One of the solutions to the Bard Problem Spenser and I discussed was utilizing all of the options WotC has provided for bards to try and create both useful and thematically unique characters. This is the "Easy Way" to fix bards, because as a DM it requires no custom content and you can easily just reference to players some of the better options.
If one of your players wants to play a bard, make sure they understand that while bards are social creatures, they will quickly find themselves feeling left out when push actually does come to shove. The following is an example of a bard that can readily find themselves both the talk of the town and a decent support melee fighter as well.
Arik the Thundercall
Hit Dice: 1d10+4d6+2d8+14 (45 hp)
Speed: 30 ft. (8 squares)
Armor Class: 22 (+7 armor, +3 shield, +1 deflection, +1 dexterity), touch 12, flat-footed 22
Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+8
Attack:+1 heavy mace +10 melee (1d8+3/20)
Full Attack: +1 heavy mace +10/+5 melee (1d8+3/20)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +6, Will +5
Abilities: Str 14, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 13
Skills: Perform (Oratory) +11. And a whole lot of other ones.
Feats: Combat Expertise, Extra Music, Weapon Focus (Heavy Mace), Chord of Distraction, Battle Dancer
Environment: Battlefields and Taverns
Challenge Rating: 7
Treasure: +2 Mithral Breastplate, +2 Mithral Light Shield, +1 Heavy Mace, +1 Ring of Protection, Cloak of Resistance +1, 35 platinum pieces
At the beginning of battle, Arik casts Bull's Strength on himself and begins shouting terrifying praises to his norselike gods (Inspire courage). Battle Dancer (Complete Warrior) gives him a +2 as long as he moves and attacks while his allies are receiving the bonus from his bardic music. This makes his combat statistics look like this.
Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+10
Attack:+1 heavy mace +14 melee (1d8+6/20)
Not bad for a bard!
Chord of Distraction (Complete Scoundrel) allows him to expend 3 bardic music usages as an immediate action to make his enemy flat footed until he is attacked (or until the bard's next turn). Meanwhile, the entire party is also receiving his bardic music benefit to attack and damage, and he can set up an instant sneak attack with a rogue if the situation demands it.
Battle Dancer (Player's Handbook II) is an interesting feat. Players receive a +2 on attack rolls as long as they are inspiring, moving, and attacking. While setting up a flanking position for the main melee fighters, he is getting some pretty nice attack bonuses that more than make up for the 1 BAB he lost with this build.
Warchanter (Complete Warrior) halts the admittedly flimsy bardic spellcasting and bardic music. Instead, it gives some even better bardic music and full BAB. On top of this, a 5th level Warchanter can use both War Chanter Music and Bardic Music at the same time. Pretty snazzy.
These are just some options aspiring bardlets can consider - in the end, nobody wants a useless character. The bard doesn't have to be one.