(8 of the) 13 most overrated songs [Updated]
One of those music memes I just can't resist. As you know, overrated is a topic near and dear to my heart. I think the guy who wrote the article wants you to comment on his list, but pfft on that. I'm making my own. Thing is, this is gonna take all day. So I'll start off with the easy ones and then you can make suggestions as to which sacred cows of popular songs I should rip apart. Here's three for starters.1. Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven.
Obvious choice, one which I've discussed here many times:
It was only years later that I realized the words probably mean nothing except that Robert Plant read a lot of books. He strung some thoughts and words from his favorite novels together, mixed them in a blender and called it Stairway to Heaven.
The problem here is also that Zep inadvertently invented a formula for overrated songs: The plaintive singing of cryptic lyrics about five stanzas too long, followed by a guitar solo that makes one envision the guitarist standing on top of a mountain, wind blowing through his hair while his screeching riffs conjure up all kinds of inclement weather because it's that good. And don't get me wrong. I love Zep. But Stairway makes me cringe. Maybe I'm just embarassed that I used to believe this was the greatest song ever written. I also used to believe that you could see the Statue of Liberty in the reflection of a lake on Bear Mountain, but both those beliefs were born of the same drug.
2. Don McLean - American Pie
It's long. It gets tedious after a while. And most of it makes no sense to anyone but Don McLean. Yes, I get the whole "the day the music died" thing and I think it's really nice that he was so touched he wrote a song about it, and I get the allusions to other bands of the time within the song. But maybe he could have cut about ten verses or so. I mean, it's great when you're 17 and stoned and sitting around a campfire at the beach and your friend has an out of tune acoustic guitar and starts strumming and you all start singing "bye, bye, miss American pie...." but come on. Didn't you ever giggle while singing So come on: jack be nimble, jack be quick! Jack flash sat on a candlestick? Is this the stuff greatness is made of? It's just too god damn long. By the time the last verse came around, I was always halfway down the other end of the beach, looking for a private place to pee.
3. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Freebird
So I spent a good portion of my high school years yelling "FREEEBIRD!" and playing air guitar to this song. Most people my age did. It's just what we did. You drank beer, hung out in arena parking lots before concerts and talked about what a fucking fantastic song Freebird is, man. With a straight face. And you had to listen to the live version, so you can hear the "What song is it you want to hear?" and also the part where he says "How 'bout you?" because man, he was talking to ME.
I'll let my 12 year old son give you the review of Freebird from the point of view of today: "Yea, the guitar solo is ok, kinda cool, but the rest of the song blows. It's like he's masturbating with his guitar." I think he probably picked that up from the Guitar World message boards, but I'll let it stand on record.
4. Eagles - Hotel California
Do you see a trend here? Maybe I just don't like long songs. This is another one of those "rock musicians gone poetically awry" songs, in which a lyricist believes he is not just a writer of catchy rock songs, but a poet as well. An allegorical poet, if you will. Ooohhh, dark, mysterious, cryptic lyrics that will, thirty years down the road, still be the subject of "what do you think it means" conversations. Who cares? This song is BORING. It's like watching a horrible movie with false endings, where you keep shifting in your seat thinking, ok, credits are going to roll right.........now! But no, they cut to yet another drawn out, badly acted scene, maybe one in which there are mirrors on the ceiling and pink champagne on ice. Oh, yes, how Hollywood people live in excess, that must be the theme of this song! No, wait, it's about being stuck in a place you can't get out of...no, it's...hey, a guitar solo! Another long, drawn out, masturbatory guitar experience! Pass the bong!
5. Meatloaf - Paradise by the Dashboard Light.
The suckiest suck of the sucky songs that are constantly played on classic rock radio stations. Asscake with assfrosting eaten with an ass-spoon. My aversion to this song has become physical, I literally dry heave when I hear the opening notes.
Excuse me while I copy and paste here (this is going to end up being the longest post on ASV ever).
It was at my sister's wedding ten years ago when I realized that Paradise By the Dashboard Light was my kryptonite. As soon as the first note emitted from the speakers, the dance floor was flooded with revelers. All the people who sat on their asses for the great dance songs of the night (oh, like you don't want to dance every time you hear Funkytown) were suddenly lined up on the floor, males forming a line down one side, females doing the same on the other side. It was reminiscent of a movie musical, where somehow everyone knows the words to the song and all the lines to sing. Maybe I hadn't been to enough weddings or bars lately, but I had no idea that Paradise had become a line dance/interactive favorite. It was the new Hokey Pokey!
Let me tell you, even with a couple of shots of tequila under my belt, and even with the giddiness that comes with complete exhaustion, there was no way I was loopy enough to join that crowd on the dance floor. No, I just stood back and watched as grown men and women - including town councilmen and judges and the president of the local Kiwanis - took turns singing the boy/girl parts and totally acting the part of lust filled teenagers in a steamy car. One couple actually stood in the center of the two lines during the whole baseball announcer verse and acted the whole thing out. I kid you not. When my jaw dropped and a cousin realized I was stunned, she told me that this went on at every wedding, in every bar, every night of the week and I needed to get out more. No, no, I told her. I need to never leave the sanctity of my house again.
