“It makes my ears bleed!” “It makes me feel sick!” “It makes my hair stand on end!”
These are some of the comments I received after a recent request to identify the Worst Songs Ever.
Although the 1970s is considered to be The Decade of Bad Songs (that era gave us “Run Joey Run,” “Convoy,” and “Kung Fu Fighting”), there were plenty of duds before then, and they’re still cranking them out today.
For instance, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” (“I TURN it off, every time it comes on”) and the “Frozen” anthem, “Let It Go” (“Please tell your 10-year-old daughter to like another song!”)
Let’s not forget, “Who Let the Dogs Out?” (“They should have unleashed them in the studio!”)
1990s music lovers had plenty to say, from Hanson’s “MmmBop” (“Mmmm..No!”), the bubblegum-flavored “Barbie Girl” (“Even Ken hates this one”), and Ricky Martin’s “Living La Vida Loca” (“I know all the words, and I’m not proud of that.”)
Whitney Houston’s 1992 power ballad “I Will Always Love You” also came under fire. (“Pure howling. It brings shivers from head to toe!”)
The 1980s are remembered for MTV and big-hair, but some haven’t forgiven that decade for Starship’s “We Built This City” (“From the band that gave us some of the best songs of the 60s? Did they finally sober up?”), Toni Basil’s cheerleader anthem “Mickey” (“I pulled a muscle trying to switch to another station”), and every song recorded by Rick Astley (“Never Gonna Give You Up”), Boy George (“Karma Chameleon”), and the B-52’s (“Rock Lobster”).
Stevie Nicks has plenty of fans, but some of her 1980s-era lyrics were singled out for special attention. Her 1981 hit “Edge of Seventeen” includes this line: “Just like the white winged dove, sings a song sounds like she’s singing, ooh, baby, ooh, baby, ooh.” (“I’m sorry, I don’t get it. Does anyone?”)
The 1970s decade is in a league of its own. There were nominations for the Temptations epic “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” (“Is it over yet? Please, make it stop”), the tear-jerker “Seasons in the Sun” (“We had joy, we had fun, until this song came on”), and 3 Dog Night’s hard-to-avoid “Joy to the World” (“If I hear Jeremiah was a bullfrog one more time, my head will explode!”)
Paul McCartney’s 70s output incurred the wrath of many, starting with “Silly Love Songs” (“After writing all those Beatles classics, he must have run out of ideas.”) The lyrics of “Let ‘Em In” were quoted: “Someone’s knockin’ at the door, somebody’s ringing the bell, do me a favor, open the door, let ‘em in.” (“Did he win a bet that his fans would buy anything? If so, it looks like he won.”)
Then there was America’s “Horse With No Name” (“At first I thought it was Neil Young, but he wouldn’t stoop to that”), “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” (“Boo is the right word”), and Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” (“A one-hit wonder. No wonder.”)
That decade must also be held accountable for “Billy Don’t Be A Hero,” “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” “The Night Chicago Died,” “Delta Dawn,” and the infamous “Muskrat Love.”
Who can forget these words: “Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam, do the jitterbug out in muskrat land, and they shimmy and Sam is so skinny.” Yes, I played that on the radio. A lot. Please forgive me.
The 60s gave us Bobby Goldsboro’s depressing “Honey,” the tragic “Leader of the Pack,” and the never-ending “MacArthur Park” (“Somebody, get that cake out of the rain already, it’s been 50 years, and we know it doesn’t end well!”) There were also votes for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Sugar, Sugar” (true confession: those are two of my guilty pleasures).
Even though we only hear them over the holidays, several Christmas songs were named: Jose Feliciano’s earworm “Feliz Navidad,” the too-sexy-for-some “Santa Baby,” the too-creepy-for-some “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” McCartney’s repetitive “Wonderful Christmas Time” and the instantly regrettable “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” (“Whoever got rich from that should send us all an apology!”)
That brings us to the 3 Worst Songs Ever, as selected by you. No. 3 is “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega from 1999 (“I’ve seen too many drunks try to dance to this at wedding receptions”), and No. 2 is the 1995 dance sensation “Macarena” (“Every time they say Macarena, it’s followed by the sound my cat makes when he spits up a hairball.”)
So what’s the Worst Song Ever? It’s another 70s stinker, Rick Dees’ “Disco Duck,” which topped the charts in 1976. Can’t argue with this one, folks. You have a good ear for bad music.
David Carroll, a Chattanooga news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,” a collection of his best stories. You may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.