The top five bands/artists I should love but really can't stand are:
1. The Beach Boys: Everyone talks about how amazing Pet Sounds was and I can't get through more than a few notes without running for the off switch. I've tried. Many, many times. It sounds like barbershop to me. Of all the bands I'm supposed to love but don't, the Beach Boys top the list. (I might like them more if I hadn't been forced to sing "Sloop John B" in high school show choir).
2. Elvis Costello: He seems like a cool guy and I can tell he's doing stuff that's entirely original... But something in his voice gives his melodies a harshness. I did think When I Was Cruel was interesting. But overall most of what I hear from him all sounds the same.
3. The Cure: When all my friends were getting into the Cure, I stood by and shrugged. Robert Smith seemed absurd to me, and not in a hip-ironic way. I really love gloomy, depressing, I-wish-I-were-dead music, so I keep thinking there must be something in the Cure I'd identify with. But all these years later I still can't listen to them.
4. Joy Division: They've got a vibe I like and whenever I see someone in a Joy Division t-shirt I immediately feel some connection, like we're probably in all the same clubs. But the truth is I really can't listen to Ian Curtis' voice and they've got that whole late '70s - early '80s post-punk sound that falls like a ton of bricks on my ears. Bob (host of All Songs Considered) loves this period more than any other for music and it's my least favorite.
5. Lou Reed: He did some truly amazing songs ("Walk on the Wild Side" "Street Hassle"). And I know he's probably the coolest guy to ever walk the earth. Not having grown up when he was making his biggest impact, I'm sure it's hard for me to really appreciate all he did. But he's produced some incomprehensibly bad work (The Raven) and the fact he can't sing loses its charm quickly. Chuck Klosterman says Lou Reed is simply "advanced," but sometimes bad is just bad. It's sort of like David Lynch. I used to think he was brilliant. Then, with his last couple films, I decided maybe he's just nuts.