Friday, April 21, 2006

The Worst Songs of All Time

Looking back at the posts this week at Kiko’s House, it occurs to me that I need to lighten up.


Having bloviated at length on possibly the worst president of all time, what better way to put aside the Sturm und Drang of current events by reprising a golden oldie of mine -- the Worst Song of All Time.

My vote has long gone to Jefferson Starship’s “We Built This City,” which was a No. 1 hit in 1985. But half the fun of hating a song is to see how many other folks agree or disagree with you, or what their own picks are.

As it is, the Starship’s blasphemy shows up on a fair number of Worst Song lists, including Todd Leopold’s.

Leopold writes a pretty fair entertainment column for CNN and cast his vote this week for a song in my own Worst Top 10 – “Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro, which not only was a No. 1 hit in 1968 but stayed atop the charts for five weeks. Barf!!! (Like me, Leopold avoids the low hanging fruit and only selects songs that were hits.)

Leopold describes what it was like to hear “Honey” recently on XM’s 60’s channel:

I sat transfixed in my car as it played, as if I were in the midst of an accident. The simpering melody, the tearjerking lyrics: God, how I hated it. And yet I couldn't change the station.

See the tree, how big it's grown
But friend, it hasn't been too long, it wasn't big . . .

We should all feel his pain.

Beyond “We Built This City” and “Honey,” the rest of my own Worst Top 10 are, in no particular order:

“In the Ghetto” (Mac Davis)

"Achy Breaky Heart" (Billy Ray Cyrus)

“Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” (William Shatner)

“Yummy Yummy Yummy (I’ve Got Love in My Tummy)” (Ohio Express)

“In the Year 2525” (Zager and Evans)

“Afternoon Delight” (Starland Vocal Band)

“Your Body is a Wonderland” (John Mayer)

. . . and anything by Celine Dion.

Don't be shy. Tell me how would you vote buy clicking on the "Comment" button below. You can be an Anonymoose and don't have to give your name. And try to confine yourself to songs from the last 40 or so years. Thanks!


Daniel Rubin said...

I seem to remember someone immitating Bobby Kennedy back in the mid-'60s, doing a version of "Wild Thing" and that was pretty special. "You, ah, make me feel, ah, groovy."

Daniel Rubin said...

kill one of those Ms, would ya?

Gryphen said...

"Dropkick me Jesus, through the goalposts of life".

Just horrible.

Shaun Mullen said...

Great pick, Gryphen! As I recall, Bobby Bare was once referred to as the "Bruce Springstein of country music," which immediately sent his career into the toilet. I also recall that he had a hit album with Shel Silverstein. But enuf!

MadMatt said...

It is a childish song but it will seep intothe crevices of your brain and drive you nuts...."Wheels on the Bus"...go round and round......auughhh

Shaun Mullen said...

Thanks MadMatt. Rafi, that folkie molder of young minds, is to blame for "Wheels," which my children played THOUSANDS of times in the 1980s once they mastered the intricacies of the cassette tape player.

Mark said...

The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

McArthur Park. "Someone left a cake out in the rain. I don't think that I can take it, 'cause it took so long to bake it, and I'll never have the recipe again. Oh NO!"


Shaun Mullen said...

I take semi-offense, Mark.

I always have loved "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," and for some insight on that Google my March 23 post on the incredible history of this song.

I semi-agree on "McArthur Park," which was playing the first time I smoked Mary Jane and became wedged in my brain. I still can't get it out. Help!

Cassidy said...

Whatever song is playing on any country music station right now.

Friedman said...

"We Built this City"...terrible.

DrGail said...

I can't resist weighing in with "Brandy" (the favorite song of my first love. . .gee, I wonder why that romance didn't last?), "Mandy" (When this one turned out to be about his dog, I was crushed. My dog was already named Mandy, and I hate appearing derivative!), and "Midnight at the Oasis" (which is like fingernails on a blackboard for me)

Shaun Mullen said...

I feel your pain, drgail. If you're talking about Maria Muldaur's hit take on "Midnight at the Oasis," I agree. There was (is?) something about her voice. I did see her do it live many moons ago. Her husband, who was in her backup band, nodded off during the show.

geocrackr said...

I'm w/ Mark -- when I read the post, "McArthur Park" sprang immediately to mind.

nocasa said...

We Built This City is a worthy contender. It would be on my list along with

A Horse with No Name (America)
"in the desert you can remember your name 'cause there ain't nobody for to give you no pain." mmmmm - that's writin'. I can't even guess how to versicate it.

I Am, I Said (Neil Diamond)
"I am, I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair"

DOA (Bloodrock)

Shaun Mullen said...

Hey, Nocasa, like Celine Dion, almost anything by Neil Diamond qualifies as worst.

Art Fraud said...

