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10 worst British pop bands of all time

Updated October 04, 2018

Pop bands are a bit like younger siblings. They can be cute at first, you have some patience for them for a while, and eventually they just get plain annoying. As a genre, pop delivers up scoopfuls of sugar-giddy, catchy tunes that stick in your head and get persistently beamed out of radio stations for months. It also serves up some less than appetising meals that become sickly after the first fleeting and uncertain bite. These are ten of the latter.

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10: Five

Five, or “5ive” if you want to spell with numbers, is a boy band which was active from 1997 to 2001, when they split up for the first time. They furnished the UK music scene with forgettable, flat and thoughtless songs like “Slam Dunk (Da Funk)” and “Everybody Get Up,” both complete with pointless and cringe-worthy raps. In “Everybody Get Up” they stole the music from “I Love Rock and Roll,” added some drums and threw in some hopeless new lyrics.

Related: Five - "Everybody Get Up"

9: Liberty X

In 2001, the X Factor precursor Popstars chose its five winners who went on to form Hear’say, and left five runners up wondering what to do. They got together and made Liberty X, a pop group made up of reality TV rejects. Their first two singles were “Thinking it Over” and “Doing it” which are utterly forgettable and downright lamentable pieces of manufactured garbage. “Just a Little,” their most famous song, is even catchier and considerably more irritating.

Related: Liberty X - "Just a Little"

8: Hear’Say

The losers of Popstars were bad enough, but the winners were even worse. Hear’Say were the first British group to achieve number ones in both the single and album charts with their debut single, but this can be easily attributed to the fact that their transformation from ordinary people to “pop stars” was played out across the UK for everybody to marvel at. The nation was swept up in their story, not their music, and that is why after a year and eight months, the group split off. “Pure and Simple” was their successful single, which on a retrospective listen is quickly revealed as formulaic tripe.

Related: Hear'Say - "Pure and Simple"

7: Wet Wet Wet

Scottish pop band Wet Wet Wet was at the top of the charts for 15 weeks with a cover of the Troggs’ single “Love is all Around.” Their first big hit was also a cover, of the Beatles “A Little Help From My Friends,” which shot them to fame in the 80s. Both their breakthrough and their soppy, overplayed hit wasn't written by them. “Love is all Around” has dwarfed them for the remainder of their careers.

Related: Wet Wet Wet - "Love is all Around"

6: Busted

Busted were a three-piece pop group that masqueraded as a “rock” band. They aimed to blur the lines between pop and rock so that the positive elements of both came through. What they achieved was like rock music stripped of its power and passion, and pop music with no innocence. It was a nightmare, from the limp-wristed “What I go to School For” to the stupidly speculative “Year 3,000,” with its blatant misunderstanding of the length of generations. Listen to the chorus and you’ll understand.

Related: Busted - "Year 3000"

5: PJ & Duncan

You might not remember PJ & Duncan, but you’ll almost certainly know Ant and Dec. Back in the 90s, they used to be child-friendly rappers, using their spot on Byker Grove to its full potential. Their most popular single was “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble,” which is basically what would have happened if Vanilla Ice was even worse at rapping, from Newcastle and obsessed with Michael Buffer instead of Queen. You’ll never look at Ant and Dec in the same way again.

Related: PJ & Duncan - "Let's Get Ready to Rumble"

4: Dolly Rockers

The Dolly Rockers set out with a noble goal, to prove that to be successful in British pop, you don’t need to know how to sing. The three-piece girl group released a single, “Gold Digger,” which reached number 46 in the charts, despite it sounding like an atonal lament from a bunch of monosyllabic schoolgirls.

Related: The Dolly Rockers - "Gold Digger"

3: H and Claire

If you ever find yourself involved in a nightmarish pop band like Steps, remember that if the group splits up, you can’t just pick your favourite band mate and be successful again. H and Claire’s misguided attempt to keep their mindless music careers ticking on, released the repetitive yet forgettable “DJ,” and the rushed “Half a Heart.” They then released their debut album, which flopped, and then their record label dropped them.

Related: H and Claire - "Half a Heart"

2: One True Voice

Girls Aloud left this band in their wake after the battle for Christmas number one orchestrated by talent show Popstars: The Rivals. The sappy, uninteresting boy band released the single “Sacred Trust” and eventually realised that nobody really cared and stopped performing music after seven months and their second single release.

Related: One True Voice - "Sacred Trust"

1: Fast Food Rockers

Fast Food Rockers are the ultimate awful British pop band for several reasons. Firstly, the chorus is taken from a repetitive rhyme banded around playgrounds. Secondly, the music is profoundly generic. And finally, the name of their band is designed for them to be a one hit wonder. They tried to continue after reaching second in the charts with “Fast Food Song,” but they were ditched by their record label when their ill-fated Christmas song flopped.

Related: Fast Food Rockers - "Fast Food Song"

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About the Author

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.

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