We asked our readers to name the most overrated artists of all time, and as you can imagine, this one got people fired up.  

While music taste is of course utterly subjective, there were a few singers and bands that repeatedly appeared as the votes poured in.

Although the answers were varied, there are certain artists whose enduring popularity appears to have ruffled more than a few feathers.

So, without further ado, here are some of the most overrated artists of all time (according to Tone Deaf readers).

U2

There’s no doubt that U2 have achieved more mainstream popularity than most bands could ever dream of. As it stands, the Irish group have sold approximately 150-170 million records worldwide and racked up a whopping 22 Grammy awards. Not only have they achieved commercial success, but they were also ranked #22 on Rolling Stone‘s list of 100 Greatest Artists of all Time.

Despite this, it seems listeners have tired of their particular brand of alt-rock, with several of our readers commenting that they consider U2’s music to be overplayed and dated. Several also took umbrage with the band’s decision to release a free album via iTunes back in 2014.

The Smiths

Arguably one of the most renowned indie acts of all time, The Smiths helped bring post-punk and alt-rock music to the mainstream. In 2012, three out of four of the band’s studio albums (and a compilation) appeared on Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”, cementing their status as one of the most critically-acclaimed bands of the 1980s.

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However, several of our readers cited the “repetitive” and “whiny” nature of their songs as turn-offs, with others also making mention of frontman Morrissey‘s controversial political opinions. It appears in sharing his many strong, generally right-wing takes, Morrissey may have inadvertently tarnished the group’s legacy.

Beyoncé

To list all of Beyoncé’s accolades would take far too long, but among the most impressive are her becoming the first artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 with their first six solo studio albums, along with her 20 Grammy Awards. As if that wasn’t enough, she was named Billboard‘s Top Female Artist of the Decade for the 2000s and was included on Time‘s list of 100 women who defined the last century.

It appears the key reason she has been named one of the world’s most overrated artists by our readers is that many favour other female R&B artists. From Aaliyah to Brandy, our comment section was swimming with suggestions regarding artists who should have achieved more notoriety. With this in mind, it’s important to note that one woman’s success doesn’t cancel out another’s and that there should be space for everyone.

The Beatles

As the best-selling music act of all the time, The Beatles are a band that needs no introduction. However, if you do happen to require a refresher, they hold the record for most number-one albums on the UK Albums Chart (15), most number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (20), and most singles sold in the UK (21.9 million). On top of this, they also topped Rolling Stones lists of the greatest artists in history in both 2004 and 2011.

In spite of their unprecedented success, they were still one of the most mentioned acts by our readers. Common gripes included the simplicity of their songs, as well as their “monotonous” nature.

“Most of their music reminds me of songs that come on those Kindergarten cassettes you buy your kids to sing along to,” one reader wrote.

Michael Jackson

To describe Michael Jackson’s music as popular would be one hell of an understatement. The late singer has sold an eye-watering 350 million records worldwide and remains the most awarded music artist in history. In his heyday, the ‘King of Pop’ was more than merely a singer, he was a cultural icon.

However, many of our readers class him as overrated, with some taking issue with his enduring popularity in spite of the controversy that marred the last years of his life. Although he was found not guilty of seven counts of child molestation in 2005, several alleged victims maintain that they were abused by him, which certainly at the very least complicates his legacy.

Taylor Swift

Given just how much she has achieved, it’s hard to believe that Taylor Swift only burst onto the scene a little over a decade ago. As of 2021, she has been ranked eighth on Billboards 2019 Greatest of All Time Artists Chart, made Times annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world three separate times and been named both Woman of the Decade (2010s) by Billboard and Artist of the Decade (2010s) by the American Music Awards.  

As celebrated as she has been, listeners appear to believe that she is a better songwriter than she is a singer and that the quality of her music has been over-hyped.

“She is one of the last people I would’ve called Artist of the Decade,” a listener wrote.

Kanye West

An ironic artist to follow Taylor Swift, Kanye West has also simply dominated the 21st century.  Among his accolades include his 22 Grammy and a Billboard Artist Achievement Award. Meanwhile, a whopping six of his albums were included on Rolling Stone’s 2020 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, with the same publication also naming him one of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time.

When we polled our readers, it appeared it wasn’t his music that made them class him as an overrated artist, but rather his ego. From awards show interruptions to his ill-fated attempt at running for US president, Yeezy’s outspoken nature and evident level of self-confidence have earned the ire of fans over the years.

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