The Worst Song Ever Made

The Worst Song Ever Made November 26, 2011

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.

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  • 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.

    Ed, years ago, when John Stamos was a regular on General Hospital, his character was a Beach Boys fan. (Why was I watching General Hospital? That’s a different story! LOL!) So, I’m guessing his minor celebrity status and being a Beach Boys fan must have in some way led to him getting to appear in the Kokomo video.

    What I’m still trying to figure out is Christian Slater’s cameo appearance in Star Trek VI.

  • Draken

    The most annoying? Probably The Final Countdown. Each time I hear it (almost daily, somewhere, unsolicited) I hope it is the final one.

  • “We Built This City (on Rock and Roll)” didn’t make your final list?

  • gman

    If you didn’t list ‘she’s having my baby’, I’m calling for an inquiry.

  • How about anything by Tiny Tim?

  • When I was in 9th grade, REO Speedwagon lived in this house across the street from the school, where they wrote there first album and the song 157 Riverside Avenue.

    The river is the Saugatuck River.

  • davidsverse

    I have to agree with The Final Countdown.

    Meatloaf’s I would do anything for love.

    As to Celine Dion. Canada made up for her with Devin Townsend. Though sadly she is 1,000x more well known than he is.

  • Elf_Owl

    In my book, “You Light Up My Life” by the dreadful Debbie Boone sets the standard for how bad a song can be. (However, gman’s choice “Having My Baby” is right down there too.) A few years earlier, “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks was pretty awful.

  • “Timothy” by The Buoys–a tender ballad about cannibalism.

  • Larry

    No McArthur Park? No Wildfire? No Muskrat Love?

    What kinda joint you running here, Brayton?

  • “Kokomo” is really the laziest song ever. The band sounds like it is about to fall asleep through the whole thing.

    “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips is right up there on the list though.

  • You almost have to sort these by decade (at least), if not years.

    And you’d have to limit them to well known songs (say Billboard Top 100) or you could really get into some vile stuff.

    Or are we talking about good musicians that have created bad music?

  • Ooh. “Wildfire” – now that was a crime against humanity.

  • LightningRose

    I nominate “The Star Spangled Banner”.

  • Surely Bobby Goldsboro and “Honey” are contenders. Congealed treacle.

    When you get to the worst Xmas songs, don’t forget “The Little Drummer Boy.”

  • shallit

    Ok, I will admit it:

    I like “Kokomo”, “MacArthur Park”, and “Wildfire”. In fact, the piano solo at the beginning and end of “Wildfire” is based on a piece by Scriabin, and is damn good.

    “Havin’ My Baby”, on the other hand, is the most appalling piece of dreck ever composed.

    But “The Night Chicago Died” is a close second.

    And Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “The Hockey Song”, with a chorus of “The good old hockey game is the best game you can name, and the best game you can name is the good old hockey game”, is the eternal shame of Canada.

  • One to add to the list of McCartney’s mortal sins against music: Who’s That Knocking at the Door? It was on the hit parade the summer I worked in a factory where they played the radio all day. By August, I was about ready to run amok with a large hammer every time that thing came on.

    @14: As Vonnegut put it: Gibberish sprinkled with punctuation marks.

    BTW: I’m old enough to remember when Donny Osmond was popular. Don’t ever let anyone sell you a line about the Good Olde Days.

  • anandine

    Tell Laura I love her.

    Ebony Eyes.

  • D. C. Sessions

    This is a question that’s impossible to address properly while the annual christmas “music” atrocities are going on. Stores, elevators, pretty much all radio stations …

    There’s a reason I do my best to leave town between Thanksgiving and New Years: it’s to avoid going postal over the so-called music.

  • Hank Fox

    Not even close, none of them.

    Jungle Boogie, by Kool and the Gang.

    Seriously, listen to it, the whole thing.

    If it’s a choice of this song going down in history or an asteroid wiping out all signs of human life, I’m not sure which I would choose.

  • Michael Heath

    I’ve been able to pretty effectively create a cocoon that keeps what I think is bad music from my ears with the exception of listening to a few seconds of iTunes samples. There is an unexpected cost to my success however. Prior to the last thread of that cocoon being tightly woven in the early-1990s, the songs which haunted me prior still occasionally rise up out of my memories in spite of my going all hermit. Nine To Five and Physical being the most execrable examples.

    I spent some time a couple of evenings earlier this week at The Rolling Stone site reading their 200 Best Albums of the 2000s article and then sampling iTunes’ most popular songs from many of those albums, picking up quite a few songs and a few albums (most notably Bob Dylan’s Modern Times in spite of his music long being within my comfort zone). More representative of my picks was getting some Jay-Z, Eminem, Weezer, and Wilco (2nd chance for the latter where I’ve long had their Yankee Foxtrot album). Primarily because I admit I’ve not kept up and thought it was time to rectify that. So any other suggestions are welcomed. I’m hooked on Lucinda Williams offered by James Hanley based on a prior Ed holiday blog post.

    Re REO Speedwagon: The year their High Infidelity album busted-out sales-wise was 1981, the same year Styx was doing so well with their only slightly less annoying Paradise Theater along with monster teeth-grinders like Journey’s Escape Christoper Cross, and John Lennon’s Double Fantasy dominating the airwaves. I thought that was the year rock was most at risk of dying, a popular topic of the time. That year’s product offerings reminded me of the advent of certain new types of beer products marketed to people who don’t like the taste of beer.

  • brianwestley

    When you want something done right, turn to SCIENCE!

    The world’s most unwanted song, created scientifically:

    Do all your shopping — at Walmart!

  • Michael Heath

    Elf_Owl writes:

    In my book, “You Light Up My Life” by the dreadful Debbie Boone sets the standard for how bad a song can be.

    A particularly good nomination given it was the biggest selling single of the 1970s and set a record of being number one for ten straight weeks (not sure that still stands). The fact we survived that horrific onslaught suggests there is hope for humanity.

  • Hank Fox

    Do a mashup of Debbie Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” and Marie Osmond’s “Paper Roses” and it would emit radiation.

  • janiceintoronto

    I hereby throw down the gauntlet.

    Minnie Ripperton, Loving You.

    So there…

  • There are some great suggestions here. Someone on Facebook brought up one that absolutely would be on my top — bottom? — ten: Wind Beneath My Wings, and the equally vile From A Distance, both in the Bette Midler versions. That’s music that makes you want to die in a pool of your own vomit.


    Paradise Theater was nowhere near as godawful as Kilroy Was Here, the follow up that included Mr. Roboto. That album was so bad it actually broke up the band; they kicked Dennis DeYoung out of the band because of that album.

    The description of Kokomo as lazy above is perfect. It’s like musical valium.

  • grumpyoldfart

    Lonesome by the Belew Twins

  • Michael Heath

    Songs prior to this post I would have admitted liking:


    Loving You

    I just purchased Wildfire after sampling it.

    I now realize I can no longer identify with 12 year olds and concede Loving You has earned its place on this list, a truly cringe-worthy song.

  • It occurs to me that no one has brought up any hair metal songs, many of which surely belong on the list. Anything by Lita Ford. Poison is in the vile music hall of fame for pretty much every song (Every Rose Has Its Thorn would, in a sane society, result in a prison sentence). Firehouse, definitely on the list. There’s some hair metal I really like — older Whitesnake, Dokken, Badlands. But a lot of it was just terrible. They seemed to go particularly wrong when making the inevitable ballad, always the third single released from any album in the 80s.

  • rational jen

    Anything done by the Cars, Beastie Boys, Kiss and Devo makes my list.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    Paradise Theater was nowhere near as godawful as Kilroy Was Here, the follow up that included Mr. Roboto. That album was so bad it actually broke up the band; they kicked Dennis DeYoung out of the band because of that album.

    I agree. However 1981 was not a good year for rock music where Paradise Theater was considered a phenomenal success for that year. A better year would have had it immediately going straight to the bargain bin and why I point out why rock might have died in that era. Only Too Much Time on My Hands gets played on the classic rock stations and then only rarely.

  • terry

    How about Party All the Time? You thought Eddie was only a comedian…

  • Michael Heath

    grumpyoldfart nominates:

    Lonesome by the Belew Twins

    I think fugazi could do a decent cover of that song. It’d at least be a hoot for those who saw the video you posted.

  • danielrudolph
  • jonrowe

    You guys miss the obvious choice. This is not subjective. The worst song ever written, in an objective, God speaking to Moses sense, is “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas.

