April 22, 2004

OH, C'MON (SELF-REFERENCE ALERT):

'Built This City' Tops Worst Songs List (AP, Apr 21, 2004)

Starship may have built this city on rock and roll, but Blender magazine is tearing it down, naming the band's "We Built This City" as the worst song ever.

Some tunes on the "50 Worst Songs Ever!" list were selected for their melodies, others "are wretchedly performed" and "quite a few don't make sense whatsoever," the magazine said.

The list, which appears in the May issue, includes songs by New Kids on the Block, Meat Loaf, The Doors, Lionel Richie (news), Hammer and The Beach Boys, among others.

Blender describes 1985's "We Built This City" as "the truly horrible sound of a band taking the corporate dollar while sneering at those who take the corporate dollar."


Not even freakin' close to the worst song of all time. There is one song that is so awful, so excrutiating, so murderous to the spirit of man that it used to be the Other Brother's secret weapon. When we were kids you were required to stay at the dinner table until everyone was done. Our father though had a series of borderline psychotic food fetishes and would seldom be done salting and peppering the food that he'd divided into perfectly symmetrical piles by the time we were finished. So the little rapscallion would start singing what came to be known simply as "the Song" and when I would vault across the table to strangle him we'd be sent to our rooms. It did get us out of having to watch the Rain Man dine though.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 22, 2004 9:53 AM
Comments

Now I've hurt myself thinking about the songs put out by "Hammer and the Beach Boys."

Posted by: David Cohen at April 22, 2004 10:05 AM

The first song that came to my mind was "Afternoon Delight", by, I believe, The Starland Vocal Band.

Posted by: Twn at April 22, 2004 10:11 AM

MacArthur Park...

"...someone left the cake out in the rain, and I'll never get that recipe again..."

'nuff said!

Posted by: Bartman at April 22, 2004 10:15 AM

So is there going to be a contest to see who can guess "the song"? My vote is for "Magnet and Steel".

Posted by: TCB at April 22, 2004 10:15 AM

Bartman:

Obviously you are a man of exquisite taste. My choice too, although Hey Jude comes a close second. Na-na-na-na- na!

Posted by: Peter B at April 22, 2004 10:19 AM

TCB:

You'll know you've hit upon "The Song" when you actually feel your flesh crawl...and want to punch my brother...

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 10:19 AM

4 words :

'Seasons in the Sun'

Posted by: JonofAtlanta at April 22, 2004 10:22 AM

My personal pop musical nemesis is "I am...I said" by Neil Diamond.

The line about "not even the chair" hearing his cry makes me wince every time I hear it.

That and James Taylor's voice, which for some reason has me grinding my teeth in anguish.

In fact when, as I inevitably must, I pass away and am sent to that special place below reserved for Darwinists, it's a fair bet that Taylor will be waiting for me, crooning "...leaving me lonely still.."

Posted by: Brit at April 22, 2004 10:26 AM

What about Air Supply????????????

And what's that other hard-rock song from
the 70's with the yodeling????

Posted by: J.H. at April 22, 2004 10:30 AM

Oh, please....

"Abba....Dabba.....Cadabra....... I wanna reach out and grab ya!" by Steve Miller Band can run all of those ones outa town.

Posted by: Andrew X at April 22, 2004 10:54 AM

Two words: Karma Chameleon. 'Nuff said.

Posted by: Chris at April 22, 2004 10:56 AM

Arrrrgh! Suddenly I can't get the hideous "Horse with no name" out of my head.

Posted by: mike earl at April 22, 2004 11:14 AM

I'll give you a hint - there has been a recent, excruciating remake by a female "artist." I'm too unhip to actually know who it is, though...

Posted by: The Wife at April 22, 2004 11:19 AM

It couldn't possibly be....could it...

...American Pie?

Posted by: Brit at April 22, 2004 11:24 AM

Oh, thanks, guys, now I've got hideous late Seventies earworms crawling all over me. (Either that, or I need more coffee.)

