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Arbitrary but fun Monday for a change

Oldies radio lies, man.

More specifically, the “oldies” canon, having congealed over the past decade into a reliable rotation of “Bus Stop,” “Spirit in the Sky,” “You’re So Vain,” and such, nicely demonstrates the point—made twenty-odd years ago by any number of literary critics and theorists—that the process of canon formation is inevitably “partial,” in the sense that it does not (and does not attempt to) retrieve the past “as it really was.”

Instead, it presents us with the past as we now like to think it really was.  There’s nothing necessarily insidious about this process; it’s not as if Oldies Radio represents history as told by the victors of some global slaughter.  Besides, most of the victors, like Norman Greenbaum’s ubiquitous one-hit wonder, survive to this day because they’re really pretty decent little pop songs (or, at the very least, they have a catchy riff and a cool guitar sound that still sounds tolerably cool thirty-five years later).  Granted, there are plenty of oldies—think of Seals and Crofts’ handful of contributions to Western Civ—that should be allowed to die a dignified death.  But there are hundreds more that have been purged from the Oldies archives altogether.  Some, like Paper Lace’s hideous “The Night Chicago Died,” have a ghostly existence as “oldies novelty” tunes, the kind of thing you have to hear every five or six years just to wonder what the hell people were thinking.  Hiding behind the oldies novelty tunes, however, is a vast legion of cultural dreck that no Oldies station will touch—even though it once ruled the charts.

Sure, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” was a horror.  And it was the number one song of 1973.  But what is there to say of “Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose?”—Tony Orlando and Dawn’s followup single, which wound up as number 34 of the year?  Or, God help us, “Who’s in the Strawberry Patch with Sally?” No oral or written language known to humankind can adequately express the profound and promiscuous badness of these songs.  Likewise, Gilbert O’Sullivan is justly renowned for having written the world’s most bathetic tune, “Alone Again (Naturally)” (as one critic put it, “the worst potential influence on the direction of pop music since Tiny Tim”).  But how many of us remember—or care to remember—that we were subsequently treated to three or four more “hits” from O’Sullivan, each of which was even worse (though, of course, not more bathetic)?

You don’t believe me?  Fine.  Then you deserve this:

Told you once before, and I won’t tell you no more
Get down, get down, get down
You’re a bad dog baby
But I still want you around.

You give me the creeps, when you jump on your feet
So get down, get down, get down
Keep your hands to yourself
I’m strictly out of bounds.

Don’t make me quote O’Sullivan again.  You’ll regret it.

Similarly, Helen Reddy’s bizarre, groundbreaking portraits of women with mental illness (“Delta Dawn,” “Ruby Red Dress,” “Angie Baby”) have been wiped from our collective public memory, together with Bobby Sherman’s neo-existentialist “Easy Come, Easy Go” and Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods’ searing antiwar anthem, “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero.” And while this Funes-like blog is more or less content to call to mind Looking Glass’s “Brandy,” an inoffensive piece of pop fluff that wound up at number 12 for 1972, who, I wonder, will dare to put in a good word for Wayne Newton’s “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast” (number 10 that same year) or Mouth and MacNeal’s “How Do You Do” (number 25) or Daniel Boone’s “Beautiful Sunday” (number 42)?

The selectiveness of the Oldies Canon is understandable enough.  All of us (that is, all of us of a certain age) want to believe—and want others to believe—that we were listening to “Brick House” in ‘77 when, in fact, we were being subjected to Leo Sayer’s “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” five or six times a day (a classic Paradoxical Song, in Janet’s famous phrase, like Orleans’ “Dance With Me” insofar as it is utterly—nay, rigorously—undanceable).  Even worse, if we were to be reminded of the existence of Gallery’s “It’s So Nice to Be With You” or Cher’s “Dark Lady,” we might realize that we were not merely subjected to these songs but, in fact, fond of them.  And then we would not be able to face ourselves, now, would we?

(Don’t get me wrong—I wasn’t fond of that crap.  Not me!  Along with the rest of the seventh grade, I was hoppin’ and boppin’ to the Crocodile Rock.  Which, I believe, was recorded by the Velvet Underground.)

So here’s today’s Fun Game.  What’s your favorite example of an Oldie Too Hideous to Acknowledge?  Extra points will be awarded to suggestions that carry with them an obvious tinge of remorse (for example, I’ve always thought that Helen Reddy’s cover of Leon Russell’s “Bluebird” was perfect for her voice, so all my Helen Reddy examples above are tinged by remorse-by-association).  And extra extra points will be awarded to suggestions so hideous that they derange the entire thread.

Posted by on 10/17 at 02:50 PM
  1. Is 23 years old enough (for the song)? If so, “I’ll Find My Way Home” by Vangelis gets my vote.

    And if that isn’t repugnant and/or old enough, I submit Melanie’s 1971 hit “Brand New Key,” which always makes me uncomfortable.

    Posted by Paul  on  10/17  at  04:19 PM
  2. Amazing fact: Gilbert O’Sullivan released 22 studio albums, but a whopping 39 best-of’s.  I think this diproves at least one of the laws of thermodynamics.

    “In the Year 2525” is the gold standard for leaden awfulness, but it might not strictly qualify as “pop”.

    “Torn Between Two Lovers” can never replace the part of my soul that withered and died the first time I heard it.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  04:36 PM
  3. a) Thanks for exhuming “Get Down” from its previously permanent grave in my memory.  I’ll be singing it all evening.

    b) “Seasons in the Sun”

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  04:38 PM
  4. The Ballad of the Green Berets supposedly topped the charts in 1966.

    Admittedly I think I’ve only ever heard the Residents’ “Third Reich N’ Roll” version.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  04:38 PM
  5. Ok, how do you feel about the Carpenters?  Too obvious?

    How about this sickly sweet ballad, with lyrics that comment on the oldies nostalgia phenomenon?

    Carpenters - Yesterday Once More

    When I was young
    I’d listen to the radio
    Waitin’ for my favorite songs
    When they played I’d sing along
    It made me smile.
    Those were such happy times
    And not so long ago
    How I wondered where they’d gone
    But they’re back again
    Just like a long lost friend
    All the songs I loved so well.
    Every Sha-la-la-la
    Every Wo-o-wo-o
    Still shines
    Every shing-a-ling-a-ling
    That they’re startin’ to sing’s
    So fine....

    I’m afraid that my ‘60s-’70s pop music knowledge has already been shaped by the canon via those “Best of” albums and tapes they used to advertise on Saturday afternoon tv in the ‘80s.

    p.s.  (does not fit into Hideous category) I never thought I could listen to Joan Baez after my mother over-played her in my early childhood.  After seeing interviews with her in new Bob Dylan documentary, I have a whole new respect for the woman and her music.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  04:53 PM
  6. There was so much drek (tho there was good stuff, too) at the time frame being covered. How about the Cowsills? Don’t really remember the titles, just that I cringed when I heard them on the ol’ car radio.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  04:57 PM
  7. "Judy’s Turn to Cry” by Lesley Gore. She should’ve stopped after the slight but funny (OK, perversely so) “It’s My Party” (and I’ll cry if I want to) and, if you want yer tinge of remorse, “You Don’t Own Me,” which, musically awful though it was, I still remember with fondness. There was so damned little of that sort of thing to brighten the spirits of us larval patriarchy-blamers in the early Sixties.

    Posted by Ron Sullivan  on  10/17  at  05:00 PM
  8. (I’ve Been to Paradise but) “I’ve Never Been to Me”

    Runner-up: “The Night Chicago Died”

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  05:22 PM
  9. "Muskrat Love” by Captain & Tennielle - an utterly execrable interplay of vapid lyrics, insipid vocals and muskrat sound effects.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  05:23 PM
  10. Anything—ANYTHING—by that weasel high-school I-gotta-have-it-or-I’ll-die you’re-not-a-woman-unless-I-lay-you Gay Puckett (rhymes with --) and the Union Gap (in the head, I think).  Either most hideous dreck ever written—or spot-on renditions of whining sex-starved high school boys.

    Posted by DaBarr  on  10/17  at  05:27 PM
  11. For me, it’s a tie between Paul Anka’s “Having My Baby” and “Knock Three Times” courtesy of Tony Orlando and Dawn.

    My husband and I used to amuse ourselves on long car rides by singing snippets of the worst oldies we could recall. It’s amazing how much I can remember of the worst music of the seventies when I struggle to remember the passwords to my many different computer accounts.

    Posted by Ancarett  on  10/17  at  05:31 PM
  12. I heard the Banana Splits theme song (the Tra la la la song) on the radio on Saturday, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  05:31 PM
  13. Back on topic, the song “Please Come to Boston” by Dave Loggins should be put out of its misery.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  05:33 PM
  14. Manfred Mann and His Earth Band recorded a cover of Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light”.  Given that the original was Springsteen’s first song on his first album, and that it was just so full of life, even given it’s faults as a song, it just pure pain to hear Manfred butcher it up with synth & over-production.  Ick. 

    Music porn, really. 

    And, to add insult to injury, this is to date the only song Bruce has written that’s gone #1. 

    I saw Springsteen on his latest tour (solo) on what was supposed to be the last stop in Vancouver B.C., and he did a version of “Blinded” that just held the room on edge.  Awesome tour, the guy’s a natural solo performer.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  05:35 PM
  15. How about “Modern Girl” by Sheena Easton? From 1981, it is definitely part of that modern-girl-in-the-working-world trend made most famous by “9 to 5,” but from the immensely lame pseudo-strings beginning to the schmaltz-fest chorus, it is such a horrifying vision of female independence. Take the last verse:

    She used to dream
    About him all day long
    Soon as she gets home
    It’s him on the telephone
    He asks her to dinner
    She says I’m not free
    Tonight I’m gonna stay at home
    And watch my T.V.

    And no, I don’t own the 45 of it with the immensely sincere bared-shoulder picture of Sheena herself, or anything.

    Posted by furious  on  10/17  at  05:45 PM
  16. Whoops...I didn’t notice that Michael had already mentioned “The Night Chicago Died.” But what the hell--so truly awful it deserves two mentions.

    Got another one: “Chevy Van” by Sammy Johns. If your grandkids ever ask you “What were the 70s like?” you’ll have a ready answer.

    Oh, and anything ever recorded by Mac Davis.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  05:51 PM
  17. It’s too easy to just list the entire recorded catalog of Journey, I suppose ...

    One per decade:

    1950s: Pat Boone, “Tutti Frutti”

    1960s: Every Mother’s Son, “Come on Down to My Boat”

    1970s: someone already got Terry Jacks ... hmmm ... Kansas, “Dust in the Wind”

    1980s: Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin’”

    Posted by Steven Rubio  on  10/17  at  06:04 PM
  18. It’s way too obvious to be mentioned, but Starland Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight” beats out Manilow’s, “I Write the Songs”.  And not from the 70s but feels like it was, gooey in the sidewalk burbling up with each footfall padded by an unraveling bell bottom blue jean hem, is Richard Harris singing, “MacArthur Park”. 

    All that sweet green icing melting in the rain makes us forget the novel badness of the first verse:

    Spring was never waiting for us, girl
    It ran one step ahead
    As we followed in the dance
    Between the parted pages and were pressed
    In love’s hot, fevered iron
    Like a striped pair of pants

    I can smell those jeans steaming.  I can’t smell the cake. 

    “Afternoon Delight” I was forced to listen to repeatedly while I was working at a frame shop.  Every afternoon at three o’clock it played, and played again and again the rest of the day, but somehow it was the treatment at three o’clock to skyrockets in flight that drove me nuts and made me worry for the future of my generation.  I saw them standing in an elevator singing.  I didn’t think of it as elevator music, it’s just how I saw it.  When the song came on, there they were, dressed in winged dove white, on the elevator, riding up and down singing.  Maybe it was the reference to fish that made me think of holy ghosts descending through the escape hatch in elevators. I don’t know.

    There’s no remorsing “but” there.

    “MacArthur Park” does somehow have that remorsing “but”.  It’s discombobulating for all the wrong reasons but underneath there’s a real itch of dangerously pained psyche, sword in hand, beginning to disembowel itself for you.  More to do with Richard Harris than Jimmy Webb, I’m sure.

    Posted by Idyllopus  on  10/17  at  06:08 PM
  19. Me and You and a Dog named Boo.

    In related news, it seens Dolly Parton has just covered the old Gene Raskin chestnut “Those Were The Days.” She does a fine job if you like semi-bluegrass.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  10/17  at  06:10 PM
  20. I’d second anything by Tony Orlando and Dawn--what about “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” (about a convict coming home after doing his time, now a sign on the back of every other car that says “Yeah, I voted for Bush, so shoot me"--and I would, if I weren’t a pacifist). Anything by the shame of Urbana/Champaign, REO Speedwagon, particularly “Ridin’ the Storm Out” ditto for that abomination known as Jefferson Starship ("Jane," “Built That City.” Not that I ever listened to any of that crap, or anything.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  06:18 PM
  21. Too easy.  Ones that haven’t been mentioned yet;

    Playground In My Mind - Clint Holmes
    Watching Scotty Grow - Bobby Goldsboro
    You Are So Beautifull To Me - Joe Cocker
    I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing - The New Seekers
    I Love - Tom T Hall
    I Can Help - Billy Swan
    Undercover Angel - Alan O’Day

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  06:21 PM
  22. transcend the canon! this fantastic internet radio station basically reproduces an AM radio broadcast ca. 1967, complete with commercial and crappy songs. they reallly loved the harpsichord back in the day, you’ll discover.

    http://www.techwebsound.com/

    they may even play my favorite, the top ten hit from late 1967 “Open Letter to My teenage Son,” though I’ve never caught it:

    “And if you decide to burn your draft card,
    “then burn your birth certificate at the same time.
    “From that moment on, I have no son.”

