In the late '90s, the Spin Doctors played to single-digit crowds. A few years later, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies rode the dead-horse neo-swing trend into wildly oversized (and undersold) venues. When awful acts pay for their aural atrocities in such a humiliating manner, it almost justifies the inexplicable popularity that set the stage for their spectacular collapse. 3 Doors Down and Staind both peaked in the early '00s, and they're still playing arenas, comically unaware of their impending plunge.
3 Doors Down deserves to plummet, because "When I'm Gone" ranks among the shittiest ballads in recent memory. "Kryptonite," its breakthrough hit, lives up to its title by turning reliably strong components (racing drumbeat, zooming guitars) into mild-mannered southern-fried wimpiness.
Staind toured with Limp Bizkit and Puddle of Mudd, so it knows how to invite flattering contrast with bands that rank several rungs lower on the suck scale. It also scores points by humbly cataloguing its own shortcomings by album titles: overwrought angst (Dysfunction), turgid monotony (14 Shades of Grey), and questionable creativity (the upcoming fifth album Chapter V). Festeresque frontman Aaron Lewis' ringing baritone and scared-child stage presence make him somewhat appealing. At least he'll draw more dour lyrical inspiration from his band's inevitable fall.