Top 10 Pop Artists for the Terminally Uncool

01
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#10 - Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi - Have a Nice Day
Have a Nice Day. © Island Records

Once upon a time - long, long, ago - huge, poofy hair, skin tight leather pants, and big power chords pounding out sticky sweet pop melodies were very very cool...but that was 1986. 20 years later the guys in Bon Jovi have trimmed the hair, but the pants are still skintight (watch Live 8 for the proof), and, in case you still can't get enough of "Livin' on a Prayer" and "You Give Love a Bad Name" that big ole smily face on the cover of the band's 2005 album Have a Nice Day is calling your name.

For a glimpse of your fellow uncool Bon Jovi fans, watch the "Have a Nice Day" music video

02
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#9 - James Blunt

James Blunt - You're Beautiful
You're Beautiful. © Atlantic Records

Just because an artist is not particularly cool doesn't mean their music is unpleasant or even of poor quality. James Blunt's music is of very high quality, but it's those Bee Gees flashbacks his voice inspires that place him on the uncool list. It's possible that songs like the current mega-hit "You're Beautiful" will endure as treasured pop classics, but it's also possible it will eventually elicit the same snickers as Barry Gibb's wailing falsetto on "Tragedy." While he is comfortably selling millions of CDs to his fans, there are millions more that liken Blunt's high pitched voice to fingernails on a chalkboard.

03
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#8 - Celine Dion

Celine Dion - A New Day Has Come
A New Day Has Come. © Sony Entertainment

While it is one of the biggest moneymakers in the history of movies, Titanic seems to have cast a pall over the careers of those associated with it from "King of the World" director James Cameron to "My Heart Will Go On" singer Celine Dion.

Despite her return from an early retirement and the birth of a miracle baby, Celine has failed to dislodge herself from the ranks of the uncool. Perhaps a date with Jermaine Dupri would do the trick. It worked for Mariah...

If you need a memory refresher, listen to "My Heart Will Go On" live in Vegas!

04
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#7 - Ashlee Simpson

Ashlee Simpson - Autobiography
Autobiography. © Geffen Records

Poor Ashlee Simpson, she tried desperately hard this past fall to climb back into respectability. She is not a bad singer, but it's very difficult to climb out of the shadow of her father and sister and be taken seriously. Just when things seem to be going better...there's something like the "robot dance" in the video for "L.O.V.E." At least now many of the haters have become gigglers.

Watch "L.O.V.E."

05
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#6 - Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams - Cuts Like a Knife
Cuts Like a Knife. © A&M Records

Kudos to Bryan Adams for surviving his early days as an 18-year-old disco singer. Head over to songwriter Jim Vallance's profile of the song "Let Me Take You Dancin'" for details on the early career of Bryan Adams complete with sound clip and the cover of the 45.

Of course, later came the Bryan Adams we all know. It was that raspy voice that wore out its welcome in sappy songs that eventually caused millions of fingers to spin the radio dial upon hearing the first few notes, but not before Bryan Adams sold millions and millions of records. "Summer of '69" is still one of my guilty pleasures.

06
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#5 - Phil Collins

...But Seriously. © Atlantic Records

No one in the world has more close-up headshots in circulation than Phil Collins. If you don't believe me, sort through the album covers. Phil Collins' career headed on an unfortunate trajectory from interesting ("In the Air Tonight"), after first stepping away from Genesis, to silly ("Sussudio") and ultimately unforgivably sappy ("Something Happened on the Way to Heaven").

To give credit where it is due, the musicianship on a Phil Collins record is always topnotch, and you are guaranteed to be singing along by the second time through. However, trying to get a Phil Collins tune out of your head can be nearly as much fun as scraping bubblegum off your shoes...and there is some similarity.

07
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#4 - Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond - You Don't Bring Me Flowers
You Don't Bring Me Flowers. © Sony Entertainment

Neil Diamond made an admirable and valiant effort to remove himself from this list in the fall of 2005. He hired the legendary Rick Rubin to produce a radically stripped down album of some of the best songs Neil Diamond has written in many years. The same type of strategy worked wonders for Johnny Cash, but...Johnny Cash would not have been on this list in the first place.

Listening to last fall's 12 Songs I just kept having the feeling that the Neil Diamond I knew was somewhere inside struggling to get out. There really is a sort of perverse musical joy in "Song Sung Blue", "I Am..I Said", and "Longfellow Serenade", and I love Neil for it. There are limits, however. Let's just forget "Forever in Blue Jeans" ever happened.

08
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#3 - Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul - Shut Up and Dance!
Shut Up and Dance!. © Virgin Records

Give credit to Paula Abdul for finding the way to survive in the public spotlight even after her singing career faded. Judging American Idol may be today's equivalent of Paul Lynde on the Hollywood Squares, but it works, and everyone knows who Paula is, and everyone knows once upon a time she was a singer. Once upon a time she danced with Arsenio Hall (who?) in a music video and then danced with a cartoon character (MC Skat Kat) in a later music video. I'm also told her dance remix album Shut Up and Dance! is still some of the best aerobic and walking music out there.

With fond memories, listen to "Straight Up."

09
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#2 - Michael McDonald

Michael McDonald - If That's What It Takes
If That's What It Takes. © Warner Bros.

The movie The 40 Year Old Virgin probably had it right:

"I would rather listen to Fran Drescher for eight hours than have to listen to Michael McDonald. Nothing against him, but if I hear 'Yah Mo B There' one more time, I'm gonna yah mo burn this place to the ground."

The movie depicted a special kind of hell created from being forced to watch the same Michael McDonald DVD for 2 years straight. To be fair, 2 years of most any pop singer would be a trying situation. However, be forewarned of a new wave of Michael McDonald mania if Taylor Hicks advances much further in season 5 of American Idol. He has the matching prematurely silver-gray hair.

Enjoy the music video for "Sweet Freedom". Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines provide some levity.

10
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#1 - Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow - Live
Live. © Arista Records

Barry Manilow really has no peer in defining what it means to be uncool. Some claim the sun rose in the west earlier this year when Barry's latest album The Greatest Songs of the Fifties debuted at #1! on the pop albums chart.

If you're looking for guilty pleasures, get a copy of The Essential Barry Manilow and there's a whole raft of 'em. I defy you to keep from smiling at least a bit as you listen to "Can't Smile Without You" or that final dizzying gearshift key change in "Daybreak." For the truly uncool Barry Manilow fanatic, the must-hear album is Barry's Live collection. The "Very Strange Medley" of commercial jingles and "Jump Shout Boogie Medley" concluding with Barry Manilow as a teenage American Bandstand contestant really are in a world of their own.