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  06:21 PM
  23. Bobby Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe” may not qualify as a pop song, maybe crossover Country, but it sure got a lot of airplay.  It was one of those songs that made me dive for the buttons on the car radio.

    “Seems like nothin’ ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge
    And now Billie Joe MacAllister’s jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge”

    But what were they dropping into the water off the Tallahatchie Bridge?

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  06:23 PM
  24. Yummy Yummy Yummy (I’ve Got Love in My Tummy)

    Bad Bad Leroy Brown

    All by Myself

    Sometimes When We Touch

    And a song that went something like “My name is Michael/I’ve got a nickel”

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  06:27 PM
  25. Quicker posters already nailed the first few to pop into my head:

    1. “The Year 2525” is the worst of all because there’s no quibbling about it. It’s quantifiably bad.

    2. “MacArthur Park” contains the stupidest attempt at “poetry” in all of pop lyrics: “Someone left the cake out in the rain.”

    3. Anyone notice how Gary Puckett frequently pursues a pedophilia theme? My nearest Oldies station is in Salt Lake City. They play Union Gap a lot. Hm.

    I’d rag on Tommy James et Les Shondells but I’ve seen too many nifty women earnestly bop to ‘em.

    Posted by dswift  on  10/17  at  06:35 PM
  26. "Sometimes When We Touch” by whoever the hell it was did that song.

    I’m tempted to also include “anything by Dire Straights” but that might be a little too snobbish. But maybe not.

    Posted by Brian  on  10/17  at  06:36 PM
  27. I think you just can’t beat Meat Loaf for tuneless bathos, especially “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  06:44 PM
  28. Uncle Kvetch - you are certainly living up to your name. The nice lunch I had suddenly doesn’t feel so nice.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  06:47 PM
  29. Esther and Abi Ofarim:

    You’re the lay-dee, you’re the lay-dee that I luv/I’m the lay-dee the layuh-dee hoo

    I think this thread is now officially a BIOHAZARD.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  06:51 PM
  30. "Heartbeat, It’s A Love Beat” by Tony DiFranco and the DiFranco family.  God awful.

    And a sarcastic thank you to the person who mentioned “Undercover Angel”.  That is one evil earworm.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  06:59 PM
  31. Maybe I am dating myself but I sometimes still get “Everytime You Go Away” by John Waite stuck in my head and I have not heard that song in years.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  07:08 PM
  32. I heard the Banana Splits theme song (the Tra la la la song) on the radio on Saturday, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since.
    Posted by blah on 10/17 at 04:31 PM

    Somewhat off topic, but did you ever notice the similarity to this and the refrain in Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier”?

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  07:10 PM
  33. And extra extra points will be awarded to suggestions so hideous that they derange the entire thread.

    “Ballad of the Green Beret.”

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  07:16 PM
  34. Melanie’s 1971 hit “Brand New Key,” which always makes me uncomfortable.

    Ah.  Yes.  Now, Paul.  You say this song makes you “uncomfortable.” When precisely did you first discover that your mother had a pair of “roller skates,” may I ask?

    “Muskrat Love” by Captain & Tennielle - an utterly execrable interplay of vapid lyrics, insipid vocals and muskrat sound effects.

    Scylla, you get extra extra points.  I heard those muskrat sound effects a few months ago, quite by accident, and thought that something terrible was happening to my radio.  Which, of course, it was.

    As for Gary Puckett:  the truly hideous thing is that Oldies Radio doesn’t realize how hideous he is.  As a result, he continues to get airplay, and that disqualifies him from this competition.  “Woman,” “Young Girl,” “Girl Woman” and “Young Girl Woman” can all be heard on any oldies station, from Salt Lake City to New York City.

    Greg:  yeah, this is an easy one (but it’s Monday!).  Thank you, however, for “Undercover Angel.” Extra extra points for that piece of crap.  “Chevy Van” is bad, but it’s ordinary big-wide-bellbottoms bad, begging your pardon, Uncle K.  “Undercover Angel” is right up there with the DiFranco Family (extra extra points to hjshorter too!) for sheer unbearableness.

    Carpenters:  yeah, too obvious.  Besides, they’ve been the subject of a tribute album, and have therefore been reclaimed for Tongue-in-Cheek Seventies Appreciation Day.  We want stuff that’s even worse than that.

    And on the Sixties front:  “MacArthur Park” doesn’t count.  That’s the great Jimmy Webb ("Wichita Lineman") after he’d eaten enough acid to turn his brain to Corn Chex.  So it deserves its own category.  And Ron, don’t get down on “Judy’s Turn to Cry.” Yes, it’s an abomination, but when you play it backwards you can hear the young Miss Gore saying, in a scary lugubrious voice, “I . . . buried . . . Judy.” Which is kind of cool, I think.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/17  at  07:22 PM
  35. Jackie Blue - Ozark Mountain Daredevils
    Wildfire - Michael Murphy

    and I guess my sympathy entry, in light of her BF’s mysterious dissapearance/faking-his-own-death, is ‘Have You Never Been Mellow’ by Olivia Newton John.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  07:45 PM
  36. Michael, if Uncle K doesn’t get vomit points for
    “I’ve Never Been to Me” (#8) - that makes ME very uncomfortable!

    Please tell us that’s not your, “tinge of remorse” song.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  07:47 PM
  37. Wildfire--Michael Murphy
    Baby I’m a Want You--Bread
    Fernando--Abba
    Reunited--Peaches and Herb
    Hotel California--Eagles

    Oh, please, make it stop!

    Posted by Laura  on  10/17  at  07:49 PM
  38. Spiders and Snakes - Jim Stafford
    Makes you wish you had an ice pick for some reason.

    Angel in the Morning - Juice Newton.
    You want bathetic....
    “Just call me angel of the morning, angel
    just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby.
    Just call me angel of the morning, angel
    then slowly turn away,
    I won’t beg you to stay with me
    through the tears of the day,
    of the years, baby baby baby.”.

    Love Goes where My Rosemary Goes - Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods?
    If I remembered this one correctly I truly need a life coach.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:01 PM
  39. In my early teen years, the local top 40 station ("Wixy 1260, Suuperr Rrradioooo!” in Cleveland) had a “poll” of the listeners. Cherish, by the Association, was voted the best song in history.  Not long afterward, I began experimenting with drugs.  I’m not suggesting that there was a direct causal link.  I’m just sayin’....

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:03 PM
  40. Well, he’s a Sir now an’ all, but I actually liked the incredibly syrupy Philadelphia Freedom by Elton John.

    You know that I love, love, love, you
    yes I do!
    Philadelphia freedom!

    Thats just a terrible song with those streaking violins and warbling flute to start.  God help you if you remember it, it’s playback tenacity is fearsome.

    I’m cranking Floyd right now to get rid of it.

    Posted by paradox  on  10/17  at  08:05 PM
  41. Mentioned three times already, MacArthur’s Park should be fully vetted in this thread.  But no, there’s more. There are the hundreds of terrifying covers of the song that we were forced to endure - led by the heartbreaking site of Waylon Jennings, the outlaw himself, undertaking a particularly dreadful crack at it in the mid-70s.

    I’m not sure that I will sleep tonight

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:06 PM
  42. Anything by Tommy Roe… painful.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:08 PM
  43. "Love Grows” was Edison Lighthouse, sven.  One-hit wonders almost as repellent as Bo Donaldson.  And I almost mentioned “Spiders and Snakes” in the original post—I scrapped it for “Dark Lady,” but yes, Jim Stafford and Mac Davis both merit much rotten fruit for their fetid country-pop crossovers.

    And OG, I have to confess that I’d never heard “I’ve Never Been to Me” until I Googled it five minutes ago.  All I can say is wow, that’s some fucking terrible music right there.  “I’ve been undressed by kings,” indeed.  Now you’ve made me think of the Captain and Tenille’s pair of “sex” songs, “Do That To Me One More Time” and “You Never Done It Like That.” Uncle K gets vomit points and extra extra hemorrhaging points as well.

    Damn you.  Damn you all.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/17  at  08:10 PM
  44. Many thanks to Oaktown Girl for the props.

    The closest I ever came to divorcing The Hubby was when he told me that he used to think Mac Davis was “hot.” “Baby Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me"--now that’s some bad badness. I have a special fondness for that whole “I realize I’m irresistible, Baby, but please, just try” thing.

    I am in total agreement with Michael about “MacArthur Park.” That song plowed straight through Bad like an 18-wheeler, and went all the way to the Sublime.

    Oh, that reminds me: “Convoy.”

    As for the Carpenters: “Sing a Song” has to be the all-time low/high. How can you go wrong with a cloying chorus of 7-year-olds? Karen & Richard were truly the Hummel figurines of pop.

    But we really shouldn’t be so 70s-centric. I think consideration must be given to the 80s, which gave rise to its own cursed subgenre: the novelty rap. And in that department, the one to beat is Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me.” What’s an industry mogul to do with a son with popstar aspirations and no discernible talent? When the mogul in question is Berry Gordy, it’s simple: you hire Michael Jackson (then in the full flush of Thriller-mania) to sing the chorus on the kid’s record about 700 times, while Rockwell “raps” a couple of verses. It was a fragrant, steaming pile of poo--and it went straight to number one. Top that, beeyotches.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:10 PM
  45. Uncle K gets vomit points and extra extra hemorrhaging points as well.

    Oooh! Only 15 more points and I qualify for the Olivia Newton-John box set! Sweet!

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:16 PM
  46. You know, I’d like to think that I’ve got taste in music…

    But I really like “Brandy.”

    Or maybe it’s just the memory of “Brandy.” I’ve always thought it was just a good pop song.  Just to spite everyone, I think I’ll talk my bandmates into playing it.  Loud.  Maybe even fast.

    Funny, though, my memory of this song comes primarily from them playing on the Flip Wilson show.

    Howabout Barry Manilow’s “Mandy?” It sounds like “Brandy” and we can just rotate the two so “Brandy” can get off your list.

    Respectfully,

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:26 PM
  47. From the year of my graduation from high school:

    1. Three Times A Lady—Commodores
    2. How Deep Is Your Love—Bee Gees
    3. You Needed Me—Anne Murray
    4. The Gambler—Kenny Rogers
    5. I Just Wanna Stop—Gino Vanelli

    Is that enough? I’ve got more.

    Posted by KathyR  on  10/17  at  08:28 PM
  48. No problem, Uncle Kvetch. You deserve it! (A dubious distinction at best!) And thank you for spelling out my name. I really dislike the initials “O.G.”. It sounds way too masculine to my ears, with all due respect to women who happen to have OG for their initials.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:31 PM
  49. Gino Vanelli’s People Gotta Move.

    With a few beers in me I might even try to defend this tune but “… you come on for right, you come on for wrong, you come on for zeal ’cause the tones of your bones makes you feel....” makes it tough to do sober.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:36 PM
  50. I see there was a mention of Juice Newton’s remake, but no one mentioned yet Merry Lee rush’s original of the truly, truly awful “Angel of the Morning.” What is even more upsetting is that the song’s “composer,” Chip Taylor also wrote the wonderful, “Wild Thing,” and is the brother of Jon Voight and the uncle of Angelina Jolie.
    There is one song of the inimitable Oeuvre of Gary Puckett which is repressed by the Oldies cannon and that is “Lady Willpower.” which I have heard only once on oldies radio and that was in Ohio driving to Columbus from Athens 14 years ago from the OU film conference and that made a carload of academics very, very quiet.  Was there a fourth hit that has been repressed by oldies radio and my brain?  Do not tell me.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:43 PM
  51. I am not a believer in censorship, apart from the music of Gary Puckett. His songs are all disturbingly dodgy ‘barely legal’ rape fantasies and his ‘singing’ is redolent of a dentists drill during root canal work. What’s more, oldies station programmers seem to always put him first on their teamsheet.

    ‘Beneath your perfume and make-up
    You’re just a baby in disguise’

    ‘And on that sweet and velvet night
    A child had died, a woman had been born’

    What really disturbs me is that at perhaps 60 years old he is probably still churning these songs out.

    + Songs people seem to think are good but are actually very bad: Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton - hideous & Where the Streets have no name by U2 - less fun than an ear infection & Everybody Hurts by REM - Mawkish empty headed crap. Everything by the Eurythmics apart from Sweet Dreams, pretty much everything by Queen.

    +easy and obvious suggestion : Lucky Stars by Dean Friedman.
    all time low :Escape (the Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes

    Brenna - pedantic point but everytime you go away was Paul Young, Missing You was John Waite.

    SneakySnu and others - I think a case can be made for the Carpenters fitting into a similar category as Abba, actually being really good quality, but possibly overplayed.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:43 PM
  52. "Lay a Little Lovin’ On Me” by Robin McNamara.

    “My Baby Loves Lovin’” by White Plains. Here’s a sample:

    My baby loves love
    My baby loves lovin’
    She’s got what it takes
    And she know how to use it

    Probably the only instance in which someone celebrates their lover being anatomically normal.

    “98.6” by Keith

    “Crimson % Clover” Tommy James & the Shondells.

    Posted by Randy Paul  on  10/17  at  08:45 PM
  53. bobby goldsboro - watching honey grow ("Honey"?). Everytime I heard that all I wanted to do was an Anthony Perkins on Honey, 12-inch chefs knife and all.

    The New Vaudeville Band - Winchester Cathedral. Eeeew. So faux cheerful that a maniac on prozac would go out of control.

    Posted by Jo Fish  on  10/17  at  08:46 PM
  54. "The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia”, by “Mama’s Family” star Vicki Lawrence, seems to have been airbrushed (deservedly) from the Top 40 more thoroughly than any song of the period. Thinking about it for about 10 seconds (more than the song deserves), the song is transparently a Southern Gothic version of a Cher tune, down to Lawrence’s diction ("that’s the night that they hong an inn-oh-cent may-un").

