This topic comes up in conversation quite often. Sometimes, you see it online or hear it on the radio. Someone wants to know what the worst song ever is.
Well, first, what defines awfulness? Many think that lyrical stupidity defines it. Folks of this mindset frequently point to Richard Harris’ incomprehensible psychedelic hit, “MacArthur Park,” which proved beyond a doubt that Harris saw it as the duty of every Irishman to drink only to excess. But based on that, the “Louie, Louie” is an awful song, despite its widespread acceptance as one of the coolest party songs ever.
Others, myself included, can’t stand trite repetition that guarantees the song will stick in your ear long after the artist shows up on VH-1’s latest incarnation of One Hit Wonders. To me, the worst offender is Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart.” I even have trouble with the Weird Al Yankovick parody, even though it voices most of my problems with the song.
Bad seems to be in the ear of the beholder. While I’ve never met anyone with fond memories of “The Macarena,” I have seen bar fights start over “The Pina Colada Song.” “Stairway to Heaven” inspires awe and agony (and often a yawn. There was a point where I had to change the station because Akron’s WONE played it every hour on the hour in the late 1980’s.)
So what is the worst song ever to violate your ears? I’ll start the list with a few of my own, aside from “Achy Breaky” and “MacArthur Park.” You carry on in the comments. In a week or two, I’ll put up a poll for everyone to decide the worst song ever.
- “Don’t Kill the Whale” by Yes – Tormato is Yes’ worst album. This song is why. It’s Jon Anderson at his most intolerably new agey pretentious. Rick Wakeman manages to capture what sounds like a whale crying on the synthesizer. I’ve often imagined it was based on the weeping of an orca who had the misfortune of hearing a rough mix of this song.
- “Soon Forgotten” by Deep Purple – This song is from Steve Morse’s debut with Purple, aptly titled Purpendicular. There are many brilliant moments on this album. “Soon Forgotten” is not one of them. It sounds like a bad cover of the theme from Star Trek VI.
- “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton – The forerunner of every Mariah Carey song you’ve ever heard.
- Which reminds me, anything by Mariah Carey.
- “Just a Friend” by Biz Markie – What the hell was he thinking? It sounds like a drunken Japanese businessman in a karaoke bar.
- “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham! – I hate the song. I hate the video. George Michael looks and sounds like the smarmy tennis pro who seduces the girl you wanted to go out with. And you know damn well when he dumps her, she’s going to be too bitter and cynical to date forever after.
- “Tonight I Celebrate My Love” by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack – There are many slow, sexy songs that I have played on romantic evenings. The collected works of Teddy Pendergast, Luther Vandross, and Barry White come to mind. Nita and I are especially fond of “Jumping Jack Flash.” (OK, that’s a different mood.) This song makes me want to fall asleep. Only I can’t because it also makes me nauseous.
So what about you? What songs make you want to run screaming into the night? Share in the comments section. In a few weeks, I’ll take the best (worst?) of the lot and put up a poll for you to vote for the winner (loser?).
Share and enjoy.