  • Hank Fox

    Ed, I’m sending you an invitation to a special dinner with Celine Dion. The guys from Ween will be there to sing “Push the Little Daisies” for background music, and there will be a panel discussion on science featuring Insane Clown Posse.

  • Hank Fox

    You guys miss the obvious choice. This is not subjective. The worst song ever written, in an objective, God speaking to Moses sense, is “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas.

    But jonrowe … those guys were fast as lightning.

    In fact, it was a little bit frightening.

  • unity

    Some worthy candidates here, but the gold standard for cloying oversentimentally was set in the mid 1970’s by this truly repulsive tale of a mother resorting to emotional blackmail in order to screw their kid out of his pocket money.

    I give you the abomination that is ‘No Charge’.

  • ohioobserver

    “God Bless the USA”by the execrable Lee Greenwood. Worst of the worst. A pseudo-patriotic bleat of self pity and myth-fed superiority wrapped up in one of the most musically offensive packages ever. A capital crime.

  • cethis @5:

    “How about anything by Tiny Tim?”

    You beat me to it!

    Tiny Tim is why I hate ukeleles.

  • sithrazer

    I actually like Mr. Roboto, in limited doses, and a handful of Beastie Boys tunes.

    In the genre of love songs I think I have to throw in ‘Angel Eyes’ by (I think) The Jeff Healey Band, maybe ‘I’m No Angel’ by The Allman Brothers Band/Greg Allman.

    Maybe I’m just used to it from hearing it so much growing up, but Justin Hayward makes MacArthur Park a pretty decent song. My mom was (still is) a huge Moody Blues fan. Borderline groupie at one point.

  • Hank Fox

    Sorry: Cats. Those CATS were fast as lightning.

    According to Wikipedia, “In 2011, a British man was arrested on the Isle of Wight for singing the song in the presence of a Chinese person.”

    Okay, a song you can get ARRESTED FOR SINGING … that’s gotta be right up there in terms of bad.

  • ouabache

    It should be noted that after their split Lennon wrote one of the best Christmas songs ever (“Happy Christmas (War is Over)”) while McCartney wrote the single worst Christmas song ever (“Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time”).

  • Jeremy Shaffer

    I have to nominate Piano Man by Billy Joel. Almost everyone seems to love it but it just grates on my nerves when ever I hear it.

    Also, Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks. Another one that sometimes seems to be universally loved but makes me pretty stabby.

  • Argy Stokes

    I’ve long despised “Drops of Jupiter” by Train, and Hank Williams Jr’s “If the South Would Have Won” is pretty offensive. But the absolute worst in terms of obnoxious sentimentality, stupidity, and poor music is “If Nobody Believed In You” by Joe Nichols:

    The final verse contains sentiments that we’re pretty used to reading about around these parts:

    We take His name out of the schools.

    The lawyers say it breaks the rules.

    The Pledge of Allegiance can’t be writ.

    And under God should not be said.

    I wonder how much He will take?

    I just pray it’s not too late.

  • Larry

    I’m appalled that several people here claim to like McArthur Park! I mean “someone left the cake out in the rain”? WTF? That has to be the single worst evah!

  • grumpyoldfart

    Almost – Billy Barrix

    Uh Huh Honey – Charlie Feathers

  • Jeremy Shaffer

    In terms of rubbish “love” song I’d have to go with Lips of an Angel by Hinder. The only person dude sounds like he’s in love with in that song is himself.

  • sithrazer

    Since someone brought up Garth Brooks (and thus Pop Country)…. Achy Breaky Heart. I have to fight the urge to go into a puppy kicking fit whenever I hear it, or pretty much any Pop Country for that matter.

  • paulparnell

    The song on the top of my bad list is “What did you think”. Maybe its just me but I simply cannot sit through that song. My ears would start to bleed.

  • quagmire

    I’m surprised we got down to #39 before somebody correctly mentioned “Proud to be an American”. That’s definetly the worst.

    I believe the correct title of the REO Speedwagon song is “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and it’s definetly high on the list, along with “Kokomo”, “The Final Countdown”, “Hey Now You’re a Rockstar” by Smashmouth, “Who Let the Dogs Out” by whoever that was, “Talkin’ Baseball” by whoever that was, “Emotional Rescue” by the Rolling Stones, and pretty much all country music from the last fifteen years.

  • sithrazer

    @Larry If you only enjoy songs that make sense when the lyrics are taken literally, then I am appalled by your limited musical range of listening.

  • uzza


  • Aquaria

    Didn’t I do this list once before, on the old site?

    Mine is (Oh Ho Ho It’s) Magic, by Pilot.

    Yeah, it was fucking magic, all right. Whenever that song came on the radio, my radio somehow ended up turned off!

    My stepfather’s all-time most hated song was “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods. That was a really wretched song, but not quite as craptacular as “Magic” in my estimation.

    I’d add to the list:

    Midnight at the Oasis by Maria Muldaur

    You Can’t Stop Love [Note: Someone informed me the correct title is Suds in the Bucket] by Sara Evans

    Cherry Pie by Warrant

    Who Let the Dogs Out by whoeverthefuckthatwas

    Torn Between Two Lovers by Mary McGregor

    Blue Jeans On by whoeverthefuckthatwas

    Chevy Van either version by whoeverthefuckeitherofthemwas

    Convoy by whoeverthefuckthatwas

    All I Need by whoeverthefuckthatwas that was on General Hospital

    You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Leo Sayer

    Emotional Rescue by The Rolling Stones

    She’s Like the Wind by Patrick Swayze

    Su-Su-Suck-it-Yo!, er, Susudio by Phil Collins

    Video Killed the Radio Star by whoeverthefuckthatwas

    Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard

    When I’m with You by Sheriff

    The Thong Song by whoeverthefuckthatwas

    Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler

    From a Distance by Bette Midler

    Everything by George Harrison after All Things Must Pass

    Everything by Paul McCartney after the Beatles besides “Maybe I’m Amazed” or that isn’t on the Band on the Run album.

    Everything by Elvis after he joined the Army. Except for 1968.

    Everything by the Rolling Stones after 1986.

    Everything by Pat Boone, Samantha Fox, Air Supply, Debbie Gibson, The Spice Girls, Poison, Nickelback and Creed.

    There is a special place in hell for that stupid tractor song by Kenny Chesney, or whatever his name is.

  • Didaktylos

    All of this stuff is vile, but surely nothing is in the same low class as the Stock, Aitken & Waterman Song. (It was recycled half-a-thousand times under a multitude of titles by a multitude of of performers, but basically it was the same song every fucking time – I suppose nobody had the courage to tell them they could start work on the second before they got the first right).

  • Aquaria
  • Aquaria

    How could I forget:

    Afternoon Delight–Starlight Vocal Band

    Everything by John Denver.

    Everything by the Carpenters, but especially “Sing (a Song)”, or as we called it in the 70s, “Bring (a Bong)”

    Pilot of the Airwaves–Charlie Dore

  • Sastra

    I always feel out of place when people make worst-song lists like this, because a fair number of the candidates can usually be found on my iPod. Hey, they’re kinda fun, remind me of some good times — and I’m a middle-aged Midwestern woman with no image to maintain. So bite me.

    I will, however, put forward my own choice for Worst Song Ever Made: “Run, Joey, Run.” It’s execrable. People would play it over and over on the jukebox when I was in college: it made me sick then, it makes me sick now. If you dare.

    Though I will also gladly put my vote behind some of the Paul McCartney candidates — particularly that one about someone knocking at the door and yes, the worst Christmas song ever, “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time.” Whenever people suggest that drugs help with artistic creativity, I bring up these sorry examples. The lyrics sound like they were written by a bored four-year-old while pounding a spoon on a table.

  • uzza: RAP.

    But, uzza, the topic is bad music.

  • Chris from Europe

    @Jeremy Shaffer

    I would add “We Didn’t Start The Fire”.

  • The top of this list should probably be:

    1. “my Humps”

    2. Everything else ever recorded by the Black Eyed Peas

    3. Everything ever done by a Black Eyed Peas member, such as Fergie’s solo album

    Also, “love when you need love” by Kim Stockwood, and “Killing me softly”. Also, “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts”

  • Michael Heath


    That’s definetly the worst […] pretty much all country music from the last fifteen years.