    Don’t know what Michael’s problem is with Jim Stafford (pre-Byrds bandmate of Gram Parsons, btw), though, that wah-wah in “Spiders and Snakes” is the shiz. Similarly, “Rub It In”, by Billy “Crash” Craddock, is just simply too cool for oldies radio; too bad, the tune is wonderfully evocative of the Redneck Riviera in the time that George W. Bush was wrecking rent houses there.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:48 PM
  55. Jo Fish,

    You’re mixing “Honey” and “Watching Bobby Grow.”

    Posted by Randy Paul  on  10/17  at  08:51 PM
  56. "But we really shouldn’t be so 70s-centric. I think consideration must be given to the 80s, which gave rise to its own cursed subgenre: the novelty rap. And in that department, the one to beat is Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me.”… Top that, beeyotches.”

    Ohhhhhh, crap 80’s.  Should be able to totally embarass myself in that catagory.  Let’s see...not a rap but still a steaming pile: “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo? (IMO should win on band name alone)

    Or maybe “Mr Roboto” by Styx?  Of course, they were crap in the 70’s too.  My favorite scene in the late lamented series Freaks & Geeks features Nick serenading Lindsay with an a capella rendition of “Lady”.  Makes me cringe just thinking about it.

    Another bad, bad 70’s song: “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” Kiss’s 1979 foray into disco.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:56 PM
  57. Michael:
    This thread made google GarY Puckett ande Isaw a picture of him now and these two “fun facts.”
    In 1968 Gary Puckett and The Union Gap had six consecutive gold records and sold more records than any other recording act...including the Beatles.

    They played a command performance at the White House for Prince Charles and Princess Anne by special invitation of the President.
    That president had to be Karen Carpenter’s number one fan, Tricky Dick himself. Yuck.
    And salty dog just trashed some pretty good songs.  Hey, I could bash most of Billy Joel, but oldies radio plays evey song of his including ones no one ever listened to.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  08:59 PM
  58. Thing is, those 80s songs don’t exactly fit the criteria because no one idealizes the era (except Peggy Noonan), and so there isn’t some “Big Chill” mythology for the songs to conform to. There is such a thing as 80s radio, but they play “Died In Your Arms Tonight” and “Shattered Dreams” right along with Prince and U2. The airbrush hasn’t been at work on the 80s, at least not yet.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  09:02 PM
  59. LOL, Michael.  My friends and I have a version of this discussion ALL. THE. TIME. especially in regards to ‘80s nostalgia.  All that ‘80s flashback stuff that started in the mid-90s (!) always imagines the ‘80s as all New Wave and College Radio all the time.  Yeah.  Right.  As a friend of mine once said, “When they start playing Billy Squier, *then* they’re reliving the ‘80s.” So here are my nominees for the *forgotten* dreck of oldies radio, the 1980s edition:

    Billy Squier, “My Kind of Lover” ("The Stroke” doesn’t count because it does get some ironic play)

    Night Ranger, “Sister Christian”

    Mr. Mister, “Broken Wings”

    John Parr, “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)”

    Billy Ocean, “Lover Boy”

    and

    Samantha Fox, “Naughty Girls Need Love, Too”

    Posted by Tina  on  10/17  at  09:09 PM
  60. "Ouga Chaka Ouga Chaka Ouga Chaka ...”

    You know what I’m talkin bout - Hooked On a Feeling by Blue Swede!

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  09:09 PM
  61. Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton

    Seconded. GodDAMN I hate that song, and I have to hear it at every damn wedding I go to. The plodding, dirgelike music is bad--Clapton “singing” it as if 7/8 of his brain is busy calculating next month’s royalty check is worse--but add that godawful lyric about a woman whose sole function is to seek the approval of Her Man once per verse ("Was I alright?"), and you’ve got a slop trifecta. P.U.

    I think a case can be made for the Carpenters fitting into a similar category as Abba, actually being really good quality, but possibly overplayed.

    That’s what puts them into an especially poignant category, IMHO, saltydog: Karen Carpenter was an excellent singer with a gorgeous instrument. That makes it all the more sad.

    I hated ABBA back in the day but have since learned to love them--but I’m much more forgiving of cheesy, throwaway (but expertly made) pop than I am of sappy, treacly ballads, however well sung.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  09:11 PM
  62. I thought of one!  My Sharonna.  I took some mental digging, as I’m from a slightly later generation.

    kth is right about 80’s music.  It is almost reverse airbrushing.  You listen to an 80’s tape and get Hungry Like the Wolf and Might as Well Jump.  No Talking Heads or Blondie or even Police.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  09:19 PM
  63. "Slow Dancing (Swaying to the Music)- Johnny Rivers

    Sappy. Very, very, sappy.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  09:29 PM
  64. "All Out of Love” - Air Supply

    Here’s a little taste:

    “I’m lying alone
    With my head on the phone
    Thinking of you till it hurts
    I know you’re hurt too
    But what else can we do?
    Tormented and torn apart
    I wish I could carry
    Our smile and my heart
    For times when my life seems so low
    It would make me believe
    What tomorrow could bring
    When today doesn’t really know,
    Doesn’t really know”

    Dude, I think I’m gonna hurl....

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  09:42 PM
  65. Dunno why everybody’s so down on the soundtrack to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.  My nomination would be Wings at the Speed of Sound.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  09:43 PM
  66. Sheena Easton: ``(My baby takes the) Morning Train”

    Leo Sayer: ``When I Need You.”

    Come to think of it, Morning Train wasn’t half bad.

    Live it, or live with it.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  09:45 PM
  67. A third for Clapton’s gawd-awful “Wonderful Tonight.” It’s almost enough to ruin his entire career. Were it not for the Layla album, it would be.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  09:48 PM
  68. No, no, no.  I still have fond memories of MacArthur Park.  And Crimson & Clover, too.

    And P. P. Arnold (who was a looker) covered Angel of the Morning in England.  I even owned the LP:  Kafunta.

    This is supposed to be about the bad stuff.  Not the guilty pleasures.

    Posted by jim  on  10/17  at  09:54 PM
  69. Foreigner--"Waiting for a girl like you”

    Styx--"Babe," which is even worse than “Lady.”

    I cracked up when I saw “Sometimes when we touch” on the list.  When that song comes on the radio, I make fun of my husband, because he has fond memories of slow dancing to it in high school.

    And I highly recommend checking out Dave Thomas’ imitation of Richard Harris singing “MacArthur Park.” It’s in the first volume of SCTV on DVD.  In fact, SCTV had sketches involving many of the truly horrible songs mentioned here.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  10:09 PM
  70. Anything by Bobby Goldsboro--although “Honey”, a tribute to the relationship between a moron and a sadist, is especially detestable:

    Came runnin’ in all excited
    Slipped and almost hurt herself
    And I laughed till I cried</blockquote>

    About half of Neil Diamond’s songs are intolerable as well.

    “I am,” I said
    To no one there
    An no one heard at all
    Not even the chair

    and, of course,

    Song she sang to me
    Song she brang to me
    Words that rang in me
    Rhyme that sprang from me

    Posted by Ereshkigal  on  10/17  at  10:19 PM
  71. ’I’m Your Captain’ - Grand Funk Railroad

    ‘WOLD’ or anything else by Harry Chapin, as he whined and griped his way onto the charts.

    But if you want to get really creepy, don’t be afraid to go back, back, back to the early 60s, back before the British Invasion, where you will find the mouldering remains of the long-forgotten tradition of teen death songs. There were a whole string of these morose hits, but the one that most makes my skin crawl is Dickey Lee’s ‘Patches,’ which ends with the singer crooning out his intention to commit suicide. “Patches, I’mmm coooming toooo yyoooouuuuuu!” Yakk!!

    And I definitely second ‘My Sharonna’ and ‘Ballad of the Green Berets.’

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  10:33 PM
  72. DOA - some stupid song about a kid who dies in a car accident and doesn’t want to be dead.  Always got played late at night on FM radio and earns my vote as “song that sucked the worst.”

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  10:34 PM
  73. kth - I idealise the 80’s so there!

    Steve - which good songs did I trash? I didn’t see any good songs in there. And if you could bash Billy Joel, why hold back?

    Kvetch - big up yourself. We Carpenteros know that every nananana and every wowowowo still shines. However, you are right - Sing a Song is truly terrible. However, when I was about 12 I starred in a Christmas pantomime and was deeply smitten with a girl whose name I forget. Anyway, her solo in the show (I played a clown, I think) was to sing, Sing a Song. So that rescues it a little for me. A similar crime was committed by ABBA with Thank You For The Music, which describes itself in its first line. 

    Emma Anne - no no no My Sharona is superb.

    Nobody - you blew it by adding the caveat defending the rest of Clapton’s career. As an okay guitar player, he has made some bad bad music. Remeber I Shot the Sherriff? In fact he went through the whole of the 70s and much of the 80s trying to be other people - Marley, JJ Cale, Phil Collins. Recently he has started trying to be Robert Johnson. The man can’t decide what music to play just as he can’t decide whether to grow a proper beard or not. Perhaps Layla should be nominated as his only possibly good song, and even then everyone knows that Duane Allman invented the riff.

    Can I add some more? The list could go on. How about Phil Collins ballads. One more night? One more shite more like. They are all terrible.
    Neverending Story by Limahl makes Too Shy sound like Janaceks string quartets. This is made much worse by the fact that Limahl always seemed to go on and on about his ‘clever’ name. His real name was Chris Hamill - d’ya see what he did there?
    Should I Stay or Should I go by The Clash - awful, thrown together rubbish.
    Most of Elton John’s catalogue
    Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel
    Classical Gas
    The Living Years
    In the Summertime....I am losing the will to live.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  11:05 PM
  74. This is pretty far back in the thread, but wrt Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning,” as a child I could never understand what the deal was with her teeth.  You know, “Just brush my teeth before you leave me, bay-bee!”

    Some of my votes: “More than a woman” Bee Gees; Clapton’s MTV Unplugged version of “Layla” and what about Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”?

    Of course I can’t forget “Rosanna” by Toto—just try getting THAT out of your head!!  “Meet-chew all the WAY! (ba da ba) Ro-SAN-aan-aan-NA!”

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  11:07 PM
  75. Ereshkigal - just read your post and feel I must warn you. Criticizing “The Diamond” is illegal in most states and internationally, and can lead to long prison sentences and/or being sent to Coventry.

    Posted by  on  10/17  at  11:11 PM
  76. Kth and Emma Anne, I beg to differ.  There’s plenty of ‘80s airbrushing out there.  Movie and TV soundtracks, for example, sometimes just remember the good stuff (whether top 40 or not).  Case in point, tonight’s episode of “Medium” (which, btw, had a good first season but now kinda sucks) had flashback scenes set in 1987 in a cheezy bar in Phoenix.  In the background they were playing was The Pretenders.  What they *should* have been playing, had they been true to life, is Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings” (a 1986 song still being played ad nauseam in ‘87).  They also got the clothes wrong, but that’s off topic.

    And as for the ‘80s mixes with Hungry Like the Wolf, etc. that’s a helluva lot better (and more oft-remembered) than, say, Glass Tiger’s “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone).” Thank god for small ironies!

    And hey, wasn’t that the point of the game— stuff that’s *so* bad even the oldies stations and nostalgia trips have forgotten them?

    Posted by Tina  on  10/17  at  11:18 PM
  77. Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose, Treat Her Like a Lady
    America, Sister Goldenhair
    At This Moment, Billy Vera and the Beaters
    Another Done Somebody Wrong Song, BJ Thomas
    Go All the Way, the Raspberries
    Build Me Up, Buttercup, the Foundations
    Come and Get Your Love, Redbone
    Cracklin’ Rosie, Neil Diamond
    Don’t Pull Your Love, Hamilton Joe Frank and Reynolds
    Oh Babe, What Would You Say, Hurricane Smith
    ...

    you know, it’s amazing how really useful it is for this exercise to have no pride at all

    Posted by julia  on  10/18  at  12:03 AM
  78. Rich, “Brandy” is OK.  And the drummers in the house should like the little sixteenth-note flourish on the bass drum under the words “good wife” in the chorus—that’s a nice touch.  And saltydog, I’m not a believer in flaying, except for Gary Puckett.  On the Clapton front, “Wonderful Tonight” must be retired, not least because it is about nine minutes long.  I know.  I have had to dance to it at a wedding.

    But the 80s bring up a host of vexing questions, which you’ve all handled most admirably.  First, there is such a thing as reverse airbrushing, precisely because 80s nostalgia was packaged—beginning in January 1990—as “faux” nostalgia (thus paving the way for VH1’s “I Love the 90s” and “Best Week Ever").  So no one invested the decade with any serious feeling, even though, as you all know, the first three or four years of the 80s featured some fine music (very little of which made it to Big Radio, though).  The contradictory result, I think, is this:  on one hand, we are constantly fed The Tubes’ “She’s a Beauty” as an 80s hit even though nobody actually listened to it at the time, while on the other hand we like to think everyone was listening to Remain in Light even though they weren’t.  This makes no sense:  both “She’s a Beauty” nor “The Great Curve” were largely obliterated by Rod Stewart’s “Young Hearts” and whatever by P.A.T. Benatar, but there you have it.  And yet (making 80s music citations still less coherent) both Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion and Napoleon Dynamite feature Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time” as a kind of unironic marker of wistfulness and innocence, and this seems to me just about right.  Oddly enough, that song has aged exceptionally well.

    But all this is beside the point, since (for now) the 80s are part of the best of yesterday and today, rather than Oldies.  Oldies go up to (and include) Billy Joel’s “My Life,” but no further. Classic Rock, however, manages to include U2, the Police, and the truly regrettable songs of Bruce’s Born in the USA.

    I only wish the Eagles didn’t get such heavy airplay in all three formats.

    Ouga Chaka, everyone!  And thanks for the Vicki Lawrence flashback, kth.  I won’t forget you for that.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/18  at  12:08 AM
  79. I am surprised that no one has mentioned “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner. 

