To create the following playlist I asked some of the blogosphere’s best names for their most overrated song picks. I was not looking for the most hated song or even the worst commercially successful song, but a song that has garnered critical acclaim. Acclaim that they just could not understand. This is the type of list that is sure to create conversation and argument. Most of the tracks here are considered “classic” and as such will create some disagreement.
I would like to personally thank every blog that stuck their neck out for this experiment. Every pick includes the reason behind the decision and a link to the contributor’s website.
I urge you to add your own “most overrated song” picks to the comments or a reason why you think a particular song should not have been included.
1. “American Pie” – Don McLean
Listen… I understand it’s a tribute to Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper all dying in the plane crash, but the song could’ve easily been a fitting tribute at the four minute mark. I’d even take five. But nearly nine minutes? Number one on my list of most annoying pub sing-a-long songs – best time to take a piss or a cigarette break outside.
Selected by Drake of Thus Spake Drake
2. “Light My Fire” – The Doors
There are some words that do not belong in a rock song. “Pyre” is one of these words. “Mire,” and “wallow” also fall into the category. All three of these words are featured prominently in the Doors “Light My Fire.” For some inexplicable reason, the Doors are viewed as some sort of spiritual counterpoint to the more hedonistic examples of rock decadence in the 60s. But “Light My Fire” illustrates an almost paralyzing lack of any redeeming qualities, a fact that seems to have been overlooked by critics and fans alike for more than three decades.
Bands that feature a piano or keyboard prominently are generally pretty goofy to begin with, but Ray Manzarek’s circus riff and odd organ stabs are headache inducing. The opening figures are some of the most memorable in rock history, because, like “Stairway” for shoddy guitar players, many aspiring rock pianists pick it out on whatever keyed instrument they find themselves in front of. Also, the shambling mid-song guitar/organ breakdown is a relic of an age of psychedelic rock that mercifully has passed for all but the heaviest drug users of the present day.
Lyrically, Jim Morrison’s poetry-set-to-music resembles the scribbling of someone who has just finished the Romantic Poetry section of their tenth grade English class. This doesn’t even cover the fact that in the chorus, “fire” is rhymed with “fire,” the second of which is delivered with a strangled bellow that is supposed to convey some sort of passion that is missing in Morrison’s morose and flat delivery during the rest of the song. Also, “girl we couldn’t get much higher”? He sounds like an eight grader who just smoked some oregano he bought in the bathroom of the mall. Morrison is considered a rock god because he removed his pants in public, took too many drugs, and let disgusting overconfidence mask an obvious lack of talent. If this is what makes someone a rock god, then we all went to college with about 50 rock gods who now work at Morgan Stanley.
“Light My Fire” is a novelty song of the psychedelic age. Somehow it has become tied up with equally inexplicable mythology surrounding Jim Morrison and received critical acclaim far beyond anything that it deserves. The gap between the adoration for “Light My Fire” and the intense awfulness of the song is so large, it’s easily one of the most overrated pieces of popular music created in a long time.
Selected by Morgan from Earvolution.com
3. “Free Bird” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
One of the most overrated songs in rock history has to be Lynryd Skynryd’s “Freebird.” The song has good intentions; it is dedicated to the memory of fellow southern rocker Duane Allman. However, the good intentions have gone bad. It is now one of the ultimate rock cliches. Anyone, who has ever attended a rock concert, will almost certainly hear someone yell out, “Freebird.” The song has become a parody of itself. Unfortunately, I have to report that this disturbing trend may have its origins in Chicago, my hometown. There are many theories as to how this annoying habit started, one common thread among them involves The Brady Bunch, an overrated TV show, and a Chicago radio personality.
I would like to quote no less an authority than the Wall Street Journal:
“Kevin Matthews is a Chicago radio personality who has exhorted his fans — the KevHeads — to yell “Freebird” for years, and claims to have originated the tradition in the late 1980s, when he says he hit upon it as a way to torment Florence Henderson of “Brady Bunch” fame, who was giving a concert. He figured somebody should yell something at her “to break up the monotony.” The longtime Skynyrd fan settled on “Freebird.” saying the epic song “just popped into my head.”
