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VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Jack Paisley
These artists are their own worst enemies. For this list, we'll be looking at artists who sabotaged their own careers live, with bad performances, controversial statements, live meltdowns and other self-inflicted problems. Our countdown includes Lindsay Lohan, The Sex Pistols, Fergie, Creed, Ashlee Simpson, and more!

#20: Creed

Part of what held this rock band back from even more monstrous success was the reputation they garnered as a horrendous live act. The group’s frontman, Scott Stapp, is infamous for ruining sets, primarily due to his problems with substance abuse, sometimes forcing the band to end shows early, and other times performing so poorly that audiences wished they had. In 2003, four concert-goers were so outraged by a poor Creed performance that they actually sued the group. Even though the case was eventually thrown out, the incident cemented Creed’s bad reputation, and the group never returned to their peak popularity.

#19: Lindsay Lohan

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In the early 2000s it seemed like every current or former teen celebrity was trying out the whole actor/singer double threat thing. However, for every Miley Cyrus, there are some like Lindsay Lohan, whose singing career never took off in the way that she’d hoped. Responses to Lohan’s music were mixed, and she did herself no favours when she appeared on “Good Morning America” to promote her single “Rumours.” It was extremely obvious that the performance was lip-synced, and critics were quick to call Lohan out. Her label put out a statement assuring fans that while there was a backing vocal track, Lohan was singing as well. People were unconvinced however, and the performance became a defining moment of Lohan’s foray into music.

#18: Karmin

Karmin were a romantically involved, later husband and wife, duo who started making it big by performing covers on YouTube. The duo were eventually asked to perform on “Saturday Night Live” in 2012... and saying that it didn’t go well would be a massive understatement. Audiences were left unimpressed by their performance, with many criticizing the duo’s stage presence, vibe and music. It was also unfortunate that Karmin happened to perform the night that Whitney Houston passed away, as people were feeling extra apathetic towards their type of sound. The reviews of their set were scathing, and what could have been the duo’s breakout moment ultimately marked their fate.

#17: The Replacements

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As a punk-turned-alternative band, it’s somewhat unsurprising that the Replacements would have a reputation as a wild-card live act. The group were infamous for getting wasted at their own concerts, often turning sets into what felt more like drunken karaoke. While for some this was part of the group’s charm, it definitely turned off other would-be fans, and held them back from mainstream success. From getting banned from “SNL” for performing as some of the show’s rowdiest and drunkest musical guests ever, to notoriously playing the “worst set ever” at the famous New York club CBGB, it could definitely be said that the Replacements were their own worst enemies.

#16: The Sex Pistols

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At the height of the Sex Pistols’s popularity in January 1978, the group went on an ill-fated North American tour that would inevitably lead to the dissolving of the band. Throughout the tour, tensions within the band lead to rampant infighting, and the negativity translated into their live shows. At the end of the tour, during a concert in San Francisco, singer Johnny Rotten made it clear that he was finished with the project, as he spent the set mocking the audience and barely singing along to his band’s music. The next day, he flew to New York and announced that he was leaving the Sex Pistols. The band was finished soon after.

#15: Michelle Shocked

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Michelle Shocked was never a huge star by any stretch, but the alt-folk singer had a decently sized following up until an infamous 2013 concert in San Francisco. True to her name, concert-goers were shocked when the singer made clear her feelings towards “Proposition 8,” the banning of same-sex marriage in California. Shocked expressed her belief that marriage is only legitimate between a man and a woman, and though she maintained that she was not homophobic, many were unconvinced. Shocked’s career quickly fizzled out following these comments. Why Shocked thought that this would fly in San Francisco of all places is anyone’s guess.

#14: Guns N’ Roses

Despite their status as rock legends, Guns N’ Roses have garnered a reputation as a live band whose performances can range from epic rock spectacles to sloppy, unrehearsed, diva theatrics. Over the years Guns N’ Roses have played a number of sets that they’d probably rather forget. Some examples would be a concert in 1991 where a visibly inebriated Slash could barely play the opening riff to “Welcome to the Jungle,” and a 2010 performance in Dublin where the group were booed off stage in response to Axl Rose’s volatile attitude towards the crowd. The group also has a habit of starting their shows hours late, which, paired with the inconsistency of their musicianship, has led to them losing a lot of their credibility.

