Wednesday, April 21, 2004

As you may have seen, something called Blender Magazine is releasing its list of the 50 Worst Songs Ever. Of course, any such list is necessarily subjective, and yet--I think they're onto something. While the full list is evidently only available in the print magazine, portions of it were released to the media the other day.

Could I find songs that are objectively much, much worse than those on the list? I'm confident I could, but one of the criterion was that the song had to have been a hit. Did they include a few songs that I actually think are pretty good on the list? Of course, as expected. Nonetheless, they've come up with a very solid list of songs that I would call "50 Worst Songs That Many, Many Misguided People Actually Liked a Lot."

According to an AP story on it:
Starship's 1985 anthem, the runaway No. 1 stinker ["We Built This City"], "seems to inspire the most virulent feelings of outrage," editor Craig Marks says. "It purports to be anti-commercial but reeks of '80s corporate-rock commercialism. It's a real reflection of what practically killed rock music in the '80s."

Also sealing the song's fate were Starship's steep fall from grace as the admired Jefferson Airplane and "the sheer dumbness of the lyrics," Marks says.

"Achy Breaky Heart" comes in second, followed by Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight," "Rollin' " by Limp Bizkit and by "Ice Ice Baby." Rounding out the top 10 worst songs ever are "The Heart of Rock-and-Roll," "Don't Worry, Be Happy," Eddie Murphy's "Party All the Time," [Madonna's] "American Life" and "Ebony and Ivory."
"We Built This City" is an inspired choice for worst of all time, and I still retch every time I hear it (usually now in local car dealership commercials).

When Eddie Murphy came on stage to sing in the mid '80's, you kept waiting for the punchline. Well, this is it.

"Don't Worry, Be Happy" is still capable of sending me into a near-homicidal rage when I hear it, and the video for that song is when the realization first began to dawn that Robin Williams isn't really all that funny.

In the interests of full disclosure, though, I have to admit that I kind of liked Huey Lewis' "Heart of Rock 'n' Roll. And whenever I hear "Ebony and Ivory," it puts me in the happy mind of Murphy and Joe Piscopo's wonderful SNL parody in which Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra do a duet on the tune:

WONDER: I am dark, and you are light...

SINATRA: You are blind as a bat, and I have sight. Side by side, you are my amigo, Negro, let's not fight....

The AP story continues:
Blender had no qualms about riding herd on sacred cows, inducting the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," R.E.M.'s "Shiny Happy People" and John Mayer's "Your Body Is a Wonderland." The entry most likely to peeve fans is Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence."

"It's the freshman-poetry meaningfulness that got our goat," Marks says. "With self-important lyrics like, 'Hear my words that I might teach you,' it's almost a parody of pretentious '60s folk-rock.

"If Frasier Crane wrote a song, this would be it."
Would this be a good time to point out that I find Paul Simon to be the most overrated pop star in history? The critics wind themselves into unspeakable ecstasy over him, but c'mon. "I will call you Betty, and Betty when you call me, you can call me Al"? Good grief.

Though the full list has yet to be published, I fully expect to see "We Are the World," Phil Collins' "Sussudio," "Color My World" by Chicago, "The Reflex" by Duran Duran, and "Mr. Roboto" by Styx on it.

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