Worst rock songs

January 2, 2021 • 1:45 pm

To complete today’s pair of splenetic rants, I’ll simply list what I’ve added, over the years, to my list of the Worst Rock Songs of All Time. (Well, some don’t qualify as “rock”, but they were all played on popular radio.) I’ll link each song to the original recording. .

You know what to do: add to the list!

WORST SONGS

Green Berets (Sgt. Barry Sadler).  What can I say? I’m a conscientious objector.

An Open Letter to My Teenage Son (Victor Lundberg)  A real anti-hippie song, the MAGA of the Sixties. You probably haven’t heard it, but it was popular.

Spill the Wine (Eric Burdon)  Burdon couldn’t recognize good lyrics if they bit him in the tuchas.

Brand New Key (Melanie) Sexual innuendo with roller skates.

I’ve Never Been to Me (Charlene) Don’t miss this one! Seriously! She’s been undressed by kings but is unfulfilled without a husband and baby.  n.b. lyric: “I’ve been to Nice/and the Isle of Greece”.  There is no “isle of Greece”!

Octopus’s Garden (The Beatles)  I know some people are gonna say this one’s good. . .

Macarthur Park (Richard Harris) Does anybody like this song?

Old Rivers (Walter Brennan) This kind of grows on you, but it’s still a dreadful song.

Take the Money and Run (Steve Miller) This takes the prize for the worst rhymes in any song (e.g., “They headed down to, ooh, old El Paso/That’s where they ran into a great big hassle” or “Hoo-hoo-hoo, billy Mack is a detective down in Texas/You know he knows just exactly what the facts is”.) They don’t write songs like that any more—thank God.

Muskrat Love (The Captain and Tennille) Anthropomorphic muskrats fall in love (“Muzzle to muzzle, now anything goes.”) This song has a decent tune, and I always had a thing for Tennille, but the words are cringeworthy (n.b. to Toni: muskrats don’t eat bacon or cheese!)

The Name Game (Shirley Ellis). This was a huge hit, and many of my contemporaries can still do the name thing.

Drops of Jupiter (Train) For pretentious songs since 2000, this takes the cake. (“She checks out Mozart while she does tai bo”)

291 thoughts on “Worst rock songs

  1. I dunno. I’m kinda soft on Macarthur Park. It’s got that show tune lamentation thing that I wish I could sing.

    1. Me, too. I think I’ve mentioned here before that I once helped a friend leave a cake out in the rain for a guy who had stood her up. Whenever we talk on the phone every year or two (40 years after the fact) we have to belt out that song.

      1. Was just inspired to FaceTime my friend in Ojai, California, and we did a beautiful duet of the Cake song. Spared you guys a recording thereof. My dog perked up her ears at the Oh, noooooooo howl. Lucky friend just came back from riding her horse.

          1. The Lettermen (and Johnny Mathis) were my favorite make-out music in high school. But somehow I don’t think they have the right “edge” for MacArthur Park🤓

    2. MacArthur Park could be seen as almost “so bad it’s good”. It’s kind of like William Shatner’s “musical” output – you really can’t take it seriously, but it’s fun in it’s sheer campiness. It’s basically the musical equivalent of videos that are subtitled “A dramatic reading”.

      Interestingly, Richard Harris decided to do the album on a lark after a drinking bout with Jimmy Webb. MacArthur Park was low on the list of songs Webb had in mind for Harris, but it turned out that Harris absolutely loved it and focused his efforts on making that song his signature ‘hit’: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/nov/11/how-we-made-macarthur-park

      Harris’ television performance of it is a camp classic (and gets a cameo in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GhK4X-hMKA

    3. How could you not love MacArthur Park? Whenever this 64-year-old dad wants to irritate his 20-something kids, it is the perfect lip-sync song. It drives them crazy!

      1. Like you or any other fella ever took your eyes off the “ANNETTE” printed in block letters across the front of her Mickey Mouse Club blouse. 🙂

      1. “Manfred Mann: Blinded by the Light”

        noooooo! I love that song! Huge nostalgia for my childhood. And it has a great mood.
        I won’t give it up, I won’t!

        1. I never liked Springsteen myself. For me he was the 70’s REM. Never “got it.” But I really like the Mann version of his song.

        2. Track One, Side One of The Boss’s first vinyl LP, “Greetings from Ashbury Park, NJ.”

          Peak Bruce.

          The Manfred Mann cover is an inferior imitation. Like making Velouté sauce from a packet.

    1. But I will grant you: pretty much anything by REM!

      The most overrated band I can think of. I find their music so unbelievably banal my mind can barely process it as “music.”

      1. Aww, I love R.E.M.! Granted, a lot of their middle career/popular albums are my least favourites, but if I do listen to them, it’s the earlier stuff (and a few later gems). But I still do the hand claps along with “Shiny Happy People” if I hear it in the store, even though the song is objectively awful. All of their albums vary with pop stuff, rock, and a lot of country influences. If you care to, check out the songs “Country Feedback,” “E-bow the Letter, “So. Central Rain” and “Swan Swan H” and just for fun, “Electrolite.” I’m not anticipating you to change your mind about banality, but depending on how much of their catalogue you’ve heard, those songs are a bit different than the extremely popular songs, which usually were not their best. “Country Feedback” has absolutely no pop hooks and the real draw is the emotionality of Michael Stipe’s singing. Gets me every time. If any of those, listen to that one (if you want).

      2. But I agree with you about Springsteen. Never got it either, though I have heard a deeper cut or two that almost changed my mind.

          1. Oh for sure there is talent and the band has a great chemistry and you can tell they are having fun, enjoying what they are doing. Those things matter to me when I see a band’s show. It does not seem like rote, which a lot of old, popular bands give off when they play live.

  2. I’d forgotten about “I’ve Never Been to Me”! I wasn’t unhappy about the fact, either.

    I DO enjoy “Octopus’s Garden”, particularly George’s very nice guitar solos, but it’s definitely not on par with the rest of album, which is probably my favorite of all time.

    As for additions, I would throw in “Juke Box Hero,” by Foreigner. It’s so cheesy.

    1. I also enjoy Octopus’s Garden. It’s a fun, happy little ditty.

      That is one of my favorite albums, but I still place The White Album and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band above it. Still, as a concept album, Abbey Road is sheer brilliance.

    2. I’ve got a soft spot for Ringo’s solo “No No Song.”

      And also for “Photograph,” from his first solo album. I don’t care for that one much musically, but I dated a girl in college for a while and, I swear, every time, without fail, that we walked into a bar uptown, that tune was playing on the jukebox. It became a running joke between us.

