This is not the first time I have ever written about awful songs.
This will most likely not be the last.
There are bands and artists who will never be capable of making a great song. We, as listeners, know by experience that Celine Dion is never going to make a single worth one artistic dime. Michael Bolton will always be a corporate badly-crooning whore. Someone is always sitting behind cheesy kid pop stars, scribbling their bubblegum material and rotting our brains. Many of us will never be able to listen to Barbra Streisand without sticking a fork in our ears. Billy Ray Cyrus was always a joke, and Vanilla Ice can never be taken seriously, no matter how far he strays from “Ice Ice Baby.”
What is sad is when artists, either entirely talented or typically somewhat entertaining, throw some completely awful songs into their repertoire. Many times, there is no rational explanation for a really bad splotch. Sometimes, an album is surrounded with greatness with just this stinking, rotting apple hiding in the middle. Other times, musicians string along with a lot of mediocrity before some ill advice lets them record something entirely regrettable.
The worst part is, many of these songs actually become peopular. People are either sucked in by their adoration and respect for the artist that they completely ignore the inherent badness which fills their head, or they sincerely fall down the well of bad taste. I honestly have no idea how it happens. Sometimes, it’s a catchy beat or a thoughtful lyric that is surrounded by garbage that people shut out.
You get it.
The Allman Brothers Band “Ramblin’ Man”
There’s no denying “Melissa” and “Whipping Post.” And I didn’t come here to immediately jump on country-flavored rock, either. However, it does certainly stick out like a sore thumb from their more bluesy goodness. Perhaps it’s annoying because it’s another one of those southern rock songs that justifies a man being an asshole and taking off on chicks. Or maybe it’s so irritating because it gets high classic rock radio rotation, yet sounds like something that belongs on Honky 107.3, Today’s Shitkickin’ Hits. It kills the buzz between Blue Oyster Cult and Foreigner. And, did I mention, it’s disgustingly chauvanistic? At least Sir Mix-A-Lot took mysogyny to an entertaining level.
Gene Simmons (of Kiss) “When You Wish Upon a Star”
So you didn’t know this existed? Pshaw, you must not own the four solo Kiss albums that the band made during their heyday. Yes, someone let Peter Criss make a whole album himself, but that’s beside the point. What’s more important here is that Gene Simmons covered this song. Ever hear it? No, it’s not done Kiss-style. It’s done full-out violin-scored sap-style. I’m sure with four band members making individual albums that there was going to be some filler, but this is unreal ear-bleeding type stuff.
Eric Carmen “All By Myself”
I long ago crowned this the Worst Song Ever Made. It doesn’t help that Celine Dion once covered it, either. In a nutshell, we have a very whiny vocalist singing very whiny lyrics about not being able to handle being alone. Maybe this is the independent and boisterous girl inside of me who can’t fathom someone wanting to nearly off themselves because they’re single. Either way, it’s lumbering, it’s melodramatic, it’s expository, and it’s total garbage.
A little band named Anal Cunt made a great song entitled, “311 Sucks.” What bothers me most of all is that “Down” is the best 311 song I have ever heard, yet I find it so completely awful. I’ll admit that the first couple of times I heard it, I found it rather catchy. However it wasn’t long after that I was struck by how idiotic the song is in general and how stolen and derivative their sound was. In essence, just more potheads being potheads. And that may work well for a certain chunk of the population, but I’m not out there buying Phish records, either. Nay, a song full of white-boy babbling about absolutely nothing certainly doesn’t score high on any list of quality.
Dave Matthews Band “Ants Marching”
This is quite prejudicial because I hate Dave Matthews and all, but I honestly tried to like the band since I was told repeatedly that they were highly talented. I mean, I can see the appeal in “Crash” and “What Would You Say,” even if I hate them both. “Ants Marching,” on the other hand, does nothing but grate on my every last nerve. How does anyone listen to this? Matthew’s nasal whinny does nothing to help things when the music is tromp-tromp-tromping around in goofy ways that are aurally unappealing. Oh, hell, it’s just plain horrible. I don’t need to justify this one.
Billy Joel “Keepin’ The Faith”
Perhaps the video influenced my opinion of this one. So many fluorescent colors, so little time. Really though, this was a big signifying moment where Billy Joel went from cool-nerdy artist to a goofy joke. We could watch the video for “Uptown Girl” and see how silly it was, but it had a cool look to it even with all of the kitsch. We listened to “Allentown” and had not yet lost any respect for the man. Then, a terrible song comes along paired with a terrible visual, and suddenly, the neat little niche that Joel had begun to carve for himself in the ’80s completely caved in. Not long after that, we got “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” a song which was the bane of my 7th grade history class, but that’s another story. The man never recovered. Rightfully so, unleashing that garbage song on the universe.