Your brother didn't . . . no, that would be too horrible for words! . . . I mean, it couldn't have been . . . it wasn't . . . not the dreaded, the infamous, the horriffic "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye, was it?

(AAAAAUUUGGGH! My ears! My ears!)

Posted by: Mike Morley at April 22, 2004 11:28 AM

Mike: Ooh, yeah, that one's unbelievably bad.

Posted by: Chris at April 22, 2004 11:35 AM

In eighth grade English we spent a week analyzing the lyrics to "The Day the Music Died". I hate that song with a passion. "Bye, bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry.." blah blah blah.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at April 22, 2004 11:35 AM

Lately, every time I hear John Mayer, I think, there's the guy who's going to push "Kung Fu Fighting" out of the top fifty.

Posted by: Mike Morley at April 22, 2004 11:40 AM

There are some good songs on that list. The judges seem to focus too much on lyrics. Inane lyrics are expected with pop music, it is the tune that counts. Wang Chung rocks, man!

Posted by: Robert Duquette at April 22, 2004 11:41 AM

Wife:

I thought we'd agreed that in exchange for keeping quiet about "The Song" you didn't have to dress in tweed anymore and spank me for "going wobbly"?

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 11:44 AM

Do I win a bottle of "whiskey and rye"?

Posted by: Brit at April 22, 2004 11:47 AM

"4 words :

'Seasons in the Sun'"

Boy, isn't that the truth. Along with all the others listed.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at April 22, 2004 11:47 AM

Anyone see the movie "About a Boy?"

Posted by: The Other Brother at April 22, 2004 11:49 AM

Although I'd prefer a new Chevy.

You know, to drive to the levee.

Ahem.

Posted by: Brit at April 22, 2004 11:49 AM

Oh no.

Killing me softly.

Posted by: Brit at April 22, 2004 11:52 AM

I actually think "American Pie" doesn't belong in this discussion. "Stairway to Heaven," now, that's another story . . . involving as it does the horrors of 9th grade English class . . . .

Posted by: Mike Morley at April 22, 2004 11:53 AM

Either "Killing Me Softly" or "Rainy Days And Mondays"

(My ears! My ears!)

Posted by: Mike Morley at April 22, 2004 11:55 AM

O.B.:

You are a dead man.

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 12:03 PM

The classic "American Pie" is atrociously slandered by comparing it to most of the songs on this list.

Is it possible that OJ's despised song in the infamous Musrat Ode?

"Muskrat Suzie
And Muskrat Sam
Did the jitterbug
Out in muskrat land."

This was cited as one of the worst songs in world history by Dave Barry, in his Book of Bad Songs

Posted by: Matt at April 22, 2004 12:05 PM

I think we've sussed how to strum OJ's pain.

Posted by: Brit at April 22, 2004 12:10 PM

Brit:

By itself that Song disproves the concept of Evolution.

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 12:14 PM

OJ--

Maybe Julia "and" Eric Roberts did a "duet" (that is, like Natalie "and" Nat King Cole's ghoulish "Unforgettable"). That way no stone will be unturned now you've mentioned evolution.

Posted by: Brian (MN) at April 22, 2004 12:23 PM

Brian:

Supposedly they play that duet during halftime of every Liverpool FC game--it's the official Take Me Out to the Ballgame of soccer.

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 12:30 PM

Something to Talk About?

Posted by: Rick T. at April 22, 2004 12:44 PM

How did "Eve of Destruction" miss the list? Not only is the worst Dylan imitation committed to vinyl (at least the worst I've heard) but it may contain the worst line ever in a popular song: "My blood's so mad, feels like coagulatin'". (The only line that comes close is "There'll be no more AAAAH!" from Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb".)

About the last time I heard "Eve of Destruction" was on an oldies radio station several years ago, when someone called for it as a wedding request! (And no, it wasn't meant as an insult - if I remember, the person making the request was the bride!) Some things simply defy explanation.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at April 22, 2004 12:55 PM

OJ

So it doesn't disprove a benign Deity?