I'm flabbergasted that no one has suggested Chuck Berry's "My Ding-A Ling."

Appallingly puerile and utterly unlistenable, its awfulness is compounded by the contradiction of its artist--a man responsible for some of rock 'n' roll's timeless masterpieces.

And by the way, that version of "Wild Thing" Rubin mentioned was by Senator Bobby from 1966. Senator Bobby was actually three comedians who called themselves the Hardly Worthit Players.

Shaun Mullen said...

Thanks for the info on the Bobby Kennedy song, Mr. Fraud. And you're right about "My Ding-A-Ling." Methinks that Berry was desperate for a B-side.

t said...

My favorite - hands down - is
Playground in my Mind by Clint Holmes...whoever he was.
A man reminiscing back to the days when he was a kid and the things he liked to do. A little boy even sings part of it!
A real stomach-churner!

Like you and some of the songs you mentioned, whenever I heard it I couldn't change the station. Like watching a train wreck over and over again.

Honey was nauseating, I agree.
Some of your top ten I'm fine with, actually. In the Year 2525 and Afternoon Delight are novel and different without being sickening (in my opinion, of course). Not wonderful, mind you. Just novel and different.

This was a nice posting. As much as I can't stand what's-his-face, I do get a little burned out hearing about him, even if it's criticism.

jay lassiter said...

i love "afternoon delight" hope that doesn't undermine my cred.
i vote for "anything by celine"

Emma Goldman said...

Some years ago Dave Barry did this, and the two columns he wrote were extremely funny. His worst song of all time was also "McArthur Park." My own WSOAT is Donovan's "Mellow Yellow." The song itself is insipid enough, but at one point, the bar in which I was working had a defective jukebox, such that no matter what someone played or tried to play, the jukebox would play "Mellow Yellow." Over and over and over and (deities help me) over again. I'd put the jukebox in the storage room, but someone would drag it out and plug it in. I heard that song so many times, and it did not improve with the repeated listening. W/r/t dropkick me Jesus, while in college a bunch of evangelicals came to campus over the summer (the college rented out the dorms to various groups and those of us hanging around could work in the dining halls, etc. while living off campus). I was working as a college tour guide, and, as someone tried to convert me, a friend called me on the phone at our desk and began singing that song. I made him pay later.

Shaun Mullen said...

Hey Emma: Great comment! I worked and hung out in a bar where the jukebox would default to Arlo Guthrie's cover of Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans." The song would never make anyone's worst list, but eventually wore me out. I can't listen to it to this day.

Marty said...

I'd have to agree with "We Built This City" by Jefferson Starship as the #1 worst of all.

Another one is: "Elvira" by The Oakridge Boys.

"My heart's on fira for Elvira. Giddy up a oom papa oom papa mow mow...Hi yo silver away."

tosser said...

The Winner: "Convoy"

Runners Up:
"The Wreck of The Edmund Fitgerald"
"Alice's Restaurant"
"American Pie"
"Okie From Muskogee"

Honorable Mention:
"A Boy Named Sue"
"I Will Survive"
"Hip To Be Square"
"I Got You Babe"

Special Jury Prize:
"Inna Gadda Da Vida"

LaPopessa said...

I vote for that soggy cake. Glad to see others vote for it as well. The award must go to McArthur Park.

eRobin said...

You're Having My Baby - it's the theme song of the patriarchy and the worst for about fifty other reasons.

Daniel Rubin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daniel Rubin said...

You have a high class of low lives here -- not only did A. Fraud provide the scholarship on Sen. Bobby, but nocasa stirs buried suburban memories with "DOA" by Bloodrock! If I remember, "I have no feeling in my legs...." The horror.

daveminnj said...

there's so many to choose from!
i thought of playground in my mind
and was pleasingly jolted to find someone else had already picked it.
there was this appalling by-the-numbers power ballad back in the mid-80s (never gonna let you go(?))
every time i went to the gym it was on the radio-pure hell.

daveminnj said...

billy don't be a hero?
the night chicago died?
muskrat love?
pat banatar's version of you better run?
do you think i'm sexy? (and rod stewart's entire classic songbook

Shaun Mullen said...

You've hit a sensitive nerve, daveminnj, especially with "Billy Don't Be a Hero." It makes me want to abuse hard drugs.

daveminnj said...

well,shaun,hard drugs are bad for you, and i don't want to push you to the edge- so i definitely will
not mention wildfire circa 1975. nope,not me.

Shaun Mullen said...

Would that be Michael Murphy's "Wildfire"? If so . . .


Anonymous said...

We Built This City. The way I'd describe it rhymes with "City."

Shaun Mullen said...

You mean "pretty," right?


Anonymous said...

It has to be MacArthur Park.

doomsy said...

"Broken Wings" by Mister Mister. BLEAUGH!!!