I had a conversation last week with my best friend that included discussion of one of life’s most important questions: What is the worst song ever recorded? We came up with three songs that certainly belong in the bottom ten — “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys, “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion and “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon.
The REO Speedwagon votes will probably be split, however, because songs like “Keep On Loving You” and “In Your Letter” are nearly as terrible as the first one I listed. And that’s a sad thing, because prior to 1980 they were one of the truly kickass rock bands on the planet.
My pure, visceral, irrational hatred for Celine Dion has been well documented. I am convinced that Celine Dion is Canada’s revenge on America for decades of acid rain, and that we owe them a lot more acid rain now. The theme from Titanic is, to quote Joe Queenan (about a different song), a “premeditated act of musical genocide.”
But “Kokomo” may beat both of them. Not only is the song incredibly annoying and one of the most persistent earworms ever inflicted on the world, the video inexplicably has John Stamos in it.
The problem, of course, is that once you get started making such a list, the task seems endless. It’s impossible to leave out songs like “Mr. Roboto” by Styx or almost anything from the catalogs of Michael Bolton, Kenny G or John Tesh. And here’s an obscure one that belongs on any list of vile songs, “Love Will Keep Us Alive” by the Eagles.
And how about Paul McCartney? Yes, I know he wrote some of the best songs ever. He also wrote some of the worst, almost all of them after the split with John Lennon. Here’s just a brief list: Silly Love Songs, Band on the Run, Say Say Say, Ebony and Ivory, The Girl is Mine. The only good song he wrote after the Beatles broke up was Live and Let Die. And that song was done better by others.
You might have noticed that a lot of these songs are horribly overwrought love songs full of cheap sentimentality. That’s not a coincidence. It’s a genre I generally despise. Not love songs in general, but that particular kind.
Okay, your turn.