THE TOP TEN Worst Songs Ever!
Some have crap-tastic melodies. Others are wretchedly performed. And quite a few don’t make any sense whatsoever. Blender removes its earplugs to present the 50 tunes we love to hate / By John Aizlewood, Clark Collis, Steve Kandell, Ben Mitchell, Tony Power, James Slaughter, Rob Tannenbaum, Mim Udovitch, Rene Vienet and Jonah Weiner
Some have crap-tastic melodies. Others are wretchedly performed. And quite a few don’t make any sense whatsoever. Blender removes its earplugs to present the... more
“We Built This City” 1985
The truly horrible sound of a band taking the corporate dollar while sneering at those who take the corporate dollar
The lyrics of “We Built This City” appear to restate the importance of the band once known as Jefferson Airplane within San Francisco’s ’60s rock scene. Not so, says former leader Grace Slick, who by 1985 had handed her band to singer Mickey Thomas and a shadowy team of outside songwriters.
“Who cares, they’re always changing corporation names,” sneers Slick — whose band had changed its name three times.
Billy Ray Cyrus
“Achy Breaky Heart” 1992
At least the haircut never caught on. Oh, wait…
Country, but not as we know it. Written by Vietnam vet Don “Pickle Puss” Von Tress in the style of a brain-dead “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Achy Breaky Heart” represented every prejudice non-believers have about country: It was trite, it was inane, it was big in trailer parks and it was thoroughly enjoyed by the obese. Strangely, it was covered by Bruce Springsteen, with slightly less irony than you might imagine; still, this does not make it good.
An instrumental break that single-handedly rejuvenated the line-dancing fad.
“Everybody Have Fun Tonight” 1986
If this song was a party, you’d lock yourself in the bathroom and cry
Initially called Huang Chung, but in no way Chinese, London-based funk tools Wang Chung changed their name to make it easier for whitey to pronounce, thus patronizing Asia and Europe in one stroke. Musically one of history’s least convivial party songs, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” was both lyrically preposterous (“On the edge of oblivion/All the world is Babylon”) and sung by Jack Hues as though he would turn to sulphur at the very thought of “fun.”
That chorus: “Everybody have fun tonight/Everybody Wang Chung tonight.”
In which nü-metal veers from disaffected rage to “Will this do?”
Sounding like a middle-aged man trying to fight his way out of his son’s frat party using only random words of youth slang and an unconvincingly gruff tone of voice, Fred Durst dictates a light aerobic workout (“Hands up, now hands down.…Breathe in, now breathe out”) against a background of histrionic metal noise. The song is meaningless and embarrassing in equal measure.
Being addressed as both “partner” and “baby” in Durst’s drawling intro, shortly before being told, bafflingly, “You know what time it is.”
“Ice Ice Baby” 1990
When hip-hop stopped being the “black CNN”
Making fellow early-’90s pop-rap pioneer MC Hammer look cutting-edge by comparison, the chart-topping “Ice Ice Baby” was mindless white rap for mindless white people, set to the plodding bass line from Queen’s “Under Pressure” for easy move-busting. Lyrically, the Iceman recounts a trip to Palm Beach, where he is forced to reach for his “nine” by some moody dope fiends. It later emerged that this nice suburban boy fabricated his tough past and would probably soil himself at the sight of a real gun.
“To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal/Light up the stage and wax a chump like a candle.” None of this was remotely true.
Huey Lewis And The News
“The Heart Of Rock & Roll” 1984
A celebration of rock music …by a band seemingly intent on destroying it
Less a song than a craven attempt to curry favor from drunken arena crowds trained to roar on cue when they hear their city’s name mentioned. Coming off more like one of your dad’s golf buddies than a rock star, Lewis rattles off a list of American cities in a monotone so bland that subbing in “Bakersfield” for “San Antone” would drive the fans wild, and hopefully distract them from the fact that the bar band–caliber music suuuuucked.
The second verse, when that cheeky Huey almost uses the word ass. Ah, 1984 — such a simple time.
“Don’t Worry Be Happy” 1988
Oh, great — a bumper sticker set to music
Just as there are few things more depressing than being told to cheer up, it’s difficult to think of a song more likely to plunge you into suicidal despondency than this. The finger-clicking rhythm, the Sesame Street backing and McFerrin’s various accents — all different, all patronizing — are an object lesson in trying too hard. The lyrics are appalling, too: If your landlord is indeed threatening you with legal action, you should not under any circumstances follow McFerrin’s advice, which seems to involve chuckling at him and saying “Look at me, I’m ’appy” in a comical Jamaican voice.
The whole wretched thing.
“Party All the Time” 1985
Beverly Hills Cop commits felony pop
Now, it might seem like a cruel satire: Leather-suited comedian teams up with Jheri-curled Superfreak to craft hit record. But no — in 1985, Eddie Murphy and Rick James really did get to number 2 with this catatonic checklist of funk clichés: the witlessly parping synthesizers, electro-totalitarian drums that are practically ready to invade Poland on their own, production mimicking karaoke night in an abandoned pet-food factory and…falsetto singing!
James oozes, “She-likes-to-paaarty — all — the — tiiiime,” leaving us in no doubt about what kind of “party” he has in mind. Relax, ladies: He was on crack.
“American Life” 2003
Desperately seeking…contemporary relevance
On which Madonna updates the “Material Girl”–era satire of commercialism and spiritual emptiness — but this time, she does it with what is hands-down the most embarrassing rap ever recorded. Nervous and choppy, she makes Debbie Harry sound as smooth as Jay-Z. The only thing worse than shouting “soy latte”? Rhyming it with “double shot-ay.” The rhymes don’t kick in for a full three minutes, but the song — propelled by a constipated digital beat and some bungled musings on celebrity culture — stinks the whole way through.
After rapping, Madonna sings, “Nothing is what it seeeems” in a manner drained of all profundity.
Paul McCarthney and Stevie Wonder
“Ebony and Ivory” 1982
See, it’s a metaphor: “Side by side on my piano/Keyboard/Oh, Lord/Why don’t we?” McCartney and Wonder want the races to get along as peacefully as the white and black keys on a piano — which seems unlikely, since the white keys didn’t enslave the black keys for hundreds of years. The anguished idealism inspired a Saturday Night Live duet between Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo: “I am dark and you are light/You are blind as a bat and I have sight.”
The repeated chorus at the end — where the song gets even chirpier.
(all people watching this list)