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Worst Songs Ever: Sap That Sells

Before I go over my own list of worst songs, a few things have to be clarified.

There are certain criteria you must take into consideration when making such a list:

  • Novelty songs don't count. They are supposed to be bad. Thus, songs like The Streak and Disco Duck don't make the cut.
  • Hating a band does not automatically make their songs suck. While you may think Nsync blows goat chunks, that does mean that Tearin' Up My Heart is bad. It's not. It's rather good.
  • However, Backstreet Boys' Backstreet's Back gets a nod, not because of who they are, but due to the fact that they break one of the cardinal rules of good songwriting: They mention their own band name. See also Limp Bizkit on this one.
  • Bad songs are generally regarded as such because of bad lyrics. Musicianship is secondary on this list.

I haven't seen Blender's list yet, on which this topic was based. But that doesn't matter much, as this is a very subjective subject and one person's list is another person's playlist.

Bad songs can be divided into groups or genres. For instance, we have Subjects That Should Not Be Approached in Song. Leading the pack in this group is Cher's Half Breed. My father married a pure Cherokee/My mother's people were ashamed of me/The indians said I was white by law/The White Man always called me "Indian Squaw. At the end of the songs, she blames her life of sleeping around on the fact that the White Man brought her down. Damn the man!

Also showing up in that category is Torn Between Two Lovers: There's been another man/That I've met and I love/But that doesn't mean I love you less/And he knows he can't posses me/And he knows he never will. And then she begs him to stay even though she's sleeping with another guy who fulfills some need that this guy can't. You want to have an affair, that's your choice. But don't tell the world about it in song.

And then there's Having My Baby.
Didn't have to keep it/Wouldn't put ya through it/You could have swept it from you life/But you wouldn't do it, no, you wouldn't do it. Jesus. A song about a girl who slept with a guy and then, to prove her love to him, didn't have an abortion.

Another genre is the What the Hell?? song. It's all about those tunes that approach subjects so obscure and random they leave you scratching your head and wondering what the songwriter was huffing when he penned this one. To wit: You see I've been through the desert on a horse with no name/
It felt good to be out of the rain/In the desert you can remember your name/
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.
This is the one category when music actually comes into play. There are millions of obscure, nonsensical, drug-induced lyrics out there (See, Strawberry Letter #22), but many of those songs make up for the psychedilia of their words with decent music. And then there are some songs that wouldn't be redeemable even if they were played by the greatest rock ensemble ever put together: Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam/Do the jitterbug out in muskrat land/And they shimmy/And Sammy's so skinny. That song makes me want to jam a Q-tip in my brain. In addition to Muskrat Love, this genre also includes Mr. Roboto and Stairway to Heaven (see, here).

Next, we have death songs. Tragedy occurs every day, I know. And it's sad when people die. But for the love of Death, keep the bereavement therapy in your journals. Some songs about death are ok, especially the ones where the singer is actually doing the killing - hey, I'm not condoning murder, I'm just saying that Murder Ballads are far better than funeral dirges cloaked as pop hits. As such, Used to Love Her is good: I used to love her/but I had to kill her/I had to put her/Six feet under/And I can still hear her complain. Come on, that's funny! Last Kiss is bad: Oh where, oh where can my baby be?/The Lord took her away from me/She's gone to heaven, so I've got to be good/So I can see my baby when I leave this world. Possum Kingdom is good: I'm not gonna lie/I'll not be a gentleman/Behind the boathouse/I'll show you my dark secret. Sorry, but songs about murder are sexy in a really odd way. Ok, maybe just for me. This, however, is bad: But as they pulled him from the twisted wreck/With his dying breath they heard him say/Tell Laura I love her tell Laura I need her.

Now we deal with treacle. The treacle department is where all the cheesy songs go to (I wish) die. Sappy lyrics written solely with the intention of making you cry all the way to the record store. I'm not having any of that. Just thinking about these songs make me cringe. I must counter the toxic affect of looking up these lyrics by listening to Bloodhound Gang's One Fierce Beer Coaster on repeat. It's the only antidote.