    Also, the nadir of Clapton is “Tears in Heaven.”

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  12:09 AM
  80. Okay, I may be technically cheating by nominating a song that was released several years before I was born, but it really precisely fits the memory-hole qualifications that Michael set forth. 

    We all like to remember The Animals as those nice boys who did “House of the Rising Sun” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, but the reality is that Eric Burdon then spent most of the rest of the 60s churning out some of the most unlistenably awful psychedelic tripe known to mankind, the absolute apotheosis of which was the ear-rending, seven minute and 27 second (give or take a century) opus Sky Pilot.  It’s got it all: aimless guitar noodling, earnestly awful lyrics, and enough self-satisfied hippie buillshit to drive Eric Cartman into an aneurysm.  The first time I heard it on the radio, I kept expecting Frank Zappa’s voice to cut in at any moment to reveal the joke, but instead it just kept… getting… worse. 

    I keep an mp3 of it around to remind people that drugs don’t always make for better music.  Sometimes they just make you a stoned moron.

    Posted by Doctor Memory  on  10/18  at  12:15 AM
  81. Ah, but without Watching Scotty Grow, we wouldn’t have the Dead Milkmen’s Watching Scotty Die.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  12:56 AM
  82. Wonderful Tonight- creepy hymn to the trophy wife

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  01:04 AM
  83. KC and Sunshine Band?  “That’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it...” One shudders just thinking about it.

    But my winner of this “contest” is: 

    Elton John’s covers of “Lucy in the Sky...” and “Pinball Wizard” which were simply Sir Elton turning both songs into dull, 4/4 pop marches with arrangements and production quality that were perfectly horrid.  Considering Sir Elton’s raw talents as a musician and songwriter, this was, as Leonard Pinth-Garnell might say, “Bad radio.”

    Posted by mitchell freedman  on  10/18  at  01:05 AM
  84. Maybe I don’t understand the rules, but am somewhat surprised to not have seen “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” yet. Made especially memorable for me when my seatmate on a late night bus ride home from a swim meet chose the precise moment it was announced as best song of the year on some mid-Ohio radio station (’70? ‘71?) to vomit down the side of the bus.

    And it may just be a personal problem, but my hand routinely breaks the speed of sound flying to the dial when I hear the tortured beginning sounds of Steve Miller’s “The Joker”.
    In fact I have come to believe that if I hear the words “Space Cowboy” I will be maimed, “gangster of love” struck dead, and if it gets to “Maurice” the world will come to an end.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  01:11 AM
  85. Also, the nadir of Clapton is “Tears in Heaven.”

    Posted by blah on 10/17 at 11:09 PM

    You may be right, but I tend to think of the Clapton oeuvre as bottomless. No matter what awful thing you dredge up, there’s still something worse that managed to get airplay. Because the John Mayal Bluesbreakers album with Clapton (he’s reading a Beano comic book on the cover) may be my favorite, and because I take guilty pleasure in Cream, I like to think that Clapton, like the McCartney of urban legend, died a few decades ago and has been replaced by a lookalike.

    And Doctor Memory, no rant on the awfulness of Eric Burdon should leave out “Spill the Wine” or “San Franciscan Nights.”

    Posted by Dr. Drang  on  10/18  at  01:21 AM
  86. Don’t speak ill of the Pompatus of Love.

    Posted by Dr. Drang  on  10/18  at  01:26 AM
  87. Michael, I wonder if your take on The Tubes’s “She’s A Beauty” is a regional thing. It was a big hit here in the Bay Area, and everybody was listening to it, even those of us from the hardcore schol of Funk. I had the impression at the time that they were a local band, but now I’m not sure. I found their website, but could not find any reference to their history. Why don’t I just go and look at the original album (which I had), you ask? My dad gave ALL my record albums away while I was out of state, didn’t even ask me. I’m still traumatized. Priceless, irreplaceable vinyl.

    Mitchell - “Pinball Wizard” still gets some airplay, but I will lobby for you to be “awarded points"* for the “Leonard Pinth-Garnell” reference. Beautiful.

    *(Hey, that “Billy Madison” quote is paying off already!)

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  02:41 AM
  88. Y’know, this is like taking a walk down memory lane; and getting mugged.  But I’d like to know what’s the matter with you folks; didn’t any of you hate “You Light Up My Life” by Debbie Boone enough to mention it?

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  03:10 AM
  89. I’m sorry, but I must say that I’m pretty disappointed.  I skimmed through most of this message board, but just didn’t see the kind of answers I wanted.  To me, the whole point of this was to name toss-off songs that followed-up hit singles and whatnot.  The pop musical equivalent of sloppy seconds and dirty thirdies, so to speak.  It was about halfass songs which once got regular airplay, but are totally forgotten about today.  And deservedly so.  This is the stuff that would never have gotten airplay, had it stood on its own.  And they’ve now been disappeared from musical memory; blotted out, leaving less than a stain.

    Yet, most of the answers here are the same standard songs that all of these kinds of lists have.  This is Dave Barry territory all the way.  Because most of the songs given here are the hit single that we know the artist by.  But rather than being forgotten about, they’ve been fully remembered; and in many cases are part of the Oldies canon.  Their biggest offense might be that they’re played too often; and not forgotten about enough.

    And most every one of the songs listed on this board is well-remembered by people.  Hell, there are a few of these songs, like “Muskrat Love” that I know much better from discussions of bad songs than I know the actual tune.  I have no idea how it goes, but I know that it’s famously bad.  “MacArthur Park” is another that I know better from it’s infamous badness.  I remember the stirring “and I’ll never have that...” part at the end, but the rest of it’s justifiably blank.  Nor can we include Barry’s worst-song winner “I Am, I Said”; because it is well-remembered and is played often.  I even like it (I’m a Neil Diamond freak).

    But these all come from a canon of their own: The Worst-Song canon.  Everyone knows them, but the list is far from complete and only consists of certain remembered songs.  The same ones that everyone else knows and recite every time the conversation turns to bad songs.  And I just didn’t think that was the point being discussed.  Rather than exposing the flawed memories of people who wish to forget the twenty-two albums of Gilbert O’Sullivan they purchased; we’re just getting more flawed memories of standard “Worst Songs”.

    So I’m sorry, but as a whole, this comment board gets a Big D Minus in my book.  Some of the answers were good.  But too many just seemed to miss the point and gave us songs that are both remembered and played semi-regularly in the very canonized line-up that Mr. Berube was kind enough to mention.  He started the ball rolling, and it was totally dropped.  Rather than mentioning songs that have been purged from the Oldies canon, you’ve called forth a separate canon.  And that missed the whole point.

    So nice going, guys.  You’ve spoiled my night.  Thanks for nothing.  I won’t be leaving a tip.

    Posted by Doctor Biobrain  on  10/18  at  03:26 AM
  90. Does anyone remember “Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor?  I’ve never heard it on the radio so it must be considered too much of a novelty.  Same with “The Year of the Cat” by Al Stewart.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  03:36 AM
  91. I, too, was disappointed by the “Macarthur Park” dogpile.

    You’re not the only ones with a Dave Barry book, y’all. I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul.

    (By the way, I nominate “I Should Have Wiped Better” by Roy Orbison, even though I just made that up.)

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  04:19 AM
  92. Three letters: E, L, O.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  05:15 AM
  93. Rich, “Brandy” is OK.  And the drummers in the house should like the little sixteenth-note flourish on the bass drum under the words “good wife” in the chorus—that’s a nice touch.

    Indeed. And Looking Glass was actually a heavy rock band from Rutgers—the album is quite unlike the single.

    I’m going to toss ‘Winchester Cathedral’ onto the pile, along with ‘Popcorn.’ ...And Lou Christie’s ‘Lightning Strikes.’ And ‘Sky High’ by Jigsaw.

    ...And David Geddes, all-inclusive.

    Posted by Gavin M.  on  10/18  at  05:28 AM
  94. Songs that (1) were hits, (2) have (as far as I know, but then I don’t really keep up) never received significant airplay since, (3) are burned into my very DNA, and (4) are rather less than stellar:

    Showaddywaddy, “Under The Moon Of Love”
    Suzi Quatro, “The Wild One”
    Gary Glitter, “Now I’m Back With The Boys Again”
    Sailor, “A Glass Of Champagne”
    what’s his name, “Convoy”
    what’s their names, “Save Your Kisses For Me”
    Chris Spedding, “Motorbikin’”
    Disco Tex and the Sex-o-Lettes, “I Wanna Dance Wit’ You”
    Silver Convention, “Fly Robin Fly”
    whoever it was, “When You’re Hot You’re Hot”
    Ramjam, “Black Betty”
    Mother’s Finest, “Somebody To Love”
    Mary Hopkin, “Those Were The Days” (actually, I like this one)

    I’m sure I’ll think of as many more as soon as I hit “submit.” Also, there’s a bit of a UK bias, as that’s where I was living at the most susceptible age.

    The embarrassing thing about the Eighties isn’t the bad music that everybody knew was bad, it’s the bad music that people thought was cool, like “Safety Dance” and The Thompson Twins.

    And y’all: “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “My Sharona” fucking rock.  “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Grows” is pretty cool too.

    Posted by Tim Walters  on  10/18  at  05:30 AM
  95. If Clapton died and was replaced by a (sucking) robot, where do you draw the line?

    It is my firm belief that the non-sucking portion of his career is exactly coincident with the second side of “Live Cream, Volume 2.” No idea why he was famous before that, no idea why anyone continued to care afterward.

    Someone mentioned “Layla” as a saving grace… but even that one gets airbrushed in our minds.  Credit Allman with the part that you like, and blame Clapton for the dismal outro…

    LLR

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  07:12 AM
  96. Hey, Doctor Biobrain, why so mean?  Some people showed up to suggest songs they hate, some people did the Worst Song thing, and some people stayed within the “purged-from-Oldies” parameters.  That’s just the way the Internets work.  It’s no big thing—I mean, it’s not like it’s Judith Miller or college football or something.  What, you think you’re like the smartest person in the world?

    Whoa.  Just checked your website.  Turns out you are the smartest person in the world.  My bad.

    Mitchell, thank you for Leonard Pinth-Garnell.  That young Aykroyd kid had promise, back in the day. 

    Posted by Michael  on  10/18  at  07:44 AM
  97. I’m w/ Uncle Kvetch. My guilty pleasure is that I really like ABBA, even Fernando (tho not my favorite). No accounting for taste!

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  08:44 AM
  98. I am most grateful that the oeuvre of Darryl Hall and John Oates seems to have been consigned to the dustbin of memory—at least around here (NYC) I have not heard a song of theirs played on oldies radio since I’ve been listening, i.e. about 10 years—they were quite popular when I was a child and I always felt a lurking fear that “Private Eyes” would be in constant rotation when I grew up.

    And on a vaguely related note, how is it that Billy Joel survives when H & O do not? He is equivalently bad—even worse since he is more prolific, there is more bad there to be heard.

    Posted by Jeremy Osner  on  10/18  at  09:06 AM
  99. Slightly “edgier” than what you’re looking for, but ...

    It’s
    It’s
    a ballroom blitz

    Posted by Roxanne  on  10/18  at  09:12 AM
  100. Then there’s the theme-song from Billy Jack:

    One Tin Soldier (rides away)

    Posted by Roxanne  on  10/18  at  09:15 AM
  101. Yeah, Meatloaf sucks. I wish they would put his records away already. I kind of like “Ode to Billy Joe”, which is good because one of the radio station plays a recent cover of it frequently.

    Two songs that I feared, as a young man, I would have to listen to forever, are: “Walkin’ on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves, and “Neunundneunzig Luftballoon"/"Ninety-nine Red Balloons” by whoever it was that sang that “song”. These seem both to have moved off the regular play list although I have heard both of them on oldies radio not too many years past.

    Posted by Jeremy Osner  on  10/18  at  09:21 AM
  102. Okay, one more ...

    Midnight at the Oasis, the Maria Muldaur version.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  10/18  at  09:23 AM
  103. I lied. Just one more. And this one is truly, truly hiddeous:

    Puff, The Magic Dragon

    Posted by Roxanne  on  10/18  at  09:26 AM
  104. Now that there’s a lengthy list here, if I had to vote for the worst of them, I’d say Vulture had it at comment 24:  “Yummy yummy yummy (I’ve got love in my tummy)”

    Truly horrifying.  Skin-crawlingly bad.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  09:36 AM
  105. I Can Help - Billy Swan

    Objection, your honor.  This is not a bad song - in fact, I quite like it, with that little Farfisa organ chugging along.  Plus, Elvis covered it!  (Wait, maybe that’s not so much a recommendation after all.)

    Now, maybe I missed it, but what about “Oh What a Night” ("Late December back in ‘63")?  Wasn’t that the Four Seasons?  That one’s bad, IMO.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the awfulness of the Gary Puckett oeuvre, and would enthusiastically (?) add Johnny Rivers, but they’re really both from the 60s, not the 70s.

    Has anyone mentioned Donny and Marie Osmond yet?

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  09:52 AM
  106. Some guy with “Murphy” in his name had a song about a horse. “We’ll be riding (something something)...” I always hated that one.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  10:01 AM
  107. Hard to find a song not already here, but I think I have one: “Let Your Love Flow,” by the Bellamy Brothers.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  10:09 AM
  108. One word with a registered-trademark sign after it: Bread®.

    “Baby I’m A Want You” has already been mentioned.  But “Make It With You” is perhaps even worse.

    Bread® truly was the staph of pop music.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  10:11 AM
  109. And the whole Jim Croce sub-cannon is missing here.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  10/18  at  10:18 AM
  110. In reply to #106 above: Michael Murphy - ‘Wildfire’ which always reminds me of the song about the dog that gets washed out to sea (around the same time): “Shannon” [’she always loved to swim away’] ... perhaps it’s just that time of my life, but the involuntary memory-evocation of these songs makes me rather queasy.  But nothing does it more than Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” and Gino Vanelli’s “I Just Wanna Stop” (the latter, in lp form, I got for Xmas and I think the album cover physically prevented me from ever growing serious chest hair).  And don’t get me started on Dan Fogelberg ...

