Before the synths, before the bickering, before Sammy Hagar (the first time), before “Why Can’t This Be Love“, before the aborted David Lee Roth reunion, before Gary Cherone, before Sammy again, before Michael Anthony being fired, before Dave again, before Wolfgang Van Halen, there was Dave, Michael, Eddie and Alex. Love, they ain’t talkin’ bout.
Mike and Paul love music – all kinds of music. That’s why we started a blog after all! So we tend to have a pretty wide area of toleration, if not love, for all kinds of music. We would never say we hate for example, all country music, or all hip hop music, or even all polka music.
Having said that, we have to admit that there are some songs that just don’t cut it. Inane melodies, pointless embarrassing lyrics, some songs are just bad. Even artists with songs we love can over the course of a long career reach a creative nadir. So without further ado, here is, in my opinion, a list of the worst songs of all time. Disagree? Have suggestions for additional songs? Leave a comment below.
Ok the Beach Boys are a legendary band, revolutionizing rock and roll in the early 60’s with their classic surfer sound. But 25 years on, they had sunk to this annoying piece of pop drek. Pointless chorus, and it goes downhill from there.
Starship – We Built this City
This one makes most lists of all time worst songs. What began as Jefferson Airplane, the influential late 60’s psychedelic folk/rock band, had morphed in the mainstream rock band Jefferson Starship, which descended by 1985 into Starship, which produced this. The pretentiousness of the lyrics, combined with a bland melody is just too much. Extra rotten tomatoes for the cheesiness of the video.
Lou Ree – Metal Machine Music
In 1975, Lou Reed released this album of, let’s be honest, noise. There are no melodies, no lyrics, no rhythms, just an hour plus of guitar feedback and other effects. Some have hailed it as the forerunner of industrial or noise rock. There is speculation it was a big middle finger to his record company. Either way it is un-listenable. If you ever want to clear a party, just put this on. Here is a mercifully short clip. The entire album is over an hour of this.
Van Halen – Why Can’t This Be Love?
Sometimes its not the song melody that makes a song the worst, but the lyrics. This 1986 song, the first with lead singer Sammy Hagar, gets the nod for utterly inane lyrics. One choice example: “Hey only fools rush in and only time will tell, If we stand the test of time.” Seriously guys, this is the best you could come up with?
Kid Rock – All Summer Long
I have to say up front that I have never been a Kid Rock fan, which doesn’t make me particularly popular with my in-laws who live in Michigan. What annoys me about this song is the complete rip-off (some would say appropriation) of the melody structure of Warren Zevon‘s ‘Werewolves of London’ and Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’ I know that there are few original ideas in music (everyone is always recycling new ideas for new creative purposes) but in my opinion this crosses the line into desecration of two classics.
USA for Africa – We are the World
Ok so yes, this song was done for a noble purpose (to raise money for famine victims in Africa). And yes it brought together the best of mid 80’s American pop and rock stars to record it (watching the video is a kick in that sense). But the song itself, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richtie? Not so good.
Lou Bega – Mambo #5
This one is emblematic of any number of one hit wonder songs that become massively popular in a short amount of time. I’m thinking the Macarena, Who Let the Dogs Out, Gangnam Style. They may not necessarily be terrible songs themselves, but they get played over and over and over and over and over…again on the radio to the point where you want to destroy your radio.
Dionne & Friends – That’s What Friends Are For
Written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. Ok. Covered in this version by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder. Granted. And it also was a charity song for AIDS research and prevention – a noble purpose. But it makes my list for a very specific reason. At the 1986 Grammy Awards, this song beat out the following songs for Song of the Year – Steve Winwood – Higher Love; Paul Simon – Graceland; Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer. Stop for a second and read that list again. Enough said. I guess its not the song’s fault it won, but if it hadn’t been written it wouldn’t have won.
Dan Hill – Sometimes When We Touch
This 1977 song by songwriter Dan Hill is the perfect example of overly earnest lyrical sentiments that quickly collapses into annoying tripe and cheesiness. As one song lyric goes, “The honesty’s too much, And I have to close my eyes, And hide.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, Dan.
Extreme – More than Words
A hair band trying to show its sensitive side. The message to the girl in the song is to show her love for the protagonist with more than words. Maybe its just me, but this one creeps me out. Reminds me of the archetypal scene in the backseat of a car on a Saturday night where the captain of the football team is trying to get the cheerleader to give it up by showing his “sensitive side.”
Wang Chung – Everybody Have Fun Tonight
This 1986 hit by Wang Chung is a good example of how bad some 1980s music became. Pointless, self involved, new wave cheesiness. They even refer to themselves in the song lyrics. Bonus rotten tomatoes for the music video – enough to induce a seizure from all the rapid fire jump cuts.
Stevie Nicks Silent Night
Covers of Christmas classics by contemporary artists could be its whole own category of worst songs. Why does every artist who has more than 2 albums feel the need to do a Christmas album? Easy money I guess, since you don’t to write the songs, just sing and record them and put it out during the holiday season. Most of these covers are just plain boring, nondescript, or bland. Every once in a while a new classic is born. But the flip side is this selection off A Very Special Christmas Vol. 1, which has Stevie Nicks completely ruining Silent Night. Completely misguided pairing of artist to song. And the backing vocals from Robbie Nevil don’t help.
So that’s it for now? Violently disagree? Dumbfounded that I forgot your favorite selection? Leave a comment below!