Extreme “Get the Funk Out”
Oh, COME ON guys. You wanted to say “f*ck.” Just say “f*ck” already! You say “f*ck” in other songs. You have a song on the album about a girl who likes to give blow jobs, for crying out loud. Do you honestly think that anyone listening to this song thinks that you’re saying, “people of the world, do not let Stevie Wonder or George Clinton into your lives”? Especially when there’s a horn section in the damned song? Are you singing about getting rid of something smelly, taking out the garbage? No, you’re not. It’s just such a ridiculous lyrical substitution that one can’t discuss it with a straight face. Granted, I loved Extreme to bits, but they certainly did a lot of stuff that led to them being easily tossed aside as non-credible.
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, “Katmandu”
I once wrote a rant about this song that is too precious for me to ignore (albeit quite lengthy), so I will quote it here:
This song is the only song that has ever actually made me throw a radio. I used to work at 7am every Sunday for about an eight-month run, and of course we would listen to the radio. Unfortunately, because of all the hills in the area, we could only get in four local stations. We went with the best choice of the bunch, which was a classic rock station.
EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY they would play “Katmandu” before they switched to a satellite-fed show of some type, and EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY I would turn the station to fuzz, unplug it, or just complain nonstop until it was over.
“Katmandu” features many irritating facets:
a) It is 6-7 minutes long;
b) It has maybe 20 actual words in the song, repeated in various forms;
c) It gets stuck in your head worse than any kind of glue;
d) There are too many instruments in the song for no reason.
I do not know the lyrics by heart, but I am going to attempt to emulate one verse. Keep in mind that even though I do not know the actual lyrics, these might very well BE the actual lyrics, as any tweaking of the formula will result in further verses:
I THINK I’M GOING TO KATMANDU
THAT’S REALLY REALLY WHAT I’M GONNA DO
IF I EVER GET OUT OF HERE
THAT’S WHAT I’M GONNA DO
KA KA KA KA KA KA KATMANDU
IT’S REALLY REALLY WHAT I WANNA DO
AND IF I EVER GET OUT OF HERE
I’M GOING TO KATMANDU
The worst feature of this song, however, is that just when you think it’s over, just when the music is winding down, just when its big finish approaches… IT STARTS BACK UP AGAIN FOR ANOTHER MINUTE OF HELL.
Linkin Park, “Crawling”
I had managed to completely avoid ever hearing this song. It was off of my radar. However, there’s a local bar which my friends and I adore because of its metal-laced jukebox. Unfortunately, others often add money and their idea of “metal” varies a bit from ours. Suddenly, I knew “Crawling.” It made my skin… crawl, har har. If there’s any sort of factor that ties together many songs on this list, it would be whining, and Linkin Park is the mayor of complete blubbering crybabyville. One may argue that any number of the band’s songs could occupy this spot, but from what I have heard, “Crawling” is definitely the worst.
Carly Simon, “You’re So Vain”
I have discussed my distaste for this song many times over the years. Lyrically, it’s so full of bizarre metaphors that it makes every poetic bone in my body scramble for an SOS pad to GET IT OFF, GET IT OFF, GET IT OFF OF ME! The song was written about
Ned Warren Beatty, but if he were to recognize this, it would make him vain, right? Ha, it’s a trap! You’re trapped, Warren! She’s singing a song about you, but you can’t act like you know! Oh, she’s so f*cking clever, that Carly. Slit her throat.
Bon Jovi, “Keep The Faith”
Coming off of New Jersey, I think the universe expected a whole lot better than the dose of laid-back pop-rock we were subjected to with the next album. I think what primarily makes this one a stinker in the Bon Jovi catalog is its complete, well, lameness. Bon Jovi, for as generic as one might have found them over the years, always had a sense of style. They lost all of their style on “Keep The Faith” and completely succumbed to being middle-aged rockers. I won’t get into their next hit, the awful “Bed of Roses,” but that does serve to back up my claim.
Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, “All Cried Out”
I’m not sure if Lisa Lisa would be categorized as a B-level, C-level, or possibly even a D-level act in the ’80s. They did have a couple of hits (and this was one of them), but hits do not an artist make. Yes, they were fluffy, so that’s an excuse. However, “Lost In Emotion” was fun, but “All Cried Out” was garishly bad. I suppose it sticks out so much not just because of Lisa’s horrible tiered white outfit in the video, but also because they seemed to be more on the track of a Miami Sound Machine or other group with a different sound and appeal, yet they ended up being nothing more than complete tripe. I mean, the Jets were a lot worse, but at least we expected them to suck.
Limp Bizkit, “Nookie”
Once again, I’m going to quote a tirade from my past.
I have decided that THIS is how the guys in Limp Bizkit wrote the song:
“Dude, I’m so fried”
“Yeah, man, so am I.”