  3. I’d have to add “The Birdie Song” (by The Tweets), “Mouldy Old Dough” (by Lieutenant Pigeon), and the Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”.

    1. You and John Lennon, as well, on “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, according to what I’ve read. I can see where you’re both coming from, but I have to admit to a near-religious inability to find much fault with the Fab Four. It is a silly song, but it’s peppy.

      1. There’s certainly a whole sub-category of “songs I like, even though they aren’t very good”. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (and Lady Madonna) often seem to make that list. I personally like both of them.

        My only real disagreement with Jerry on music lies in the fact that I happen to like “Brand New Key”, which he has excoriated on any number of occasions. Hey, I recognize that it’s not a Schubertian lied, but I was 15 when it came out… I think your “silly, but peppy” serves nicely.

            1. Contains the memorable line, ‘ I drove my tractor through your haystack last night ‘. Amazing what some people will do for 43 acres!

        1. I also love “Brand New Key” . But then, I also like Muskrat Love”. I mean, a rodent love song! Most music is very speciest, humans this, humans that, da da da. Then along comes a sweet tune about a big rodent. What’s not to like?

    2. Ob la di Ob la Da is just an example of popular Jamaican calypso style….uncomplicated, simple, regular rhythm, like ordinary folk would hum during the day. The Beatles excelled at distilling many styles of music.
      Not all of their pieces are works of “high art” genius. Some are just plain folks playing or singing. Suits me fine.

  4. I loathe Steve Miller forever and always.

    As for “Octopus’s Garden,” I can think of a worse Beatles song: “Yer Blues.” And, just for the hell of it, the worst song the Beatles covered has got to be “Mr. Moonlight.” Wow, that’s awful, especially when the organ comes in. Was this intended to be a “comedy” song? Even so, it never should have made it on to Beatles for Sale. I’d rather listen to “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).”

        1. Tony Orlando and Dawn used to have a regular spot at my old local pub in Camberwell in the mid/late 1980s – I managed to avoid them, fortunately. It was a great pub, called The Enterprise and with a space shuttle painted on the pub sign, run by an old gay black couple who often held lock-ins for regulars at the weekend.

    1. Agreed about Steve Miller. He’s one of the very few musicians who, when he comes on the radio, causes me to switch it off or change stations as quickly as possible.

      1. Ditto. Steve Miller is the king of insipid, non-rhyming lyrics. The fact that he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame underscores the irrelevance of said institution.

    2. I love “Yer Blue,” especially the version John performed on TV with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and other luminaries. But then again, I’ve always been a bit of a downer. Agree with the cheesiness of “Mr. Moonlight”, though they at least performed it well. And “YKMN (LUTN)” IS an openly comical song, at least, so it’s easier to handle as you say.

      I agree wholeheartedly about Steve Miller, especially “Abracadabra” the next line for which I deliberately mishear as “I wanna reach out and stab ya.”

    3. I loathe Steve Miller forever and always.

      You’re a good man, Mr. Lyons. That song about “some people call me a gangster” is one of the two songs (along with Elton John’s execrable “Bennie and the Jets”) that I’m most rapidly able to recognize and turn off when it comes on the radio–usually before the third note of the song.

    4. I like Steve Miller for a few reasons. He was part of a great musical performance I saw. In 1992, he opened for the Grateful Dead. He joined them to close the show with All Along the Watchtower and Turn on Your Lovelight. James Cotton was the star with his harmonica. Then they did Gloria for an encore. Miller trading guitar licks with Jerry Garcia was special.

      Miller also helped me with a finance exam in business school. This was in my introductory finance class. There was a bonus question which went something like this:
      Money talks
      But it don’t sing and dance and it don’t walk
      -Neil Diamond, Forever in Blue Jeans
      Comment.

      I think he wanted some insight into the nature of money. My answer (for which I got full credit):
      Take the money and run
      -Steve Miller

      I do think Space Cowboy is a great song. Miller was born in Milwaukee. He began his musical career in Chicago with Paul Butterfield. He played with people like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, and James Cotton. So the Dead show was kind of full circle. Soldier Field is not far from 2120 South Michigan Avenue, home of Chess Records and now home to the Blues Heaven Foundation.
      http://www.bluesheaven.com/home.html

      1. I too like Steve Miller. At least some of that is, admittedly, because I grew up with his music. In addition to his many widely known songs I like some of his more obscure songs. Some of which have withstood the test of time better, for me, than his more popular songs. For example, Wild Mountain Honey and Winter Time.

    5. Worst Beatles song: “Hello Goodbye,” though “When I Get Home” offers some stiff competition. “Mr. Moonlight” is high on my list of all-time bad covers.

    6. “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).”

      One of the lads’ most underrated tunes. That and “Old Brown Shoe.”

  5. “Open Letter” — every sentence had so many dependent clauses I just got lost in the grammar.
    “Macarthur Park” — most of the commenters on YouTube seem to like it. I’d never heard of it before, and I rather like it too. Most of all I like the fact that I had no idea Richard Harris ever released a song album (though I guess his leading role in the film of “Camelot” should have been a hint that it was on the cards). He’s in tune and doesn’t shy away from the high notes — what more could you ask from an actor?

        1. But that’s a comedy classic! — even if unintentionally (and with Shatner, I don’t think it ever is unintentional). Schoenberg called it Sprechstimme. Shatner calls it singing.

        2. Ben Folds produced a really good album by Shatner, called Has Been. I prefer his version of Common People over the original, although Joe Jackson does more singing than Bill Shatner.

          1. I listen to that version of “Common People” a lot too, but I can’t say I prefer it over the original. I appreciate them both equally, I suppose.

        3. Leonard Nimoy did something truly horrible about the same time, the details of which my memory has thankfully expunged. It must have been something bad though, to only have a “”beware” warning, but no memory of why.

        4. IF Shatner was in fact SINGING that and other tracks on his 1968 album, “The Transformed Man,” then how would it differently sound were he instead giving dramatic readings with background instrumental music?

          Shatner is giving dramatic readings. He recites from “Shakespeare’s “Henry V” and “Hamlet.” He is not singing musical notes and to my knowledge never claimed to do so in this album. If he’s singing then anyone who recorded readings from their or others literary works apparently also are singing.

          Of course for the last more than twenty years rap/hip hop has been called music. I’m glad to look at rap sheet music to ID the notes of the melody. I’ve yet to see any. I’d call it some kind of performance art, perhaps a kind of slam poetry with rhythmic percussion instrumental accompaniment. Rap artists are pretty good about making their lines rhyme. Don’t they know that rhyme is looked down on by the literary cognoscenti of the last several decades? Seems to me that to dispense with rhyme lightens the burden on the poet, including having a sufficiently large vocabulary to make quality rhyming (both internal and external) possible.

