Wednesday, April 21, 2004

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Blender magazine has compiled a list of the 50 worst songs ever, according to bad melodies, bad performances, or incoherent lyrics. According to the Associated Press:

Starship's "We Built This City," from 1985 topped the list.

"The truly horrible sound of a band taking the corporate dollar while sneering at those who take the corporate dollar," the magazine said of the tune.

Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart" was second, followed by Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight." "If this song was a party, you'd lock yourself in a bathroom and cry," quipped Blender.

Rounding out the top ten worst songs ever are Huey Lewis and the News with "The Heart of Rock and Roll," "Don't Worry, Be Happy," by Bobby McFerrin, Eddie Murphy's "Party All the Time," "American Life," by Madonna and "Ebony and Ivory," the duet by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.

Fine entrants, all [C'mon, admit that you like the Wang Chung song!--ed. Well, yeah, if I'm appropriately liquored up.] However, I'm not sure the folks at Blender have children -- in which case there's a whole new list of galactically cloying songs that make "We Built this City" sound like Beethoven's Fifth. How 'bout the Barney theme? The Dragon Tales theme? Raffi's completed works?

Readers are invited to submit their worst songs. And, while being in a musical mood, go check out Brad DeLong's post about songs where the cover version is superior to the original. You can see my contribution in the comments section.

posted by Dan on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM


As far as I'm concerned, the every f***ing song in the 80's top 40 chart belongs on that list. The worst offender is the putrid "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors - an appropriate name for a vapid group of so-called musicians if there ever was one. The annoyance level for that song was set at "KILL" from the very first note. Ack, what a horrid decade it was for music.

posted by: Like A Mug on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]


I brought down the house one New Years eve by playing the Vapors at 12:15 or so. Place went outright bonkers.

I do agree that "we Built this city" Was an embarassment, particularly in light of a sng I thought far better from the same band " Find Your Way BAck"

As for the worst song ever?

Johnathan King, 'Everyone's gone to the moon", hands down.

Hearts full of motors painted green Mouths full of chocolate-covered cream Arms that can only lift a spoon Everyone's gone to the moon

I mean, I just picture someone on acid or something, going "Yeah, man, how true that is".

And these days, someone will be able to work in how the whole thing he was singing about was Bush's fault..... when even King himself admits he had no idea what the hell the song was about, he was just tossing words together.

posted by: Bithead on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

I'm embarrassed to know enough to ask this question, but didn't Paul McCartney do "Ebony and Ivory" with Stevie Wonder, not Michael Jackson?

What's wrong with "Don't Worry, Be Happy?" I know every devotee of punk rock, grunge rock, and '70s album rock must hate the song just because of its title. Maybe those are the people who made up this list. I also thought the list was pretty hard on "Achy Breaky Heart," an OK country dance tune that got on people's nerves only because it was played so often.

I also noticed there are no rap titles on this list. This makes sense if you don't believe that rap songs are really songs. Which I don't, so I'm not complaining.

I've heard some pretty bad songs, and some pretty bad covers of not bad songs. You should hear "Home on the Range" in Latvian sometime. But, really -- I mean, all respect to the boy bands, avatars of hip and silicon-based lifeforms who dominate Top-40 radio these days -- but pop music now, musically, is putrid. Just putrid.

Not counting today's pop, or rap, I guess "You Light Up My Life" would get my vote for the absolute worst. Especially if it were ever covered by Celine Dion. Or William Shatner.

posted by: Zathras on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

I'm a closet Backstreet Boys fan, too...oops...I guess no longer.

posted by: Peter on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

"American Pie" is pretty darn dreadful.

posted by: skybluewater on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

C'mon. I know I'm old, but there is _NO_ song that ever hit the Top Ten that was worse than "In the Year 2525." That sucked so bad it made you want to damage everyone connected to it in any way and then shoot yourself. The lyrics make the ones mentioned above sound like they were written by Shakespeare. The vocalist (I have thankfully forgotten this One-Hit Wonder's name) reminded me of a cow with it's tail caught in a gate. It made Donovan sound like the second coming of Frank Sinatra. It did the impossible. It both sucked and blew at the same time.

They won't even play on Oldies Rock. If you haven't heard it, spare yourself, your sanity, and your family.

posted by: JorgXMcKie on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

You're all going to hate me for this, because now the song will be bouncing through your head all day:

Oh, Mickey you're so fine
You're so fine you blow my mind
Hey Mickey
Hey Mickey

How could this not be in the top ten? The top two?

posted by: Scott Forbes on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

Only very hazy memories of the original release (it may have been before I was born), but I'd have to put in "Up-Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon" by the Fifth Dimension into my worst-ever category. This feeling of negativity may be somewhat exacerbated by the fact that I had to sing repeatedly this in my high school chorus. I still wake up screaming sometimes.

posted by: Jay Drezner on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

Here's some:

"Children of the Sun" - Billy Thorpe

"Feelings" - Morris Albert

"Disco Duck" - Rick Dees

(heck, disco anything)

"Summertime Blues" - The Who (not a Top 40 song, but one of the worst covers ever)

"The Hustle" (yeah, I already mentioned disco, but this is truly the most annoying song of my lifetime)

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

"Who let the dog's out" by the Baja men certainly deserves a spot near the top. Still the only bad part of an otherwise wonderfully drunken freshman year.

posted by: kyle swanson on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

“What's wrong with "Don't Worry, Be Happy?”

