Blender magazine and VH1 have compiled a list of the 50 worst songs ever… the whole list is to be revealed on a VH1 special on May 12.
Their list inspired me, and I decided to compile my own. I had a couple of prerequisite qualifications… one, all songs from 1971-1975 were immediately disqualified: that five year stretch was so full of cheese — in music, in fashion, in television, in everything — that it should be called the Gouda Period. By definition and point of origin, 95% of all songs from this time period were hideously cheesy (exceptions being anything by James Taylor or the Eagles, “Dream On” by Aerosmith, and some of Elton John’s work), and were too slam dunk to include on my list. (You can bet that “The Night Chicago Died,” “Billy Don’t Be a Hero,” and “Croccodile Rock” would otherwise have made the list.) The second rule was that songs intended to be cheesy or novelty songs were also too obvious to be included (thus eliminating “Macarena,” “Convoy,” and “Pac Man Fever”).
I’m sure I missed a bunch; music history is littered with flotsam and jetsam, songs people are embarrassed years later to admit that they liked. But here are my nominees for the P. Diddy Lifetime Achievement Award in Crappy Music.
25. Boogie Oogie Oogie, A Taste Of Honey The most childish song title ever (most childish band honors go to Kajagoogoo). Not only that, but it was a freakin’ awful song.
24. When The Children Cry, White Lion This is your brain. This is your brain when dropouts try social commentary. Any questions?
23. You Light Up My Life, Debby Boone It wasn’t the first poorly written, schmaltzy love song. It wasn’t the last. It was just the worst.
22. I’ve Never Been To Me, Charlene No song written as part of someone’s therapy should ever be released as a single. Ever. 14 year old girl poetry is better than this drudge about some chick being undressed by kings and sipping champagne on a yacht. Hey, honey? If you’ve been knockin’ boots with royalty and flitting about on yachts, your life is pretty damn fulfilled. You’re self-discovered already; quit bitching.
21. In Da Club, 50 Cent Not on the list on its own “unmerits” so much as for representing an entire genre. I’m just flat out sick of “artists” who mistake street grammar, boasts about toughness, and explicit references to sexual prowess for talent. Yeah, yeah, I get it. You’re tough, you have street cred and you score lots of women. Yawn. And by the way, deliberately misspelling your titles doesn’t make you phat, it just makes you look stoopid.
20. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Wham! The only song in history to use “yo-yo” as a rhyme in the chorus, and a song that stands out for its cheesiness in an era of kitsch.
19. Far From Over, Frank Stallone Question for the ages: which is worse, Frank’s singing or Sly’s acting?
18. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?, Culture Club Yes. For this song? Yes, I do.
17. Mickey, Toni Basil Cheerleaders do not belong in a top ten chart unless it’s one of those movies. What’s next – “We Got Spirit?”
16. Spill The Wine, Eric Burdon & War Makes the list simply for including the phrase, “overfed, long haired, leaping gnome” in the lyrics.
15. Mambo #5, Lou Bega Talent was #2. I could have used a little bit of stomach flu in his life.
14. Wannabe, Spice Girls. What I really, really wanted was for Baby Spice to be the one with the nekkid pictures.
13. Vision of Love, Mariah Carey Introduced the “Look, I can squeak like a dolphin” school of vocals to pop music. Dogs within a 200 mile radius come running when they hear this song.
12. Do You Feel Like I Do, Peter Frampton Frampton Comes Alive! Frampton Uses Cheesy Synth Device! Frampton Sucks!
11. Silly Love Songs, Paul McCartney Marks the official point at which Paul stopped being a former Beatle and started being embarassing.
10. I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston Okay song when Dolly did it, but Whitney’s version had way too much stooo-ooh-OOH-uh-ooh-OOH-pid over the top vocal inflection.
9. Free Bird, Lynyrd Skynyrd The song that launched 1000 lighters; the NASCAR quotient alone puts this in the top ten. The whole southern rock genre makes me want to call up General Sherman and ask if he’s busy.
8. We Built This City, Starship The musical equivalent of a skid row bum, this was the example of the once proud band falling on hard times and wandering the streets drunk and in need of a shower. For this song she should have to change her name to “Fall From Grace Slick.”
7. Rico Suave, Gerardo Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrico… Suckay. Proved once and for all that talentless cheesy performers could cross over into all genres of music.
6. Achy Breaky Heart, Billy Ray Cyrus Of course, everyone always remembers The Mullet That Ate Nashville. But look beyond the single worst haircut of all time, and you find juvenile lyrics and a lame riff. Hall of Fame levels of suckitude.
5. Back To Life, Soul II Soul This song single-handedly began my hate-hate relationship with hip-hop.
4. Ice, Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice White guys rapping isn’t embarrassing in and of itself. But white posers with crappy hair cuts who invent a false motocross resume are embarassing. Dude… you lied about your background to give yourself more street cred, and all you could come up with was being a motocross champion?
3. The Greatest Love of All, Whitney Houston I believe that rehab is my future…
2. My Heart Will Go On, Celine Dion On the soundtrack to the worst movie of all time. Also on the soundtrack in Hell. This song is featured in the Fox television special, “When Over-Emoters Attack!”
And my #1 worst song ever is:
Desert Moon, Dennis DeYoung I mean no offense to Mr. DeYoung; I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all. But when you take an inexplicable desire to bring Broadway-like storytelling to pop music — minus Meatloaf’s tongue-in-cheek self-awareness — you get a cheesy, overwrought, melodramatic piece of schlock about meeting up with your first love. The lyrics are as painful as a Bush press conference, and the video quite possibly was the lamest ever to run on MTV.
There you have ‘em – my 25 worst songs ever. If I listed one of your favorites and you’re all upset, too bad… I am sure that your list of 25 would contain one or two of my favorites. But that’s the beauty of music… everyone is free to choose their own sucky songs as guilty pleasures.