Note that I've made a conscious decision in not presuming to name this THE twenty worst songs ever, but, instead, twenty of my worst songs. With regard to music, I try to keep the love and let hate philosophy. I don't need anyone to love or hate the same songs I do. If any of these songs bring you joy, I am glad it brings you joy. If any of these songs also cause you misery, perhaps we can bond over that here.
Should you find it utterly indefensible that I dislike your most holy song that you love enough to use as your wedding processional! and you named your child after the artist! and printed up quotes from it on the napkins for your boat's christening!, I'm sorry for hurting your feelings and invite you to retaliate in kind, perhaps by calling a still-relevant and thought-provoking song by one of my favorite bands, Tears for Fears, 'asinine.' Certainly warranted, given it charted and peaked beneath that physically painful Phil Collins exercise in brain chemistry altering inanity with the title that couldn't even get its shit together enough to form an actual word the very same year. Neither song is an option on this list, sadly, though the Collins track would be for my generally gentle father, whom it once gave cause to punch a dashboard and we all drove home from Maywood in awkward silence.
I mean, love and let hate. If you heard it too much back in the day, if Curt's vocals don't work for you, if you find the song dated or too uptempo, if you don't agree with the politics of the lyric or think the lyric doesn't go far enough even considering the atmosphere it was released into and that Roland was barely old enough to legally drink in the United States when he wrote it, I get it and that's fine. Tell me how much you dislike that Tears for Fears song. Tell me, specifically and repeatedly, because you know how much I love the band and I deserve to feel guilty about finding pleasure somewhere you do not. Torture me with what I love. All I ask is that you describe your disdain with a word that can reasonably be applied to the material in question. Tears for Fears is many things to many people, but I argue that none of their work can accurately be described as 'asinine,' even when they're REALLY TRYING.
Sorry, little social trauma processing there.
So here's how this works: behind the cut are twenty of my worst songs. Each song comes to the list for a variety of reasons, though a common thread seems to be that I was forced to listen to it more often than I would have preferred, probably because it was played way out past my last spoon over the loudspeakers at a chain retail job. Some I find ideologically offensive, some I'm probably overreacting to because it's not to my taste and has unrelated negative emotional associations, some are awful mainly because of how much I love the artist's other work. Most are earworms that have gotten stuck in my head to the point of nausea. Which sounds like a funny problem, ha ha ha, but trust me, it is not. For us folks with sensory processing disorders, bad earworms can plug right into trauma wiring. Drop us down the polyvagal ladder. Trap us painfully inside our own head. It's lonely and exhausting, and an extremely weird problem to attempt to explain after concealment efforts have failed to people who don't have sensory processing disorders who are also your chain retail managers.
In order to be the change I want to see in the world, I put the poll behind a cut. Sometimes just seeing the name of a song (or in one case in particular, the horrible horrible horrible earworm factory artist) can get it stuck in my head again and I don't want to do that to anyone without a content warning. Including myself! Each song has a potential rant, and if you know me well you already suspect that a few of these rants get fierce and elaborate. If you agree with me enough to want to read the rant, vote for the song. Do so by ticking the box (you can do that as many times as you want) or leaving a comment with the numbers. You will also have the option to vent your own most vile. Each song is numbered, not because they are ranked (all these songs exist on that same level of "driving home from Maywood in awkward silence") but so I can identify the rant in a later subject heading without naming the song.
That's enough ado for now, then:
Hints to the nature of this song's associated rant:
E = earworm
P = problematic
B = bad emotional associations
T = trapped into hearing way too many times by job, loved one, waiting room, media, school bus on confiscated Walkman days, ect
W = why did you do this to me, artist I love?
Which of these songs deserve to be ranted about? Check all that apply.
Write-in entries here:
Anonymous comments are open so my web readers can vote that way, if they dare.
For the record, it's not that I maintain a high opinion of "We Built This City," that baby shark thing, Dad's dashboard punchin' song or "Achy Breaky Ass" ect because I don’t. I've simply been afforded the luxury of indifference. I'd certainly rather hear the Starship song over anything on the above list and, anyway, most of those songs have been ranted about extensively elsewhere. Dave Barry wrote hilariously about "MacArthur Park" here; I was entirely persuaded in the early 1990s but can't remember hearing an official version of the song (that beat in an early episode of The Simpsons doesn't count) until NPR did a feature on Jimmy Webb ten years later. I thought it was kinda pretty, especially compared to the extremely problematic sentiments behind list entry no. 8 and the disturbingly normalized celebration of rape that is no. 5 (Corner store rant: considering its gleefully racist origins - did my generation really reward Trent Reznor with millions of dollars for appropriating gangsta rap in the form of a self-satisfied “critique” he had absolutely no business making? - and unapologetically triggering lyric - PLEASE don't refresh your memory if you have any sexual or domestic violence in your history - I can only assume the reason BMWaG hasn't been called out more visibly as problematic is because the GOP attacked it as morally reprehensible for exactly all the wrong reasons, making all critics into ignorant out-of-touch oldies, raising Reznor's profile and ensuring his success with the extremely profitable young white male demographic for which Downward Spiral was made. My rant about how this material marginalizes and exploits the community of people with mental illness is still in litigation, twenty years after I fed my copy of Spiral to an industrial shredder I'm still too angry to write coherently about that. Plus? In spite of myself, I like "Closer," and Johnny Cash did good things with "Hurt." Goddamnit, anyway. What am I saying, here? I'm not saying anything, here. Just making the observation that some of the economically privileged white male conservative uproar around economically privileged white male popular music sure proved to be an all around marketing boon for economically privileged white males, wouldn't you say? Ah, privilege algebra, a magical science where even overt persecution by the government only helps elevate your celebrity and anyone injured by your amply resourced freedom of expression is a ignorant prude not worth anybody's time. Mr Reznor, you've got some apologies to make.)