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(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]

technorati tag: overrated songs


I agree, all overrated, but also songs that when played, I sing along to. Loudly in my car. I have Freebird on my I-pod, it's one of those songs that does suck, but is still a song from my youth that you have to listen to. Although I don't hold up the lighter and yell Freebird anymore. that would be silly when I am in my car.

Don McLean - American Pie?? Ouch! I love you, Michele, you know that, but damn! that smarts!

Hmm... Long=bad? Then you probably hate November Rain, no?

I'd nominate "Hey Jude". Unlike you, I like the Beatles, but that song just makes me want to gag.

re: "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" being banned from playlists forever. Absolutely. As soon as you can no longer hear a song without thinking of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure", that song should be banished from serious music-playing.

This also goes for Kansas' "Dust in the Wind". Sure, once upon a time I thought it was really profound (I was young). Now all I think is "Hey, Bill & Ted!"

I never could make anything intelligible out of November Rain. An orchestra does not make a song significant. I would add absolutely everything by ELO. Freebird (but only the live version) and American Pie are still on my guilty pleasure list, the latter because it was fun as a kid to see if you could remember all the words.

"What song is it you wanna hear?"


[beats Rob about the head]

Michele, I'm of the opinion that ALL hair metal ballads are just plain wrong on principle. Ban 'em all!

I couldn't resist.

But, as the Big Hair would say, "accept it before it destroys you!"

No toucha The Beatles !!

I'd almost save November Rain for the last two minutes of howling guitar.

Elvis has to be on this list somewhere. He sang so much shit and none of it was his. All of his music sucks so badly I can't think of just one song. He is easily the most overrated of all time. Yes, that many people can be wrong.

Unlike you, I actually like Bruce Springsteen. However, "Born in the U.S.A." has got to be right up there. Even if just for the idiots who sing it like it's some patriotic anthem and totally miss the irony. Or maybe that's what makes it great after all...

Uh, Imagine. Can't get more rated than that.

Anything by the Clash. They are number one on my Overrated Bands/Singers list. Springsteen is number two. And as much as I love them, U2 is number three.

Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi

Please people this song is terrible. The first step is to admit it then the healing can begin.

calls down the wrath of God on Andrea

Without a doubt, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. I hated it when it came out and I hate it even more now. Much like you with Paradise, I would rather listen to Celene Dion's entire catalog than to endure even 10 seconds of this song. Did I mention I really dislike this song?

Yellow Submarine. They must have been laughing their asses off - let's come up with the dumbest sh@t we can put to a lyric and see how many albums we can sell.

And speaking of Celene Dion, that damned song she did for the movie Titanic. I don't even know the name of it, it was so bad. But at least it was better than Bohemian Rhapsody. :-)

which makes me thing that Paul and John got together and said "Hey, let's make one of those arena songs

They quit touring in '66. "Hey Jude" was written in '68. There was no arena intent at the time -- although Paul has certainly turned it into a Bic commercial since.

"November Rain" is so overwrought, and so transparently Axl's attempt at A Moment, that I can't listen to it without laughing. No exaggeration.

In fact, I'm laughing right now remembering that song. Especially that little chanting part at the end: "Don't you think that you need somebody, don't you think that you need someone..." Heheheh. Take Slash's dick out of your mouth, Axl.

"Blinded By the Light". I really don't care who's wrapped up like a douche and a rollin' in the night. Anyway, it just sucks. Any version of it.

I agree with Sam, please put Imagine on the list. Please, Please. I do so hate that song.

Jackson Browne's Stay/Load Out.

Frampton's Do You Feel Like I Do.

Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence.

Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2.

I love those songs. But I won't get too upset unless you list "Bridge Over Troubled Water" I have shed too many tears over that song to see it maligned!

Sadie- have you heard Elvis' version of Bridge Over Troubled Water? It should definitely be maligned.

That song they make us sing before a football game that goes " Oh say can you see by the dawns only light.. something something..banner we waved.. something something" if I had a jumbo-tron in front of me I could get all the lyrics. Lousy melody also.

instead of hearing "Born to Run" I hear "We're broke and I hate you."

Too funny.