    I ran a smart playlist of country in my music library post-1995 and came up with a lot of great stuff from Johnny Cash, Alison Krauss, and Lucinda Williams in spite of not being much of a country fan. I do feel you since I find country music stations to be unlistenable, similar to how I found most radio music stations in the early-1980s with the exception of big city pure rock stations and college indies.

    Great stuff exists, it’s just not promoted by their own industry.

    An up-and-comer I’ve been listening to is Kyle Turley, in spite of his struggling to stay in key.

    I’m surprised someone exists who’d list anything from an Allman on a ‘worst’ list, or The Cars in general. I still love the latter’s Heartbeat City album.

  • James B

    63 posts in and no one has mentioned “Micky” I’m surprised by this.

    For Hair Bands: I nominated the entire categories of Ratt and Quiet Riot.

  • grendelsfather

    ‘In the Year 2525’ by Zager and Evans is by far worse than any of the previous nominees. The fact that it hit #1 on the charts (I think) in the late 60’s was a strong indication that we were all doing waaaay too many drugs back then.

  • Agree that “worst song” lists really don’t work, as taste is subjective. Certain things listed as worst here are songs I like. Having said that I can certainly see how jingoistic crap can be stuck on such lists. And I’m surprised no one has mentioned the following:

    “In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans. A perenial entry on horrible songs lists. Apparently their followup was about a dying junkie.

    “Mandy” by Barry Manilow. Did anyone in retrospect actually like this song?

    `Stuck With You` by Huey Lewis and the News. I`m surprised whoever wrote the Sesame Street Theme didn`t sue them for the opening. Bad lyrics and a plodding feel.

  • doktorzoom

    Let’s not forget the execrable “I’ve Never Been To Me,” which is noteworthy for its mawkish spoken-word bridge:

    “Hey, you know what paradise is? It’s a lie, a fantasy we create about people and places as we’d like them to be. But you know what truth is? It’s that little baby you’re holding, and it’s that man you fought with this morning; The same one you’re going to make love with tonight! That’s truth, that’s love……”

    Also, I think a lot (not all) of the songs we’re talking about have a so-bad-they’re-cheesy-fun element to them, like “Kung-Fu Fighting,” Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls,” “Video Killed the Radio Star,” “MacArthur Park,” and even “Lovin’ You” (which is just gloriously over the top–chirping birds!) They are the musical equivalent of the movies that MST3K had fun mocking.

    I’d also like to single out Neil Diamond’s “Play Me” for having the most awful rhyme in popular music: “Song she sang to me /

    Song she brang to me…” as well as the bizarre line “I one day woke up / To find her lying / Beside my bed,” which implies she rolled out overnight and slept on the floor.

  • (Skipping comments)

    I don’t really find Kokomo to be a terrible song. It’s by no means a good song, but for me it lacks any real, direct badness. Yes, it can become an earworm, and I’m experiencing that now, but I’m not annoyed because it’s just so sedate, and there’s some very mild (sub-smile) enjoyment I get out of the sounds of the various island and beach names in the lyrics.

    Fair disclosure: I rarely put any thought into the lyrics of a song, so unless the singer enunciates particularly clearly or the instrumental parts fade out, I usually miss out on what the song’s about.

    One bit of abject earworm badness I’m fighting now (and trying to bury under Kokomo) is “Our God is an Awesome God.” I don’t know if anyone else gets it as an earworm, but it’s really irritating to me since I get an association with hypocrisy, since the first time I heard it was near the time my relationship with my church started souring. There were a few months over a decade ago where TV was torture for me because a lot of my channels kept repeatedly airing commercials for some religious song collection that included the most earwormy part among the samples. And thinking about pressing the mute button would still cause the earworm because I still ended up thinking about it.

  • rikitiki

    What?!! Sure, many of these are bad songs, but there IS, actually, a “Worst Song EVER!”

    And the answer is: “It’s a Small World (after all)”

  • stubby

    The two songs I have always hated that I don’t think have been mentioned are…

    Foolish Games by Jewel

    Jealous by Gene Loves Jezebel

    Just thinking about them makes me want to torture a basket of kittens.

  • jcdenton47

    The single worst song ever written is “Blow Your Speakers” by Manowar, and I say that as a huge fan.

  • celoneth

    I have a special loathing for Phil Collins, “Sussudio,” is a crime against humanity. I’ve heard “In the Air Tonight,” enough times in doctors’ offices and shops to drive me batty and pretty much everything he’s ever written for Disney is horrendous.

  • Jeremy Shaffer

    In regards to country music in the last 15 years: in 95- 96 I worked at a store where the manager insisted that we listen to nothing but the local country station. What really got to me was that the entire time they played the same few songs over and over and over, all day every day. Fortunately I mostly worked in the warehouse part of the store, where the radio couldn’t be heard.

    A few years ago my mom, who listens to country music, was driving me to the airport and had the radio tuned to the local country station. It’s a different station now but they kept the same people from the old one, which makes sense because they apparently were also only playing the same 11 or so songs that they did back in 95- 96.

  • Not every thing on this list is bad, but it is certainly a good place to start if you want to look for a collection of terrible songs:

    Greatest Conservative Songs according to Conservapedia

    One song on that list, “Grandad” has to have been submitted by a troll, even though it was a number one hit in the UK.

    But that’s not as bad as another UK number one from my youth that I can still remember – “There’s No One Quite Like Grandma”, by the St Winnifred’s School Choir, fronted by a little girl with a lisp.

    That song was number one in the UK at the start of 1981, sandwiched between “(Just Like) Starting Over” and “Imagine” — so even the murder of John Lennon just three weeks before couldn’t keep this dreadful song from reaching the top of the charts.

    Finally, just be grateful the American pop charts were never contaminated from the fallout from the schlockiest singing competition of all time, The Eurovision Song Contest, bringing a whole heap of dreadful songs to the whole of Europe since the 1950s.

  • Eric O

    These are some songs that will make me change the channel on the radio:

    November Rain by Guns ‘n Roses: Okay, it does have a decent guitar solo at some point, but the song is just way too cheesy for my tastes. If it were written by Tenacious D, I’d enjoy it because I’d interpret it as a parody of epic rock ballads and musicians who take themselves way too seriously. Unfortunately, it really is an epic rock ballad written by musicians who take themselves too seriously.

    You Make Me Feel Brand New (the original and all the cover versions): The chorus is just god-awful. As much as I like Simply Red, I always used to skip this song when I played his greatest hits CD (and now that I listen to songs on my computer, it’s simply deleted from my playlist.)

    Stand Tall by Burton Cummings. I don’t mind Burton Cummings, but this song is just… ugh. The chorus makes me cringe.

    I also hate any song that can be described as the following:

    – Sappy songs, whether the theme is love, patriotism, or religion.

    – Songs that are obviously designed to imitate better and more commercially successful songs.

  • Did anyone mention “Feelings”?

  • How about One Tin Soldier?

  • Aquaria

    uzza: RAP.

    But, uzza, the topic is bad music.

    Wow. That’s so original. Nobody’s every denigrated rap that way before in 30+ years of the music form existing.

    Knocking it at this point is like the old fogeys who still trashed rock after 1985. Rap is no different from other music forms: Some of it’s really good. Some is really bad. Most of it is somewhere in between.

  • Your Cardboard Heart – Abortion:

    Lil Marky – Diary of an Unborn Child – (animation is parody, but the song is agonizingly real)

    Mr Ghetto – Wally World –

    anything by Linda Finkle (particularly ‘Beautiful Day’ or ‘Are you With Us’ –

    Did ya’ll know the Westboro Baptist Church sings…you do now –

    What about Shooby Taylor, “the Human Horn” –

    And of course Black Out with their hit ‘Video Games’ – (truly they are pioneers of parents wasting tons of money to create musical wish fulfillment that led to Rebecca Black’s Friday)

    I have so many of these.

  • neonsequitur

    Does anyone remember “Double Dutch Bus” by Frankie Smith? I lost IQ points every time the radio played that abomination.

    And “Rain On the Roof” by Lovin’ Spoonful is simply too horrible to sit through without contemplating suicide.

  • Ironic by Alanis Morissette. An entire generation has no clue what irony actually means thanks to this song.

    Her cover of “My Humps” almost makes up for it.

  • In no particular order:

    * Drift Away by Uncle Kracker

    * Big Yellow Taxi, especially the Counting Crows version

    * Who Will Save Your Soul by Jewel

    * What’s Up? by 4 Non Blondes

  • @grendelsfather:

    Yes, “In The Year 2525” made it to number one in 1969. Not only that, it was number one for the year.