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  10:18 AM
  111. Ooh . . . do instrumentals count? I submit the disco rendition of the “Star Wars” theme and the entire Frank Mills oeuvre (starting with “Music Box Dancer").

    If anyone is going to mention Bread, they have to mention “If.”

    And I have my own reasons for hating Steve Miller’s “Space Cowboy.”

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  10:20 AM
  112. the really, really terrifying thing is that I know the words to just about every song on this thread, as well as the words to “The Diary,” which exceeds the awfulness of the rest of the Bread canon by a significant amount (I used to have the Best of Bread on vinyl)

    then she confronted with her writing there
    simply pretended not to care
    I passed it off as just in keeping with
    her total disconcerting way

    and as I go through my life
    I will wish for her his wife
    all the sweet things she can find
    all the sweet things they can find

    He found her diary underneath a tree, see. And started reading about me. Er, him. Never mind.

    99 Luftballoons was by Nena.

    Posted by julia  on  10/18  at  10:26 AM
  113. I don’t know why --the mind is strange and fascinating organ. But Julia’s comment above put me in mind of “At 17” and “Lovin’ You.” My jaw hurts whenever I hear those tunes.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  10/18  at  10:30 AM
  114. The oldies canon is a mysterious thing. In addition to excluding some songs that were hits, it includes some songs which didn’t amount to much then or now.  And then there is the whole issue of unfluential songs which weren’t hits at the time.

    I’m gonna cast my vote, in any case, for the Eric Clapton version of “I Shot the Sheriff.” Not only was a particularly big hits when it was new, the Bob Marley original has sold a lot more discs over the years AND is a much better pop song, full of all sorts of “hooks” which Clapton left out of his version.

    Clapton, although he is a great artist, has a very weird presence in the canon.  “I Shot the Sherrif” is just one of several inferior covers in his catalog: There’s also his version of JJ Cale’s “After Midnight” as well as his acoustic cover of his own “Layla.” His cover of Cale’s “Cocaine” is quite catchy, but I am baffled by its inclusion in the canon as well, given current-day attitudes towards drug use…

    Posted by Tim Horrigan  on  10/18  at  10:41 AM
  115. Paul Nicholas, “Heaven on the Seventh Floor”

    Rick Dees, “Disco Duck”

    Michael Jackson, “Ben.” Likely the worst song ever by the King of Pop. Certainly only top 40 ballad sung to a rat. But because of my name this one plagued me as a kid, so it has a special place in my memory hole.

    Steve Perry, “Oh Sherry.” And actually just about anything by Journey..."Wheel in the Sky,” “Lights” (growing up in the Bay Area, this one was on the air 24-7-365 when I was growing up...and it may only be the second worst hit song ever written about San Francisco after Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)").  Incidentally, one of the most extraordinary things available on the internets is a MAME port of a Journey videogame from the early ‘80s, that features bizarre little animated men with the faces of the band, and Pacman-like arrangements of all your Journey favorites.

    Kiss, “Beth” (though this one, incredibly still gets some oldies radio play...and I guess it deserves some credit (?) for being the original metal ballad)

    Someone upthread mentioned (appropriately) the entire Phil Collins catalog. But “Sussodio” deserves special recognition.

    Wang Chung, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” and “Dance Hall Days”

    Huey Lewis and the News, “Heart of Rock and Roll” (perhaps the laziest example of the laziest way to write a rock song: just list a bunch of cities).

    Starship, “We Built This City” (I suppose this is the ultimate canonical bad song, so I’m running headlong into the Blobrain objection, but this needs to be mentioned)

    ....more to come, no doubt.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  10:46 AM
  116. Donnie Osmond, “Soldier of Love”

    Patrick Hernandez, “Born to Be Alive”

    Shaun Cassidy’s cover of “Da Doo Ron Ron”

    Randy Vanwarmer, “Just When I Needed You Most”

    Walter Egan, “Magnet and Steel”

    Atlanta Rhythm Section, “Imaginary Lover”

    Will to Power, “Baby I Love Your Way / Freebird” (another canonical bad song, I know)

    Kenny Loggins, “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’” and “Danger Zone” (scoring a hit and sucking in two entirely different ways a decade apart...a real achievement!)

    Meat Loaf has been mentioned. Perhaps he should be dwelled upon.  During the heyday of the AOR format, pretty much every song on Mr. Loaf’s first album, Bat Out of Hell received airplay. And thanks to the so-bad-its-good songwriting of Jim Steinman —who also wrote awful songs for other people, e.g. “Total Eclipse of the Heart”—there’s some truly awful dreck on this album.  For example, there’s this gem from “For Crying Out Loud” (which, to give everyone in the broadcast industry a little credit, probably got less radio play than anything else on the album):

    Oh I know you belong inside my aching heart
    And can’t you see my faded levis bursting apart
    And don’t you hear me crying:
    Oh babe, don’t go
    And don’t you hear me screaming:
    How was I to know?

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  11:05 AM
  117. Mr. Berube,

    Not to be too judgemental, but what does it say about your visitors that 115 (and counting) all apparently listen to “oldies” radio that they all know so much about it?

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  11:07 AM
  118. Jeff II has a point.  These songs are too familiar.  It seems to me that many of them songs can be heard not only on classic rock stations, but also easy listening and “easy rock”. If you’re gonna go hard core AM oldies listening, then it’s likely you’re going to hear Johnny Mathis, “Chances Are” about 30 times a day.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  11:12 AM
  119. Oh for the love of...no, I did not intend to express my inner hick by writing “them songs”.  Instead I wanted to substitute “them” for
    “these songs”.  I neglected to delete “songs”.  Apologies for the lack of preview.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  11:16 AM
  120. "The Pina Colada Song.” - Rupert Holmes?
    “The Rapper” - the Jaggers

    Songs too bad to play anywhere, ever again… but catchy in an embarassing way.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  11:25 AM
  121. I had actually managed to drive “So Nice to be with you” completely from my memory until you brought it up again (unlike so many others of the songs mentioned here).

    I recall a countdown of former #1 songs in which the dj announced after “Precious and Few” by Climax that he didn’t remember that song.

    Concerning Looking Glass. If I remember correctly they had a follow up song to “Brandy” called “Jimmy Loves Mary Ann” which I think belies the argument above that they were a worthwhile rock group.

    And I can’t think why no one has come up with the Association, especially “Cherish” I did have a soft spot as a kid for “Windy.”

    I did want to dissent from the person who dissed the Raspberries “Go all the way.” Even before I encountered this thread I was wondering why I hadn’t heard it in ages. I remember it as a great song.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  11:45 AM
  122. This is a serial nightmare, reminding me of songs I haven’t remembered to hate for years. Glad to see someone nominate my choice, Randy VanWarmer’s wrist-slitting whinefest “Just When I Needed You Most.” Holy crap, that’s bad. Gives pop music, men, possibly homo sapiens in general a black eye.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  11:53 AM
  123. Peter Paul and Mary, Stewball

    Interestingly, Tanya Tucker’s cover of Delta Dawn still gets played on trad country stations

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  12:10 PM
  124. OK, we have to have a separate Bread Thread, because not only do they suck terribly, they basically created the subgenre known as “Wimp Rock.” (And how come no one mentioned “(I Would Give) Everything I Own”?) We’ll put David Gates and Company together with Lobo (thanks, Chris, way up there in comment 19—how’s everybody feelin’ tonight?) and let them fight it out.

    Though I have to point out that Bread still lives on Lite Rock stations.  The range of classic/ lite/ oldies overlap-and-differentiation has yet to be theorized, you know.  SneakySnu, Jeff II, want to give it a shot?

    And Ben Alpers:  you won’t believe this, but my local oldies station has taken to playing Kenny Loggins (and Stevie Nicks’) “Whenever I Call You Friend” in regular rotation.  Check out that WTF “choral” opening!  I heard it a month ago and stayed with the song for over a minute, not remembering it but sensing that I was in for a Muskrat Love-like experience, and when Kenny and Stevie finally lurched into that Up With People-esque chorus I had to pull the car over and wait until I stopped shuddering.

    And the “Shannon” (Henry Gross) / “Wildfire” (Michael Murphy) combo makes me want to throw myself into the wood chipper.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  12:12 PM
  125. I can’t believe nobody has mentioned Elvis’ In the Ghetto… *shudder*

    Also, Kenny Loggins’ version of Rainbow Connection ("the lovers, the dreamers and me” song from the Muppets), To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before by Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias, Jerry Reed’s Amos Moses and there is one song on classic country radio about dancing cowboys & singing horses (or singing cowboys and dancing horses, I forget which it is) by what sounds like it could be the Bellamy Brothers… EEK!

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  12:23 PM
  126. Way up-thread at #18, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” was cited. Combining the bad-oldies concept and the White Sox mention in Tuesday’s post, we learn here that the White Sox have taken the song into their postseason hearts, singing it on the plane home from Anaheim and inviting Steve Perry to Game 1 of the Series. What I want to know is, who will revive “I Want to Know What Love Is”? I want you to show me.

    Posted by Orange  on  10/18  at  12:30 PM
  127. Interesting about the music that’s been wiped from cultural memory (and, in most cases, thank God). It would be interesting to find analogues from history. I’m sure some wandering minstrels were the “DeFranco Family” of their time.

    We all have our boundaries. I’d exclude “MacArthur Park”, because it’s more pop than rock. It was one of the last examples of the era where you could hear “White Rabbit” followed by Barbra Streisand singing “People” on the radio. Webb, along with the hipper Laura Nyro and Carole King were the last of the songwriters who wrote work that could cut across multiple genres. I’d also exclude Dan Fogelberg--he was a veritable Woody Guthrie compared with the Captain & Tenille, et al., and he received significant FM airplay (and still does, on occasion). WIXY-1260 is a bad example of radio from this period because they had jocks who could (and did) crossover to FM like Billy Bass and made some effort to program progressive music once they found themselves losing listeners to WMMS & WNCR. I haven’t lived in Cleveland in years, but I still judge cities by radio stations and my current home (Atlanta) is the worst of the worst, which fits its shopping mall culture. Thanfully, I’m moving in February.

    The idea of FM as a cultural boundary for this drek got me thinking. Most of this music was AM-only (unless you lived in a place like Toledo, with really lame radio stations) and represented the death rattle of AM as a medium for popular music. Well into the 70s, FM was not standard equipment on cars, so AM held onto some of its audience because of captivity. Still, if you were “progressive” in your musical taste and more often, male, you moved quickly to FM and to stations that played long versions of “cuts” (a whole thread could be devoted to long versions we are spared by current formats), along with obscure blues players and music that could never sell on AM, along with late Beatles, Stones, acid rock, etc. Besides people stuck in cars w/o FM converters, AM radio wound up with an odd mix of bubble gum listeners, people born too early to appreciate Jefferson Airplane, and people with what politely could be considered “conservative” (i.e., lame) musical tastes. Certainly this drek didn’t appeal to all or even most of these people, but somehow it cut across some of these subgroups or at least attracted one or more of them in big numbers. The transition of AM from free-form to album-oriented absorbed some listeners esp. young women, as did the passage of time, in the case of bubble gummers, whose numbers were not replaced because of the birth derth that followed the baby boom. Oldies radio, which emerged during the early/mid-70s took some of the more conservative and older listeners. I think there’s a remnant of this drek in the market of boy bands and Celine Dion-type “girl singers”, but hopefully we’ll be spared revivals of Eric Carmen (popular, but also much mocked in his own home town).

    It’s interesting how some music stays in the closet, but only temporarily. There was a period where Motown was not “cool” (an era where music became more racially polarized and middle class white people were preoccuppied with all the pathologies they could attribute to African-Americans, esp. if they were guilty of most of those things, themselves). Then, 10 or so laters, we could not get away from the Motown Mondays which continue into the present. Hopefully, “Billy, Don’t Be Hero” will stay in the closet at best, be pulled out only for purposes of writing justifiably obscure disserations in Popular Culture or American Studies.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  12:50 PM
  128. Concerning Looking Glass. If I remember correctly they had a follow up song to “Brandy” called “Jimmy Loves Mary Ann” which I think belies the argument above that they were a worthwhile rock group.

    Well admittedly, I have a special affection for Looking Glass because they’re the only band from New Brunswick ever to have a radio hit. But when ‘Brandy’ accidentally became their signature song (it was originally a B-side), there arose a certain pressure to follow up with similar material.

    There’s a new (sub)category here: Artists or songs that are more rocking than people think.

    I’d nominate Boz Scaggs’s ‘Lido Shuffle.’ It’s a surprisingly hard-sounding song, Van Morrison antics aside. The Monkees qualify on the basis of the few songs that all four members actually played on, incl. the punk/garage ‘Circle Sky.’ And of course there’s ‘Paperback Writer.’ I don’t know if Harrison used that guitar setup in any other recordings (Gibson SG through a cranked Vox AC30), but it’s tonally about midway between Brian May and Angus Young. Folks scoff when I say this, but then they’ll listen to the song again and be all like, “Jeez, that’s a heavy guitar.”

    Also Del Shannon—the songs that didn’t become hits. He was a snarly Detroit rocker who also cranked his amp to a surprising blare.

    Posted by Gavin M.  on  10/18  at  01:07 PM
  129. "But what were they dropping into the water off the Tallahatchie Bridge? “

    A baby.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  01:10 PM
  130. OK, that was me with the Raspberries, and I admit it’s a fun song to listen to, but have you even listened to the words? The person begging to get laid isn’t him, it’s his girlfriend. Begging. A really, really lot.