#13: Robin Thicke

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Following the release of his 2013’s, "Blurred Lines," Robin Thicke's career took off even more, then crashed and burned all within a relatively short span of time. The song itself, which he was later sued for by Marvin Gaye’s estate,, was part of Thicke's problem, with many critics taking issue with its misogynistic and aggressive lyrics. However, it was a Thicke live performance that would truly sink his career. Thicke performed an outrageously vulgar and unanimously loathed live rendition of "Blurred Lines" at the VMAs with Miley Cyrus. Soon after, Thicke's wife, Paula Patton, left him, which caused him to incessantly ask for her forgiveness, and to take him back, during every live appearance he made, turning even more audiences off of the falling star.

#12: Miguel

Part of the reason that you don’t hear from this once up-and-coming R&B singer anymore may be in part due to this incident. At the 2013 Billboard Music Awards, Miguel landed onto a couple of fans while attempting to stage dive, injuring two of them. One of the fan’s lawyers spoke to TMZ about a potential lawsuit immediately after the incident, but that lawsuit never materialized. The other fan however, did file a lawsuit against Miguel in 2015, in order to help cover the cost of her medical bills and lost wages. For any artist, a lawsuit is a bad look, and for Miguel, the stage dive incident became something that people still remember about his career.

#11: Greta Van Fleet

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In 2018, Greta Van Fleet captured the world’s attention with nostalgic rock anthems that harkened back to the days of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. At the height of their popularity in early 2019, Greta Van Fleet appeared on — you guessed it — “ SNL,” to give America a taste of the rock showmanship associated with the bands that inspired them. The set however, was disappointing, to say the least. The sound of the band was muddy, the songs seemed under-rehearsed, and the members all looked extremely nervous and sheepish on stage, making for an extremely awkward performance. Time will tell if the group is able to recover from the negative press that they received from this performance.

#10: Eric Clapton

One of the most prolific rock musicians of all time, Eric Clapton is famous for his role in bringing the blues to Britain. Still, you’d expect that someone with such fondness for blues music would have a better grasp of its history. In 1976, during a concert in Birmingham, Clapton launched into a crass and hateful rant involving various racial slurs, said that all foreigners should leave England, encouraged people to vote for a far-right politician, and used the slogan “keep Britain white.” This concert immediately sparked outrage throughout England, with many artists denouncing Clapton, and inspiring the “Rock Against Racism” movement.

#9: Sly Stone

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Vocalist Sly Stone was the frontman of one of the most well-regarded funk acts of the 60s. However, the careers of Sly and his band, The Family Stone, imploded quickly in the mid 70s. The group became notorious for ruining live performances with members no-showing, refusing to play, or passing out from drug abuse. While this already added a bittersweet taste to Sly’s legacy, the vocalist dealt his career a death-blow while performing solo at Coachella in 2010. Sporting a strange blonde wig, and clearly not in any mental state to perform, Sly performed a feeble and cheerless set filled with sub-par vocal work and incoherent ranting. Regrettable, considering that this performance was intended to mark Sly’s comeback.

#8: Janet Jackson & Justin Timberlake

This one is just unfortunate. At the 2004 Super Bowl, musical guests Janet Jackson experienced what was later described as a “wardrobe malfunction.” At the end of their performance together, Justin Timberlake tore off Jackson’s rubber bustier, briefly exposing her breast to millions of stunned audiences. While this finale was planned, Jackson’s representative claimed it was supposed to expose her red lacy bra, not her breast. Dubbed “Nipplegate,” the incident prompted a proposed $550,000 fine by the Federal Communications Commission, got MTV banned from producing future halftime shows, and caused Jackson’s music and videos to be blacklisted by television and radio stations.