There are a million songs that could fit into the treacle category, but I'll just deal with the ones I really hate:

  • Butterfly Kisses
  • You Light up my Life
  • Seasons in the Sun
  • Open Arms
  • Every Rose Has Its Thorn
  • We are the World (good intentions notwithstanding)
  • When a Man Loves a Woman
  • Christmas Shoes
  • Your Body is Like a Wonderland (One mile to every inch of/Your skin like porcelain/One pair of candy lips/and your bubblegum tongue) That might be the worst song of 2004. Already.

Sure, there's more. That's just off the top of my head.

And now, I present to you my top three Worst Songs Ever Recorded:

  • Run, Joey, Run.

Daddy please don't
It wasn't his fault
He means so much to me
Daddy please don't
We're gonna get married
Just you wait and see

See...she's pregnant, daddy's pissed and Joey and I guess he's pissed at Julie, too because Julie comes running out of her house with bruises on her face. And as she runs to Joey screaming that her Daddyy's got a gun, daddy fires away. And kills his precious, pregnant daughter. I swear I saw this movie on Lifetime last year. The best part is the end of the song, when Julie sings her dying words....

Daddy please don't...We're gon...na get... mar...ried...... She's all breathless from dying. So poignant. So sad. So bad.

  • Many of you declare that Terry Jacks' Seasons in the Sun is the worst song ever. Apparently, you never listened to the flip side of that 45.

See, Seasons in the Sun had my name in it (Goodbye Michele, it's hard to die) and that made it not so much sad as annoying. The first few times my neighbor sang the song to me, it was funny. Then it got infuriating. Then I put a brick through his head. After that, he stuck to playing Michele, My Bell on the trumpet as I passed his house each day.

Anyhow, I had the Seasons in the Sun 45 because, if were cool like me, you had all the top ten 45s. Being the music aficianado I was (and still am), I actually listened to the flip sides of songs, unlike my peers who were concerned only with the Billboard hits.

The song was called Put the Bone in (later covered by Soul Asylum for some odd reason). Roll that around on your tongue a minute. Put the Bone in. And no, it wasn't a metaphor for "let me fuck you." It was about a doggie. A poor, dying doggie.

Put the bone in
She yelled at the store
'Cause my doggie's been hit by a car
And I do want to bring him home something
Put the bone in
She yelled out once more
Because the meat from the pork is so sweet
And the bone from the pork give to me
Put the bone in she begged him
As she paced across the floor
Put the bone in she yelled out once more

I swear on Homer Simpson's grave that those are the real lyrics. The meat from the pork is so sweet. Oh, I bet it is, baby. Give me that bone!

And the number one worst song is.....it's a tie!

  • (1)Independence Day, by Martina McBride. Now, it isn't McBride's fault that I hate this song. It's Sean Hannity's fault. He uses part of this song as his intor music and it is the reason that, if I feel like listening to Hannity's show, I won't turn it on until after the show starts. I suppose the song is about a drunken husband, but Hannity takes only part of the tune and plays it (before the theme leads into some other pop song I can't think of right now).

Let freedom ring, let the white dove sing
Let the whole world know that today is a day of reckoning
Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong
Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay
It's Independence Day

I'm pretty patriotic. I love my country. I hate terrorists. But this just drives me crazy. The day of the reckoning? Let the guilty play? Why doesn't he just open his show with war cries? Now, you know I'm a warmonger, as the pro-Iraq war people are called these days, but if your gonna mong a war, do it with just a bit of tact. I can't really put my finger on why this song, in the context of Hannity's show, bothers me so much, but it does enough for me to make it share the number one spot with..

  • Have You Forgotten by Darryl Worely.

I wrote about this one already at Blogcritics, but I'll repeat what I said there.