Actually, Gerry Marsden has been known to do the odd number at half-time in Liverpool's home games. Nice voice...

...and I Heard He Sang a Good Song, too.

Posted by: Brit at April 22, 2004 12:58 PM

Brit:

God is not benign, He's vengeful, as proved by His punishing us for whacking His kid by unleashing The Song.

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 1:02 PM

So...you don't like it much then?

Posted by: Brit at April 22, 2004 1:05 PM

Mike:

You know you still love Stairway, though. We may curse and abuse it, but we always come back for more.

Posted by: Paul Cella at April 22, 2004 1:48 PM

I though of this one almost in tandem with "Afternoon Delight", but took me while to remember the name:

"I've Been to Paradise (but I've never been to me)" by Charlene.

For one thing, it's got a spoken-word section, which almost inevitably supercharges any song with awfulness.

For another, the unbeleivably drippy vocal delivery. And then the almost-good, ultimately bathetic lyrics, like

"Ohí Iíve been to Niece and the Isle of Greece while Iíve sipped champagne on a yacht
Iíve moved like Harlow in Monte Carlo and showed íem what Iíve got
Iíve been undressed by kings and Iíve seen some things that a woman ainít s'posed to see
Iíve been to paradiseí but Iíve never been to me"

and

Sometimes Iíve been to crying for unborn children that might have made me complete
But I took the sweet life -- I never knew Iíd be bitter from the sweet
Iíve spent my life exploring the subtle whoring that costs too much to be free
Hey lady......
Iíve been to paradiseí íIíve been to paradiseí
But Iíve never been to me"

Catches in your throat, doesn't it?

I used to think "We're an American Band" by Grand Funk Railroad was one of the worst songs of all time, but gradually I realized it possessed a kind of dull-witted genius that elevated it to a level of appreciable absurdity. Lines like "two young chiquitas in Omaha" and "the hotel detective, he was outta sight!!" give you something to look forward to when the the song starts.

Posted by: Twn at April 22, 2004 2:04 PM

Bad Writer Warning: "I've Never Been to Me" was written by Ron Miller, who also wrote "For Once in My Life" - tolerable when sung by Stevie Wonder, but drenched in bathos when tried by anyone else.

Another Bad Writer Warning: P. F. Sloan, who wrote "Eve of Destruction", also wrote "Let Me Be" for The Turtles, another whining piece of self-piteous crap. However, he also wrote "Secret Agent Man", which sort of redeems him.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at April 22, 2004 2:34 PM

The "Theme From the Greatest American Hero: Believe It or Not". I must say that George on Seinfeld used this as his answering machine message, so it does have some redeeming qualities.

Posted by: pchuck at April 22, 2004 2:40 PM

Two other terrible songs:

"Key Largo"- We had it all, just like.....

"Mickey"- Hey Mickey your so fine, your so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey.....

Posted by: pchuck at April 22, 2004 2:46 PM

"So happy together/How is the weather" -- who needs Ipecac.

Speaking of "Secret Agent Man", growing up my wife heard it as "Secret Asian Man". Now, all of you will, too.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 22, 2004 2:51 PM

David:

Misheard lyrics is a different thread--I beg you...

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 2:58 PM

Midnight on the Oasis. . . SFX: A shriek interrupted by the sound of projectile vomiting.

Posted by: Paul at April 22, 2004 3:02 PM

J.H.,

The yodeling rock song? Are you thinking of "Hocus Pocus" by Focus.

My question is this: how many of these "bad" songs were made so much worse in our memories by being horrifically overplayed and overhyped by brain-dead DJs?

Posted by: Roy Jacobsen at April 22, 2004 3:05 PM

J.H.,

The yodeling rock song? Are you thinking of "Hocus Pocus" by Focus?

My question is this: how many of these "bad" songs were made so much worse in our memories by being horrifically overplayed and overhyped by brain-dead DJs?

Posted by: Roy Jacobsen at April 22, 2004 3:06 PM

I can't believe that noone has yet mentioned "I Am Woman"!

