Being as I am a fan of retro music (I’m almost never in the moment these days), I find myself very often having to wade through the same…overplayed…songs…in order to get to one I really want to hear. You might know the feeling: you see a compilation CD you really want, because of the two or three tracks that just can’t be found anywhere else. But in order to buy those three songs, you also have to pay for the other 12 songs that you already own on six other compilations! It’s a crappy feeling, not unlike buying a new CD with one or two good songs and the rest filler. Man, illegal downloading looks better all the time!
Before we see the list, a disclaimer: the following is not (generally) what I think are the worst songs ever. This is simply a list of tunes that fall in one of three categories: 1) Their places in history have been unfairly inflated; 2) Their over-presence on play lists; or 3) That people, in general, get really excited when hearing them for reasons that are lost on me. Here are the ones that immediately come to my head:
Amazing Grace—John Newton
When I hear this mother-of-all-hymns, I think back to the death scene in “Silkwood,” because that’s where I first remember hearing it. The reason it’s on this list is not because I want to go to hell, but because to sing it, you have to admit that you’re a wretch. That’s not good for your self-esteem.
The Star-Spangled Banner—Francis Scott Key
A poem about bombs, explosions and pseudo-apocalyptic flag-flying, set to the unsingable rhythm of an old British drinking song. Doesn’t America deserve better than this?
Stairway to Heaven—Led Zeppelin and
The End—The Doors
The two songs that made it safe for self-indulgent rock stars to perform long and incoherent epics and win praise for their genius. “The End” was our eighth-grade class song, for reasons I will never understand.
Brown-Eyed Girl—Van Morrison
Probably the best song on this list, but it still drowns in hype.
I Will Survive—Gloria Gaynor
This disco ballad is apparently one of those “you had to be there” songs.
Space Cowboy—Steve Miller
Why do people go so crazy over this song? Drug use seems to be a common denominator.
Lady Marmalade--Patti Labelle
Would have been on this list even if Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink and Lil’ Kim hadn’t inflicted us with that torture of a remake. "Voulez-vous couchez avec moi?" Mais oui, si tu fermes la bouche!
Come On Eileen—Dexys Midnight Runners
Some songs do well because they’re easy and fun to sing along with while drunk. That’s no excuse for the stratospheric popularity of this goofy song.
The Safety Dance—Men Without Hats
What can be said about a song whose video was medieval yet still contained a clearly visible telephone pole? And who can deny that there actually was no Safety Dance to speak of? “Pop Goes the World” was so much better.
Walking on Sunshine—Katrina and the Waves
Another good song that nevertheless makes this list due to its presence on every single 80s compilation ever made.
Prince is talented. This song has a cool message (you don’t have to be rich to be my girl, etc.) It’s still horrible. Give me “Money Don’t Matter” over this any day.
Red Red Wine—UB40
UB40's 26th-best song.
Smells Like Teen Spirit—Nirvana
This 1991 song is credited with setting off an era. Except that they’ve been saying that SINCE 1991.
You Oughta Know—Alanis Morissette
This 1995 song is widely credited with beginning the rebirth of an old rock staple: the angry girl who sings even worse than Michael Bolton. Alanis followed this up with “Hand in My Pocket,” which may be the single worst song ever committed to record.
My Heart Will Go On—Celine Dion
Leo made it difficult for a lot of guys to get laid in 1997-98.
Drops of Jupiter—Train
Just plain overplayed.
What would you consider “worthy” for this list? Unworthy? Drop me a line.