Have you forgotten how it felt that day to see your homeland under fire
and her people blown away
have you forgotten when those towers fell
we had neighbors still inside
going through a living hell
and you say we shouldn't worry about bin laden
have you forgotten

Instead of bringing me to my knees in prayer or making me want to run out and hold my neighbor's hand as we get ready to fight the good fight, the lyrics make me want to crawl under a rock.

In the same way I cringe whenever a musical artist uses his own name in a song, the use of the name bin Laden - rhymed with forgotten - makes me almost want to break out in a fit of giggles.

And there you have it. Not a complete list, by any means. Just the ones I thought of today.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Worst Songs Ever: Sap That Sells:

» The Worst Songs Ever from Bloggie Broad
I'll bite. The top two on my list haven't changed... [Read More]

» Worst. Songs. Ever. from Running at the Mouth
Michele has been accepting nominations for the worst songs ever over at A Small Victory, and today gave us her list: Run, Joey, Run; Put the Bone In, by Terry Jacks; Independence Day, by Martina McBride; and Have you Forgotten, [Read More]

» BAD SONGS from Begging To Differ
Blender Magazine has released its list of the fifty worst songs of all time. Here are the worthy selections for top ten: 1. "We Built This City," Starship. "Sexless and corporate, it sounds less like a song than something built... [Read More]

» Pop pop pop pop music from Twisted Spinster
This is for Michele: Just off the top of my head: "Sometimes When We Touch" -- by Dan Hill, the man who sang as if his balls were in a vise. "Seasons in the Sun," by failed castrato Terry Jacks. (Don't click there unless you wan... [Read More]

» One Bad Apple from Mind of Mog
Since you mentioned it, Michele has a nice long post (includes lyrics) detailing the worst songs ever. She missed one. "One Bad Apple" by the Osmonds. Steve Jobs might have issues with that title. On the other hand, Bill Gates might just... [Read More]


Have you ever seen "Every Rose has its Thorn" live?

Brings down the house at the Hair Band Tour.

(I can't believe I just wrote that)

I swear on Homer Simpson's grave that those are the real lyrics. The meat from the pork is so sweet. Oh, I bet it is, baby. Give me that bone!

I'm dying here. I'd say you have got to be shitting me, but it's the guy who wrote that "the stars we could reach were just starfish on the beach" we're talking about, so I believe you if you say those really are the words.

But damn. How stoned would you have to be to get through that recording session as one of the production crew? How did they keep all the giggling from making it onto the track?

I've been avoiding the bad song thread, but I just thought of The One that gets my back up every time I hear it: I Will Always Love You. Not because the lyrics are especially bad or anything, but just because that melody (no matter who's singing it) has roughly the same effect on me as a cheese grater to the spine. (Not that I've ever felt a cheese grater to the spine here, but... well, you get the idea.)

I'll disagree with Open Arms, but I have to say Butterfly Kisses and Christmas Shoes are the two worst songs ever. I mean Christmas Shoes in particular. Hmmmm, let's see. Jesus is killing my mommy, so I want her to have some nice red shoes when she meets her maker/murderer? Is that the basic premise?

That put the bone in song was definitely about sex. But things were so repressed back then (remember when they banned My Ding-A-Ling?) that they had to hide it deep within a metaphor and throw in an injured dog. She was begging for some hot greasy pork luvvin.

Later the repression lifted somewhat, leading to songs like She Don't Eat Meat (But She Sure Likes The Bone), and Mojo Nixon's ode to the love porkchop, Louisiana Liplock.

Hmmph. I like both of those songs. Now my wife, who used to prosecute a lot of domestic violence cases, is sick of Independence Day because they play the video at every conference on domestic violence. Over and over again.

As for treacle, there are a LOT of country songs that fit here. Love Me by Collin Raye, Streets of Heaven by Sherrie Austin, and The Little Girl by John Michael Montgomery are just a few that are extremely potent at bringing tears.

oh, my gosh, "Christmas Shoes".