    Posted by julia  on  10/18  at  01:11 PM
  131. Point of information, Los Angeles in the ‘90s took the ‘80s nostalgia seriously—or at least my undergrads at UCLA did, especially the fraternity and sorority types, but also the Goths, who thought the ‘80s was all Smiths all the time and envied my having “been there.” And I had a roommate then who was heavy into the earnest ‘80s nostalgia because she felt like she’d missed out the first time around.  But then SoCal has a serious irony deficiency.

    Anywho, Michael, you’re right—‘80s music isn’t yet in the “oldies” format.  But what you mentioned about U2 and the Police being played on “classic rock” deserves a discussion of its own one of these days.  To me “classic rock” is a genre not merely a time frame, and in no way do U2 and the Police belong in it.

    Back on topic:  what about Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “Cherokee Nation.” I used to drive my mom’s ‘76 Granada when I was in high school, and it only had AM radio, so on weekends I’d listen to Cousin Brucie’s show, and while he played other Raider songs, he *never* played “Cherokee Nation.” It was probably too “political” for old Brucie, but it’s also just god-awful.  Poor John Lindsay, bless him, his heart was in the right place.

    Posted by Tina  on  10/18  at  01:22 PM
  132. Here are some truly dreadful tunes that, for some reason, we haven’t gotten around to yet:

    Beach Baby - Among the most annoying songs ever recorded. It’s by some group whose name I’ve mercifully forgotten

    Starry, Starry Night - Don MacLean’s grotesquely lachrymose “tribute” to Vincent Van Gogh

    and

    Kokomo - Worst. Beach Boys. Song. Ever. And also my nomination for Worst. 80s. Song. Ever

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  01:22 PM
  133. While I was in college, I worked as a forest ranger at a state forest. The only entertainment we had—especially in the fire towers—was an AM radio. Consequently, I heard, before they were oldies, every song on this thread that hit the charts during the summers of 1972-76.
    Gallery’s “It’s so nice to be with you” still turns my stomach, and I have to say with someone else that I still like “Brandy,” beautifully produced pop single.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  01:28 PM
  134. "Beach Baby” was bequeathed to us by The First Class.  Yes, they had a The.  And you know, of all the songs mentioned or alluded to on this thread, that’s the one I’ve been humming today.  Just shoot me now.

    The other Rich:  thanks for the radio-history context.  You’re right, it really was the death rattle of AM music, and yet a time when Wayne Newton, Al Green, the Cowsills, and the Staple Singers all mingled freely.  One of the reasons 80s oldies dreck is qualitatively different from the dreck of 1965-80 (thanks, Tina) is that as FM took over the pop airwaves, everything “alternative” was banished to the end-of-the-dial wilds of college radio, and black folk (with the sole exceptions of Michael Jackson and Prince, make of them what you will) were purged altogether.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/18  at  01:36 PM
  135. A separate Bread thread, Michael says.  Well, just a quick anecdote.  I saw My Morning Jacket play last week and, during the encore, the lead singer hauled out two loaves of Big Top bread, and told the folks in the front to take a piece and pass it back.  Of course, soon enough it was white bread flying from front to back and, then, back to front (though I saw some getting eaten) as the band launched into a fairly faithful and unironic (that is, if you discounted—and ducked—the airborne slices) version of ‘Make it With You’ ... all rather eerie.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  01:48 PM
  136. To tie a running theme together with Gavin’s suggestion to list songs that are more rockin’ than you think, I submit Bread’s “Guitar Man.” Say what you want about the rest of their stuff, but that song has a subtle and melancholy melody that gets me every time. I consider it a Good Song. And, Michael, you’re totally right about “Time After Time” (which is also surprisingly poignant) and Brandy, which is not particularly moving, but still a fine pop song. However, you’re wrong about “She’s A Beauty.” That was one of my favorites when I was 10 or 11.

    I could go the rest of my life without hearing “I’ve Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Pretty Woman” ever again. Please. If I wanted to hear them, all I’ve got to do is think for a moment, and they they are. (Dammit—there they are.)

    Posted by TravisG  on  10/18  at  01:49 PM
  137. The Tubes were a Bay Area band.  Disturbingly into the costume BDSM before getting all mainstream and shit.

    No one mentioned “Chevy Van?”

    And I never appreciated ABBA until I got into Throbbing Gristle.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  02:00 PM
  138. this is a fun thread, however, it seems that there are a lot of ‘guilty pleasure’ songs--ones that you’d never want to admit to your friends that you liked, but that you’d listen to in the car, by yourself…

    also, a lot of these songs were supremely annoying when they were in heavy rotation, but over the years have acquired a patina of nostalgia.

    that said, i’m very pleased to have read thru the posts, and found my Number One all time bad song not mentioned…

    Seasons in the Sun, by Terry Jacks --after all these years, still truly awful in its mawkish sentimentality.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  02:15 PM
  139. Do “Halloween Oldies” songs count? Because those are always quite painful,, and we’re all about to hear a hell of a lot of them in the next two weeks.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  02:22 PM
  140. I wrote AM (re: free form to album oriented rock) when I mean FM in #127.

    As for “Brandy”. I remember debating the merits of that song with my best friend, who otherwise had eclectic and “cool” musical tastes. I hated it, he liked it. Perhaps it was to lovers of non-drek what Harriett Miers is to conservative pundits and the like.

    “Chevy Van” was awful. ABBA is part of a different genre: Eurovision Song Contest winners. They all sound the same, even now. Kind of like Polkas, except you don’t have anything like the Slovenian (aka Cleveland style) vs. Polish (aka Chicago style) schism going on.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  02:25 PM
  141. For the love of god! Stop, people.  This is like a thread on a right wing blog.  You are embarassing yourselves with your detailed knowledge of really shitty music from the 60s-80s.

    Did none of you listen to FM radio beginning in the early 1970s?  Did none of you drop acid, grow your hair long or practive free love? Then later did none of you dye your mohawks orange and wear Doc Martens?

    Did all of you miss metal and hard rock (though “Stairway to Heaven” definitely belongs in the canon while “A Whole Lotta Love” does not).

    Did reggae, punk, ska and new wave pass all you by?  Grunge?  Alternative is just a lifestyle?  Are you all driving AMC Pacers with AM radios?  One can only wonder.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  02:27 PM
  142. Oh yeah, “Chevy Van” got disparaged way upthread. That song made a perfectly fine 45-speed recording, IMHO. Especially when stacked on the turntable with “Convoy,” “Wildfire,” “Mandy,” and some other choice cheesy ballads. And played over and over and over.

    Sigh. At least one person reading this did not grow up cool.

    The one 45 single I’m pretty sure most oldies stations have smashed by now is Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Even I can’t stand it anymore. From number one in 1975 to number nada.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  02:36 PM
  143. I regret to have missed the horrible music of previous decades and I am aware that my scope of remorseful music past is limited, but I think this is competitive:

    In 1993, I forced my mother to come to a New Kids On The Block concert with me because I loved the song “Step By Step”.  The remorse, however, comes later.  On our drive back from the concert (which I loved and mom hated - duh) I got on a rant about how New Kids On The Block was going to be bigger and have more influence on musical history than the Beatles.

    I humbly hang my head in shame.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  02:39 PM
  144. Did none of you listen to FM radio beginning in the early 1970s?  Did none of you drop acid, grow your hair long or practive free love?

    Yeah, Jeff II, but we’re embarrassed about that too.  There were entire weekends when all we did was stare at the cover art of In the Court of the Crimson King while listening to “Twenty-First Century Schizoid Man” forty or fifty times in a row.  I humbly hang my head in shame.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/18  at  02:43 PM
  145. Where oh where is Tom Jones?  “Green Green Grass of Home,” which I seem to remember was about a convict getting out of prison, is guaranteed to cause me to convulsively reach for the off/on button or the tuner knob within .002 seconds.

    Posted by Linkmeister  on  10/18  at  02:51 PM
  146. Oh, it’s better than that - he’s going to be under the green green grass of home, because he’s going to be executed the next day.

    It’s a cover of a Johnny Cash song, I think.

    Posted by julia  on  10/18  at  02:54 PM
  147. Sorry, Jeff II, but the vast majority of the music that came out of “dropping acid, growing your hair long and practicing free love” was complete crap as well, redeemed only by the inordinate number of transcendent musicians who gravitated to it.

    Most reggae is embarassing, even now, especially when lip-synched by middle-class caucasians, and punk is crap by definition:  crap as a chosen lifestyle.  Ska and new wave were just reggae and punk without balls, and grunge little more than a consolidation of 70’s musical styles, much as I loved it at the time.

    70’s pop resulted from the wonderful nexus of American song, rock-n-roll, and third-rate songwriters as filtered through the drug-hazed sensibilities of first- to second-rate musicians.  The resulting confusion accounts for everything great and everything crappy about 70’s radio hits.

    Take away the American song and replace with the blues, and you get Led Zeppelin and all their metal descendents, although a hefty dose of teenage-boy self-pity is also needed to account for the last 10 years or so.  (And god, how the lyrics to “Dazed and Confused” - hell, to any Zeppelin song save “Nobody’s Fault but Mine” - make me cringe.  Too bad the music’s so good - can we have a separate category for lyrics alone?)

    Now, gotta go put on my Olivia Newton-John/ELO “Xanadu” CD and do some work.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  02:54 PM
  148. Ooh, I just noticed—nobody has mentioned the Little River Band! Surely they deserve some recognition here for their “Reminiscing”, and for the rest of their catalog. Who could forget, “The Other Guy (Won’t be Around)”?

    Posted by Jeremy Osner  on  10/18  at  03:22 PM
  149. "Red Rubber Ball” - The Cyrkle (notice the groovie spelling!)

    “Machines” - Lothar and the Hand People

    “Galveston” - Glen Campbell

    And hasn’t anyone here ever been through the desert on a horse with no name?

    All this forgotten musical kitsch brings me back to the days when I thought that a BeeGees album was the revealed word of God.

    As for the Tubes, I think they were also responsible for “White Punks on Dope,” which is a point in their favor.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  03:28 PM
  150. Is it a coincidence that David Gates and Bread came from Oklahoma, land of Senators Coburn and Inhofe?

    Should we declare the entire state a Superfund site and try to purge it of toxic pollution?

    Posted by Ereshkigal  on  10/18  at  03:40 PM
  151. ...while listening to “Twenty-First Century Schizoid Man” forty or fifty times in a row

    Just very recently heard this played as a “Deep Cut” or somesuch on a local classic rock station. It was a rather a jarring interlude in the usual predictable sounds flow and to hear it in that context in 2005 at age 50+ was thought and emotion provoking on several levels related to this thread.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  03:41 PM
  152. Oh dear. I am shocked and appalled that I know almost all the words to almost all these songs.

    I think the impetus for many of the gooey slow songs was that then you could “slow dance”, which was a pretty big deal in an era when a girl might not allow a boy to put his arm around her during a movie, and if a girl French kissed on the first date, she was really “fast”.

    I have to admit that many of them I had cheerfully forgotten (Muskrat Love, euwwww, and I am of one mind with the poster above who fears instant death if Space Cowboy is allowed to play too long).

    I liked Meatloaf, though, when he was with Mountain.

    Posted by Jodie  on  10/18  at  03:52 PM
  153. "Did none of you listen to FM radio beginning in the early 1970s?  Did none of you drop acid, grow your hair long or practive free love? Then later did none of you dye your mohawks orange and wear Doc Martens? Did all of you miss metal and hard rock (though “Stairway to Heaven” definitely belongs in the canon while “A Whole Lotta Love” does not).”

    I had the hair and wouldn’t have minded more of the free love. And as Michael reminded me, almost everyone had that same King Crimson album. Keep in mind---few have admitted to liking any of this stuff. Many of us were occasionally stuck in situations where we could not escape this drek (e.g. friends whose cars had AM radios). Keep in mind, also, that the worst of it also coincided with the creeping coporatization of FM radio, which why some of us began learning about reggae (lots of people, although I found it boring as a polka), jazz (fewer people, myself included), etc. The Doc Martens, etc. really post-date the era in question. The folks from that cohort have their own crap music to write about.

    “70’s pop resulted from the wonderful nexus of American song, rock-n-roll, and third-rate songwriters as filtered through the drug-hazed sensibilities of first- to second-rate musicians.  The resulting confusion accounts for everything great and everything crappy about 70’s radio hits.”

    Who ever wrote songs like “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” or “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” probably didn’t use drugs, but should have taken acid--lots of it, so they’d done something else with their lives. Actually, some of this stuff falls in thw “angel dust” era rather than the acid era. Either way, drugs might have stopped some of this madness.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  03:56 PM
  154. Nobody has named “I started a joke” (BeeGees), one of the worst of the worst....

    Crimson and Clover is in the same league....but even more boring.

    And for worst pathetic song from an otherwise excellent band - a song that got a lot of airplay back then but fortunately very little now:  “Our House (Is a Very, Very, Very Fine House)” CSN.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  03:56 PM
  155. I hope I am not too late to recommend a true gem on the Internets:

    http://bootsalesounds.blogspot.com/

    The site owner posts songs and art from records he bought at (you guessed it), boot sales. It’s hilarious and addictive (assuming the reader has a taste for kitsch, of course).

    (Oh and by the way, hi from Amsterdam, Michael! I was meaning to delurk weeks ago, when you posted that entry inviting people to comment for the first time. I wrote an introduction, only to see it eaten by Firefox due to a missing field or something. Since I was travelling, I did not have the time to retype the whole thing).

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  04:13 PM
  156. Having My Baby by Paul Anka is one of my all time favs.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  04:15 PM
  157. Can we assume from your post that you are in fact a fan of “I am Woman,” since you left out that #1 hit from your Helen Reddy listing?

    My nominee: “I’ve Never Been to Me” by Charlene, the worst song ever made, except for its followup, a duet with Stevie Wonder called ”Used To Be.”

