Where do you start with horrible music ? There's so much of it out there ...
seemingly more each and every day. And how do you define horrible? Some
genres that I can't even listen to (death metal, noise rock, giant swaths of
rap) have rabid fan bases.
Anyhow, I originally published a list of my selections for the ten worst songs
of all time about five years ago when BadCatRecords was still hosted on the old
Geocities website. The list is heavily geared to my teenage listening years
(mid-70s through the early-'80s which means I've ignored decades of equally bad
material. I may have to expand the list to a top-20 at some point.
So the original list got quite a bit of traffic, including comments from a
couple of the artists represented on the list. I actually found that kind of
funny - the thought a rock star would take offense at my comments and take the
time to let me know they thought I was a lowlife tool was actually pretty funny
... When Geocities shut down I essentially forgot about the list, though a
couple of months ago I mentioned it to some friends who expressed interest in
it. Sadly Geocities is gone, but I found the old HTML code on a computer and
I've reposted the list And as an added bonus, in case some of you haven't
encountered these wonderful selections, I've added links to YouTube clips of the
songs. Enjoy !
These aren't in any particular order, but they all have a special place in my
heart. Bad, bad, bad ... so bad there's actually something endearing to each of
Gary Wright "Dreamweaver"
This one came out in 1976 and I clearly remember it getting all kinds of media
attention based on the fact the track didn't include a single guitar - it was
all synthesizers. Cutting edge technology it was. The only problem is the
song sucked and the synthesizers set a new standard for cheesy. You actually
had to wonder if the keyboard guy had fallen asleep during the recording session
and accidently fallen asleep in the keyboard. Okay, that sounded mean and
snitty. I'll tell you that I saw Wright open up for Peter Frampton and in a
live setting he was actually pretty entertaining - wasn't as keen on the flight
suit-styled costume, but what do I know.
Buckner and Garcia "Pac-Man Fever"
As was pointed out to me by one of the performers, I've never written a million
seller, so who cares what I think about this song. It came out at the pinnacle
of the video game crazy and it was insidiously catchy and equally annoying.
The funny thing is it was actually one of the highlights off of an album of
similarly oriented songs ('' and ''). Regardless, unless you like what sounds
like an Atari being strangled, I'm not sure why you would bother. The clip
has the pair lip synching the tune on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. Even
Clark seems befuddled by the tune.
Starland Vocal Band "Afternoon Delight"
So these guys were Washington DC natives and this song made them billionaires -
I read somewhere the song still generates substantial royalties for the writers
(though they make upwards of $200,000 a year off of 'country Roads'. So
'Afternoon Delight' was cute and commercial and 100% nauseating. The thought of
two folks sneaking off from work to engage in a little hanky-panky wasn't bad,
but the smug, nod-nod, delivery was thoroughly irritating. The video for the tune
was hysterical - those little looks (think they're long since divorced).
Rupert Holmes "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)"
Seriously, what is there to say about this song. Everything about it was
annoying. I can't even look at a frozen drink without thinking about this
musical nightmare. And again, I'm sure Homes is enjoying more royalties on
a monthly basis than I'll ever earn across my entire career.
Chris DeBurgh "Lady In Red"
I remember being dumbfounded that this song got airplay. DeBurgh had one of
those voices that just struck a chord with me - the guy sounded like he had his
manly parts stuck in a vice grip while he was being slowly strangled. It was
truly painful to sit through this hideous ballad; made worse by the fact my
local radio station played it and play it and played it. And for those of you who
think I'm being a complete a**wipe, I'll even admit that the live version of this
tune is at least listenable (still don't like it).
Donna Summer "Love To Love You Baby"
I liked the late Donna Summer. She had a beguiling voice and I was always
impressed by her demeanor. That said, her commercial breakthrough was
horrendous. I remember it being scandalous when released. All of the bumping
and grinding was an affront to morals and society. The fact of the matter is
those orgasmic sound effects were about as sexy as listening to that fat guy
farting in the third toilet stall. There was nothing even remotely sexy about
the performance. Summer sounded like she was hurt and needed medical attention
- and not the kind of attention Dr. Love could provide. The only thing worse
than the single was the seemingly endless extended play version. As reflected
on a television performance, the live moans were positively painful to hear.
Kiss are great when they are being Kiss. Kiss are not great when they are
trying to be a top-40 commercial band. Kiss are even less great when singing
sappy ballads like this aberration. The best way to describe the song was that
it sounded like Gene Simmonds was choking on his tongue. "Beth, gasp, gasp
Debby Boone "You Light Up My Life" ()
To be fair, including this one is a little bit like the class bully picking on
the nearsighted science nerd. This song is so bad in so many ways. The fact
that it sold a billion copies just goes to show you how deep some of this
country's problems are. Is there such a thing as a flatulent pop song ?
Well, if so, I'd nominate this piece of insipid navel gazing crappola. This
one is bad as in bad - not bad as in so bad that it is good. I can actually
imagine this playing non-stop for all the souls in purgatory.
Paul Anka "You're having My Baby"
Another one where it's hard to know where to begin. Musically the song was
horrendous with a melody that made chalk-on-a-blackboard sound good; a lyric
that was simultaneously sexist, cheesy, and embarrassing. Hard to imagine any
woman wanting to hear this one ... hard to imagine any potential father daring
to play this for his pregnant wife, or partner and yet it was a monster hit for
Anka. Even more puzzling, I recognize I'm not looker, but even in his prime
Anka was exactly a stunner.
Morris Albert "Feelings"
What makes this one so special is Albert's voice - I've always though the guy
sounded like he was being strangled with piano wire. Concepts such as being in
tune and following the melody were completely ignored.
And as a bonus selection ...
Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder "Ebony and Ivory"
So I'll give the pair credit for trying to make a difference - the sentiments
were certainly nice ... tolerance, racial harmony, cooperation. I'll vote for
all of them. On the other hand, couldn't they have wrapped it up in something
with a little more energy and enthusiasm ? 'Ebony and Ivory' sounded like
something a whack job on an extended dose of tranquilizers might have cranked
out while tied to his dinner chair. Literally sleep inducing ....