I had totally repressed that memory until ken brought it up.Aaaaaaugh!

Another one I can't stand - and maybe this marks me as a bad American, I don't know, is Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." Makes me grind my teeth every time I hear it.

And about the McBride song: WTF is up with "let the right be wrong"

Huh? Is she talking about the people who do right, or the religious right, or what? And why would Hannity play a song that had the line "let the right be wrong" on his show? Or is there something I'm not getting?

Wait a sec... you acted out "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" and not "Run, Joey, Run"???

Must have lost that childhood innocence going from elementary school to junior high; how sad.

Oh, and Michele, thanks ALOT for putting that tune/lyrics back in my head!

Kayne West's current hit song, "When it all Falls Down" will go down in history as the worst song ever for multiple reasons. Mr. West is a self-loathing millionaire who is anti-comericialism. He also does the pathetic, "it's so hard to be rich bs." He blames all of his problems, such as being rich, on the white man. In West's video for this song, Kayne West wants the viewer to feel sorry for him because he gets searched at the airport. The reason he gets searched apparently, from the videos prospective, is not because he's a person going to the airport who sets of metal detecters, but because he's a black person.

"Drug dealer buy Jordans, crackhead buy crack
And a white man get paid off of all of that"

Just a note on "Strawberry Letter #23," which your previous entry credits to the Brother Johnson. Granted, they had a hit with it, but it was originally written and performed by Shuggie Otis. You can find it on his superb and previously obscure but fairly recently reissued album "Inspiration Information."

Nobody in the comments from that post pointed it out, so I figured I'd step in.

I bet that in a few years, we'll all think back and wonder how anyone could possibly have stood Evanescence's "My Immortal". Although I'm not sure what it's about exactly, most of my guesses fall into the death/Subjects that Should not be Approached in Song. (Being sung to a lover now in a persistent vegitative state?)

Thank you for including "Have You Forgotten." I heard it yesterday at Tractor Supply Co. (shut up) and started shaking with rage all over again. Every time i hear it, i want to rip Darryl Worley' throat out for such blatant posturing and commercializing on a tragedy. Gah. Good list. Still missed the macarena (treacle in spanish?), but hell if i feel so strongly about it, i should get my own blog and post it, right. Glad you dint cut out altogether.

I hate that song that goes "backfield in motion I'm gonna have to penalize you" with such a burning, blistering passion that the bile rises in my throat even as I think of it.

And Lee Greenwood, that MF. Cripes, i saw him live at the first in flight celebration last december. He play liek 5 sets across teh last 3 days an each damn time i wanted to rush the stage and throm him to the sweet embrace of a helo's blades. THe cretin managed to ruin the Star Spangled Banner with his, peh, rendition. Yep, he and Darryl Worley are definately on the "B Ship" come armageddon.

"Jet! Oo-oo-oo-OO-oo-oo-OO--oo-oo!"

You've got a few extra hours in Purg coming to you for this little contest. Combine it with that other asshole's "Top 10 Worst Album Covers", and one begins to wonder if the Islamofascists ain't right after all.

Whoa-oh Black Betty, ram-a-lam!

Regarding "Seasons In The Sun," there is actually a bootleg floating about on the Net of Nirvana covering that song.

...and this is your brain on drugs!

Potentially the scariest PSA against heroin abuse ever made, if the government had the sense to use it.


Don't pay the ferryman!
Don't even fix a price!
Don't pay the ferryman,
Till he gets you to the other side...

Ah-aaah, ah-ah-ah!

I caught a friend of mine listening to The Christmas Shoes, and I realized I just couldn't be friends with this person any longer. Haven't spoken to him since.

I've agonized over this for almost two days... what's the one, the ONE song that i really, truly despise.

"Turn the Page" by Bob Seger. And Metallica.

