialism...

10. Maroon 5

Bono U2
Wikipedia Commons

If you look up ‘selling out’ in the dictionary, you’d probably find a picture of Adam Levine singing Payphone on the US version of The Voice with Wiz Khalifa back in 2012. Specific, I know. The song, the setting, and the accompaniment were a sure sign of just how far Maroon 5’s star had risen over the course of the decade prior, but that meteoric ascension had definitely come at the expense of their credibility.

The band’s debut effort, Songs About Jane, was a funk-infused masterclass in indie pop songwriting, and justifiably catapulted them into the charts and the public consciousness with one fell swoop.

Ever since then, however, it’s felt as if the group have been walking in ever decreasing circles, slowly moving away from the tropes and quirks that gave them their unique sound, and increasingly leading to material that literally sounds like everything else in whatever the zeitgeist genre is at that time. At this point it’s a matter of time before they release an emo-rap tune.

And that’s sad because, while their sound might not have been for everybody, at least it set them apart. The last thing we need is more battery farm music that has become homogenised in a desperate attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Adam and the boys might still be churning out the chart toppers, but at what cost?

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