This year had its share of horrible releases, some of which had a high likelihood of sucking -- like anything by rockstar wannabe Russell Crowe or usetabe David Lee Roth -- while the unexpected crappiness of others caught us by surprise. Here are the best of 2003's worst.
1 Lou Reed The Raven (Warner) Like rewriting Edgar Allan Poe's classic work wasn't bad enough, Lou Reed got his buddies Willem Dafoe and Steve Buscemi to dramatically interpret their recitations, to unintentionally hilarious effect. Clarence Fountain of the Blind Boys of Alabama diplomatically called it "the awfullest shit I've ever heard." Exactly.
2 ELvis Costello North (Deutsche Grammophon/Universal) This abysmally bland and pretentious art song cycle suggests that Mr. Diana Krall could be suffering from Guy Ritchie Syndrome, characterized by an artist's creative output sinking to the level of his or her less-talented partner. Could be terminal.
3 MADONNA American Life (Maverick) The musical answer to Swept Away... a question we'd rather not ponder.
4 ZWAN Mary Star Of The Sea (Warner) So 2003 wasn't the year prog broke after all. Lead poet Billy Corgan wisely capped the group in September.
5 JEWEL 0304 (Atlantic/Warner) 0304? Oh no.
6 LIZ PHAIR (EMI) Exiled in cougarville, the alt-rock goddess unsuccessfully attempts to reinvent herself -- with the help of the Matrix -- as Avril Lavigne's slutty older sister, er, mom.
7 Ashley MacIsAAc (Decca) The sound of one man sucking.
8 The Mars Volta De-Loused In The Comatorium (Universal) It's doubtful even the group members know what this was all about.
9 THE RAPTURE Echoes (Universal) Major deal, massive disappointment.
10 JANE's ADDICTION Strays (Capitol) Did anyone ask for a mature Jane's Addiction? Didn't think so.
DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB
RUSSELL CROWE Other Ways Of Speaking (Artemis)
HILARY DUFF Metamorphosis (Hollywood)
NICK LACHEY SoulO (Universal)
MADISON SMARTT BELL Forty Words For Fear (Gaff Music)
APPLETON Everything Eventual (Polydor/Universal)
DAVE GAHAN Paper Monsters (Mute)
MARTIN L. GORE Counterfeit 2 (Mute)