    1. I love Macarthur Park. You obviously were not listening to music in 1968-69 because the radio stations gave the song a lot of play then. Jimmy Webb, the writer of the song, met Richard Harris in Los Angeles in late 1967 and they became good friends and drank and sang together in the evenings. After Harris returned to London, he called Webb and said he wanted to make some musical recordings and that he would bankroll the entire project. So Jimmy jumped on a plane and went to London and as they say, “the rest is history”. The song is about a failed love affair of Webb’s, with a woman he used to meet in Macarthur Park almost daily for lunch. The Harris version of the song made in to number 2 on the music charts and the Donna Summer version which came out ten years later in 1978 made it to number one.

      1. Umm. . . yes I was listening to the radio then; it was the peak of my teenage years. I don’t care how the song originated or how popular it was (the Da Vinci Code was a huge bestseller), it’s still an awful song. Popularity doesn’t make something good to my ears; most of these songs were hits.

        As for the snark in your second sentence, that will keep you from posting here any more. You obviously haven’t read the rules for posting on the sidebar.

        1. The whole concept of a worst song is quite useless. What most people here describe is not a statement about the quality a song but rather an opinion. And finding snark in Robert Grebe’s sounds defensive. Robert’s letter was very good and fair I think.

          I absolutely cannot stand any song by the Carpenters but a dear, very bright couple I spent time with thanks they are the best.

          I think that the idea that one person can describe good or bad art, music, literature is just plain silly. Preferences, rages or indifference? Yes But good or bad? Useless and presumptuous.

  6. I heard in enhanced interrogation, they first try pulling out teeth, or drive splinters under the fingernails. When nothing else works, they typically move to play Supertramp’s “Dreamer”. Few know this, but the Khmer Rogue rejected to use the song, deeming it too inhumane.

    1. It’s like the guy who’s asked if he has a last request before facing the firing squad.

      “Please, play ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ one last time.”

      “Okay, anything else?”

      “Yeah, shoot me first.”

  7. Here are some actual country songs that deserve consideration.

    1. Get Your Tongue Outta My Mouth Cause I’m Kissing You Good-bye.
    2. I Don’t Know Whether To Kill Myself or Go Bowling.
    3. If I Can’t Be Number One In Your Life, Then Number Two On You.
    4. I Sold A Car To A Guy Who Stole My Girl, But It Don’t Run So We’re Even.
    5. Mama Get A Hammer (There’s A Fly On Daddy’s Head).
    6. If The Phone Don’t Ring, You’ll Know It’s Me.
    7. She’s Actin’ Single and I’m Drinkin’ Doubles.
    8. How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away.
    9. I Keep Forgettin’ I Forgot About You.
    10. I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well.
    11. I Still Miss You Baby, But My Aim’s Gettin’ Better.
    12. I Wouldn’t Take Her To A Dog Fight, Cause I’m Afraid She’d Win.
    13. I’ll Marry You Tomorrow, But Let’s Honeymoon Tonight.
    14. I’m So Miserable Without You; It’s Like Having You Here.
    15. I’ve Got Tears In My Ears From Lying On My Back Cryin’ Over You.
    16. If I Had Shot You When I Wanted To, I’d Be Out By Now.
    17. My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, And I Don’t Love You.
    18. My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend and I Sure Do Miss Him.
    19. Please Bypass My Heart.
    20. She Got The Ring and I Got The Finger.
    21. You Done Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat.
    22. You’re the Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly.
    23. Her Teeth Were Stained, But Her Heart Was Pure.
    24. She’s Looking Better After Every Beer.
    25. I Ain’t Never Gone To Bed With An Ugly Woman, But I Sure Woke Up With a Few.

    1. You have to enjoy some of the great titles, though. “If the Phone Don’t Ring, You’ll Know It’s Me,” is actually reasonably clever, and some of the others are funny enough that it’s worth the song being written.

      1. I agree. That’s a really good one and I don’t like much country music. But this list seems to be more a “Top Ten Funny Country Music Songs” flavor. Most of these I have never heard of.

      1. End over end neither left nor the right
        Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights.

        The song, written by Paul Craft and performed by Bobby Bare, was actually nominated for a grammy.

    2. Another interesting title, “Would Jesus Wear a Rolex Watch?” – Chet Atkins. Recorded by Ray Stevens. IIRC, not a few stations’ delicate sensibilities were offended and refused to play it.

    3. Freddie Hart: “If fingerprints showed up on skin wonder who’s I’d find on you?” There’s also the song (spoiler alert–phony) title, “If the axe handle hadn’t slipped, I’d be a free man today.”

    4. You made me LOL. I love your list and it’s a keeper!

      What about Jesus Take the Wheel? I hate that song. And there’s Tiptoe Through the Tulips.

      I like the tune to Drops of Jupiter even though it’s a stupid song.

  8. Macarthur Park are Muskrat Love beautifull and evocative. And what’s wrong with sexual innuendo? I love, love all three.

  9. “Incense and Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock (1967). Hard to choose which is worse, the melody or the lyrics. Plus it has earworm potential.

  10. May I presume that our gracious host, along with any number of his fine interlocutors, have read “Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs”? It deals with this topic at great length, in his inimitably humorous style. Several of the songs that are spotlighted in the book are on our esteemèd PCC(E)’s list. I only regret that #3 in Barry’s book, Paul Anka’s “You’re Having My Baby” didn’t make the cut here–a more nauseating set of sounds is impossible for me to imagine.

    Of course, I love Macarthur Park, both the Richard Harris and the Donna Summer versions, so I suspect that others will consider my taste suspect. By the way, in Barry’s book (which was based on a poll of his readers), Macarthur Park finished #1, but Barry himself admitted he didn’t mind it.

    A chacun son goût…

    1. It’s a great book…the highlight of which for me may be his retelling of the time when someone in the audience for “The Fly II” belted out, “Having My Maggooooot!”

    2. Whenever I hear “Having My Baby” I think of the first episode of WKRP, before the format change, Johnny Fever plays the song….

      …(supposedly) by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

    3. “Rockin’ Robin”
      Any duet by Donny and Marie comes off as @$$-clenchingly creepy
      Any AC/DC song, which is written by coming up with a cliché for a title, and then beating it into the ground for three minutes and 30 seconds.