When my kid's religious ed teacher did a sliding split into the middle of the dance floor, holding up her hand and singing "STOP RIGHT THERE!" and my uncle twirled his way beside her and responded with the "let me sleep on it" verse and then all of them did the whole back and forth thing and this went on until the very end, where they all did some bizarre dance as they whispered glowing like a metal on the edge of a knife, I thought I had been transported to the ninth level of hell and Satan himself was going to rise out of the dance floor.Yes, that was ten years ago and I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday (sorry, couldn't resist). It was such a horrid experience that not only is it etched in my memory forever, but it has made me loathe the whole Bat Out of Hell album and even Meatloaf himself.
No, that doesn't make the song suck in and of itself. But it does make me say WHAT. THE. FUCK. everytime someone says how much they love Paradise because for the life of me I cannot figure out anything redeeming about this song.
6. Guns N Roses - November Rain
I know what happens when you dis GnR. But I'm going to do it anyhow, kilted trolls be damned.
November Rain (and here I'm going to include the video with the song) is a Harlequin romance novel when all you want is Hunter Thompson. It's GnR's Beth. Remember Kiss's Beth? How much did you want to puke every time that song came on the radio? Sex! Drugs! Rock and Roll! Love Ballads! Err...NO. Many people call this song the greatest love song of the 90's, but holy schmaltz, Batman. Is an 8 minute, 53 second heartbreaking love song accompanied by an equally heartbreaking video really what you want out of your depraved metal band? What happened to "I used to love her, but now I have to kill her?" Man up, Nancy! Kill the bitch, don't croon to her! Oh, I am going to get raked over the coals for this one, I know. November Rain is the sacred cow of all hair metal power ballads. MOOOOOOOOO! That's the sound of your sacred cow being stabbed repeatedly with a fork. November Rain should be retired from airplay along with Every Rose Has Its Thorn and More Than Words.
7. The Beatles - Hey Jude
You just knew there would be a Beatles song on this list, didn't you? And out of all the Beatles songs I could choose from (Love me Do, I Want to Hold Your Hand, Lucy in the Sky...), this one (suggested by Lesely in the comments) was a no brainer. And listen, I'm not saying it's a bad song, musically. The thing is, the song is seven minutes and seven seconds long and I think seven full minutes of it is the Beatles singing "Na na na na na ,na na na, hey jude.." (or la, or da, whichever nonsense dialect you choose to sing in), which makes me thing that Paul and John got together and said "Hey, let's make one of those arena songs, you know, the kind where the audience stands up and flics their Bics and sings along with you and we can keep it going for half an hour at least and then turn the house lights on at the end and no one will bitch about the show ending because they had a moment with us, you know wut I'm saying, luv?" Ok, so it was 1968 and the cigarette lighter arena show hadn't been invented yet, but everyone knows that McCarteny and Lennon were ahead of their time.
8. Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run in the USA in his Glory Days
Yea, all of them. All of him. And I'll be honest and tell you right off the bat that I have a personal, visceral hatred for Springsteen that goes beyond the usual "oh he sucks" kind of hate and delves into a dark, seedy pathos in which the sound of Springsteen's voice takes on the tone of my ex-husband and instead of hearing "Born to Run" I hear "We're broke and I hate you." We all have those things that remind us of exes. Ugly sweaters, torn letters, raggy stuffed animals...I have the memory of a singer who looks like he is eternally constipated and sings like the shit his on its way out the hole. So there's that. But there's also that other kind of hatred where you listen to a band/artist and think to yourself "Why? Why, god, why?" And then you remember you don't believe in god and people like Springsteen becoming world class heros is part of the reason why.
Anyhow. I can't stand his strained voice. I can't stand his underbite and the way he grimaces when he sings. I can't stand the oh so meaningful lyrics about life as a down and out Jersey cowboy (wait, I think that's Bon Jovi). Every song reads like the same Joyce Carol Oats short story. Me and Janie went down to the boardwalk to talk about our lives and well, the boardwalk was kinda empty because this town is just dyin', man and me and Janie said like, yea, we gotta get out of here. This town is just gonna kill us man. We can't spend all our lives drag racin' and fuckin' and takin' long walks on the beach contemplatin' shit. And Janie's pregnant, man and her old man is gonna kick her out of the house for not lovin' Jesus enough and her momma done spent all the milk money gamblin' in Atlantic City and we just work hard, you know? We work hard, man. We put on our blue jeans and work boots and go to the factories and mills and we work our fingers to the bone and we got nuthin' to show for it 'cept teenage pregnancy and drug overdoses and depressed kids with nothin' to do and the streets are on fire baby. Let's make out.
Ok, that's eight. Five more to go. Suggestions welcomed. I may even go further than 13.
[To be continued later this evening or in the morning]