    And “Seasons In The Sun” (Terry Jacks) was the top song for 1974.

    There should be a special award for wretched songs that achieve that level of success. (“Silly Love Songs” also qualifies.)

    And no one mentioned “Ballad of the Green Beret” by Sgt. Barry Sadler.

    I own a remarkable number of these stinkers, having collected awful music since the early 1970’s. But the worst thing in my collection, I think, is a CD featuring the London Symphony Orchestra playing the hits of ABBA.

  • There is a special place in hell for people who denigrate entire genres of music (like, say, rap) just because it’s not to their taste. Rap is as diverse a genre as any other, and, seriously, any genre that includes Dr. Dre, Murray Head, Digable Planets, MC Lars, LL Cool J, and Nicki Minaj is far, FAR too diverse to reject outright just because they all involve reciting poetry to a beat. After all, I can bitch about pop country all I want, but that genre also includes people like Glenn Campbell and songs like “My Give-A-Damn’s Busted”, so I really can’t dismiss it out of hand no matter how much of it is crap.

    As for bad music… I think it’s important to distinguish between cheesy-bad and bad-bad. A lot of Celine Dion’s stuff is cheesy and therefore enjoyable, at least to some. On the other hand, you have translation atrocities like “Seasons In The Sun” (the original wasn’t one of Jacques Brel’s greatest, but it was still Jacques Freakin’ Brel), pretentious failed parody like “My Humps”, and outright cynical garbage like the complete works of Kenny G or Pat Boone. There isn’t one specific set of criteria for “bad”, just like there isn’t one specific set of criteria for bad art.

  • I’m a fan of Peter Gabriel, but two songs I absolutely loath were made by him – In Your Eyes and Don’t Give Up. Abominations both!

  • I nominate “Baby’s First Christmas.” If you’ve heard it, I feel your pain, and wish you well in your recovery from that saccarine overdose. If you haven’t heard it, well, as they say in addiction-recovery circles, you really don’t need to do your own research. The title pretty much says it all.

  • Oh and Kenny G is Jazz for people who don’t like Jazz. In other words, it’s not Jazz. It’s Muzack and not even very good Muzack.

  • @Aquaria:

    Knocking it [rap] at this point is like the old fogeys who still trashed rock after 1985. Rap is no different from other music forms: Some of it’s really good. Some is really bad. Most of it is somewhere in between.

    Yeah, seriously, some of it is very good. I came to it slowly, but the more I listened, the more impressed I was. I just plain like it now. Lately I’ve gotten into a live freestyle show that airs here once a week and just get such a kick out of it. Rappers who can freestyle well boggle my mind.

  • PS: “Kokomo” sounds like it was inspired and paid for by a pan-Caribbean tourist agency. Just mention as many names as possible and get paid on a per-name basis. Even for the Beach Boys it’s shallow.

  • sithrazer


    Uncle Kracker’s version specifically or ‘drift away’ generally but Uncle Kracker is just the version from off the top of your head? His isn’t the original and it’s been covered so many times it’s practically a “blues standard”.

  • Azkyroth

    Aside from pretty much every “vocal jazz” song my ex ever played, I nominate “Jingle Bell Rock” as the most obnoxious song ever written.

  • @sithrazer:

    I’ve never heard any other version, so I can’t comment on them.

  • Azkyroth

    uzza: RAP.

    But, uzza, the topic is bad music.

    He may have just meant the sizable subset of rap that was fairly clearly created by deep-cover Klan agents in order to embarrass the black community.

  • heddle

    Sugar, sugar.   By the Archies.

  • pacal

    Well I would mention the Disco era, which was in my opinion the great golden age of horrible, annoying songs.

    Virtually anything by ABBA makes me long for deafness. Lets see Dancing Queen is muzak, but less creative and more banal.

    But the ultimate bad ABBA song has got to be Does your Mother know. When I hear that I want to be a million miles away.

    THe list of horrible Disco abortions is endless. THere I love the Night Life, Disco Duck; the long version of Never can say Goodbye. And one should not forget Disco Inferno.

    To conclude Disco sucked!, and will suck now and forever world without end!!

  • pacal

    I forgot to mention Sledgehammer is a wicked video but the song is just plain really bad. Someone had infantile double entendres on the brain.

  • bones

    Paul McCartney wrote some pretty bad stuff, and I want to nominate “Let ‘Em In”. It easily qualifies for the category, as John Lennon termed it, as Paul’s “granny music”. But I can’t offer it as worst song, cuz I was reminded of the song mentioned in the #4 submission above by gman, a title which I simply cannot think of, let alone type, with nausea…

  • arresi

    Oh, come on. We’re into the holiday season, and no-one has mentioned “Christmas Shoes”?

    That song single-handedly manages to be an insult to atheists, agnostics, non-Christians, Christians, commercialists, anti-commercialists, and music-lovers.

  • There is a special place in hell for people who denigrate entire genres of music (like, say, rap)

    But hell doesn’t exist — unless it’s the campus parking lot after class when the students have their cars lined up with their windows all the way down and their stereos cranked up to eleven.

  • Azkyroth

    But hell doesn’t exist — unless it’s the campus parking lot after class when the students have their cars lined up with their windows all the way down and their stereos cranked up to eleven.

    Ironically, at the campus where that really caught my attention, they were as likely to be blaring the soft rock station.

  • ebotebo

    Ahem,……rap is not music, rap is not bad music. Rap is poetry and rap is bad, bad poetry

  • ebotebo


  • 1; Christian Slater was in Star Trek VI because his mother, Mary Jo Slate, was the casting director.

    11: There is a connection between Kokomo and the Wilson Phillips song; John Phillips, of the Mamas & Papas, wrote Kokomo. His daughter, Chyna, was the Phillips part of Wilson Phillips.

    I nominate The Night Chicago Died, the only polka to make it to the top ten in pop music.

  • Mary Jo Slater.

  • The Christian Cynic

    I’m not a fan of rap, and even I can smell the elitism from here. Sorry, there is almost no definition of music that would exclude rap: it generally contains rhythm, melody (albeit often not vocal melodies), harmony, timbre, structure, etc. You could argue about the artistic merits of some of the genre, but you could likewise argue the literary merits of books like Twilight, and yet somehow the fact that some people (including myself) dislike those books doesn’t discount them as literature. It’s a ridiculous, dismissive attitude to take.

    (I refuse to participate in the larger discussion purely on principle.)

  • abear

    Oogachucka, oogachucka, Iiiiiiiiii am hooked on a feeling

    Wo o wo o wo…

  • jakc

    Your choice of bad music says more about you than about the music. There is no right or wrong or good or bad in music. My feeling that Feelings sucked isn’t mote legitimate than some 60 year old woman who loved it. I thought Billy Don’t Be a Hero was an awful song as a kid, but I can’t imagine a song with that kind of anti-war sentiment getting played today. Hated it then, like it now.

    On the hand, I can’t help but think that the “c” in rap is silent and that the worst song is Rocky (not from the movie, but the one with the line “Rocky I never had to die before, don’t know if I can do it”

  • Wes

    I nominate “It’s So Cold in the D”

  • Kevin Anthoney
  • Oh man, how on earth did I not include God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood? That is unquestionably, incontrovertibly, indisputably the most evil song ever recorded by anyone in this universe or in any other. Even Celine Dion can’t reach that level of sheer horrible.

    As I told Jon Rowe on Facebook, Kung Fu Fighting gets so bad it’s good when you see Tom Jones do it in his natural habitat (Vegas), complete with karate kicks in too-tight pants with his shirt open to his navel and his chest hair shaved to say “Yeah baby.” Okay, that last part is an exaggeration — but only slightly.

    And I agree completely about the absurdity of denigrating all rap music. There is at least some of every kind of music that I like, including rap.

  • sailor1031

    Johnny Cash did a really bad song called “Don’t take your guns to town” and I used to cringe at “Sometimes when we touch” but the absolute worst has to be anything by the Monkees.

  • sbh

    “In the Ghetto” (Elvis Presley)

    “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue” (whoever it was)

    “I’ve Never Been to Me” (Charlene)

    “When I Get Home” (The Beatles)

    “Ballad of the Green Berets” (Barry Sadler)

    “Ruby Don’t Your Love To Town” (Kenny Rogers?)

    “Little Woman” (Bobby Sherman)

    “Do You Hear What I Hear?” (any version ever recorded)

  • Pingback: Best and Worst Songs « The Words on What…()

  • Chiroptera

    Has anyone mentioned yet the acoustic version of “Personal Jesus” sung by Johnny Cash?

