In an idea I blatantly stole from Dave Barry, I started thinking about the worst songs ever written. Mr. Barry wrote about this and invited readers to send him their votes for the (dis)honor. He received over 10,000 responses which tells you many things, first of which is that newspapers had a gigantic number of subscribers back then. Because some time has passed since his article appeared in the Miami Herald, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the topic. Plus, I was out of column ideas of my own.
Because I’m a science kind of girl I decided to conduct a formal survey. Because I’m an impatient science kind of girl, my formal survey consists of four people. It is important to know the original article by the original author was written in the early 1990s. Thirty years ago. Keep that in mind.
My friend Pam insists there is a three-way tie for the worst. Her nominees are: (1) Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer (2) Louie Louie and (3) Chumbawamba. I have to give some credence to number one here. Although it is seasonal and (small mercies) played only — albeit nearly endlessly — during the holidays, it absolutely pegs the stupid meter. I took strong exception to number two. Louie Louie is iconic. It’s the anthem of the 60s. It’s … well, I’m sure it’s something very moving and poignant but because I can’t understand the lyrics I don’t know exactly what. That’s Pam’s complaint … she can’t understand the lyrics. Reportedly they’re borderline pornographic but remember, it was written in 1963. My guess is that now it would be taught to kindergarteners and sung in Sunday school. If songs got discredited because you can’t understand the lyrics, there would be no rap music. To which I say “Hooray!” I think it was the late Frank Zappa who said, “If it wasn’t (sic) for rap there would be no poetry in America.” To which I add, “Huh?” And as for Pam’s third choice, I further add, “Huh?” again.
My friend Kevin insists there is just a two-way tie, that it’s a toss-up between “I’ve Got a Brand-New Pair of Roller Skates (You’ve Got A Brand-New Key)” and “Having My Baby.” The second line of “Having” is “What a lovely way of sayin’ how much you love me.” Kevin witnessed the birth of both his daughters. He assures me that at no time during either process did his wife utter “What a lovely way of” anything.
The third person in the poll didn’t have an opinion. But he likes Kenny G so…
While the above songs certainly have whatever is the opposite of merit, I am going to go with the opinion of the fourth person who is me. I, too, think there is a two-way tie. For sheer depressing content, you just can’t beat “In The Year 2525.” To sum up the lyrics of this dirge, “We’re doomed.” We may very well be, but I don’t need this song to remind me. I’d like to keep some suspense about it and wait for the surprise ending. Sample lyric: “In the year 2525, if man is still alive, if woman can survive …” and like that. In the year 2525, if man is still alive, he will still hate this song. The other song is “A Horse With No Name.” Sample: “In the desert you can remember your name ‘cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.” A grammar-snob’s nightmare. I suppose I should mention “MacArthur Park” although it’s so inane it takes about ten points off your IQ every time you hear it. And “The Pina Colada Song.” He wants to cheat on her, she wants to cheat on him, so they cheat on each other with each other. All set to really bad music.
Now here is the kicker about the time lapse since Dave Barry suggested the survey. In the past 30 years, the results haven’t changed. With the exception of the Roller Skate song which amazingly didn’t even get a mention in Barry’s article, every one of the songs my intensive study came up with were also front runners in the 1990s. This means either (1) People of my generation wrote truly awful music (2) No song written in the past thirty years has stooped to our level or (3) People are still trying to decipher Louie Louie.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today