#7: The Everly Brothers

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Ah, brotherly love. Country-Pop legends The Everly Brothers were fundamental to the history of American music, with dozens of hits throughout the 50s and 60s. Sadly, the years were not kind to brothers Don and Phil, whose careers slowly declined up until one fateful night in 1973. When Don showed up to play the duos’ set at Buena Park, California, Phil was furious to find out that his brother was completely drunk. After a booking agent had to stop the show due to Don’s condition, Phil smashed his guitar and stormed off stage while Don proclaimed “I’m through with being an Everly Brother.” They wouldn’t reunite for another ten years.

#6: Maroon 5, Travis Scott, & Big Boi

Accepting the 2019 half-time gig was in and of itself a bad look for Maroon 5, Travis Scott, and Big Boi, as Rihanna, Pink, and Cardi B reportedly all passed on their offers to perform so as to stand in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. On top of that, it was hinted that the performance was going to include a cover of “Sweet Victory” from Spongebob Squarepants. However the performance only made a passing reference to the Spongebob episode, before abruptly switching to “Sicko Mode,” further irritating an already skeptical national audience. While all the artists involved are still doing fine, they certainly earned some lasting ill will because of a halftime show that they probably shouldn’t have played to begin with. Read the room, guys.

#5: Fergie

Fergie’s solo career has waxed and waned since she spun off from the Black Eyed Peas. She’s had some big hit songs, and though she never quite reached the heights of stardom that she was shooting for, she was never irrelevant either. However, after her performance of the American national anthem at the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, it may be safe to say that things are over for the singer. Fergie’s baffling rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” was shockingly bad. So much so, that many of the All-Stars were having trouble containing themselves, and could be seen holding back laughter on camera. The performance immediately became subject to severe ridicule.

#4: The Dixie Chicks

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During a 2003 concert in England, the vocalist of The Chicks - then known as the Dixie Chicks - Natalie Maines denounced the US’s invasion of Iraq and lamented that President Bush was from their home-state of Texas. This went over fine in England, but triggered a major controversy in the US, where many felt that these comments were anti-American. Celebrities and fellow musicians slammed the group, people burned their records, and some radios and television stations boycotted their music. For years, this controversy was a major obstacle for The Chicks’ careers, though it seems that the group have begun to make a well-deserved comeback, even changing their name in 2020 due to its historic connotations.

#3: Sinéad O'Connor

Clarity is key when you’re making a point. Just ask late-80s icon Sinead O’Connor. At the end of her infamous 1992 performance on Saturday Night Live, O'Connor ripped up a photo of Pope Jean Paul II and declared “Fight the real enemy” in protest of the Catholic church. While the act was O’Connor’s response to various stories that had just come to light about corruption and misconduct within the institution, many viewers misinterpreted her call to action. It was instead seen as an anti-catholic sentiment and the backlash was brutal, with O’Connors’s record sales in the US suffering considerably. O'Connor continued to make music and perform, but her career has never fully recovered.

#2: Ashlee Simpson

Clarity is key when you’re making a point. Just ask late-80s icon Sinead O’Connor. At the end of her infamous 1992 performance on Saturday Night Live, O'Connor ripped up a photo of Pope Jean Paul II and declared “Fight the real enemy” in protest of the Catholic church. While the act was O’Connor’s response to various stories that had just come to light about corruption and misconduct within the institution, many viewers misinterpreted her call to action. It was instead seen as an anti-catholic sentiment and the backlash was brutal, with O’Connors’s record sales in the US suffering considerably. O'Connor continued to make music and perform, but her career has never fully recovered.

#1: Milli Vanilli

Perhaps the most notable lip-syncing scandal of all time, German-French R&B duo Milli Vanilli shocked the world when the recording of their vocal tracks skipped during a 1989 MTV live performance. Already a bad look for the duo, things only got worse for them as this incident led to the revelation that all of the vocals for all of their live shows and albums were performed by other people. The group were subsequently torn to pieces by the media and former fans, compelling Milli Vanilli to return the Grammy that they’d won that same year. About the live performance, singer Rob Pilatus would later state: “ I knew right then and there, it was the beginning of the end for Milli Vanilli.”

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