  • The difference between “so bad it’s good” and “so bad it’s bad” is I think that SBIG songs you can just check your brain at the door and enjoy even if it is sort of stupid and vapid. SBIB songs you sort of sit there and think about, there’s not even enough positive energy to distract you.

    For instance, that damned Wilson Phillips song:

    “Someday somebody’s gonna make you wanna turn around and say goodbye”… huh? Which way am I facing? Am I facing a person I like, and then I turn around and say goodbye to someone else who I don’t like? Is there one person, in which case I should probably say goodbye while I’m facing them and THEN turn around? Do I pull a 360 and then write a suicide note?

    “Until then baby are you going to let them hold you down and make you cry” Wait. If they are holding me down and making me cry, I don’t have to wait for someday or somebody, or slowing down long enough to say goodbye or even “go to hell.” No pirouette either, just straight for the door. No wonder I’m thinking about suicide, I’m in some sort of polyamorous abusive relationship! Not just a him or her holding me down, but a whole damned pack!

    “Hold on for one more day” my black ass! Screw you, Wilson Phillips… screw you right in the ear!

  • Michael Heath


    Johnny Cash did a really bad song called “Don’t take your guns to town” and I used to cringe at “Sometimes when we touch” but the absolute worst has to be anything by the Monkees.

    I’m a stereotypical rock fan enamored with Johnny Cash. That wasn’t the only bad song he did, he’s one of those artists who threw a lot of really bad stuff out there along with the good and great in a manner similar to Elvis Presley. Unlike Presley, Cash had a chance at redemption starting with the 1994 Rick Rubin produced American Recordings album, which was followed with a plethora of great songs equaling the number he did back in the 50’s, e.g., Hurt, The Man Comes Around, The Beast in Me, Thirteen, Wayfaring Stranger, and I See a Darkness.

  • sbh

    And of course if we’re allowed to plumb the absolute depths of things that somehow got recorded what about Rosebud’s disco version of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar”? Or Janet Greene’s faux-folk “Fascist Threat” (appropriately backed with “Commie Lies”)? Or anything from Harlin Howard’s country album To the Silent Majority–With Love. I think my favorite from that one is “Better Get Your Pride Back Boy”:

    I’m just a truck driver

    And I don’t think I know it all

    But son you got thoughts in your head

    That I don’t understand at all

    They’re needing you boy

    And you’re sitting around in your coffee house

    Now what you gonna do if your woman

    Begs you save her from a mouse?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    What is the worst song ever recorded?

    Are you going for worst song, or worst performance? Because if it’s the latter, William Shatner needs to be on your list.


    Rocket Man

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Ironic by Alanis Morissette. An entire generation has no clue what irony actually means thanks to this song.

    Isn’t it ironic?

  • deandu pont

    When I first saw this entry, my first thought was, “Aw yeah! Y’all playing in my neighborhood now!”

    … But then I remembered: I don’t know shit about pop music. My own litmus for what constitutes a crappy song would probably be viewed as trolling and flame-bait by the vast majority of readers here. I’m in my mid-forties, and my taste in music still ranges from the atonal to the chaotic to the thoughtful. Pop music hasn’t stood a chance with me since I was about fourteen.

    But what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.

    – “Don’t Give Us a Reason” by Hank Williams Jr.

    – “Saving All My Love for You” by Whitney Houston

    – The entire ‘Breakfast in America’ album by Supertramp

    – “Round and Round” by Ratt

    – “Old Fashioned Love Song” by Three Dog Night

    – “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin (because fuck that burnout shit, that’s why)

    – “Mr. Jones” by Talking Heads

    – “More Than a Feeling” by Boston

    – Anything by Night Ranger, ever

    – The entire album ‘The Wall’ by Pink Floyd. (Yeah, I did just go there. Jeezus, a double album of “Wah wah wah, poor little rock star me, my life is so hard” self-indulgent whiny bullshit. Who ever told you life was fair?)

    – “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by Charlie Daniels Band

    I could go on, but why work myself into a lather thinking of music I hate? I’m gonna turn on some Ornette Coleman Trio and clean the living room.

  • adrianwhite

    Has everyone forgotten these;

    Tie a Yellow Ribbon

    Green,Green Grass of Home

    Deck of Cards

    All rap “songs” (Well-kept secret..rap starts with a silent C)

    Any Elvis song… Yes I’m that old.

    Country and Western music



    Two Little Boys

    Oobladee Ooblada…The worst ever Beatles song

    I could go on but my hot drink is ready and so to bed.

  • Azkyroth

    Ironic by Alanis Morissette. An entire generation has no clue what irony actually means thanks to this song.

    Aside from the fact that pretty much every situation described in that song actually fits the pattern of “contrast between expectations and actual events.”

  • Azkyroth

    All rap songs aren’t “bad” but the entire gangsta rap genre, except some of the subset that’s a deconstruction of the mindset and culture it promotes, diminishes all humanity.

  • deandu pont


    Oh, and for all the Beach Boys apologists out there sulking over their keyboards thinking, “Aww, ‘Kokomo’ wasn’t that bad of a song,” here’s a little gift to you:

    The Japanese band Melt Banana covering Surfin’ USA.

    No, g’wan. Click on the link, listen to the whole song. It’s great. You’ll enjoy it.

  • macallan

    pretty much all country music from the last fifteen years.

    Definitely. I’d exclude at least some of Johnny Cash’s although I’m not sure if his Nick Cave ( or even Nine Inch Nails ) covers still count as country.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Oobladee Ooblada…The worst ever Beatles song

    Worse than Revolution 9?

  • lvap

    How about:

    More Than Words – Extreme

    Another Day in Paradise – Phil Collins (the worst among many possible Phil Collins entries)

    Hooked on a Feeling, or anything sung by David Hasselhoff (

  • rikitiki

    The only way I can deal with ‘the song from hell’ getting stuck in my head is to re-write the lyrics into something I CAN deal with. Much fun.

  • I’m appalled that several people here claim to like McArthur Park! I mean “someone left the cake out in the rain”? WTF?

    McArthur Park is actually not that bad. If it were, it wouldn’t be considered the worst song ever, because no one would have ever heard of it.

    The problem is, it takes a reasonably good tune and mucks it up with some of the most inane lyrics ever made by man. They manage to be simultaneously stilted, badly timed, overwrought, and bizarre. To make matters worse, the song goes off on an extended interlude that is okay on its own terms, but completely out of place with the rest of the song. The result is a train wreck.

    But at least McArthur’s Park can be rightly criticized on grounds of musical composition, not just “I really hate cheesy love songs”.

  • chilidog99

    Well everybody’s heard about the bird !

    Bird bird bird, the bird is the word !

  • chilidog99

    Dr X @76

    How about One Tin Soldier?


    Dr X, I want you to know… that I try. When Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I’m supposed to control my violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like they are, I try. I really try. Though when I see this girl… of such a beautiful spirit… so degraded… and this boy… that I love… sprawled out by this big ape here… and this little girl, who is so special to us we call her “God’s little gift of sunshine”… and I think of the number of years that she’s going to have to carry in her memory… the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours… I just go BERSERK!

  • I was just thinking the other day about how much I hate Sussudio, too! WTF is a “sussudio” anyway?

    Old Time Rock n Roll. Bob Segar. It was even more appalling having to watch Tom Cruise doing that stupid underwear dance while simultaneously being assaulted by Bob Segar’s voice.

    Big bottomed girls. I don’t know who sings it and I don’t want to.

    And that goddamned pina colada song. Awful! I remember the first time I heard it. I was about 5 and trapped in a hot car and really irritated about it. Then that song came on. Every time I hear it I think of that day. Plus it’s just creepy.

    And that stupid rhubarb song from Prairie Home Companion. Or maybe any song from that show. The shortbread one makes me want to kill kittens too 🙂

  • cmking

    Hands down Terry Jacks “Seasons in the Sun” insipid lyrics and banal and mind numbingly sappy/creepy melody.

  • The Christian Cynic

    MacArthur Park at least made for a good parody. (Also, the song wasn’t too bad when I heard Maynard Ferguson perform it back in 2001 or so. Granted, it was instrumental…)

  • adrianwhite:

    Tie a Yellow Ribbon

    I can’t even hear that song without hearing Don “No Soul” Simmons sing it. Never fails to make me laugh! And I always, always have to sing along Don-style, elbows and everything.