    Posted by Sini  on  10/18  at  04:21 PM
  158. No, Sini, you may not assume that, although this humble and AM-radio-pummeled blog does salute Ms. Reddy for writing the only # 1 hit ever to use “embryo” as a rhyme word.  Not even “You’re Having My Baby” attempted this feat.

    Posted by Michael  on  10/18  at  04:34 PM
  159. What’s scary is that amid all the horror, up pops a song or several that I actually like:  “MacArthur Park,” “Dust in the wind,” “Fernando,” “I am, I Said,” and who can deny the stark appeal of “Ode to Billy Joe?” Forty years and no one knows what they were throwing off that damn bridge.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  04:35 PM
  160. What, “Seasons in the Sun” has only been mentioned twice so far?  This song is awful enough to make me lunge for the radio everytime I hear it.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  04:39 PM
  161. re: #150: While my adoptive state is pretty much politically indefensible, at least in recent years (though Gene Debs did better here than anywhere else in 1912!), I will come to its musical defense any day of the week.  Woody Guthrie, Charlie Christian, and Chet Baker, among others, all came from Oklahoma, as do the Flaming Lips.  They more than cancel out Bread®, IMO.

    re: #155: I assume that a “boot sale” is a delightful Britishism that has something to do with the trunk of a car (rather than an obscure piece of American slang having to do with purchasing vomit). There’ll always be an England!

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  04:58 PM
  162. "Fire,” by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, got lots of airplay. And it was abominably bad.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  05:12 PM
  163. Sini- not to worry. “I’ve Never Been to Me” filled the barf bucket to overflowing yesterday. (See #8,#36,#43). But gee, thanks for re-triggering the gag reflex today.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  05:16 PM
  164. #161, yes, a boot sale is a Britishism referring to a sale oright from the boot of the car. In America, it would be a garage sale.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  05:33 PM
  165. In honor of the forthcoming Rocky VI, I nominate “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor (there should be no survivors of that single), which reminds me of the phenomenon Flashdance, which provides a couple of songs that time has mercifully eradicated from cultural memory: “Flashdance (What a Feeling)” by Irene Cara, and “Maniac” by Michael Sembello. Put on your leg-warmers and torn sweatshirts!

    I had hoped that P-t B-natar would be written out of history, but like a gas-filled corpse, she seems to have resurfaced.

    Posted by AKMA  on  10/18  at  05:36 PM
  166. Okay, here’s another one my unconscious vomited up today: a wretched little ditty called “Chick-a-Boom” by a pseudo-hippy band called Daddy Dewdrop. Anyone remember it? This one is so vile, and so obscure, that I thought I might have dreamed it up. But I looked it up on them internets, and there it was.

    And hey, how about some more Kenny Rogers? “She Believes in Me” and “Through the Years” have thus far escaped our notice, and that kind of shocks me.

    And speaking about pseudo-country popsters—what about John Denver? To this day, even thinking about “Annie’s Song,” “Sunshine on My Shoulder,” and, especially, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” makes me break out in a cold sweat.

    One more, though this is kind of cheating: “Don’t Give Up on Us, Baby” by David Soul. It’s cheating because my memory was jogged by Owen Wilson’s hilarious rendition of it in that recent Starsky and Hutch movie. But David Soul’s original is definitely thread-worthy.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  05:40 PM
  167. While we’re on a similar topic, may I confess to an elemental horror toward the original cast soundtracks of Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar?

    I don’t remember their having been played on the radio, but the albums were ubiquitous to early-’70s living-room hi-fis.

    Posted by Gavin M.  on  10/18  at  05:43 PM
  168. Chick-a-Boom was a big hit when I was about 5.  And I’m not talking about the Groovy Goolies version. Right up there with Sammy Davis’ version of The Candy Man.  Oooh.

    I’ll submit:

    Last Kiss by J. Frank Whoever
    Blind Man in the Bleachers
    Precious and Few

    and finally, slightly off the beaten path is
    a fetid piece of tripe that I used to hear a
    country version of called

    _One More Year of Daddy’s Little Girl_

    Thankfully, I haven’t heard it since, so it doesn’t count, but oh, does it still sting.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  05:57 PM
  169. An Oldie from the mid 70’s “good” enough to serve as the punchline for a New Yorker cartoon: the scene, a piano bar. A sign on the piano reads “requests $.50, Feelings $5.00”

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  06:06 PM
  170. Ben, OK has Leon Russell, too.

    Posted by Jodie  on  10/18  at  06:07 PM
  171. Could somebody please “Gimme Dat Ding”?

    Posted by TravisG  on  10/18  at  06:18 PM
  172. Re: ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’:  The sanity-shattering transition to ‘I talk to the wind’.  ‘Nuff said.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  07:16 PM
  173. Roxanne : you are clearly insane and/or deaf. Midnight at The Oasis is one of the greatest records ever commited to vinyl. Also, for us boys (and it is almost always boys isn’t it?)who tend to be a bit nerdy about things like guitar players, it also contains some of the greatest ever planksmanship by Amos Garrett. What is wrong with you? I see you hate Lovin’ You too. I reccommend you go to a doctor, have them check out your heart of stone and wooden ears.

    Dr Biobrain : A big Z MINUS to you for not even attempting to address the topic in a meaningful way. Michael’s kick off comments, I seem to recall, did not suggest that anyone simply smugly slag off everyone else for not answering the question, like you are a pedantic composition tutor. Unfortunately, it seems you (cleverly) fell into your own trap.  By the way, I kinda think that peoples’ posts are less Dave Barry, more Red Lobster, White Trash, Blue Lagoon.

    Ben, a point of clarification. You are wholly correct about Sussudio - it is moronic, but I deliberately specified Phil Collins’s plinky plonky yawnsome ballads. In The Air Tonight was actually superb, as was his sublime work on Frida’s (she was the first A in ABBA) I know There’s Something Going On (which also fits into the category of songs that you didn’t realise it till now, but they really rock)

    Michael, I agree with your comments about Bread. Thankfully, here in England, Bread never really broke through. I think we had some kind of secret missile shield that was adapted to repel their syrupy, nauseating, pointless, spineless whining. They are the ‘rock’ equivalent of those fresh faced ‘sensitive’ boys that 12 year old girls narcisistically fancy because they are the closest a boy can get to looking and acting like a 12 year old girl.

    I am also very glad that the boundaries between Oldies/Soft Rock/College/country and all those other minutely delineated radio markets does/did not really exist in our, obviously musically superior, country. Along with Bread we were thankfully spared heavy rotation of Oh Lori by Alessi or Mississippi by Pussycat and all the other offensively inoffesive dreck that seems to have blighted the childhoods of your correpondants. Yes we had them once in a while, but they were mixed in with other,good songs. I look at what you poor people had to put up with in your younger years and it explains quite a lot about your nation’s general behaviour in the world. Who wouldn’t repress this stuff and then eventually lash out against people who didn’t have to suffer The Captain and Tennille or Styx?

    By the way, I think that you should run a special thread for everyone to finally come out and admit the plain truth. Pretty much all American soft rock should be collected up and used as ballast on the next deep space probe. And ABBA clearly rule the world of recorded music.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  07:39 PM
  174. To add to the agony, I was just retuning my radio and spun across a moment of one of those ‘lade nide’
    easy listening oldies stations. I fear I will have trouble sleeping - possibly for months - as I was exposed to a momentary snippet of the unspeakable horror that is ‘Classic’ by Adrain Gurvitz. A song which, I seem to recall, shamelessly and straight-facedly rhymes the words classic attic and addict.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  07:44 PM
  175. Chick-a-Boom” by a pseudo-hippy band called Daddy Dewdrop

    don’t you just love it?

    Posted by julia  on  10/18  at  08:01 PM
  176. oh, and Gavin, Yvonne Elliman’s I don’t know how to love him was in heavy, heavy rotation around here (which I suppose prepared me for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, which really sucked a great deal)

    Posted by julia  on  10/18  at  08:04 PM
  177. "21st. Century Schizoid Man"…
    ‘69-70: dorm room, rolled towels under the door, smokin’>>> the trickster runnin’ the show… paranoia strikes deep…
    Fast-forward 2000-2005: >>> jr at the helm--- goin’ down or three more years?
    K.C. was prophetic.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  08:11 PM
  178. Ellen passes along: “Garden Party” by Rick Nelson; “The Name Game” by Shirley Ellis; “Vincent” by Don Maclean: “Starry starry nights, this world was never meant for one so beautiful as you...”. She cannot however be bothered to post for herself.

    ...And that song “Taxi” by that guy Harry, you know, he died, “I took a TAX-i”, oh yeah Harry Chapin. Oh um, a song by Chicago, very overplayed, what was it called, “26 oh 624”, something like that, “ba da duh duh dum, ba da da da dum, na na nyea num,” I could keep going cause I’ve listened to so much radio, Janis Ian, not “Society’s Child”, the more recent one, um, ...

    Posted by Jeremy Osner  on  10/18  at  08:51 PM
  179. "Chick a Boom” brings back a whole slew of 70s novelty hits:
    “The Streak”, “Disco Duck”, “Popcorn”, “A Fifth of Beethoven","They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha,” and on and on…

    bringing me to a newie but a baddie, “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

    I saw music biz legend Danny Goldberg of Artemis Records give a talk a few years back, and as befitting his legendary staus, he was a bit abashed about having unleashed ‘The Dogs’ on an unsuspecting public, but, as he noted, it floated his small label for quite a while, letting him put out albums by more credible, but less commercially successful artists, like Steve Earle and Warren Zevon.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  08:57 PM
  180. At my first job out of school during the 80s, a girl working in my office showed me a picture of her kitten and told me she’d named it “Sue-sue-sue Sudeo,” or “Sue-studio” or whatever.  You know.  After the Phil Collins song.  That was the first time I realized there were actually real people out there who actually not only listened - but enjoyed that crap, that it wasn’t just a conspiracy between the record companies and the radio stations. I also remember a cousin who had the 45 to Seasons in the Sun, who said, “whenever I listen to it, a tear comes into my eye.”
    I’ll bet $100 that both of these people would hotly deny that they ever liked these songs.

    On another annoying note, for the past two weeks, I’ve had the saxophone part of Men at Work’s “Who Can It Be Now?” stuck in my head.  Now all of you do, too.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  09:34 PM
  181. Also, do you really think Meatloaf was serious, or was he just taking the piss out of all those pretentious songs going on around him at the time?

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  09:39 PM
  182. "Timothy” (Timothy, Timothy, God what did we do???)

    PS--for my $, “Brandy” is the ur-pop song of all time.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  10:29 PM
  183. "White Punks on Dope” is, in fact, by the Tubes.  I remember seeing them live in about 1985 in Dayton Ohio.  I was 16, and I’d never seen anything like it before.  It was further evidence that I needed to get the hell out of Dayton Ohio.

    Their song “Don’t Touch Me There” is a classic of whatever genre it is that they’re in.

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  11:06 PM
  184. Randy Paul - you are so right. OK then, the 12-inch chefs knife for Honey and Scotty...which would earnestly facilitate the termination of his growth.

    True story: back in the tail-end of the 70’s I was working for an AOR FM station (don’t laugh, we really were), and every jock had to take a turn doing the shifts running King Biscuit and the Sunday Night Wasteland. So one night I was working late on a Sunday after KB, the phone rang and a kid asked me to play “Tommy”, “sure” I said, “A little Who might be just the thing”. Sometimes the PD would let us toss a couple of tunes from a band together back-to-back, so I said thanked him for the suggestion about playing the Who.

    “No!” he said, “I want to hear the original ‘Tommy’ by Elton John”. I hung up the phone and swore I’d never play Elton John again unless it was from 11-17-70. I never did.

    Posted by Jo Fish  on  10/18  at  11:31 PM
  185. Looking Glass is redeemed by “Don’t Call Us (We’ll Call You).” They used the dialtones from the phone number of the record company that dropped them (Columbia?) as the hook. “Brandy” is cool.

    “MacArthur Park” is so truly godawful that it circles around to being good again…

    Posted by  on  10/18  at  11:52 PM
  186. I see somebody beat me to it with “Timothy,” the catchy hit about cannibalism in a mineshaft!

    Does anyone have anything good to say about these:

    “In-A-Godda-da-Vida”

    “I Love You” by People

    Even at age 12 these two tunes seemed insufferably stupid.

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  12:01 AM
  187. I heard from as reliable a source as one needs that “Timothy” was in fact so bad the band broke up over it. It was supposed to be based on some Scranton legend but I’d never heard the legend before.

    All those novelty songs like “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” are supposed to be stupid. I kinda think that puts them out of the category here. (Michael, it might amuse you to know that the 45 of that had the same song backwards on the B side. At the time I thought it sounded oddly like Russian.)

    OH yeah, if pop novelties were under discussion: there was a weird period when a lot of pseudo-old things got airplay: “Winchester Cathedral” (which actually contained a couple “vo-de-o-do” things) and “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor On the Bedpost Overnight?” and “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)”. ("Chewing Gum” actually was old, but it was “...Your Spearmint” in the original.) More, I’m sure, that I’ve mercifully forgotten.

    One virtue of my advanced age is that, though I’m getting horrid earworms from this thread, there are lots of songs here I don’t know. But it’s scary how many I could sing right from memory, if I could sing.

    I can’t believe people are defending “Brandy.” I’ve considered whether some of these songs might be improved by being sung in a language I didn’t understand; that one wouldn’t, though its lyrics are ooky enough. The singer sounds like someone with a peculiarly gluey band of snot stuck across his vocal cords.

    Posted by Ron Sullivan  on  10/19  at  01:40 AM
  188. Does anyone have anything good to say about these:
    “In-A-Godda-da-Vida”

    Yes. When you’re eight years old and sitting in a room lit only by one of those Chinese red felt lanterns, it’s just about the greatest thing in the world. Except maybe for “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  02:44 AM
  189. I can’t believe people are defending “Brandy.” I’ve considered whether some of these songs might be improved by being sung in a language I didn’t understand; that one wouldn’t, though its lyrics are ooky enough. The singer sounds like someone with a peculiarly gluey band of snot stuck across his vocal cords.