  11. I kind of like “Brand New Key,” but any worst songs list must include Paul Anka’s “You’re Having My Baby” and “Seasons in the Sun,” from Terry Jacks, proving that we Canadians can be world class at awful music. Oh, add “Lucretia McEvil,” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

  12. More pop than Rock (but so is Macarthur Park), the song ‘Lovin You’ has a part that sounds like some poor girl is being tortured. Any time I hear it, I share her pain.

  13. Spill the Wine is such a cool song… Brand new Key is excellent too. Worse than Octupus’ Garden I’d nominate Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

    1. But for sheer dreadfulness in the teen pop necrophilia genre, Honey by Bobby Goldsboro just surpasses Leader of the Pack.

  14. ‘You’re Having My Baby’ by Paul Anka. From that era it’s the only song I can think of. From my era: anything by Nickelback, James Blunt’s ‘You’re Beautiful’. I’ve always hated ‘Fairytale Of New York’ too, just because it’s got such an inane melody, but no-one else agrees. ‘Yesterday’ is pretty dismal, ditto ‘Hotel California’.

    1. I agree about Yesterday — far too miserable. I’ll tell you why she had to go, dude — you’re too maudlin…. and Hotel California — “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”. WTF? And they stole one of the opening chords from Angie for the signature sound.

        1. I’ve heard Hotel California about a zillion too many times. Don’t mind Peaceful, Easy Feeling.
          Did anyone mention the one about Laurie (Laura?) and the sweater (not to mention Tell Laura I Love Her?

    2. “Your Having My Baby” is one where, depending on how one pronounces the title, you can get all sorts of meanings out of it, ranging from “don’t get an abortion” to “so whose baby is it?”. (I’ve never heard the song.)

      1. A bit like Ace Of Base’s ‘All That She Wants’. A Scandinavian band and their grasp of English was every-so-slightly off – the central lyric was ‘all that she wants / is another baby / she’s gone tomorrow’. Opinion among listeners was varied as to whether the ‘she’ in question was sexually voracious or incredibly broody.

        And count yourself lucky you’ve never heard You’re Having My Baby. It’s not just awful, soulless crap it’s also lyrically creepy.

  15. How can you have a worst song list that does not include In the Year 2525 by Zager & Evans? It makes Ballad of the Green Berets sound like Mozart.

    1. But, it should be points for an accurate year – the Year 2525 maybe is when we really do start our downward slide.

    2. The lyrics might be daft but the tune is great. Plenty of good bands have covered that song and I really like it. There are are all these wonderful one-hit wonder songs from that era that I adore; another one is A Horse With No Name…terrible, terrible lyrics, but one of the most mesmerising melodies ever written.

  16. No list of bad rock songs is complete without Nickelback. It doesn’t matter which song since they’re all the same and they’re all terrible.

  17. And -oh my gosh – Walk on the Wild Side? Wonderful song. But I must revise ‘muskrat love’ I knew that from a University of Montana Concert sung by the composer/guitar player It was a lyrical truly serious song. Captain and Tenniel cheapened it.

    Also I have marked the box “Save my name…” but still have to fill it in every time.

    1. I too love “Walk on the Wild Side,” but I could really do without that saxophone. That instrument makes my skin crawl, with very few exceptions.

  18. Nobody’s brought up stuff like “Who Put the Bop in the Bop-She-Bop Bop Bop,” or whatever it was called. That’s a whole category, though for the life of me I can’t remember any of the others at the moment.

  19. I will certainly agree that Octupus’s Garden is the worst –>Beatles<– song, but I'm not sure it quite goes into a list of worst songs ever.

    I utterly dislike MacArthur Park. Here is Palo Alto, there is a terrific restaurant called MacArthur Park and I remain willing to eat there.
    I will nominate "To All the Girls I Loved Before" sung by Willie Nelson and Julio Eglesias.

    Once in a blue moon, a song works really well sung by one singer but sounds terrible in the hands of another. I love listening to "The Garden Song" when sung by Pete Seeger, but it sounds terrible sung by John Denver. But the most extreme example of this is "Memories" from the musical "Cats". Beautiful when sung by Jennifer Hudson, but I can't say I care for Barry Manilow's rendition.

    1. Oh god, including musical theatre songs adds a whole new category of awfulness to the list – Memories really is about as wretched and unpleasant a song as I could have thought of, that’s a very good shout. Without ever having consciously sat down and chosen to listen to it I’ve nevertheless heard that song about a billion more times than I can stand.

  20. I’ve heard others dismiss Macarthur Park. “Someone left the cake out in the rain” is often cited as problematic; that’s weird, but it doesn’t bother me.

    I think the music is great. Another interesting lyric: “I recall a yellow cotton dress foaming like a wave on the ground around your knees.” Great image.

    If you want a bad song, I submit “Having my baby” by Paul Anka. Maybe it was just the overplaying on the radio, but I hate it.

  21. * Seasons in the Sun — Terry Jack
    * Hands up Baby Hands Up — Ottawan
    * Scarborough Fair — traditional English folk song, guitar arrangement stolen by Paul Simon from Martin Carthy who had shared it with Dylan (whence Girl From the North Country- a much nicer song) and didn’t realise Simon would nick it and make a mint from it. And it’s a horrible song: say hi to the chick there who I don’t love any more, and gimme half a pound of cabbages, and some parsley…
    * A whole heap of Australian songs from the 70s & 80s that no one here will want to know about.

    1. Damn, you beat me to “Seasons In The Sun”. Worth a couple vomits any day!

      However, I beg to disagree on “Scarborough Fair”. I think the S&G version with the anti-war “Canticle” countermelody is a lovely tune, very evocative of the times.

      1. Agree with Jacks – Scarborough Fair is a brilliant folk song & melody. I know a second tune to that though as well

  22. Of course Octopus’ Garden is a bad song. It is an imitation of a typical working class English music hall piece, which are simple minded, of simple construction, easy to sing, uncomplicated. It isnt the only Beatles song modeled on English music halls. Maxwell’s Siver Hammer is another example. The genius of the Beatles was their eclecticism combined with originality and genuinely great music. These examples are intended to amuse, not just announce great art. That’s why the Beatles are loved so widely. And let’s not overlook George Martin’s crucial role in arranging the music. He’ is the fifth Beatle and a major contributor to their genius.

    1. I was recently playing thru their albums. It is still astonishing how one song will have a very different sound from the next (in terms of instruments, etc), and each is as if that was their established and well crafted style.

