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10 Underrated Mainstream Bands/Artists

Keane
Widely esteemed in Britain, they have not seen the same kind of success as other British bands have in the US. While all 4 of their albums have experienced wild success on the billboard charts, not many people know who they are. Their albums have been compared in quality with those of the Beatles and Radiohead in Britain – but we’d rather hear will.i.am and Britney Spears. Keane makes high quality, clean, and thoughtful music – perhaps that’s why they don’t get played on the radio much around here.
Plumb
I didn’t know when I picked up the first Plumb album at the bookstore in ‘97 that “plumb” was simply the stage name of Tiffany Arbuckle Lee – or that she was only 22 at the time. Since then, she has gone on to release some pretty fantastic music and is becoming more and more well known as a great songwriter and performer. Two of her songs have reached #1 on the billboard dance charts in the last 4 years and ALL of her songs are worth listening to over and over again.
Lifehouse
Jason Wade is one of the best songwriters of our time and yet he rarely gets talked about. Lifehouse has released 7 albums full of awesome music yet they have only had a few songs crack the billboard top 40. Unfortunately, they became famous during the post-grunge rock band era and are lumped in with bands like Creed, Seether, Nickelback, Staind, Shinedown, and (gag) Daughtry. They were never like any of these bands because their pension for diversity and the aforementioned distinction of great songwriting set them apart. Plus that whole thing about being more talented. Their December 2012 album is their best one yet.
Casey James
As soon as I saw this guy on American Idol in 2009 I just couldn’t wait to hear his album. It’s been three years now and he is just now getting radio play in the country music world after inking a big deal with Sony. This guy has a voice reminiscent of Bob Seger – and plays a guitar in the vein of Stevie Ray -- plus, he is a great songwriter. If you like country and have that hipster thing that makes you crave the “I knew about him before he was big time” then check this guy out. Like I told my family and friends in 2009, everybody is going to know his name. The best thing that ever happened to him is not winning American Idol; of course Lee Dewyse was waaay better, ha!
Taylor Swift
I know, I know. There are 2 problems with putting her on this list. One being that you think she is overrated and the other being that she has won 145 American music awards. Here is the thing though: if she continues to allow herself to take the path she is on, she will continue her fade into the oblivion of irrelevant music called “pop” and we will remember her for being just another pop artist. Some of you think she is already past the point of no return. But as I have always maintained, if she can break away from that and allow herself to be mentored by someone like Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin or Christine Mcvie and begin writing music that extends into a world beyond “love/hate boyfriend” songs, then she has the talent to go down in history as one of the best singer/songwriters ever. This is why she is on my list, because most people underrate just how epic her still young career could be when it is all said and done.
Snow Patrol
Internationally, this Irish band has received a lot of love reaching the top of the charts repeatedly in Britain and gaining elite status on the Belfast music scene. And while most people know the song “Chasing Cars” and may recognize “Set Fire to the Third Bar” from the Dear John trailer (one of the best trailers ever), most people don’t appreciate the scope of Snow Patrol’s fine work. They have won a bunch of prestigious awards globally, but none of them say “Grammy”.
Switchfoot
Around the same time that my brother and I bought the Plumb album, we picked up a little record called “Switchfoot: The Legend of Chin”. We hated it. The only line I remember from that album was, “I don’t want to read the book, I’ll watch the movie”. Little did we know that these guys were future music superstars. These guys are under rated because they have always been stuck in the Christian music box despite their denial of such a label and their wild popularity among people of all backgrounds – they have only won one Grammy award, an embarrassing indictment on the world of music. Jon Foreman writes music that matters and cuts deep – I would suggest that “Nothing is Sound” has to be in the top 5 best written albums in the past 30 years.
Matthew Perryman Jones
I have no idea how many good songs you have to write in order to get recognized but this guy has to be close to the record. Even though his songs have made over 55 appearances on TV shows most of us watch, most people don’t know who he is. I doubt he will ever break through to being a household name and that is a shame.
Jars of Clay
If there was any band who came close to competing with DC Talk in the 90’s in the Christian music scene, it was Jars of Clay. But unlike DCT, these guys stayed together. If you have ever seen these guys ‘live’ you know just how talented they are. Ironically, their very first single was a top 40 billboard hit, “flood” – and they didn’t have another one until 2009. But they have produced some really incredible music over the past 17 years, most of which is so unique that it’s not suitable for airplay. While they have won multiple Grammy awards and BMI’s, I don’t think they get the credit they deserve for their progressive perspective on the art of good music.
Gavin Degraw
Sure, most people have heard of Gavin and could even sing a few of his songs – but his best work never makes it out into the mainstream. He has one of the greatest vocals around and his song writing is very unique… every album sounds different and fresh.

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