After a lifetime of obsessing about music, I’ve discovered that quality exists on a spectrum. Some music is good, some of it is less so. I realize that this is a controversial concept. But before you decide I’m some sort of asshole (I am by the way), consider this: there is Miles Davis and there is also my high school punk band that made dozens of homemade recordings that not even I can listen to. One is better than the other–and that same thing is true for all music. To say that it all comes down to taste is like saying there is no difference between lasagna and dog food. While I agree that it’s not nice to poke fun of someone’s preference in music we must also grapple with the fact that even dogs prefer lasagna.
Ultimately, this list is about heartbreak. These songs broke my heart. There is so much good music readily available in this world, one wonders how these recordings became hits in the first place. Still, in order to appreciate the finer things in life I suppose we must also know pain. That is why, in each case below I will give you an opportunity to check out something extraordinary as well, but obviously, the choice is yours.
The Ten Worst Songs Ever!
10) Elton John: “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?”
The disgust I have for Disney is the same stuff I reserve for Adam Lanza and child molesters. They’re just terrible. I’ve never seen The Lion King, but this song tells me everything I need to know about it. No film with any dignity would have this on it’s soundtrack. It’s sole purpose is to it appeal to the lowest of the low. When I listen to it, I feel the corporate vision for America in my bones: where advertising is more commonplace than human interaction, where every product is cheaply made, where nothing is healthy, and everyone’s neighborhood is a sea of parking lots and strip malls.
What I don’t feel, is “the love tonight.”
I can forgive this, sometimes we all do things were not proud of for a payday. Besides, Elton John wasn’t always so soulless.
9) Barenaked Ladies: “One Week”
There are millions of reasons this song can eat a dick. I mean, come on, “Chickah the Chinese, the Chinese chicken.” Are you kidding me? Nuff said.
Let’s talk about Nirvana for a moment instead. More importantly, let’s get their legacy straight once and for all. Grunge was essentially butt rock repackaged. Nirvana was about as revolutionary as Jane’s Addiction. And not for nothing, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” didn’t usher in some renaissance of rock music. Quite the opposite, actually. Rock music of the 1990s was in a sorry state. Bands like Radiohead, Pavement, and Smashing Pumpkins weren’t Nirvana’s legacy, they were the exception to it.
That said, none of this was Nirvana’s fault. Kurt Cobain was just doing his thing and got lucky. His body wasn’t even cold and the same corporations that sold you Nevermind were trying to sell you The Offspring, Sublime, Spin Doctors, Gin Blossoms, 4 Non Blondes and of course, this. Anyone with any sense abandoned “alternative” music in the early 90s and looked to hip hop and indie for solace. Still, if you were alive in 1998, there was no escaping this pile of shit. The most awful part of all–this wasn’t even the worst of it.
8) The Cure: “Friday I’m In Love”
With some hindsight The Cure’s albums are often aptly-titled: we wished this record was as good as it’s predecessor, which was the point when their talent disintegrated–not to mention, their true creative peak was The Top. (OK, Maybe I’m pushing it on that last one.)
The point is, in 1992 I thought The Cure could do no wrong. Then I put Wish into my tape deck and embarked upon a long, depressing journey of realization. It was inexplicable how the man who wrote, “Jumping Someone Else’s Train,” “Hot, Hot, Hot,” and “Close To Me,” also did this. If it was an attempt to cash in, it worked. Friday is their best known song. It has 25 million listens on Spotify right now–more than any other tune by them. So kudos to The Cure, they finally wrote a crossover hit. It only cost them their credibility.
The lyrics here are the major issue. Smith basically takes the rhyming pattern from, “Roses Are Red,” except in his poem, “Mondays are blue.” Well, this song is lame and so are you, Robert.
7) Toby Keith: “American Ride”
Is there anything that can save country music from itself at this point? I don’t think so. Country and Western has almost entirely dedicated itself to rap/country–a style so unfortunate that it qualifies as a date rape drug. Fans of C&W music today would probably hate Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson. Which is to say, I could choose just about any country song from the past 30 years and it would be terrible enough for this list. This one is particularly bad, though. What makes it so is Toby Keith’s uncanny ability to articulate the thoughts of those who let Sean Hannity do their thinking for them.
“Both ends of the ozone burnin’, funny how the world keeps turnin’.” Hmmmm, interesting theory, asshole. The truth is, there has been depletion of the ozone layer. For a while there, it was an existential threat to humanity. Luckily, we responded to the scientists who sounded the alarm. Thanks to a worldwide ban on CFCs, the ozone layer should be back to where it was in about 50 years. The best part is, we wont have to worry about terrifyingly high cancer rates.
But on second thought, Toby Keith is probably right. Science is total bullshit.
6) Eric Clapton: “Tears In Heaven”
There is no God. Or heaven for that matter. This song is proof. This isn’t just one of the phoniest things ever put to tape, it’s the sound of a man profiting from the horrible death of his own son. Crocodile tears in Monterey is more like it. Clapton won three Grammys for this, naturally.
You know what never won a Grammy, though? You guessed it: Deeeeeeeeeeeez nuuuuts!
5) Korn: “Freak On A Leash”
Credit where credit is due, this is when Nirvana’s legacy really gets ripe. Am I supposed to think these guys are dangerous because they spelled corn wrong, presumably on purpose? Frankly, I’m much more afraid of their fans. Namely, the legions of meth heads living in trailer parks who loved this shit. My favorite part is the gibberish at the end of the second verse…it’s just, mmmwah!
In retrospect, douche bags in convertibles blasting Macy Gray had better taste in music than this. Who “Nu?”
4) Alanis Morissette: “Ironic”
It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is one to fucking gag me.
3) Brooks and Dunn: “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”
This is perhaps the most popular dance song of the past 50 years. There’s just one problem. It doesn’t have a beat anyone with rhythm could dance to. In other words, this is a dance song for people who cannot dance. It’s for people who think actual dancing is, you know, “gay.” Also, as someone who’s tried it before, it’s damn near impossible to boogie in boots. Therefore,the “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” isn’t a dance so much as it’s an awkward, off time, march. The sort of thing they’d teach to the Hitler youth–Sieg Heil, Shitheads!
2) Beach Boys: “Kokomo”
All I have to do is mention this song and it gets stuck in your head like the infectious disease it is. My friend Layna and I were walking down the street the other day and we heard three seconds of this… it was all over. She began serenading me, “Aruba, Jamaica, ooooh I wanna take ya.” I’ve decided to repay her by making this list.
1) Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Give It Away”
This song was the begining of the end of “alternative” music. It kicked off an entire decade of heinous alt radio airplay that simply didn’t need to happen. The fact that Anthony Kiedis wasn’t a pioneer in this brand of pap only makes it worse. This should have dealt a serious blow to The Red Chili Peppers’ career, except it didn’t. In fact, it rejuvenated them and became one of their “classic” tunes. They’ve enjoyed prolonged success in the years since–even playing the Super Bowl. If this song accomplishes anything, then, it proves that middle America’s tastelessness knows no bounds.
Might I recommend you enjoy this with a Doritos flavored taco?
is a freelance writer and hipster emeritus. His work has appeared in various impressive publications including the one you’re enjoying now and he has his own music blog where he reviews music both old and new: oldnewborrowedblew.blogspot.com