Someday girl I don't know when we're gonna get to that place
Where we really want to go and we'll walk in the sun
But till then --
We're fuckin' broke,
And baby I fuckin'. hate. youuuuuuuu

Da-DA-da-da -- Da-Da

"We Are The World."

If we need to add another Beatles song it should be "Yesterday"... the original slow song by a Rock band... What a depressing load of crap.

hmm i'm pretty much with you on all of them. I would throw in another Skynrd song, "sweet Home Alabama". My husband pipes up with "Pretty Woman". Both the Orbison one and the VH one.

But i actually started thinking, well, what about underrated classic rock type songs, which is a totally different ball of earwax of course. Uriah Heep's "Easy Livin", Black Sabbath's "Children of the Grave".. thought of some others. Great stuff but you only happen to catch it once every six months at 2 am on a Wednesday night on any given classic rock format station.

hey you guys you know that "wheel in the sky"? well it just "keeps on turning"!....???

Billy Joel: "Just the Way You Are" and "Always a Woman".
These songs have played on the Classic rock stations so much I have learned to hate them: "Satisfaction", anything by Foreigner and anything by Boston especially "More than a Feeling".
You hit the nail on the head about Springsteen.
Also U2: "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found etc etc"

Happy Birthday to You. Hello? Anybody else tired of hearing this one? If I wanted a chilling reminder of my own mortality, I'd uncover the mirrors in the house. Give it a rest, jerks!

Oh, and I don't really need to be told what the wheels on the bus do, kid. I mean, duh.

"Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones
"Roxanne" by The Police

... off the top of my head. They're like the signature songs of those two bands, and they're both just rather lame.

"Living After Midnight" by Judas Priest

I like Priest, but this song isn't British Steel. It's British Poop. And nine times out of ten it's what they play on the radio.

"Light my Fire"- The Doors
Anything by Stain'd. I just can't stand all the whining.

Oh, and I just LOVE this post, you hit em all head on.

Michele, you don't like the Beatles, either? I like you more and more every time I read this blog--I thought I was the only person out there with a general dislike for everyone's favorite group of British boys. I must admit, though, when "Hey Jude" comes on the radio, I sing along.

I like Lesley's suggestions of "Dust in the Wind." She may think of Bill and Ted when she hears it, but I think "You're my boy, Blue!"

"Layla" by Derek & The Dominoes. I like the ending instrumental part, but the lyrics are throwaway.

I'll second "Sweet Home Alabama" with its awkward putdown of Neil Young:

"Well I heard Mr Young sing about us
Well I heard ol' Neil put us down
Well I hope Neil Young will remember..."

"Money" by Pink Floyd. Although I enjoyed the Live8 version, it has always baffled me that this song became their big hit.

The salient fact about "Hey Jude" is that it's a three-minute song that runs seven minutes and change. That alone qualifies it for some sort of overkill award.

Glad to see Hotel California and Hey Jude on the list. I would add Ramblin' Man for the same reason as Hotel and Jude. It just goes on, and on, and on, just like that damn Energizer bunny.

Well, we were just another band out of Boston
On the road to try to make ends meet
Playin' all the bars, sleepin' in our cars
And we practiced right on out in the street
No, we didn't have much money
We barely made enough to survive
But when we got up on stage and got ready to play
People came alive.

Rock and roll band
Everybody's waitin'
Gettin' crazy
Anticipating love and music
Play, play, play, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Hand me the flamethrower.

How's about anything at all by Billy Joel?

ok beotch, you can slag at the loaf in one post. and you can slag at the gunners in another. But you cannot slag meat, gunner, posion and extreme without yr antipodean asshole spouting forth and cautioning you on the slipery slope of heaathenism and infidelity you are embarking upon. Next it will be Wanted, Dear or ALive. Next it'll be Fat Bottomed Girls. Next it will be Lita Ford, or Don't Know What You Got (Until it's Gone).
So, like a shakespearean cherub with way too much hairspray and way too little clothing, put down that keyboard and pick up your zippo...
This is said with much respect, because for you, I would do anything, but I won't diss the loaf.

Any votes for "Take the Long Way Home" by Supertramp? The. Worst. Song. Ever.

Dear God:

Missed me! Nyah.