Posted by: Robert Duquette at April 22, 2004 3:32 PM

Hey Duquette -
Back off of Helen Reddy! I went to a former "all-chick" school and they BLASTED that song in the dining hall when the weasel trustees decided to go coed...

Posted by: The Wife at April 22, 2004 3:49 PM

Robert --

You have just recovered a repressed memory of mine. Late one night, shortly after I got my license, I was driving the family station wagon back from vacation with all nine of us in the car. My mother and sisters started to sing a medley of Helen Reddy songs. I started flashing on Annie Hall, but that is another thread . . .

Posted by: David Cohen at April 22, 2004 3:54 PM

Robert:

One of my rules is that if I pull up to the house and Helen Reddy is blasting out the window I turn right around and go back out.

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 4:06 PM

Cotton-Eyed Joe.

The Macarena.

The Pina Colada Song.

Anything by the Spice Girls.

Posted by: Chris at April 22, 2004 4:38 PM

In the Year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may find...


Zager and Evans, Idiots.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at April 22, 2004 5:04 PM

First of all, here's a book recommendation for everyone reading this thread:

The Worst Rock n' Roll Records of All Time, by Jimmy Gutterman & Owen O'Donnell

It's out of stock, but you can get lots of used copies via Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0806512318/qid=1082672337/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-1797811-3689524?v=glance&s=books

Now, as to what _I_ think was the worst rock n' roll song ever - well, let's make that "songs". I'd pick any of those stupid choral-type pieces done by multitudes of people to raise money for charity, all the way from "We Are The World" onward. I've never yet heard a single one that didn't make me want to run away and join a terrorist group due to its sheer cloying sweetness.

Posted by: Joe at April 22, 2004 6:24 PM

Sometime ago Harry Shearer did a hilarious send up of "We are the World."

Both lyrically and musically, far better than the original.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at April 22, 2004 6:41 PM

Wow, that was a landmine!

Speaking of Helen Reddy, I remember she teamed up with another singer of bad songs, Mac Davis. I don't remember what song they sang together, but he managed to get a hit with an atrocious song that went "Baby, baby don't get hooked on me...".

Posted by: Robert Duquette at April 22, 2004 7:03 PM

Any song where a teenager dies.

Or any song about a baby, specifically "Watching Scotty Grow."

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 22, 2004 7:13 PM

Oooh. Mac Davis!!

The old Rolling Stone Record Guide to Rock & Roll gave his entire output, about 13 LP's, solid black blocks, which indicated that the music should never have been committed to record.

The review started with the sentence "No other figure has done more to set back the cause of American popular music than Mac Davis".

Of course, that edition of the RS record guide also gave the Doors something like five five-star LP reviews. . . .

Posted by: Twn at April 22, 2004 8:44 PM

I was trying to get into Orrin's head on this one and had a flash at midday of what I thought was divine inspiration that it was "Give Peace a Chance", but then he was betrayed by his wife and brother. Shook my faith.

Robert: 'I an Woman " is great. You just have to block out the words.

Harry: You just left yourself so, so wide open...but, I won't bother,

Posted by: Peter B at April 22, 2004 8:45 PM

AAAAGH! The mention of Mac Davis somehow brought forth memories of both Paul Anka's "You're Having My Baby" (The guy who wrote the English lyrics to "My Way" also wrote THIS?) and Sammy Johns' "Chevy Van", which one radio station poll once called the best song of all time.

Some other pieces of putrescence that haven't been mentioned yet:

The Pipkins - "Gimme Dat Ding" ... Thanks to The Benny Hill Show, this will NEVER be out of my mind.

Piero Umiliani - "Mah-Na-Mah-Na" ... Likewise, The Muppet Show.

Peter Gabriel - "Sledgehammer" ... Art-rock about the singer's penis (really). But this is the same guy who wrote "Shock the Monkey", so can I be too surprised?

Eminem - "Superman" ... Any Eminem belongs on this list, but this has to be the worst. Listen to those half-formed rhymes (more like assonance, really) and cringe.