    I was going to say something about the masculine voice in Simon Frith’s Aesthetics of Rock

    But it’s mostly his phrasing; he’s doing a Van Morrison thing. Now, if you’re going to condemn Looking Glass, you’ll have to go after early Springsteen as well. NJ was quite the hotbed of that voice in the early ‘70s.

    Posted by Gavin M.  on  10/19  at  03:40 AM
  190. I’m aware, by the way, that all it takes is for someone to mention Looking Glass in a comment thread here at Michael’s, and I’ll come popping up like a whack-a-mole…

    A trailing thought, though: The Van Morrison Voice is less common and less easily identified than the Dylan Voice. (The Lou Reed Voice is a flavor of Dylan Voice, inter alia. Brits might find an analogue in the Bryan Ferry Voice and its ubiquity in ‘80s pop in the Simple Minds, Talk Talk, Kajagoogoo continuum.) But it turns up all over the place in early-’70s rock.

    I downloaded ‘Lido Shuffle’ to refresh the memory, and sure enough: Scaggs was doing Van Morrison, especially in the choruses.

    How odd.

    Posted by Gavin M.  on  10/19  at  04:22 AM
  191. I admit I’m late to the bad-song dance, and I just skimmed the last fifty entries or so, but I didn’t see “Seasons in the Sun” anywhere. You know, it really is hard to die when all the birds are singing in the sky.

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  06:31 AM
  192. I would suggest that “Ballad of the Green Berets” should be in everyone’s Worst Ever list.

    Posted by Murphy  on  10/19  at  08:24 AM
  193. I quite like Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks. Of course, it is bettered by Jacques Brel’s original, which is presented in a jaunty, defiantly optimistic way - as befits a Belgian.

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  08:39 AM
  194. When I was 7 or 8, the kids in my neighborhood rescued “Seasons in the Sun” from maudlinism with a revamp: “We had joy, we had fun, we went streaking in the sun, till the cops came with guns and they shot us in the buns.” I hope this helps you all get past the goodbye-papa stuff.

    Posted by Orange  on  10/19  at  09:56 AM
  195. Undercover Angel has been stuck in my head for an hour now. I was actually reading about Karl Rove during this period of time. I may have done permanent damage to various centers of my brain. I blame this thread, of course.

    Posted by julia  on  10/19  at  09:59 AM
  196. Love Hurts.  So does my brain.

    Quite possibly one of the top ten worst songs of all time, I would have thought before I read the rest of the comments; now I’m not so sure.

    Posted by Slartibartfast  on  10/19  at  10:05 AM
  197. Onetrue, I hate to tell you this, but Sugarloaf ( of “Green-Eyed Lady” renown) sang “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You,” not Looking Glass. (I really do hate to tell you that, but more for myself than concern for you.)

    I’m wondering whether anyone here knows what it’s like to be “Torn Between Two Lovers”?

    Posted by TravisG  on  10/19  at  10:12 AM
  198. We had joy we had fun we had [insert name of bullyee here]on the run,
    But the joy didn’t last
    ‘Cos the bastard ran too fast.

    By the way Travis, just so you know. It’s clear that when you are torn between two lovers, you feel like a fool, because lovin’ both of them breaks all the rules.

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  10:29 AM
  199. Hmmm. Five dollars says WAY more of the readers of this humble blog sang along to “Seasons in the Sun” with real teenage emotion than are letting on.

    Dammit, I’m gonna stand up for all my teenage bad taste and admit to Vulture (#166) that John Denver was my second teenage crush, and “Rocky Mountain High” was my second album purchase. And I have no remorse.

    My first crush and album purchase (just how things went in those days) was Bill Cosby, whose “To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With” live recording is beyond brillant, still.

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  11:20 AM
  200. I am curious, though, to see who’s willing to stand up for Rupert Holmes and the Pina Colada song ("Escape")?

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  11:27 AM
  201. I think the Pina Colada song and “Margaritaville” belong together. Is there a daiquiri or mai tai song that could join them?

    Posted by Orange  on  10/19  at  12:17 PM
  202. I don’t believe it would fit in well on a playlist with those two but there is <a href="http://www.lyrics007.com/Andre Nickatina Lyrics/Daiquiri Factory Lyrics.html">Daquiri Factory</a> by Andre Nickatina. And some band called the Electrocutes appears to have a song called Daquiri Jacquiri.

    Posted by Jeremy Osner  on  10/19  at  01:04 PM
  203. "Oh ho ho, it’s magic
    You know,
    Never believe it’s not so...”

    by Pilot, and I had to Google that, as I have not heard it on the radio in 20+ years.  It thankfully never gets airplay in the DC area.

    And no, no one is going to stand up for the “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”.  We took a family trip across country in the winter of 79-80, and I had the pleasure of hearing that in every state we passed through, along with “Pop Muzik”.  Scarred me for life.

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  01:58 PM
  204. I wouldn’t mind if my oldies channel started playing Silver’s “Wham Bam Shang A Lang,” every now and again.

    Posted by TravisG  on  10/19  at  02:01 PM
  205. "Cherokee People” by Cher. Good lord, haven’t Native Americans suffered enough?

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  02:51 PM
  206. For some reason as I was buying my lunch today I saw a sign on the deli counter and started singing to myself, “Buffalo Chicken” to the tune of “Cherokee Nation”. I blame Michael Berube.

    Posted by Jeremy Osner  on  10/19  at  03:08 PM
  207. Er, that is to say “Cherokee People”.

    Posted by Jeremy Osner  on  10/19  at  03:09 PM
  208. ’Cherokee People’ was originally done by Paul Revere and the Raiders--perhaps you’re thinking of the even more excerable ‘Half Breed?’

    Half Bree-eed, that’s all I ever was,
    both sides were against me since tha day I was boooorn!

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  04:11 PM
  209. "Seasons in the Sun,” is an easy victim to parody.  I remember doing it myself when I was young.  I had a minor obsession with “And Then There were None,” and I thought up one version which invovled famous philosophers in history in the cast.  I even had the murderer sing a little song about his victims, of which I can only remember a few lines:  “Your murder was gruesome and grotesque/and it was one of my very best.” Then on to the chorus:  “I had joy, I had fun, killing philosophers one by one.” But back to seventies songs that we really can’t stand: “Sometimes when we touch,” by Dan Hill is really execrable.  Moreover, because I grew in Canada in the eighties it was played far more often than anyone would like.  Canada has special rules for songs with Canadian content, and as Hill was both Canadian and one of the few Canadian top 5 songs in the seventies you were bound to hear it sooner or later. 

    Let’s see.  “You’re having my baby,” is quite annoying.  I don’t know if any of you have heard the comic strip “Bob the Angry Flower,” but at angryflower.com you will find a novel “The Leaden Angels,” and you will find a chapter where Medicine Hat is saved from cultured insurance agents quoting Wallace Stevens by a mass rendition of “You Light up My Life.” Journey is only tolerable in small doses.  “Oh Sherrie” is empty bombast, but not too obnoxious, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” is relatively tolerable.  “MacArthur Park” is very silly.  It’s a sixties song:  I’m surprised no-one mentioned the 1978 version by Donna Summer and which, I believe, actually hit #1.  Almost everything Air Supply wrote is soulless garbage, but “All Out of Love” is actually touching in a way. 

    I am willing to defend “Walking on Sunshine,” “Ballroom Blitz” and “Don’t Forget me When I’m gone” against all comers, and even “Sussidio.” The fact that the serial killer in “American Psycho,” goes on about how wonderful a song it and “Hip to be Square” is only shows how shallow Bret Easton Ellis is.  Yes, because it was only really irritating trivial songs that Heydrich and Himmler listened to, not Mozart or Brahms.  (Though Ian Kershaw’s indispensable biography of Hitler--which, incidentally to any fans of Chang and Halliday’s biography of Mao, is how you write the biography of a murderous dictator--Hitler was less a fan of Wagner than “The Merry Widow.") “Lady,” is actually kind of interesting, but the climax does make it seem like Leni Riefenstahl’s contribution to pop music.  I actually like “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head,” almost entirely because it, along with “Yellow Submarine,” which I like much more, is the earliest song I can remember. 

    I have no strong opinion about “The Year of the Cat,” (#90) but I remember my local radio station had a top 500 of so of all time in 1987 or 1988 and this made the top 100.  So did, I believe, “Taxi” by Harry Chapin.  The conventional wisdom is that Chapin was a wonderful human being and an extremely irritating songwriter.  Having only heard two songs of his I am inclined to agree, though I did undergo the horrible experience of listening to “The Cat’s in the Cradle,” during a Yom Kippur service in 2001.  Yes I know we are supposed to be atoning for our sins on that day, but really…

    I don’t know how the consensus developed that “We Built this City,” is one of the worst pop songs ever.  How can one of the worst songs ever have a perfectly competent Grace Slick vocal?  And the video has a more interesting decor than others.  For a start “Sara,” “Nothing’s gonna stop us now,” and other Starship are much blander corporate rock.  Consider Bryan Adams or “The Greatest Love of all” ("Learning to love yourself/is the greatest love of all.” According to whom?  Ayn Rand?)

    One of the posters (#89) commented that we just seemed to be repeating the conventional canon for bad music.  This is an interesting point.  One of the experiences I had growing up in the eighties was the way that much seventies music was already being purged from the airwaves.  I remember in the mid-eighties listening to a special on 1979 music and hearing for the first time in years “Tragedy” by the Bee Gees.  What is striking is that I might not have heard this number one song since then.  Except for “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever,” the Bee Gees seem to have been completely purged from one’s consciousness.  No major loss you might say, and I’d agree with you.  But it does severely hamper the number of annoying seventies songs.  I recall an annoying song about a man who married, and whose wife got pregnant and who died in childbirth.  The man’s name was “Rocky,” and I vaguely associate it with Andy Kim.  I remember hearing it in the seventies, once since then, and never after.

    So here’s a different choice for the worst popular song ever:  “Silver Bells.” How could any sane person think this was a Christmas carol?

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  04:32 PM
  210. i regret that i was out of town and missed this wonderful discussion.  I mean Michael mentioned Bobby Sherman in his post, a persona so totally bereft of talent and thought that to have anyone remember even his name is frightening (for the record i grew up w/ him and at one point worked for the corporation that in essence owned his music--and that of such other luminaries as the Monkees, Partridge Family, et al--and controlled the live production of appearances and concerts for all those folks{my job} ).  And people above think the early 70’s were cool??

    Since i am one of those “baby boomer” born in ‘47 graduated in that infamous class of ‘65 and so forth, i was nurtured on AM radio long before FM and participated in the early “album oriented” pirate FM radio experiments of the mid to late 60’s in SoCal.  The list of horrors that have been perpetrated upon the public via the frequencies of broadcast radio, cannot be overstated.  The master lists of best sellers and number one hits from the mid-50’s on through the most vile pop schlock today, reads much like the 200 posts above, all representing the dreadful appeal of inanity and bile. Although the few mentions pre-1970 songs are highly accurate, there are so many many of them in toto that even the RIAA has had to reclassify golden oldies and rock classics as beginning the the 70’s.  Afterall there was reason that little 45’s came out w/ A and B sides.  B invariably meant BAD, and most of the A’s were barely passing miseries.

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  04:54 PM
  211. Thanks David W, no doubt my conflating “Cherokee People” with “Half Breed” had something to do with all that acid and King Crimson I ingested in college.

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  05:04 PM
  212. Hey, I’ll defend Al Stewart (Year of the Cat) against all comers…

    He writes thoughtful and intelligent lyrics which often incorporate history and philosophy. His works are sadly underplayed IF played at all. Who else writes songs (for example) about Nostradamus, Thomas Moore, or a Russian foot soldier from WWII?

    Posted by Jodie  on  10/19  at  05:37 PM
  213. al, no doubt it was all an attempt to forget that both songs existed;>

    Jodie, I agree about ‘Year of the Cat,’ that’s a fixture on my iPod, along with another MOR classic of similar vintage, ‘Lowdown’ by Boz Scaggs…

    finally, Partisan, I enjoyed your post, but I have to pile on to ‘We Built This City,’ which is 100% Corpororate Rock dreck--two words: Mickey Thomas…

    at least when all was said and done, Grace Slick had the brains to give up before she really desecrated her iconic status!

    Posted by  on  10/19  at  07:15 PM
  214. “Him” by Rupert Holmes. In Nashville there was a female DJ who had to play that song and every time she played, when the part got the refrain ("him Him HIM), she would say who after each him. The only thing that made the song bearable.

    Posted by Randy Paul  on  10/19  at  08:39 PM
  215. Partisan, the Bee Gees rule!

    Posted by Sini  on  10/20  at  12:17 AM
  216. How weird is it that Rupert Holmes wrote the novel on which the newest Atom Egoyan movie is based? What an extraordinary talent gap there is between those two.

    I say this as someone who had the misfortune not only of listening countless times to “Him” and “Escape,” but of sitting through Holmes’s Broadway musical adaptation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  At least “Him” only lasts a couple minutes.

    Posted by  on  10/20  at  06:17 AM
  217. HJ Shorter : NO, nobody is going to stand up for Escape(the pina colada song). In the same way that no-one really wants to stand up for genocide or the pointless decapitation of small, furry animals. I have been thinking about this song and am going to posit a general theory that ANY song which is about a cocktail is, by definition, crap. As well as the ones that Orange and Jeremy suggest, can I add Margerita Time by Status Quo and the band Mai Tai (their hit was History). In fact, this rule could even extend to any record that even mentions cocktails, such as the sterophonics album performance and cocktails (which is boring rubbish), the song How Bout Us by Champaign or even the soundtrack from the film Cocktail that contains a ho