  23. Back in the mid-70s, the late Kenny Everett, then a DJ on Capital Radio in London, featured candidates for the worst records of all time over several of his weekly shows. A poll of listeners resulted in the following worst 30 (in reverse order):

    30 The Puppet Song – Hughie Green
    29 Hey Little Girl – Ray Sharp
    28 My Feet Start Tappin – Adolf Babel and Friends
    27 Made You – Don Duke
    26 Going Out Of My Head – Raphael
    25 Revelations – Daniel
    24 My Girl – Floyd Robinson
    23 The Shifting Whispering Sands – Eamonn Andrews
    22 Kinky Boots – Patrick Macnee & Honor Blackman
    21 Dotty – Micky Most
    20 Cherry Pie – Jess Conrad
    19 The Big Architect – Duncan Johnson
    18 I’m Going To Spain – Steve Bent
    17 Mechanical Man – Bent Bolt and the Nuts
    16 Let’s Get Together – Hayley Mills
    15 Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen
    14 29th September – Equip 84
    13 Why Am I Living? – Jess Conrad
    12 Runk Bunk – Adam Faith
    11 The Drunken Driver – Farlaine Huskey
    10 I Get So Lonely – Tanya Day
    09 The Lovers’ Concerto – Mrs Miller
    08 Laurie – Dicky Lee
    07 Spinning Wheel – Mel & Dave
    06 This Pullover – Jess Conrad
    05 Transfusion – Nervus Norvus
    04 The Deal – Pat Campbell
    03 Paralysed – The Legendary Stardust Cowboy
    02 Wunderbar – Zarah Leander
    01 I Want My Baby Back – Jimmy Cross

    Special kudos to Jess Conrad for getting three records in the 30. Those were the days when dross was real dross!

    1. “Surfin’ Bird”? My brother-in-law sings that every Thanksgiving while the turkey’s in the oven, until the whole family rises as one and demands he stop.

      I kinda missed hearing it this goddamn pandemic year.

  24. I present for consideration:

    On the first part of the journey
    I was looking at all the life
    There were plants and birds and rocks and things
    There was sand and hills and rings
    The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
    And the sky with no clouds
    The heat was hot, and the ground was dry
    But the air was full of sound

    (I actually like the song, as long as i don’t listen to the lyrics)

    The funny thing in all of this is that I can see both sides on many of these songs. I think Muskrat Love is horrible on all levels. I despise several of the others, as well, but I can see why there are people that like them, My tastes have changed with time and knowledge of music (theory and practice. Learning theory helped, and the second instrument is where things clicked. No, I am not a good musician, but I have fun)

    I won’t argue music anymore, though my neighbor’s 17 year old (male, white) kid belting out WAP loudly in their driveway the other month did make me shudder on several levels

    1. As for those curious lyrics, there are so many songs that seem great — are considered great or at least acceptable — with weird non-sensical lyrics. The Beatles did that a lot, for example. And then there is Yes. Their lyrics generally leave one baffled. And yet I like them.

      1. I agree. In music lyrics are sort of secondary to me. Sensical lyrics are absolutely not necessary for me to like a song. Heck, I don’t even need to be able to make out the words at all in order to like it. As Tolkien once pointed out “Cellar Door” is a beautiful sounding phrase.

        Music is about aesthetically pleasing sound. If the lyrics make sense and by themselves evoke appreciation then absolutely that can add to the song. The best songs are great both musically and lyrically. But there are plenty of songs that suck but that have good or even great lyrics. This is frequent among singer / songwriter types. Beyond boring song musically, but decent lyrics. Doesn’t work for me.

    2. Dave Barry made reference to WAP in his 2020 in review column. Never heard of it, so looked it up. It’s the must disgusting lyric I have ever read.

  25. MacArthur Park was written by Jimmy Webb on a dare by Richard Harris who told him something to the effect of “You’re the hottest songwriter in the world right now. I bet you could write the dumbest song possible and I, Richard Harris, could sing it and it would STILL go to #1.” It did. So, yeah. Bad song. But deliberately so.

    Muskrat Love is America, originally, not Captain & Tennille. And the America version (produced by George Martin) has a lighter tempo and really cool syncopated bass line. Makes the song.

    Octopus’ Garden? Yeah, not great. But that guitar line and catchy hook keep it from being even The Beatles worst song let alone worst ever. Hell, it’s not even the worst song on Abbey Road. Ask the Beatles themselves. None of them, save Mccartney, wanted anything to do with Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Rightly so.

    1. Even if Macarthur Park is deliberately bad, it’s still bad, and went to #1 on the charts by people who liked it as a GOOD song.
      I just listened to America’s version again, and yes, it’s better than C&T’s but it’s still a bad song–lyrics wise. I like the tune, but can’t get down with amorous muskrats eating bacon and cheese.

      1. A German friend was raving to me about a comedy act where they’d translated McArthur Park into German. “The lyrics are so funny when translated into German.” I spent half an hour trying to explain that this isn’t an artefact of translation — they’re even more stupid in English, but they didn’t believe me.

          1. Yes.. McArthurs Park schmiltz im Dunkeln,
            All die süße grüne die Kuchenglasur fliesst runter…

            Personally I think they took acid, wrote it, and booked and paid for the recording studio before it wore off.

      2. The same people (I’m guessing) helped King of Queens run for nine seasons on network TV. The same people (or their children, possibly) made My Big Fat Greek Wedding the most successful romantic comedy of all time.

        Donald Trump is President.

        There’s no accounting for it.

  26. What, no Name Game? Not even with the always-good-for-a-cheap-laugh Chuck? Who couldn’t love a song with that infectious rhythm and laughably complicated instructions into the bargain.
    Schubert lied — hahaha!
    I’m not a big fan of “Yellow Submarine,” except of course for John’s homophobic barb toward The Cute One.
    Me and You and a Dog [sorry] Named Boo? I should hate it, yet it brings back bittersweet memories of a bitter and not at all sweet time.

    1. The Bird is the Word was covered by the Ramones and the Cramps in the late 70s. The Trashmen were stunning in some respects when they released this song. Pop music was dominated by singers like Paul Anka, Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, etc. American rock ‘n roll was just a bit short of the British Invasion which we really needed. The Bird is the Word was primitive, fun and we had a dance to go with it. It could get you thrown out of a surfin stomp.

  27. “Surfin’ Bird” was a deliberate satire. “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” wasn’t. “Green Berets” was a plain advertisement. It’s hard to say which is the worst.

    1. Steve Martin did “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” in the Frampton/Bee Gees “Sgt. Pepper” film. That was pretty bad.