I really liked this song. Also, I enjoy Celine Dion’s singing. Is there any hope for me? I primarily prefer classical music, but I’ve been known to indulge in some egalitarian entertainment on occasion.

“I'd have to put in "Up-Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon" by the Fifth Dimension into my worst-ever category.”

You must be an evil Communist. I used to play this song repeatedly. It’s one of my favorites. I think I will order a copy on

posted by: David Thomson on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

C'mon. I know I'm old, but there is _NO_ song that ever hit the Top Ten that was worse than "In the Year 2525."

So true.

But the song that most annoys me is John Lennon's "Imagine." The music is just too sweet--and the words! Nothing like being told "imagine no possessions" by a person who was methodically buying up every apartment in the building in which he was living.

posted by: Roger Sweeny on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

The Safey Dance. "everybody look at your hands" -??? Ohmigod! (I guess it rhymed nicely, tho)

The Hustle was really pre-disco, by about 2 minutes. I was always amazed at how well it went over with the 40's & 50's crowd.

thanx for the fluffy breather topic, Dan

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

"The Heart of Rock and Roll" is a great travelogue and does not deserve to be any list of “worst songs” let alone in the top, err bottom ten. However pretty much anything by Right Said Fred, Color Me Badd, and Milli Vanilli would deserve to be in the “ten worst” category.

Someone already pointed out that the “Ebony & Ivory” duet was between Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder not Michael Jackson. Doesn’t the AP hire fact checkers or did Blender get it wrong as well?

posted by: Thorley Winston on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

"Today The Man Who Kills The Ants Came By" from Alexander's Timeless Blues Band Was so awful it never got any air time.

posted by: triticale on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

Most irritating and deserving of top 10 worst.
"MacArthur Park".
Muzak for the 7th level of hell.

posted by: mCrane on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

On my God, I am a totally worthless human being. I loved "McArthur park," "Imagine," and "In the year 2525." Please don't tell my mother!

posted by: David Thomson on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

"MacArthur Park"?

Would you beleive Jimmy webbw as only 18 when he wrote that one?

posted by: Bithead on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

"The Candyman" by Sammy Davis Jr.

I'll bet you're singing it silently to yourself right now, and won't be able to get it out of your head for hours.

Sorry about that.

posted by: uh_clem on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

The Maynard Ferguson cover of MacArthur Park used an arrangement that became a standard for high school and college jazz bands all over the country. Of course it omitted the lyrics, which sounded like they were written by an 18-year-old.

On the other hand, Maynard Ferguson's cover of the theme from "Battlestar Galactica" makes me cringe with embarrassment even now, and I haven't heard it since the Carter administration. Now that was bad music, even without lyrics -- a candidate for NPR's "Annoying Music" feature.

posted by: Zathras on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

"She's Having My Baby" by Paul Anka tops my most hated song list. I was grinding my teeth just typing the title out.

posted by: AK on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

Should NOT have looked at the comments... So many bad songs, all back in my head. Uuugh!

posted by: ch2 on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

Those of you who have horrible songs stuck in your head, courtesy of this thread, must fear not. You simply need to get a more enjoyable bit of music to displace the offending songs. It's like Gresham's Law, but in reverse. I'll go with a teenage Homer Simpson singing along with Steve Miller's "The Joker". Yes, Steve Miller should be a candidate for these worst songs lists, but there's something about Homer singing "some people call me Maurice"...

posted by: Jeremy B. on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

Let me preface my comment by saying that Drezner is one of the few rational voices on the right that I have found on the Internet.
A nomination for worst song ever: "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith. This song is on the jukebox at work, and I've kind of learned to tune it out. Why does Steven Tyler have to sound like he's having an orgasm at the end of every line? It's like he's parodying himself or something...

posted by: anxiety disorder on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

Is there a piano bar performer left anywhere who doesn't charge triple for a "Feelings" request?

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

I have to disagree with most of the list. I loved a lot of those songs, of course I am an 80s child so they all bring back memories.

I would like to nominate the Electric Slide as worse song ever, followed by pretty much anything done by the Go Gos and everything by Britney Spears.

posted by: KAt on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

Run Joey, run.

"daddy please don't, it wasn't his fault, he means so much to me...daddy please don't, we were gonna get ma-rried......RUN, JOEY RUN, JOEY RUN..."

Don't anyone pretend you don't remember that one.

posted by: E Rey on 04.21.04 at 09:25 PM [permalink]

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