But he bemoans the decline of “Freebird” etiquette. “It was never meant to be yelled at a cool concert — it was meant to be yelled at someone really lame,” he says. “If you’re going to yell “Freebird” yell “Freebird” at a Jim Nabors concert.”
Maybe it is time to start a new trend. What songs can drunken, obnoxious, morons, request in the 21st century? How about a Jim Nabors song or the antithesis of “Freebird’s” long winding jam session? How about a short intense hardcore punk song, (by the way I like this style of song in small doses) such as the Circle Jerks’ “What’s Your Problem?” I can hear it now….. “What’s Your Problem?…..What’s Your Problem?….What’s Your Problem?”
Selected by Mr. Bond of Covalent Bond
4. “Hey Ya!” – Outkast
Ya, Ya, Ya, I know Outkast’s 2003 album “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” was on top of a myriad of critic’s “best of” lists, even leaving the Onion A.V. Club to proclaim Outkast’s Andre 3000 and Big Boi the “Lennon and McCartney of hip-hop”
The Lennon and McCartney of hip-hop? Quick my pills….
“Hey Ya!’s basic 4 chord (G,D,C,E) repetitive structure sounds like it was recorded in a guitar 101 class. Not that there’s anything wrong with 4 chord songs per se, but this one is strummed without any sense of dynamics, much like the way my two year old daughter bangs her toy drum.
I think there’s an attempt at melody since the track is a combination of “singing” and talking as opposed to rapping. What that melody is however, escapes me. Well, can you hum it?
It doesn’t end here though. It’s the lyrics that put this over the top.
“Heeeyyy… Yaaaaaaa.. (Don’t want to meet your daddy, OHH OH)
Heeyy Yaaaaaaaa.. (Just want you in my Caddy OHH OH)
Heeeyyy… Yaaaaaaa.. (OHH OH, don’t want to meet yo’ mama OHH OH)
Heeyy Yaaaaaaaa.. (Just want to make you cumma OHH OH)”
“Just want to make you cumma”? Are they serious? Case closed.
Selected by Robert of the Radish
5. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Def Leppard
In an age of overrated songs ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ rose to the occasion. Has anyone listened to the lyrics? “Mirror queen, mannequin, rhythm of love.. Do you take sugar? one lump or two?” It makes absolutely no sense. And the drums might as well be a beat box, or a late 80′s Casio keyboard with the ‘Rock Drum’ button to play along with. The guitar riffs are bland, and for some reason Joe Elliot is trying to passionately scream words like ‘saccharine’. It just doesn’t work, but for some reason people love this song. I guess it’s the loud kick and the double tracked vocals.
Selected by Bryan of Liquid Rivet
6. “Wonderwall” – Oasis
The press was declaring them the second coming of the Beatles, but Lennon/McCartney never wrote anything this sappy.
Selected by the FIQL team
7. “Memory” – Andrew Lloyd Webber
The toughest part of this challenge was to define overrated. Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical, entitled “Cats”, received numerous awards and was shown live for years and years. Why??? Could it be the tights and the dancing? The story?? The music? I just don’t get it. Someone please help me!!
Selected by Pantagruel, everlasting rhaplink poster on the Radish Message Board
8. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen
Back in May the British selected “Bohemian Rhapsody” as their “favorite single of all time.” Now they’ve done it again, with “BoRhap” taking top honors in the Official UK Charts Company Top 50 #1 Singles of the last 50 years. Allow me to say that I despise “Bohemian Rhopsody” with a fervor that makes want to crush something, anything British. How perverse can one nation be?
I HATE every possible aspect of that song: from the nonsensical pretentious lyrics, to the nauseating waves of overdubbed choral vocals, to Freddie Mercury’s lisping diva lead, to the wretchedly awkward lurching from (bowel) “movement” to (bowel) “movement.” Even the rock-out part near the end that I could at least tolerate when it first came out now sounds utterly artificial, strained, grafted-on, and stupid.