  28. Feels like the first time, by Foreigner
    Next time I fall in love, by Peter Cetera
    Both worthy of the technicolor yawn

  29. I saw the Muskrat Love YouTube clip from this AM – it was a special sort of misery, like in a paralytic bad dream where the innards are slowly drawn out of holes in the body…

      1. I don’t see how anyone can not like “Ripple.”

        And, even though it’s a bit commercial for my taste, I’ve got a special feeling for “Touch of Grey.” After Hurricane Andrew hit Miami, we were without power anywhere for a couple weeks. For a while, I couldn’t even raise a radio station on the battery-powered boom box. When finally I fiddled with the knobs and found one, “Touch of Grey” was playing and — wouldn’t you know it? — it was right in the middle of the final “we will survive” chorus.

    1. I heartily agree.

      Though I’ve got to admit that they did make some good music, when taken as a whole the music of the Dead is about the most dull I can think of. I have never understood their popularity. I can only guess that it has to do with pot. Some sort of synergy between their music and a thoroughly stoned brain.

  30. This isn’t a rock song, but I heard it for the first time in about 35 years in a restaurant in Germany. In the 1980s there was an indescribably bad TV show called The Love Boat. I’d completely forgotten that it even existed until — after a bunch of schmaltzy Latin love songs and Three Times a Lady and that kind of thing — the theme song to it started playing. Anyone who has ever heard it will remember it and cringe. And then in about half an hour will remember a different line from it and cringe…

  31. Rick Beato has a great YT of a stream in which he explains why Boomers dislike modern pop music:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDUSFpek0PM
    Rick is 59 himself and a 40 year professional in the music industry. I highly recommend his YT series, which includes a “why this song is great” series, and covers many tunes this crowd would appreciate.

    1. His What Makes this Song Great series is excellent and I’ve watched many of the episodes, but I find a lot of his other stuff very clickbait-y. His output is still very good overall, and I’m glad his channel exists because there’s a lot of quality content on it.

    1. “There were plants and birds and rocks and things”

      I think my niece described nature approximately the same way when she was about four years old.

        1. Well, it’s in keeping with the theme of “how a four-year-old would write a song.” So…points for consistency?

    2. No, no, no, no, no. A thousand times no. Sure, the lyrics are terrible but that is one of the loveliest melodies of the seventies. An absolutely gorgeous song.

      I’ve never been particularly interested in song lyrics, so even if they’re terrible or cloying I can still appreciate the music, which to me overrides all other considerations. It’s why I’ve never fallen in love with Dylan I think. And I love AHWNN. The hypnotic simplicity, the clip-clop rhythm section, the beautiful harmonies. It’s one of the most perfect tunes of that era. The way the vocal floats parallel to that E minor chord, and just stays there, circling around that central note for the whole song… if you can ignore the lyrics, which are admittedly ridiculous, everything else is sublime.

      Maybe if I’d grown up with it playing all the time, and everyone I knew thought it was uncool I might feel differently….but I grew up later, and I had no notion of whether it was considered naff or not, I just fell in love with the melody.

        1. Well ubiquity is enough to turn the most precious thing into ash. It’s a sad day when something like Perfect Day or Waterloo Sunset gets used in an ad, because you know it’s going to be on all the bloody time and you’re going to hate it by the time it’s finished. And worse than that, you’re going to associate it with…Bird’s Eye Fishfingers or Twixes or something.

      1. This pretty much proves that beauty is in the ear of the beholder 😄 There are many nice tunes written with 2 or 3 chords, bit this ain’t one of them. What you call hypnotic, I call boring, and it doesn’t require much musical skill. However I will tip the hat to anyone who produces a hit, especially if it’s 2 chords and so-so lyrics.

        1. IMO, the idea that “musical skill” has much to do with a song’s quality is something that was thankfully left behind once rock and roll and(especially) punk came along. If you want virtuosity you can listen to some god-awful prog-rock band noodle around, or you can go for Santana pulling off pointless solos. Its simplicity is what makes AHWNN so delicious.

  32. Macarthur Park (Richard Harris) Does anybody like this song?

    The rock-climbing père et fils in Vertical Limit, but I’d say they were adequately punished for their musical gaucherie:

  33. Spill the Wine (Eric Burdon) Burdon couldn’t recognize good lyrics if they bit him in the tuchas.

    I dunno, he sang the hell outta “Tobacco Road” (on side one of the same album as the above track) and “House of the Rising Sun.”

    Anyway, Eric Burdon always struck me as some girl’s poor parents’ worst nightmare. I mean, hey, don’t get me wrong; it wouldn’t be any bargain to have Mick & Keith swing by to pick up your daughter. But by that time she’d probably long ago crossed the line into debauchery. Eric Burdon, OTOH, seemed like the kinda guy who could turn a good girl bad. 🙂

    1. If it was the 70s and my daughter was going to a Zep concert, I’d be worried about Robert Plant’s bulge turning her bad. A lot of his pants must have been very uncomfortable. The things one does for art…

    2. By the way, I got my used copy of Nil by Mouth in the mail today. I’ll watch it soon and let you know my thoughts. Glad to see it was Ray Winstone is in it! I love that guy. He was great in Sexy Beast, though Ben Kingsley obviously stole the show in that, and Ian McShane’s quietly menacing demeanor was a wonderful contrast to Kingsley’s horrifying belligerence. You got the sense that McShane’s character was actually far more dangerous than Kingsley. Kingsley’s character is such a bully in large part because he feels impotent, while McShane’s knows that he doesn’t need to say even a single word for people to know that they should fear him. Brilliant performances all around. One of my favorite movies.

      1. I love Sexy Beast. I think we talked about it before.

        And, far as I’m concerned, Ray Winstone stole the show in Scorsese’s The Departed.

        Nil by Mouth is kinda like Trainspotting reimagined as one of those old British kitchen sink realism dramas.

        1. “And, far as I’m concerned, Ray Winstone stole the show in Scorsese’s The Departed.”

          Oooooh, yeah! He’s one of those working actors that just never gets the credit he deserves.

          We probably have talked about Sexy Beast before because I just adore that movie. It’s flawless for me. Man, I hope Jonathan Glazer makes another movie like that. I did not enjoy Under the Skin. I know the critics say it’s just oh so brilliant, but I think most of it sucks.

          Another great Kingsley performance that people talk about far less is that in Polanski’s Death and the Maiden. Great movie, based on a play by some guy named Ariel Dorfman. It’s currently available on Amazon Prime, though I own it on DVD.

          “Oh yeah. Bloody hell. I’m sweatin’ here. Roastin’. Boilin’, Swelterin’. S’like a sauna. Like a furnace. You could fry an egg on my stomach…Fandabbydozydastic.”

          May be a mistake or two in that quote. That’s just from memory! Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches. Lap me up!