Captain and Teneil - "Love Will Keep Us Together" ... "Muskrat Love" gets the ire it deserves, but this flowing stream of sappitude also belongs here.

Joe Dolce - "Shaddup You Face" ... Italian slurs coming from an Australian; at a roller rink in Adrian, Michigan they once played this like ten times in one session. Ewwwww.

Billy Squier - "The Stroke" ... Guitar-crunching buttrock doesn't get whiter - or lamer. (Although Foghat comes close...)

New Kids on the Block - "Hangin' Tough" ... Look at a photo of these guys and the word that comes to mind isn't "tough". They were also the inspiration for today's boy bands, so every time you wanna throw a brick at Justin Timberlake, throw one at these schmucks.

There's plenty more, but that's all that comes to mind (such as it is) at the moment.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at April 22, 2004 9:40 PM

Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" had a claymation music video that was absolutely wonderful, though.

My personal cringe-inducing choice: "Candy Man" by Sammy Davis, Jr. I worked in a restaurant the summer it was popular. It was on the jukebox and someone kept playing it over and over....

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 22, 2004 11:41 PM

Has any Judd post ever brought on this many comments? I can't remember one that caused both Mrs. Dr. Judd and Other Brother to chime in.

And, as a witness, I can attest to OJ's description of his father's eating habits and Stephen's means of getting the boys "excused" from the table....to this day "the Song" remains the finger nails scratching OJ's chalkboard of life...

Posted by: Foos at April 23, 2004 4:04 AM

My real secret weapon is that I'm teaching it to the kids...
Oh, I guess it's not a secret anymore...

Posted by: The Wife at April 23, 2004 8:01 AM

It was the worst song, had the worst video, and inspired a terrifying, complex, well-maintained website. The scary thing is that even though their one dreadful hit was in 1985, everyone seems to still remember it.

I don't quite understand why these Scandinavian singers have complete fluency in English, but no virtuosity with it:

We're talking away
I don't know what
I'm to say I'll say it anyway
Today's another day to find you
Shying away
I'll be coming for your love, OK?

No, not OK. Not OK at all.

Posted by: Brian (MN) at April 23, 2004 9:26 AM

Hey Raoul Ortega:

We Cubs fans feel that way about "Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Him Good-bye" by Steam for obvious reasons. Nancy Faust is well named.

Posted by: Jeff at April 23, 2004 11:47 AM

Brian (MN): Oh come on, "Take On Me" the worst video? Not by a long shot! Admittedly I'm a sucker for animated videos, but that one was actually well done, better than the song.

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 23, 2004 12:03 PM

The video for "Take on Me" has an absolutely
charmingly modest Danish girl in it.

I find it fascinating in a strange way and
juxtaposed against the filth we see today, it's
quite sad.

The 80's rocked but it was a just a calm before
the cultural Armageddon we currently inhabit.

Posted by: J.H. at April 23, 2004 12:41 PM

Other noteworthy mentions:

Leon Redbone - appeared on SNL during their first season singing "Walking Stick". Kind of a quirky Southern gentleman character in a straw hat. So quirky that someone probably considers him a musical genius.

Tiny Tim - does it count if you are bad by intention? In addition to "Tulips", he released a really atrocious song before his death a few years ago, don't remember the name.


"Rock & Roll Heaven" - was it the Righteous Brothers?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at April 23, 2004 3:34 PM

Brian: You just earned my wife's undying enmity. I agree as to the lyrics -- they're utterly senseless, like sober Bob Dylan. The video, though, was ok. Certainly not as bad as most of the videos of that decade (or the next, or the next...).

Posted by: Chris at April 24, 2004 12:11 AM

I stubbled in here and I am shocked - all Abba songs are sacred!!!!!!!! to an Australian. All 80's song are fabulous. I was just watching the old Duran Duran clips and thought where have we come to- where is the glamour!!!!!! What was grunge and rap crap all about anyway.

Posted by: Athol at May 10, 2004 11:53 AM
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