I loved, really LOVED the first Queen album, but there was no way to ever take Queen seriously again after that song, which was okay because the group pretty well sucked ass from that point on anyway, but I remember the sick feeling in my stomach when that poodle puke dribbled out of my friend’s stereo. I had to go take a nap, and I had really bad dreams.
Selected by Eric Olsen of Blogcritics.org
9. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – U2
I wanted to pick something I was really familiar with I considered something like ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ which is far from Van’s best work – and for me Rolling Stone ranking at 109 is high…but again I can understand the rating. It is one of the catchiest songs ever with all those “Sha La La”s. “Money” from Pink Floyd was another option – one of the weakest songs yet most played from “Dark Side of the Moon” – but it is still a damn good song and I can still understand why it is on the list. But finally I went with the U2 song,. “I Still Haven’t Found What I am Looking For”. I do own the CD. I quickly got tired of that song. I am not going to criticize it beyond that. Music likes and dislikes are a very personal thing and what may seem pretentious to me may be meaningful to somebody else. It just didn’t’ work for me.
Selected by Mark Munroe of Musicrocker
10. “Totally Wired” – The Fall
Trailblazing indie rock sacred cows the Fall are generally lauded as cooler than anybody. Well, 50,000 Fall fans can kiss my ass. Sure, Pavement’s first album is a wholesale appropriation of the Fall’s sound. But Pavement moved on to different sonic pastures on four subsequent records, while the Fall have recorded over forty albums of this annoying claptrap. If being the first band to combine stunted chops and speaking lyrics because you can’t sing makes you unassailable musical pioneers, then bravo to the Fall. (Now will somebody please bring a shoehorn to help me extract this tongue that seems to have lodged itself in my cheek?)
Selected by Jshifty of Ribaldry & Schmaltz
11. “Born To Run” – Bruce Springsteen
It likely won’t make me any friends, but I’ve picked “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. It may be a result of preconceived music tastes, but The Boss’s everyman rock just doesn’t resonate with me at all. “Born to Run” sounds like Bruce has just run a marathon and now he’s trying to sing, with its breathless lyrics and insistent chiming. What place do those chimes have in a rock song? Sir, step away from the xylophone. “Strap your hands ‘cross my engines”? Please. There’s nothing here for me to hold onto. Keep on running, Bruce, I’ll take a pass on this one.
Selected by Amanda of Rhapsody in Blog
12. “Chewing Gum” – Annie
Every critic is ranting and raving about Annie and even the almighty online indie rag Pitchfork gave this particular song #11 on the best singles of 2004 chart, but I just don’t get it. This song sounds like some of the worst drivel from the late 80′s/early 90′s when dance pop was dying a slow death. Nothing to this song at all. “Oh no, oh no/You’ve got it all wrong/You think you’re chocolate but you’re chewing gum.” Are you kidding me? At least her song “Heartbeat” has a melody and some sort of emotion…
Selected by Chris Anderson of worthymusic.net
13. “Imagine” – John Lennon
“Imagine” was a top-10 hit in 1971, and received enormous airplay when Lennon died. As a result, it has come to represent Lennon; it’s a signature tune and a symbol of both Lennon the artist and Lennon the man. However, if one ruthlessly strips away sentiment and sympathy, “Imagine” is actually one dreary song, not among Lennon’s best. “Imagine” is an amelodic dirge really, with lyrics cribbed from the communist manifesto. Its Phil Spector production is murky, it’s not hummable, and it’s too soupy for rock, but too joyless for pop. It’s not even the best on the Imagine album; the very next track on side 1, “Crippled Inside” (not a single) far better captures what Lennon was all about: it’s playful, jaunty, ironic, tongue-in-cheek, absurd, and catchy– a far more fitting Lennon tribute.
Selected by uao of Freeway Jam