          1. I liked Sir Ben as the alcoholic hitman in the dark comedy You Kill Me.

            This may sound weird, but sometimes I see a vague similarity between his line readings and Robin Williams’s. My theory (which is mine) is that Kingsley was on top of the acting world with his Oscar win for Gandhi at the same time Williams was first making a go of it in serious roles (starting with The World According to Garp) and that Williams (who’s a natural mimic) may have inadvertently picked up a few of Sir Ben’s mannerisms.

            I also dug BK’s cameo in The Sopranos, in the episode where Christopher goes to Miami to pitch him to take a role in Cleaver, but ends up jacking Betty Bacall for her swag bag. 🙂

          2. I also hated and was disappointed by Under the Skin. I enjoyed the book it is very, very loosely based on, because it was so much more interesting.

            1. I’ll have to check out the book. I was really disappointed when I saw every critic, from all of the print ones I don’t read to all of the Youtubers I watch, saying it was a brilliant masterpiece. They all described its brilliance in the same terms, as if they were afraid that saying they didn’t enjoy it would somehow mark them as lacking in intelligence. The movie was just boring as hell, poorly structured and paced, and pretentious. The only redeeming feature was some of Jonathan Glazer’s direction in the post-abduction scenes.

              1. I only saw the Rotten Tomato aggragete score before I saw the movie, and I still had to apologise to my husband for making him watch it with me. I kept waiting for the plot structure the book has to come out on screen, but it never did. They changed too many things (or abstracted them) that were at the core of the book.

  34. I too absolutely cannot stand Steve Miller His songs are so damned generic and just…blah. That’s the best way to describe his music: “blah.” No actual adjective. Just the sound my mouth makes when thinking about it.

    But, if we’re talking about bad rhymes created because the writers couldn’t think of anything better, I have to point out a song that a lot of people really love: Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth. I’m sorry, but I just think that some of the lyrics from the song are straight-up bad. “Young people speaking their minds, getting so much resistance from behind”? What does “behind” mean? The word doesn’t evoke anything, or at least not anything that Stephen Stills was trying to evoke. It doesn’t evoke images of the government, police, institutions of any sort, older generations, or anything else of that stripe. The word “behind” normally means “supporting” in a political context. So who is “behind” these young people, and how are they giving the young people resistance? It just makes no sense and seems like it was used because it rhymed.

    I feel the same way about “paranoia strikes deep, into your life it will creep” and “there’s a man with a gun over there, telling me I’ve got to beware,” although those two phrases at least make sense, but just sound silly. And I never liked the song musically either.

    I love a lot of Stephen Stills’ work. I just think that this particular song became extremely popular as an anthem and, as a result, gained a status of greatness that it doesn’t come close to deserving.

    1. I like For what it’s worth — I think it’s Stills’s best song! But then as a long time Neil Young fan, I have an extremely high pain threshold for lyrics!

      Helplessly hoping her harlequin hovers… is too much for me though.

      From Graham Nash, this pretty bad too —
      Two and two make four
      They never make five
      And as long as we know it
      We all can survive
      Make sure that the things you do
      Keep us alive

      1. Yeah, a lot of Young’s lyrics really suck too. His performance is more important than his writing, but people treat everything he did from his first like three decades as sheer brilliance.

  35. “The Night Chicago Died”
    “Afternoon Delight”
    “All I Need Is the Air That I Breathe”

    Gawd, there’re SO many

  36. Old Rivers (Walter Brennan) This kind of grows on you, but it’s still a dreadful song.

    Okay, but ol’ Grandpappy Amos did some nice harpoon playin’ and harmonizing with Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo:

  37. Those are some pretty dreadful songs indeed, but I wouldn’t call any song on that list a “rock” song. Pop or bubblegum, but not rock.

    A few examples of bad rock songs I can think of are “Elected” by Alice Cooper, “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad, “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman Turner Overdrive” and “Smokin’ In The Boy’s Room” by Brownsville Station.

    …oh, criminey, now that I’ve started thinking about songs like these I can’t stop! Gonna be in for some BAD brain radio tonight!!!

    Didn’t “Brand New Key” pretty much kill Melanie’s career?

      1. Grand Funk Railroad — it’s what became of Detroit’s Terry Knight and the Pack band that used to be regulars on Cleveland’s “Big Five Show” (later retitled “Upbeat”). 🙂

        Unless that was before your time, bro.

      1. Well, that’s the great thing about music; there’s room for all tastes! I have my likes and dislikes, but am not gonna begrudge anyone for their preferences. Heck, I’ve got well over 100 Frank Zappa albums, but can totally understand why he’s a turn-off to other people! Viva la difference!!!

  38. I agree that Steve Miller sux (especially after about 1972).

    But the lyric “Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas/You know he knows just exactly what the facts is” never particularly pained me. It’s enallage, tout court — a favorite rhetorical tactic of Cole Porter, Bob Dylan, and William Shakespeare, among other lyricists. Pretty good company to keep, you ask me.

    I mean, who would remember the prize-fight manager Joe Jacobs complaining to the referee had he not exclaimed, “We was robbed!”

    1. Wildfire is, by an order of magnitude, the most hideous song ever. Ugh! The are some Seals & Crofts songs nearly as bad, but Wildfire deserves a special place in hell.

  39. Here are ten of my least-favorite popular songs:

    Green Berets (Sgt. Barry Sadler)
    Hello Goodbye (The Beatles)
    Hey Little Woman (Bobby Sherman)
    Honey (Bobby Goldsboro)
    Husbands and Wives (Roger Miller)
    In the Ghetto (Elvis Presley)
    I’ve Been to Paradise (Charlene)
    Seasons in the Sun (Terry Jack)
    Take a Letter Maria (R. B. Greaves)
    Teen Angel (Mark Dinning)

    Yes, all of these are pretty old, and I’ve heard some atrocious songs in the decades since, but somehow the horrible songs of my youth stick with me and come to mind first.

    1. What’s wrong with Hello Goodbye? I’m not disagreeing since it’s a matter of taste, but I’m just curious about your thoughts. The lyrics are meaningless, but when the song is put in the context of the album, it works because it keeps the theme of nonsensical, strange, sometimes trippy things. It’s not anything close to a great song at all, but I think it works within the album.

      1. You may be right. I never thought of “Hello Goodbye” as an album-track, possibly because I never thought of Magical Mystery Tour as an album. I mean, it was one of those Dave Dexter Capitol Records assemblages of random EP and single tracks like Yesterday and Today or The Beatles Again. I know I must have heard the song on the album, since my brother had a reel-to-reel tape copy of the thing, but what I remember is hearing the single played on the radio, constantly, over and over. The relentless cheerfulness (you will like this song or else) along with the repetitive and monotonous nature of both the lyrics and the melody grated on my nerves like the sound of a broom sweeping over a carpet. To make matters worse, just when it seems to be mercifully over, the damn thing starts up again with a nonsensical coda. While I’ve become reconciled to some Beatles songs I disliked at first (“With a Little Help from my Friends,” “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”), with “Hello Goodbye” strong dislike has settled into unconquerable loathing.