Sappy-assed lyrics, simpering guitar, predictable crescendo-like ending (Implying victory! over the bus, i guess), patently world weary vocalisms.
It just sucks.

Jeff R- i'm trying to figure out the attraction of Evanescence in the first place.

I'd make one small objection to your criteria, Michele. It's true that mentioning one's band's name in a song, especially in the title, is usually a sign of great badness. However, it's not an absolute rule. There are RARE occasions when a band throws its own name in with a wink and a grin, and the end result is good.

The only entry on your list I'd hafta fight ya over is When A Man Loves A Woman. The original by Percy Sledge is a great song - the guy just makes you not give a flip about how sappy the lyrics are.

As opposed to the wimphood-as-an-artform John Mayers of the world, who just make you want to puke...

There used to be TV show in Australia called Prisoner, which was a late 70's soap opera set in a womens prison run by sadistic, dykey wardens. It had a ultra sappy theme song which became a top ten hit. It was 70's chocolate box type stuff- flutes, acoustic guitar, Karen Carpenter like vocals , and a chorus that went

He used to bring me roses.
Oh, I wish he would again.
But that was on the outside
And that was yesterday...

My favourite bad song is the 1978 cossack/ disco hit Rasputin by Boney M.

Ra Ra Rasputin
Russia's greatest love machine
there was a cat that really was gone!

Ra Ra Rasputin
Lover of the Russian Queen
It was a shame how he carried on!

Pure Shakespeare.

That trackback is just me updating my post! How could I forget Run Joey Run? Well now I've got the damn chorus in my head, and I haven't heard the song in over twenty years.

The "Independence Day" video is about a woman burning down the house she used to share with her abusive husband, and running away. I'm not quite sure if she burned up the abusive husband with it, but it's definitely a bit of an homage to "The Burning Bed," the TV Movie that made Farah Fawcett (then -Majors) A Real Actress.

I actually still like it, but I don't listen to Hannity.

I loathe Christmas Shoes and Have You Forgotten, and frankly, most of the rest of the songs you named. But you forgot one that I hate more than almost any other song ever written: That awful "Come On Eileen" song and any other song by that awful band.

And anything by the guys who did "Smokin' in the Boys Room." Ugh. Ugh. YUCK!

evenescence=linkin park+meatloaf. Just awful.
"Papa don't preach"
"Jaine's got a gun"
"Rock on" (esp the remake)

Disco might have sucked, but it can't stand up to the crapfest that was 80's pop music

If crappy lyrcis makes a crappy song, Madonna wins. If crappy music makes a crappy song, the pillowbiter that did "Rock on" wins

Are celebrity songs eligible ? or D.Q. on novelty basis? If not Don Johnson, Eddie Murphy and Pat Swayze are all contenders

pril has a good choice for worst song, i would probably add the following:
"to all the girls i've loved before" willie nelson
"jackson, mississippi" by kid rock
"run like hell" by kittie (kittie's going to hell for f--ckin' up a floyd song the way they did)
a few choice numbers from the alan jackson collection like "tall, tall trees" or "it's alright to be a little bitty"
songs containing the lyrics:
"yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye
crabalocker fishwife pornographic priestess" - you can just take your goo goo g'joob elsewhere, walrusboy.
"mmm bop" "afternoon delight" "blinded me with science" "bohemian rhapsody" "sledge hammer"
anything by the red hot chili peppers since 1991...

"Rasputin." Good heavens, Chris...did you have to dredge that up??

In retaliation, I give you this:

If you like pina coladas,
And gettin' caught in the rain,
If you're not into yoga,
If you have half a brain,

If you like makin' love at midnight
On the dunes of the cape,
Then you're the lady I've looked for,
Write to me and escape.

I actually liked "The Night Chicago Died" and "Tell Laura I Love Her," so I may be disqualified from voicing an opinion, but here's a couple: "Gloria" by Laura Brannigan and "Sunshine" by Jonathan Edwards ("sunshine go away today/don't feel much like dancin'" wha??).