  • jenniferbourne

    The Piña Colada song is probably the worst.

    Some others I’ll nominate (or second or third the nomination)

    Total Eclipse of the Heart

    Seasons in the Sun

    Afternoon Delight

    Night Chicago Died

    Wildfire (well, maybe that’s the worst)

    That’s how much I Feel (an earworm that drives me nuts)

    Chevy Van

    Sometimes when we Touch (yeeechhh!)

    Having my Baby (yeeechh!)

    Honorable mention:

    Sylvia’s Mother (I’ve heard the song is actually a joke, but boy, is the it annoying. Mrs. Avery should have hung up the phone long ago…

  • Azkyroth

    Also, “Stacey’s Mom.” Most overplayed piece of dreck in all my years. >.>

  • naturalcynic

    Many songs make me cringe and groan, but the one that really knots my stomach is Spinning Wheel by B, S & T.

  • “The Girl is Mine.”

    You really hate that song? It’s one of my favorites! I consider it musical genius.

    Then again, I grew up with the King of Pop, so I may be a bit biased. ^.^

  • sbh

    I like Revolution 9.

    But the worst Beatles song for the sheer inanity of its lyrics is McCartney’s “Hello Goodbye”.

    And for bad songs written by music legends, what about Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Someone”?

  • @Bronze Dog (#67)

    One bit of abject earworm badness I’m fighting now (and trying to bury under Kokomo) is “Our God is an Awesome God.”

    Damn you — now it’s stuck in my head!

    Need… metal… *gasp*

    @leni (#130)

    That would be “Fat Bottomed Girls”, by Queen. Yeah. Not their best work, there. (Not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, you know?)

  • Chris from Europe

    Re “Fat Bottomed Girls”: Ignoring the text, it works for me. And it’s Queen, infidel.


    What’s wrong with “Total Eclipse of The Heart”? *obtuse* It even has this great video clip!

  • Sir Shplane, Grand Mixmaster, Knight of the Turntable

    Fun fact: The only songs mentioned in this thread thus far that I enjoy are ones that I enjoy ironically. I mean, Kung-Fu Fighting? That shit is fucking hilarious.

    Also, am I the only person here who really, really despises The Beatles? Every single one of their songs that I’ve had the displeasure of hearing has been utterly banal and lacking in anything at all that could possibly make it interesting.

    Why hasn’t there been more discussion of how abjectly terrible Insane Clown Posse is? I would vastly rather go to a “Glue Your Genitals To A Buzzsaw” party than an ICP concert.

  • wilsim

    Walking on broken glass. Enough said.

  • chilidog99

    one song i do like

    Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up . . . .

  • …pretty much all country music from the last fifteen years.

    9/11 was the absolute worst thing ever to happen to country music. Before 9/11, it was about love, loss, outlaws, hard times, cheating, reconciliation, and messy stuff that happens to just about everyone, good or bad. But after the attacks, it’s been nothing but “get the ragheads” and self-righteous hicks in Texas and Oklahoma telling New Yorkers they don’t understand the meaning of a terrorist attack that happened in…New York.

  • Oh yeah, “Awesome God” is an abomination. I’ve heard much better Christian triumphalism from English rock bands.

  • duck1887

    Good job everyone! All I can really add is Jefferson Starship, “Miracles”, which makes we want to stick knitting needles into my ears. It’s not simply awful, but more importantly (when you are captive to it, say on a very long elevator ride), it goes on forever.

    Also, not sure of the performers, or the title for that matter, but there’s one that goes “Tonight, I celebrate my love for you” [shudder].

    However, at the end of the day I must agree with Ed – with an amazed shake of the head that he didn’t think of it earlier, as it was the very first thing I thought of – that “God Bless the USA” wins for sheer vileness.

    Oh, also, I think we had a thread once where you had to admit bad songs that you liked. I have to say that I don’t hate any of “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Kokomo,” “In the Air Tonight,” “Let ’em In,” or “Hello Goodbye.” So it’s not like I’m a paragon of taste myself …

  • sunsangnim

    We Don’t Speak Americano:

    I Think I’m Ugly

    It’s a little disturbing to hear little girls singing “I think I’m ugly and nobody wants to love me…”

  • Few more for the pile:

    Sonseed – Jesus is my Friend –

    Unknown – Chock Full of Love –

    The ‘Safe Sex Is Just a fantasy’ Rap –

    4Poundz – Special Girl –

    pretty much anything by Wesley Willis (heres a sample, one of his few songs I think which don’t involve yelling randomly about sex with animals “The Chicken Cow” –

    Guy from Birdemic – Hanging out with My Family –

    Also, I seem to recall a dentist making a rap album about dental hygiene that was pretty well ear shattering, but lost the link and info.

    Also, you can try searching youtube for “Tonetta”…hmm, on second thought, you probably better not.

  • “Escape” aka the “Piña Colada song” was by Rupert Holmes, who coincidentally was a member of the Buoys, mentioned previously (though I don’t believe he wrote “Timothy”). It strikes me as an example of a song that wasn’t truly bad, but got so much more airplay than it deserved that it went stale really quick.

    When “You Light Up My Life” was at its nadir, SNL’s Weekend Update had an item about a group of terrorists who kidnapped Debbie Boone and were threatening to release her if their ransom demands weren’t met.

    “Afternoon Delight” is a) a song about sex and simultaneously b) a great song for a seventh-grader to run through his head if he’s been called to the blackboard and feels like he’s going to sprout wood [1]. Truly the most anaphrodisiac song about sex ever written, and definitely my nominee for Worst Song of the 70s.

    [1] One DJ said he was surprised Blink-182 never did a song called “I Got An Erection At The Blackboard”.

  • cheesynougats


    Oh damn, now I’m going to get nightmares again. Every time I hear “The Man Comes Around,” I see the most horrifying images my addled mind can manage…

    The scene is heaven. Hundreds of angels fly around the throne of God while worshippers throng at its base, waiting for a chance to see their Creator. Finally, He arrives in a golden light, smiling beneficiently. The worshippers surge forward to get a closer look. Once all attention is on Him, He reaches up to his face…

    and removes a mask, revealing a drooling idiot.

    The thronging faithful shrink back in confused horror.

    The angels descend from above…

    and start eating the worshippers alive, while their God, now revealed, watches.

    I don’t know where I got this little video from, and I love this song. It just scares me.

  • Pieter B

    rikitiki @68

    “It’s a Small World (after all)”

    Absolutely. Threaten to send me through that Disney ride a second time and I’d give up state secrets; a third time and I’d rat out my best friend.

    Dishonorable Mention to “What’s New, Pussycat?” “Knock Three Times,” “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” and “Scarlet Ribbons”

  • dan4

    Anything by The Lovin’ Spoonful except for “Summer in the City.”

  • Pinky

    As a teenager I worked one summer in a shop where the supervisor liked both Country and Western music. I was tortured all that summer by a song by a much too cheerful woman, whose name I refuse to look up. The refrain was: “I am the happiest girl in the whole USA! That whole summer I thought she was singing: “I am the happiest scourge in the whole USA!

    Who was I to question the kinkiness of rednecks? Hey, whip it good!

  • mindsiege

    Despite the sad elitism of commentators here dismissing rap, I would humbly suggest giving the “Dark Twisted Fantasy” album by Kanye West. Not only did it lead me to completely question what I had previously thought about Kanye’s musical ability, it also led me to ask what the fuck am I listening to.

    When it comes to worst songs, I think of specific examples, I don’t throw out entire genres of music. After all, it’s a pretty good bet that 95% of everything is crap regardless of what it is.

  • Strategically Shaved Monkey

    As someone who keeps the radio on 24/7 I’ve learned to mentally tune out the 99.9% that I don’t care for. But to date the only song that gets me off my ass to switch channels is “Zoom” by Fat Larry’s Band.

    I don’t know why and I don’t care why I hate it so, but I have left a wake of smashed radios around the world because of this song.

    I’ve been humming the fecking dross since I starterd reading this thread and I’m sending the bill for this

    Soon-to-be-ex-phone to Ed.

  • SabsDkPrncs

    I’ve been tossing this question around for a couple weeks now, and I have to go with Superman by Soulja Boy. It’s so terrible, I’m not even sure I want to call it a song.

  • thegoodman

    I am late to this party but I think for pop music Barbie Girl by Aqua is the king without competition on top of this mountain of fail.