“Dude, you wanna hear something funny?”
“Yeah, man, what.”
“Dude, that’s the funniest shit I’ve EVER HEARD. I’m gonna write a song called “NOOKIE” just for you, man.”
“RAD MAN, THANKS! Pass the bowl, will ya?”
“Dude, what rhymes with nookie?”
“HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA YOU SAID NOOKIE”
“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA YEAH MAN”
“Ummm, dude, the only things that rhyme with nookie are “bookie” and “cookie.” Are you gonna write a song about your bookie getting some nookie?”
“Nah, man, I’ll work that cookie in there somehow.”
“Cookies are GAY, MAN. I’LL STICK THAT COOKIE UP YOUR ASS!”
“YEAH!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!! COOKIE UP YOUR ASS, MAN!!!!!!!!”
Hurrah! A masterpiece is born.
Oh man. Remember when Poison kicked CC DeVille out of the band and Richie Kotzen stepped in? Well, maybe you don’t because you weren’t a hair band nerd, but I was. Kotzen was a solo guitar virtuoso type, and he tried to legitimize Poison with quality songwriting and guitar playing. Hilariously, Kotzen was screwing the drummer’s fiance and all hell broke loose, but that’s just silly drama not related to the bad song at hand. “Stand” was just bad. Poison backed by a gospel choir. Typical cheesy Poison lyrics and semi-on-key Bred Michaels vocals. Very pretty work on the guitar (maybe mandolin, I don’t recall offhand), but no. The world does not want Poison-turned-REM. The world wants giant hair and nothin’ but a good time. Until recently, the band pretended this song didn’t exist. What a shame they rediscovered it.
John Fred and his Playboy Band, “Judy In Disguise With Glasses”
Wow. Just, wow. There are a lot of oldies in the world that are ridiculous and hard on the ears (can you say “I Got You Babe”?), but this one never fails to cause physical pain. Maybe it’s the horns and their disgusting accentuation whenever the phrase “with glasses” is uttered. I would say that perhaps it’s the ridiculous double entendre lyrics, but that’s a staple of ’60s pop rock. It’s just all-over bad in a way that I cannot understand or bear. While it doesn’t make me unplug the radio when I’m stuck in a room while it plays, I do get very angry at the fact that it then gets stuck in my head for the next three days. I’ll take a million “Yummy Yummy Yummy”s over one Judy.
Metallica, “Invisible Kid”
One might cry, no fair! All of St. Anger is horrible! Ahhh, while I might say that’s true (and I might even argue that “Dirty Window” might be worse), nothing was more distractingly horrible than “Invisible Kid.” Hell, in a Metallica showdown, the only reason this beats “Unforgiven 2” is because of the ridiculous production and lyrics. I refer to this song as the gift of the rhyming dictionary; never mind the end of the song, when James starts crooning off-key, “OOOOH, WHAT A GOOD BOY YOU ARE” with such tremendous lack of respect for all things audible. I have recorded mp3s of me singing where I’m not always exactly note for note, but I’m not being paid to make quality music to sell.
Really. That song is f*cking bad.
Type O Negative, “Summer Breeze”
One may argue that this only gets my goat because my name is in the title. Yes, I’m not fond of the original Seals & Crofts version, but I kind of like the verses. Type O just slowed the whole thing down and made it sound like a vampire convention. Whee, imagine that, Type O Negative making everything sound evil. Original, guys. You have never done that before. Now, “Kill All The White People,” that was cool. People don’t expect that from Type O. What, you removed that from all the latter pressings of Bloody Kisses? Imagine that. Go play your terrible song in your terrible manner and leave me out of this once and for all.
The saddest part about this is that these were just off of the top of my head.
When asking my friends, “what songs not by people like Hanson and ABBA do you totally hate” they could sputter immediately:
Eiffel 65, “Blue”
Dream Theater, “The Great Debate”
Van Morrison, “Brown Eyed Girl”
Proclaimers, “500 Miles”
Don McLean, “American Pie” (good choice my friend)
Queensryche, “Jet City Woman”
Vitamin C, “Smile”
Limp Bizkit, “Break Stuff”
Trisha Yearwood, “She’s In Love With The Boy”
Liz Phair, “Uncle Alvarez”
Green Day, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”
The Doors, “Touch Me” (I second that one as well)
Tori Amos, “The Power of Orange Knickers”
Ace of Base, “The Sign”
Creed… well, that couldn’t be narrowed down
Puddle of Mudd, “She Hates Me” (amen)
Sharon Batts, “Dear Mister Jesus”
Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys, “Get Low”
Spin Doctors, “Two Princes”
Wang Chung, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”
Jet, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”
Limp Bizkit, “Behind Blue Eyes”
…and I’ll bet you can think of a few more off of the top of your head, too.
I heard her screaming like a radio,