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The worst band ever! – Nomination #1: Catatonia

In a new feature, ELM looks at contenders for the coveted title of ‘worst band ever’. He starts with the Welsh warblers who, for a brief period in the post-Britpop wilderness, looked like they might have a shot at glory.

Wales. What has it ever done for us musically? Nothing, really. Tom Jones? Irritating. Manic Street Preachers? Overblown cock-rock with lyrics which would make a four year old cringe. Super Furry Animals? If your idea of heaven is the death rattle of a PSP after it has been hit with a hammer, sure. I haven’t even mentioned the f*cking Stereophonics.

But the worst – the sharpest peanut in the turd – has to be Catatonia, an act so toe-curlingly bad they’d curdle milk.

Catatonia were first known more for their drinking than for their music. Around 1994, you couldn’t pick up an NME – or even a Melody Maker, bless – without reading about their consumption habits. After a while, it simply seemed that they were yet another scene band who weren’t very good. They released a single, ‘You’ve Got A Lot To Answer For’, which sounded like an indie Transvision Vamp and was actually not bad. Apart from that, they drank a lot, supported nobodies, got mentioned in the inkies for drinking and got played on the Evening Session. That was about it, really.

Something strange happened in 1997, though. The Britpop bubble burst spectacularly, as the excess gave way to the hangover and it was a bleak, angst-ridden time for the guitar collosi who had strode the charts for the past few years. The Verve were suddenly everywhere with the dark Urban Hymns. Blur released the brilliant, but savage, Blur. The album of the year, by common consent, was the neurotic and disturbing OK Computer. Oasis then compounded the feeling of a dwindling party by releasing Be Here Now, universally acknowledged as a bloated, rotund whore of an album. Where to turn now?

Into this void came perennial indie also-rans Cornershop with the startingly good ‘Brimful of Asha’. The UK was desperate for cheery pop, to pretend it was still 1995. In snuck Catatonia with the simple joys of ‘Mulder and Scully’. It mentioned the telly! They followed it up with the even more banal ‘Road Rage’. They were, briefly, huge.

Cerys Matthews voice was the main factor. A strange stage presence – she often wandered around as if she had defecated and was carrying the resultant wedge in her pants – she had a tremulous Welsh warble which was, well, annoying. But people liked it. For a bit.

They toured, made some cash, came back and found the world had sobered up. Comeback single ‘Dead From Waist Down’ may well be the worst example of flogging the Britpop template to death. We present it in all it’s horror below. They faded away, with Matthews carving out a career as a DJ after a brief and troubling stint as a quasi-celebrity by ‘falling in love’ with an EastEnder on that jungle thingy. The world regrets many a thing; it’s hungover romp with this lot in 1998 must be on the list. Worst band ever? Certainly the worst to come from Wales. And that’s saying something.

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14 Responses

  1. I remember seeing Cerys on some “yoof” programme, being interviewed, just after/just before they split up……she came across as some totally dumb, uneducated drunk…..pretty sad.

  2. She had a decent voice but they were plodding indie by numbers…….

  3. Catatonia , somehow that just may be one of the most apt band names ever.

  4. love her voice though – something special and tragic

  5. If Catatonia really are the ‘Worst band ever’ then that idiot reviewer really hasn’t listened to very much music at all.
    Back in 1994 I was in a band that did a few gigs with them in France (we were one of those ‘nobody bands’ that they ‘supported’) and it was very clear then that they were going places. They had some really good catchy songs like ‘Bleed’ and ‘Tinkerbell’ plus a good attitude. They were decent people too and we got on pretty well with them.
    Subsequently I really resent the moronic piece labelling them as the worst band ever. I mean has the reviewer not heard anything from Zzzz factor or Westloaf or One Erection or Gay El Ess or any other boy/girl band. Then there’s Coldplay!!!
    Catatonia some of us remember you with affection.
    NUFF SAID!

  6. Your taste is clearly muck!

    Why dis the Manics or Stereophonics? Both excellent bands. Agree Catatonia were poor, but Wales punches above its weight for decent music – and I’m not Welsh.

    • Ronan, the simple reason we diss the Manics and the Stereophonics is that they were both really poor bands. I’ll give Wales John Cale and Badfinger, but that apart its contribution to British music is a small chapter marked ‘least said soonest mended’.

      • I am genuinely shocked that you could think the Manics are poor (not using the past tense, because they are around and still relevant)!

        Listen to all of Everything Must Go, and honestly tell me a poor band made that album!

        They must be one of the best British bands of the last 20-25 years?

  7. Didn’t mind GT though thought it was a bit silly, Gold Against…had its moments. Holy bible was solipsistic nonsense though it had tunes. EMG was overblown, empty and dull. And the last album I had to say sounded like a Radio 2 Rock record to me!

  8. You give the Welsh one more reason to hate the English.
    you’re not a very thoughtful critic or neighbor. Save your racist diatribe and try producing some decent music of you own.

    • I’m Scottish. But you assumed I was English which, by your own warped definition of racism, is a pretty racist accusation.

      As for immaturity – I’m not the dick throwing a hissy fit because someone doesn’t like the music they do. Or insulting victims of ACTUAL racism by making stupid comments.

      You dick.

  9. You’re right, I’m a dick and opinions are like assholes. English, Scottish, what’s the difference. Your rant is offensive. Clearly you’re not one to take criticism. I apologize for not researching you ethnicity but stand by my comment. Your attack on all things musically Welsh is beyond immature in it’s own right.
    I don’t have time for this shit dog.
    peace out.

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