    For holiday music Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer does a terrific job of insulting the ears anyone on the planet.

  • edmundog

    Sorry to be so late with this info, but the reason John Stamos was in the video for Kokomo is that he was actually the drummer for the Beach Boys at the time. Bizarre, but there you go. He still tours with them occasionally. Oh, and on a related note, Dana Carvey did half a tour as Metallica’s drummer when Ulrich hurt his arm.

  • wmdkitty:

    @leni (#130)

    That would be “Fat Bottomed Girls”, by Queen. Yeah. Not their best work, there. (Not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, you know?)


    No! That’s Queen? See, I did not want to know that. I like Queen! I totally thought it was some shitty southern rock band. I suppose the irony makes it less awful… and I guess if it’s Freddie I can learn to like it. Maybe. Or not.



    “Escape” aka the “Piña Colada song” was by Rupert Holmes…

    My eyes actually narrowed with hatred when I read that. Well, at least I know who to blame for ruining my childhood now.


    Re Loving Spoonful- I couldn’t name one of their songs off the top of my head, but even their name is annoying.

  • Also, am I the only person here who really, really despises The Beatles?

    No, no you are not.

    They have a few good songs. And I can appreciate their impact on music and blah blah blah. But I never liked them and never will.

    I keep thinking of more songs 😀

    Keep your hands to yourself– Georgia Satellites

    That Smell– Lynyrd Skynyrd. How many layers of creepy are there? We may never know….

    Anything by the Black Crows.

    Heard it In a Love Song– Marshall Tucker Band. That fucking flute. I hate that fucking flute! ><

    Or maybe Southern Rock in general just annoys the crap out of me…

  • Draken

    On the wings of a nightingale.

  • judykomorita

    Waaay late to the party here, but at least a few of you are old enough to remember “Yummy, yummy, yummy, I got love in my tummy.”

    Not too many others songs that bad.

  • Urban legend has it that “Ssussudio” was named as such after Collins heard a Japanese man mispronounce studio. Wikipedia states it was a word Collins made up while improvising lyrics over a drum machine rhythm. He couldn’t find a better sounding replacement for it, and it remained in the finished lyrics.

  • rikitiki

    re: Pieter B @ 150 – here’s how you live with THAT song (you re-write it):

    It’s the Third World

    (sung to the tune of: “It’s a Small World”)

    It’s a world of oppression, a world of fear,

    There’s a different dictator every year.

    And you dare not protest, or you’re under arrest,

    It’s the Third World, after all.

    It’s the Third World, after all,

    Line ‘em up against the wall,

    Ready, aim, fire, then they fall,

    It’s the Third World, after all.

    There’s the Ayatollah, Saddam Hussein,

    There’s Omar Khadafi, they’re all a pain,

    But diplomacy’s a bore, let’s just start a desert war,

    It’s the Third World, after all.

    It’s the Third World, after all,

    We can’t play ‘cause it’s their ball,

    Foreign tyrants sure have gall,

    It’s the Third World, after all.

    And although the world says that they’re all creeps

    They’ve got long-range missiles and brand-new Jeeps,

    They’ve got weapons galore, but who’s minding the store?

    It’s the Third World, after all.

    It’s the Third World, after all,

    Rattling sabres in the hall,

    Combat soldiers standing tall,

    It’s the Third World, after all.

    And you may be thinking that they’re all wrong,

    We should try to stop them before too long,

    But eventually they’ll fall, so, who cares, let’s hit the mall,

    It’s the Third World, after all.

  • rikitiki

    Oh…forgot to add: I re-did that tune during the first Bush desert war…

  • @161

    Waaay late to the party here, but at least a few of you are old enough to remember “Yummy, yummy, yummy, I got love in my tummy.”

    Don’t forget their equally execrable follow up hit, Chewy, Chewy.

  • jasonspaceman

    Chris De Burgh’s “Lady in Red”

    Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All”

    Enjoy. 😉

  • Pinky

    Rikitiki, if I may; an additional stanza and chorus that came to mind:

    It’s a world of conservatives, what a disgrace

    Where a “Dick” like Cheney shoots a friend in the face

    Torture Torquemada never knew at all

    It’s the third world after all


    It’s the Third World, after all,

    Set up the board and get out the water

    Torture is fun, but it won’t stem the slaughter

    It’s the Third World, after all.

  • In the search for the worst, I stumbled on something I’d never seen before. Worst video in addition to being a horrible song, but one of those things that’s so bad it’s really funny.

  • Die Anyway

    ok, honey and having my baby make it on my list too but three of my all-time (dis)favorites haven’t been mentioned… Little Green Apples, Harper Valley PTA, and the worst-of-the-worst: Ode to Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry .

    btw, I actually have a copy of Timothy on 45. And yes, it’s sick (and I mean that in the bad way).

  • Lol Dr. X, that’s actually even “better” than this lol.

    At least try to make it as far as the troll getting out of the limo. It’s maybe the best part of the video, if only for it’s poignant irony.

  • leni,

    heh. Looks like Diff’rent Strokes, but set in Chicago instead of New York.

  • So, Leni, do you think that woman is the… um… artist who sings that…um…song?

  • randytoad

    No list of worst songs is complete without “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks. “McArthur Park” comes close but doesn’t touch it. You need more than cheap sentimentality to have a truly loathsome pop song lyric. In fact, since the standards for cheap sentimentality change so rapidly (Almost any pop song lyric written in the 19th century is more sentimental than the most sentimental 20th century pop song.)I don’t think it should even be used a criterion. No what really makes a pop song lyric horrible, is pretentiousness. “Seasons in the Sun” and “McArthur Park” are pretentious as hell.

  • scifi1

    Got to agree with “Drops of Jupiter” – contrived bollocks that sets my teeth on edge!

    Let’s see:

    Anything by “wailing” Whitney Houston (not forgiven for the beyond awful cover of the awful ‘I Will Always Love You’.)

    Anything by “moaning” Mariah Carey (not forgiven for the overwrought and anodyne, over-sung version of “Without You”)

    Anything by “screaming” Celine Dion. Full stop. Period. End of Story. Think I just threw up a little bit thinking about it!!!!

    “Final Countdown” – Europe. Some Europeans still think this is Heavy Metal!!!

    “Eye of The Tiger” – Survivor. Every time I hear it I am overcome by the desire to kill a jogger!

    “Holy Grail” by Aussie band Hunters and Collectors. Shocking riff, appalling vocals and brain shrinkingly foetid lyrics about the crusades (sort of!). Every time it comes on the radio while I’m driving I want to pull into a dealership and change my car ‘coz it feels tainted.

  • dan4

    @158 (or the last sentence of it, anyway): You respond to two mentions of The Lovin’ Spoonful (@73 and yours truly @151) by mentioning that you can’t think of “one of their songs” of the top of your head…even though both aforementioned comments SPECIFICALLY MENTION a specific song from the band (LOL)?

  • dan4

    Correction: @79, not @73.

  • birgerjohansson

    “Family Guy” had an excellent example of a horrible song: A music video with …wossname (middle-aged white country& western dude)..singing “I see the Want You in your eyes”.

  • birgerjohansson

    I forgot: Late seventies “Calling occupant of interplanetary craft”. Uuuulp!

    “Tell me said the elephant”

    and something I think was named “Seasons in the Sun”

    Swedish-language readers may be aware of the collection “Svenska Pekoral”, an LP with truly awful Swedish songs from ca. 1900 and forwards.

    I would like to compile a collection of songs that are both utterly awful yet so catchy that they get stuck in the brain of the listener, inflicting continuous pain. The I would play it as muzak in places where people cannot escape, like long lines at the bank.

  • birgerjohansson

    Addendum: Spitting Image made a parody on the subject:

    Spitting Image – The Chicken Song

  • dingojack

    How about the perennial Muzac favorite “The Girl from Ipanea”* (Or anything by the Master of Muzac, Burt Bacharach)**



    * Craptastic sound – MAKE IT LOUD OK?!?

    ** “What the World Needs Now Is Love, Sweet Love”? No, Burt what the world needs now is for you to sharpen two HB’s, jam one into each nostril point upward, and for you to slam your head into the desk hard, driving the sharpened points into, what laughingly you are pleased to call, a brain. STAT!

  • dingojack

    And let’s not forget that Burtatasic abortion, “Close To You”.

    As Stephen Fry once explained: “The world simply doesn’t have enough vomit!”


