I once mentioned Starship’s awful We Built This City in a post – and some people defended it, some were being facetious and some agreed while others agreed it was/is downright awful. I hated it so much I bought the single. (It had been voted worst song of all time and then I saw it there, felt sorry for it, decided I should have it…)
What makes a song so bad to you? There are loads of awful songs – but what tune has bugged you so much that you feel compelled to warn others away from it? We all have at least one. Maybe there are hundreds for you?
I was listening to a radio segment that had callers phoning in to offer their worst songs. Now it is easy to pick novelty songs and bad covers so I’m less interested in those – unless you have a particular gripe with either a bad cover or a novelty song; perhaps it’s the dreaded novelty-cover?
This is where we can look at one-hit-wonders obviously. Because a lot of the top pop songs of their day date almost instantly and through saturation become impossible to enjoy. But many of you would have experienced that situation where you have found yourself singing along to a song, or humming it, even though you know yourself that you hate it, you absolutely loathe it.
Thunderbolts and lightning. Very, very frightening!
Watching a Toto DVD (I’ll only ever say that once) I realised that I hate basically every song the band Toto has ever released. Africa is easy to dislike. But there are plenty more: 99, Georgy Porgy and I think my new most-hated Toto song is I Won’t Hold You Back. Nothing could hold me back from the remote control. I was glad to read shortly after the band is no longer playing together.
For those of you who are about to leap in and defend Toto – don’t. This is a really awful band. The result of a group of musicians who are all very talented and decide to play together even though they have no real idea what good music is. Yes, I know, usually there is an umbrella-term for that and it’s Modern Jazz but once upon a time there was another word for it too: Toto. I will let Rosanna ride because a) it has outlasted the career of the woman that inspired it and b) it is a very cool drum groove. Jeff Porcaro expertly stole from Led Zep’s Fool In The Rain and the Purdie Shuffle to make that. I can’t be mad at him for that.
Anyway, if I had to pick just one insipid, annoying, hideous song – the kind that all but makes my toes curl just thinking about it – I might pick I Won’t Hold You Back. Then again, I can see how some people would choose We Built This City. There’s something pretty sick-making about it as soon as it starts.
Some of the songs on the list from the radio program were: Ohio Express’ Yummy Yummy Yummy, I’ve Got Love In My Tummy. There’s worse than that, right?
How about: Tiny Tim’s Tip Toe Through The Tulips – well clearly anyone can see that he’s hamming it up there. He’d also be in with that whole ukulele crowd these days too. He could probably get a 10% discount at one of those stores that sells herbal pills and he would be sweet-as for a feed anywhere up Cuba St.
Next was Collette’s Ring My Bell – I can certainly see how that would make the list. And I guess the same can be said for Len Chandler’s Beans In My Ears (though we can’t just blame Len for that, loads of people knew no better and played around with that novelty-folk standard).
Shannon Noll and Natalie Bassingthwaighte’s cover of Don’t Give Up was on the list. And though it’s a cover – and there really are loads of revolting covers in the world (many of them by Shannon Noll) – I will count this one because not only is it not a patch on the Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush original, but there is also a fine cover of it by Willie Nelson and Sinead O’Connor proving the song could be covered.
The penultimate song on the list was Marty Rhone’s Denim And Lace – again I won’t question its worth with regard to the list but I could think of worse myself. He’s having fun in a John Rowles kind of a way.
Finally the list (which did of course include We Built This City) ended with Charlene’s Never Been To Me. I personally find the song too amusing to be revoltingly hideous but that’s just me. I’m certainly not saying I like it.
I found M’s The History on my iPod the other day and gave it a listen. And I have to say that Pop Muzik really is an obnoxious song. And I will select it here, over Toto’s entire career, but only just. And that’s mostly for the memory I have of it: an intermediate deputy-principal who had a crush on a couple of the students, lived with his mother and taught formal dancing for the school social. He used that song on a loop to teach the cha-cha.
But when pushed to name one song that does it for you – and by does it for you I of course mean does not do it for you at all – what would it be? What song makes your toes curl? Is it a novelty ditty that you could never see the point of? A particularly bad pop song? What is the song that you really can’t stand at all? You can’t laugh at it, can’t see the funny side occasionally, can’t have a bit of a dance to it in a crowd with mates who are enjoying it? What song do you loathe above all others? And why? Did you have a soft-shoe/heavy-breathing deputy school principal too perhaps?