From time to time, Jason and I find ourselves saying this quote about bands/artists: "You either love 'em or you hate 'em." The deal is, when I think about it, I often find myself liking a band or artist, but not really loving them nor hating them. Some aspects I love more than others, but more often than not, it's a general enjoyment.
A great case in point: Morrissey. I enjoy his stuff with the Smiths but I often find myself listening to his solo material more. I've always enjoyed his voice and his lyrics, but I don't worship him. There are people that I know that can't stand the man (whether it's his singing voice, his lyrics, his image or what he says in interviews), but then I know people that adore him. There is a thought that there is no middle ground, but there is, whether we acknowledge it or not.
You can make the same assessment about Tom Waits. Back before I knew he wrote gorgeous ballads, I had a pretty firm repulsion with his junkyard/swamp operas. Now that I know more of his material, I can say I like certain aspects of his body of work, but not all of them. He's definitely not for everybody but it's not an either/or situation for me.
The only artist that I could say I cannot get into is Bjork. After years of hearing bits and pieces of her stuff, the same things that draw people to her (especially her voice) are the same things that drive me away from her. Off the top of my head, I would say this is probably the only case where it's an either/or relationship.
It amazes me how we can be so turned off by an artist or a band initially and later have a major reversal of opinion. Then there are artists that we love the instant we first hear them and never change our opinions. For me, one of the latter biggies is Ben Folds Five. They struck me from the first time I heard "The Battle of Who Could Care Less" on 120 Minutes and continue to mean something to me. While I don't listen to their records as often as I used to, I still come back to them.
So my question is this: are there really a number of artists that you either love 'em or you don't? There is plenty of gray area and chances are there is a very slim number for the latter.