  • How could I have forgotten “Sussudio?” I must be getting senile. But it’s still not as bad as “Baby’s First Christmas.” Everything Lil Wayne and Soulja Boy ever did is pretty fierce competition (I nominmate Lil Wayne for Most Annoying Voice Ever), I gotta say, but “BFC” is still, IMO, the absolute worst.

  • Oh, and while “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton isn’t that hard on the ears, I still nominate it for “Stupidest Song in the History of Rock’n’Roll.”

  • alkaloid

    “God is Watching from a distance”

    “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

    Chipmunks sing the macarena

    “Girl you know” allegedly by Milli Vanilli

    “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice

    “Proud to be an American” by Greenwood

  • rikitiki

    re: Pinky @ 167 –

    No offense, but those lines don’t scan with the tune.

    I’ll work on a Rethuglicon version of some other song when it

    jumps into my head and starts driving me crazy. Thanks for

    that idea…should be fun!

  • Then, too, there’s “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger. And just about everything else by Night Ranger, for that matter…

  • Dweller in Darkness

    “The Sign” by Ace of Base. Erggl. Again, partly a personal opinion from a man with a very low tolerance for dance music, but some of my more dancey friends wince when they hear that name, too.

  • timmcc

    “Kokomo” is definitely in my top 10 worst songs. Someone also mentioned “Big Yellow Taxi.” I can’t for the life of me figure out why people keep covering that song. For me, I think the worst song ever made (and I sort of regret even thinking about it because it will now be stuck in my head for days) is “The Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot.

  • Michael Heath


    For me, I think the worst song ever made (and I sort of regret even thinking about it because it will now be stuck in my head for days) is “The Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot.

    That’s sacrilege in the northern reaches of Michigan. We might think it’s a really bad song, but we don’t express it. [I happen to like it because of the flood of memories I get when it’s played, but I get why others don’t.]

  • @ dana:

    You respond to two mentions of The Lovin’ Spoonful (@73 and yours truly @151) by mentioning that you can’t think of “one of their songs” of the top of your head…even though both aforementioned comments SPECIFICALLY MENTION a specific song from the band (LOL)?

    I was responding to you, but I didn’t know the song you mentioned and have already forgotten what it was even though I just read it, so, yeah, I still couldn’t name any of their songs off the top of my head. Something about summer or something?

    See, I don’t count forgetting the titles of terrible songs that I don’t know as a bad thing 😉

    Although hating songs is kinda fun. I should go youtube it just to bask in the rage.


    Dr. X, oh she’s the real deal. She even opened for Marilyn Manson once!


    Raging Bee, you are pure evil. That song is going to be in my head for days now ><

  • leni,

    Oh my, I’d never heard of her. I see she was quite the thing for a while. In this video, I believe she’s at a bar we called the country western bar, which was in the suburb of Wheeling. It used to stay open later than most of the bars we went to, so after we’d close the local places we’d either move to the later night small taverns in the city (old chainsmoking alcoholic men and old women with fried voices) or go out to the nearby biker bar or the country western bar. They were all a trip because, well, let’s start with not looking like I or my friends belonged in any of those places. The bikers were okay, but Illinois country western people were like angry transplanted civil war losers. They got all edgy around us with our long hair, our sneakers, and our lack of cowboy hats.

  • Wow Dr. X it’s like 6 degrees of separation from Jan! And you’re like a 2!! Did they do karaoke perchance?

    And ouch that video is just painful. Really cringe-worthy lol. But you know, her voice really isn’t bad. It’s better than mine.

    FYI, that damn video you posted is my new favorite song >< I can't stop listening to it. It's Swedish (or something) and mesmerizing.

  • sunsangnim says:

    We Don’t Speak Americano:

    but that song was redeemed by the finger dancers. For the 2 or 3 people who may have missed them somehow:

  • leni,

    It is Swedish, but it looks like something made in the Soviet Union before the fall of the iron curtain in a desperate attempt to stop young Russians from covertly sharing 12th iteration, audiotape copies of scratched Beatles records.

  • friendly

    “Escape” aka the “Piña Colada song” was by Rupert Holmes, who coincidentally was a member of the Buoys, mentioned previously (though I don’t believe he wrote “Timothy”).

    Um, yes. Yes he did.

    Subjectively speaking, a song that will always be on my barf-induction list is “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” by Cher, which was on a “collected hits” LP that my parents owned and played repeatedly while I was a child. There are also a number of hideous and creepy ’80s tunes whose narrators seem to be stalkers, child molesters, or worse, including “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive, “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen, and especially “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo (“won’t you dilate?” — WTF?!!). Also, for anyone who has ever attended been a victim of a certain type of camp, “Kum Ba Ya” will always be right up there (cue the “Addams Family Values” references).

    As for songs that are more objectively bad — by which I mean, songs which a majority of people of any time, place, or culture who heard them would be uncomfortable listening to for the first time and would not voluntarily listen to again –, I would have to say that a large number of the truly most execrable musical recordings of all time are those that Dr. Demento used to play excerpts from for his Audio Torture Chamber segments back in the ’70s and ’80s. I miss those segments — they really instilled the certainty that however bad the stuff on the radio was, some material on vinyl and tape out there was so very much worse.

  • Aquaria

    THe list of horrible Disco abortions is endless. THere I love the Night Life, Disco Duck; the long version of Never can say Goodbye. And one should not forget Disco Inferno.

    Disco Duck is a lot more bearable when you realize that it was supposed to be a comedy song razzing on disco. Rick Dees never–never in a million years–expected it to be taken seriously. He’d been doing ironic or satirical takes on songs during his morning radio show (KIIS-FM LA) for a long, long time, but that’s the one that took off on him.

    Go figure.

  • In fairness to Gordon Lightfoot (and everyone else who covered that song), “Edmund Fitzgerald” was about a real incident where people died; so the maudlin overblown qualities of that song are forgivable. It’s a sea-shanty, and IMO it shouldn’t be judged in the same category as the other inexcusable crap mentioned here.

    And yes, “Disco Duck” was pure silliness, and clearly never intended to be anything more. (Then again, I only heard it once; I can see hating it if it’s overplayed.)

    And “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo was an absolute joke. And the video only made matters worse. WTF were they thinking?

  • My company cafeteria has occasional “theme” days, when they play inexplicable musical selections I’d hoped would be forgotten. I may have more nominations after lunch…

  • Okay, I’m back from lunch, and in the flounderer-up category, I now nominate…”Footloose!” (Can I nominate a whole movie for “worst song ever made?” It was more a two-hour rock-video than a movie anyway, if you want to get technical…)

  • timmcc

    My problem with Edmund Fitzgerald isn’t the lyrics so much as the repetitive boring tune and irritating way Gordon Lightfoot sings it. Since my other half and in-laws are from Michigan I don’t dare speak ill of the song at home. But fine – I can respect your argument for Edmund Fitzgerald 🙂 His other big stinker, “If You Could Read My Mind” isn’t based on a real-life tragic event, and so the maudlin overblown qualities of that song are unforgivable!

  • I agree about Lightfoot’s singing. I much prefer the version done by a local “Irish” folk band in my area — the guy’s singing is a lot less wimpy than Lightfoot’s, but still conveys the sadness of the event without being maudlin or overblown. Just a straight-up unpretentious bar-band rendition.

  • Justin Griffith

    Late to the party here, but I just did a post in response.

    I worked in a used cd store for years, and I’m sad to say that the absolute worst song ever recorded was by an atheist.

  • 202 comments and no one has mentioned “Teddy Bear” by Red Sovine? No Justin, the absolute worst song is by someone who’s very much a christian.

  • Don’t Worry, Be Happy

  • csrster

    Glad I’m not the only person in the world who hates Sussudio.

    Has anybody mentioned Max Bygraves’ version of “Deck of Cards”? (Does “spoken word over music” count as a song, and does that mean Telly Savalas’ “If” is allowed?) Of course “worst cover version” is a whole category in itself, and Madonna wins for “American Pie”.

    Actually I have a soft spot for a lot of the songs mentioned here. But I’m not going to say which ones!

  • stubby

    Ugh “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood is a steaming pile of awful.

  • flakko

    I’m going to concur with ouaback (#43) and sastra (#58) and say the Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” is not only the worst Christmas song, but perhaps the worst song ever. There is a new close contender, though, and that is “Peppermint Winter” by Owl City. This Christmas song is utterly painful to listen to.

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  • dingojack

    Ok dead thread – but let’s not forget this 4:41 of steaming crap. Enjoy!

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