HOW IT STARTED Napster provided a global arena for thousands of wannabe rock stars
JUDGMENT CALL It's like watching a car crash--horrifying, yet you can't tear yourself away
There's Nothing in My Dreams, the latest single by Girls with Attitude, consists entirely of a prepubescent girl moaning tunelessly about puppies over an all-Casio backing track. Despite--or because of--its extreme awfulness, There's Nothing in My Dreams is now the No. 1 song in the Montreal section of MP3.com. The Internet has given an audience to thousands of talentless musicians who don't even deserve a garage to play in--and the audience loves it.
Websites like the Worst of the Worst, Bad Music Central and the Suckiest Songs on MP3.com sift through the torrent of free music pouring onto the Internet and post the most utterly unlistenable tracks. Worst of the Worst founder Robert Burke says he gets as many as 100,000 page views a month. He thinks of it as the flip side of the digital-music revolution. "The site says what a lot of people are afraid to say: 'You suck!'" Yes, Burke has received death threats.
Yet the songs on the Worst of the Worst can be compelling in their awfulness. Songs like Richard Hackley's rabble-rousing, hackles-raising spiritual God's Backhand ("We're not talking about tennis or Ping-Pong!") or Offwight Radiator's inexplicable alterna-dirge Sent Fishing by Your Neighbor (those are the only lyrics) fascinate in the way the best outsider art often does. In the words of J.A. Moore, one of the Worst of the Worst's favorite artists, "It's just a funky mystery."