        I will have to try listening to Magical Mystery Tour as an album some time or other. I have an old CD copy of it somewhere. (My brother’s tape got mangled when some friend of his, drunk or stoned, stuck a pencil into the tape mechanism while it was playing and pieces of tape flew all over the room. My brother spliced it back together, but not in the right order, and some bits were missing, so the album wasn’t quite the same afterwards.) There certainly are tracks that work well in context (“Wild Honey Pie” for example) that suck on their own. Maybe “Hello Goodbye” is one of them.

        1. Totally see where you’re coming from. Being played too many times can kill just about any song. I haven’t been able to listen to Hotel California since I was 15, and I can only listen to Stairway to Heaven maybe once a year, even though I consider the latter to be one of the greatest songs ever written by a rock band.

  40. I think there should be a special category for self-plagiarized bad songs. George Harrison is a prime contender for most blatant self-plagiarism. “Here comes the Sun”, followed by
    “Here comes the Sun king” and then “Here comes the moon”…..a

    1. Sun King is really just a callback, and begins what’s essentially one long song with multiple movements from that track to The End. I doubt they wrote it thinking that people would hear it as a completely new song. They wrote it as a very clear play on/kind of continuation of Here Comes the Sun; after all, it comes only three tracks after.

        1. Yeah, I’ll have to listen to that one (never heard it), but it certainly sounds like it capitalizing off of Here Comes the Sun.

    2. I love “Here Comes the Sun”; it may be my all-time Harrison favorite.

      But a lot of the stuff George wrote as a solo sounds the same to me (or like, you know, the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine”). 🙂

        1. And I was mistaken in saying that the “long song” created by the later tracks on the album start with Sun King. It actually starts with the previous track, You Never Give Me Your Money, since the chirping crickets and bells at the end of that song continue into the beginning of Sun King.

  41. I’m surprised that nobody (so far) has mentioned The Annoying Music Show, which was a regular Saturday feature on WBEZ, the Chicago NPR station in the 1990s. It was surprising the way it managed to present one real howler after another week after week.

    1. I think there is a difference between annoying and worst. Many of the songs featured on the show were terrible covers of good songs. When the host, Jim Naydet, died in 2013, he warranted a full NYTimes obit. He also hosted The Magnificent Obsession.
      https://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/arts/music/jim-nayder-specialist-in-annoying-music-dies-at-59.html

      Here is an interview with Nayder which gives a feel for the show:
      https://www.wbur.org/npr/100688702/story.php

  42. ANYTHING by Whitney Houston. Just… anything.

    But…. I’d rescue Melanie Safka’s Brand New Key from the list, even with the roller skates.
    The POINT of it is it is sexy, like Melanie was. 🙂

    D.A., NYC

    1. Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak, because of the lines: ‘Tonight there’s gonna be a jailbreak / Somewhere in this town.
      I’d guess it will be at the jail!

      1. Yup, and the line “in this world in which we live in” in McCartney /Wings’ “Live and Let Die” always has me shouting at the radio, too!

  43. I nominate Timothy by the Buoys.

    Songs that don’t bother me but that other people seem to hate – The Pina Colada Song and Teen Angel.

  44. Good list of bad rock. The comments show people have different tastes in music even within a single genre like rock.

  45. Can’t decide which of this pair is worst:-
    Tammy Wynette. -. Stand by your man.
    George Jones. -. He stopped loving her today.

  46. (Puts on serious face) I wonder if songs pick up their likeability/dislikeability from the time and place that you first head them?

    Just as a really cold Keo beer in a beach tavern in Cyprus is wonderful, but strangely disappointing when drunk in other parts of the world.

  47. Two nominations:
    Hocus Pocus (by Focus)…. who needs cowbell when you can yodel?
    Timothy (by his friends?)….. who needs lunch when you have Timothy?

    1. Whaaa? Hocus Pocus is simply awesome! There’s a live YT of Focus playing this – one of the best performances ion that universe.

  48. My first reaction to the opening notes of Brand New Rollerskates was, this sounds just like Brand New Combine Harvester, by the Wurzels. Then it started and I realised that the Wurzels’ song was a parody! I never knew…

  49. Aha-hahaha! Complaining about the rhymes in Take the Money and Run is like telling the caricature painter at the fair that their use of perspective isn’t very good. Wonky rhymes are almost the whole point of the song! And I’m surprised at all the shade (ahem) thrown on Steve Miller. It’s harmless top 40 guitar rock, and yards better than the other top 40 stuff it was played along side. Rumor has it his band was great live, and he’s a respected guitar player. Never saw them myself.

    1. There were a couple of “live” rock concert shows on late night TV back in the seventies. I don’t remember many of the performances, but I vividly recall Steve Miller Band on one of those programs giving one of the worst, most out-of-tune disastrous performances I’ve ever heard. How they survived that broadcast is beyond me.

    1. Parklife…I’m with you on that. And Country House. Terrible songs from a frequently brilliant band.

  50. Ebony and Ivory – Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder (pure treacle)

    Kung-Fu Fighting – Carl Davis (“He was a funky Chinaman from funky Chinatown….” and other gems)

    Billy, Don’t Be a Hero – Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods (grating schmaltz is all I can say)

  51. That was before my time. I first heard American Band on CKLW in the Summer of 73. My first all time favorite band. Outgrew then by 75 or 76.

    After forty years, went back and watched a bunch of their videos on Youtube. Quickly realized that the critics were correct.

    I am also too young to remember Ghoulardi, but remember The Ghoul on Channel 61

    1. When I heard America in concert, in Montana, it was A Cow with No Name, and it was only marginally better than the original.

  52. Originally written and recorded by Willis Alan Ramsey, a passable version of Muskrat Love was recorded by America.

  53. I guess all novelty songs are ‘bad’ by definition. Since my listening sins go back to the 1950s, I’d like to include a couple-three of the worst to this wonderful compendium of musical badness:

    ‘Transfusion’ by Nervous Norvus [‘I’m just a cotton-pickin’ mess of convolutions’]

    ‘Jailbait’ by Andre Williams [’17 and a half is STILL jailbait’]

    ‘Purple People Eater’ by Sheb Wooley [‘It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple people eater’]

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