How about "Stand" by REM? Banal lyrics delivered in a grating, whiny voice.

For sheerly idiotic lyrics (with an insanely catchy hook) "I've Got My Mind Set on You" by George Harrison. I like the song, but there's nothing there for the lyrics.

#1 worst lyrical disaster....EVER! Afroman's "But I got High"....LOSERFEST CENTRAL

"Don't turn around (uh-oh) der Kommisar's in town..." (After the Fire/Falco)

And while we are in the 80's: 99 Luft Baloons? Please.

Spot on re: "Put the Bone In" I thought I was the only living soul with those lyrics accidentally burned into my brain. I too owned the 45...

How about the unforgettable "Indian Lake"? With the great line; "at Indian lake you'll be able to mate the way the Indians do".
Or if that doesn't make you wretch, how about the Cowsills "The rain the park and other things"? They should have been shot for the title alone.

your not being specific. you also have a bad taste for music!

I was surprised that nobody mentions any of K.C. & The Sunshine Band's Songs. Anyhow I just have to throw my 2 cents in. The world's all-time suckiest, most annoying song has got to be Jeans On by David Dundas. And what about Achy Breaky Heart? Ring My Bell ranks way up there too. OK I will hush now, otherwise I might as well start my own list.

Why has nobody mentioned "Who Let the Dogs Out?" or "Mambo #5?" All I can say is - Repulsive!

Does anyone know the title of the song with the lyrics:

This bed is burning with love, passion and lust
The neighbors complain...

pretty sappy.

pass this on this morning

pass this on this morning

C'mon people..... Don't you know the most morbid song ever to hit the Top 40? Think, think.....
It has to go to Bloodrock for D.O.A. The song actually got to #36 on Billboard before a bunch of stations conspired to have it pulled. It does not deal with Vietnam; rather, it deals with small commuter business plane that crashes. The eight minute version, (which I love), is told from a survivors account. "Laying back, looking at the ceiling, someone places a sheet across my chest, something warm and moist is flowing out my body, pain is flowing out my back" Then you get a bunch of eerie sirens with a churning grizzly Hammond B-3 organ. The refrain, which sticks in your head, "I remember, something in the air and we landed on the ground" Beautiful... The song freaked me out for a good 20 years.

Any of those wretched trajedy songs rate. 'Christmas Shoes', 'Seasons in the Sun', that christmas dreck by Red Sovine. I think 'Last Kiss' by Pearl Jam is one of the worst. A great band tries a BAD category. Kill that and play Jeremy again. But what about 'Can't Fight this Feeling'? I guess REO Speedwagon cashed any cool chips they had. How about 'Mandy' by that hack Manilow? Lee Greenwoods forced patriotism of 'God Bless the USA' always makes me cringe. and 'Achy Breaky Heart' makes my cry for my achy breaky ears.
My vote for worst is 'Never Been To Me' by Charlene. What a weepy self-pity party for a shallow whore. GAAAH! Somebody shoot her and put her out of our misery

One for the treacle bin, a song that makes me want to stick hot needles in my eyes is "Honey":

Yes one day while I wasn't home while she was there and all alone the angels came
Now all I have are memories of honey and I wake up nights and I call her name
And now my life's an empty stage where honey lived and honey played and love grew up
And a small cloud passes overhead and cries down in the flower bed that honey loved
And honey I miss you and I'm being good and I'd love to be with you if only I could

He tells his dead wife that he's being good? If he was really being good he'd shut the hell up, go out and find a woman and never sing again.

I, too, have the "Put the bone in" 45. Still do. What a loser.

I like every rose has it's thorn but I couldn't agree more about your body is a wonderland

how can such a kick ass power ballad as every rose has its thorn be on a worst song list and a song hat just wouldnt go awaya lie my heart will go on not make the stinkers list....my heart will go on is the worst song ever in the past 20 years