November Rain's guitar solos are classic Slash (if DJ gets a tone like that going, bottle it!), but the rest of the song can go in the bin. Coma was GNR's best "long" song anyway.

The hate? I'll go with the tastefully named commenter a few posts above this and say "anything by Billy Joel except 'Pressure'".

Wow. A bunch of folks who ALL read my mind. Some type of mass Vulcan mind-meld goin' on here?

And is there anyone else who hates Springsteen, EXCEPT for "Nebraska"?

Definitely agree most with:
Billy Joel - Winner of the song title most unlike its song for "It's Just rock 'n roll to me"
Meat Loaf
Hey Jude/Imagine

And for your consideration:
Nevermind (sorry - it's overrated folks)
Start me up (gag)
Fleetwood Mac (most of their stuff - no one song stands out)
Smoke on the water - I actually like the song, but it's STILL overrated

more later...

Radar Love.

Amen on the Springsteen thought!

I never could figure out why he is so popular. Is it a yankee thing? Or just 'I like poorly written, poorly played, depressing songs, overfilled with a sense of their own self-importance', kind of thing?

By the way after reading about the concerts concerning his promotion of 'The Rising', the man is totally p-whipped.

Hmm, A lot of thoughts to boil down here . . .

Paradise is a good "fun" song, but Meat Loaf / Steinman had some jewels that were totally eclipsed by this borderline novelty cut, so I guess I'd have to agree.

Springsteen's last good song was Thunder Road. Coincidentally that was also his first hit. There's only so many ways to write the same theme.

Good list, overall.

As much as I like Hendrix, I'd have to add Purple Haze to the list. It is vastly overplayed as the "Hendrix Song" when he had so many better recordings.

In that same vein (bracing myself for the backlash on this one), Comfortably Numb should be on the list, except when it's taken as a part of The Wall. Sadly, that's the only tune a lot of folks know by Pink Floyd.

Billy Joel wrote/sang "It's STILL Rock 'n Roll to Me."

STILL....not "just." If you're gonna dare to slander the man, the myth, and the legend, at least do it right.

I can't say anything bad about Meatloaf's "Paradise by the dashboard light".

I got my first lap dance to that song, and the song is what? Ten minutes long?

It was a good night....

I hate Springsteen. I also hate Genesis and anything by Phil Collins solo. It's ALL THE SAME DAMN SONG.


I'm glad I'm not the only one who held onto my money until the opening bars of "Paradise," Billy Thorpe's "Children of the Sun," or Metallica's "Sanitarium."

The one they never played: Iron Butterfly's "In-a-gadda-da-vida."

Back in my collegiate radio days (or, more often than not 'daze'), I played In-a-gadda-da-vida' whenever I needed to go down to the Rathskeller for food and beer...

All these songs have one thing in common: they were, and still are, OVERPLAYED!!!!! Imagine how much more we would enjoy these songs if we heard them once a month...or year...or decade. Here's my contribution:

The song that was the king of heavy rotation: "Every Breathe You Take"

Bob Seger's whiny "Turn the Page" has caused me to break many radios.

Love this list!

"Turn the Page," and whatever that whiny Kid Rock song is about life on the road and how hard it is.

My 17-year-old son says of Springsteen: "Dad, that guy's so overrated it's unbelievable." I agree, and we live in NJ.

Also add "California Dreamin" by The Mammas and the Papas" to your list and "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane. Never could stand that 60s deep-inner- meaning California hippy angst crap. Ditto Crosby Stills "Ohio". Duh, "Pig Nixon and Soldiers Commin" or whatever.

elvis - in the ghetto

talk about moments

Just about anything by Elton John, but Benny and the jets makes me want to puke.
Anything Chicago did with Peter Sitera (?), their early stuff was great.
Brandy by Looking Glass has to be the most overplayed song in history
The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot, you could die of old age before that song is over.
MacArthurs Park, whoever sings it.
Just about anything that Barbra Streisand has done since Evergreen. My wife loves her and I have to suffer through Elvis, Barbra and Celine all the time.

Dust in the wind- blech

Take Those Old Records Off The Shelf and Come On Baby Light My Fire...


How about I am, I said, by Neil Diamond, the stupidest lyrics ever combined with his raspy voice!!!! Actually anything by Neil Diamond!