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Friday, February 24, 2006

The Ten Dumbest Songs I've Ever Found Part II

In part one of this post, I concentrated on deep album cuts that I had come across that I felt were so stupid that I couldn't believe anyone would spend the valuable studio time investment to save these songs for all eternity.

In part 2, I am going to be much more subjective. We have all come across songs on the radio that are musically disposable, for whatever reason. Yet in order to make my list, I wanted to focus on songs that not only are borderline terrible in the musical composition department, but contain lyrics that actually make the track worse.

Realizing that all music is subjective, there may appear on this list a song that you actually like. I wish I could say I'm sorry, but if I did I wouldn't mean it. In my humble opinion and with my well-traveled ears, these songs are dumb, and no amount of rerecording or tutoring will ever save them from the depths of stupidity in which they now languish for all measured time. So, with that in mind, let's start with an oldie, but a goodie:

"Dancing In The Street" - Various Artists - I have had discussions with people who truly like this song as a happy, celebratory song that makes them feel good. This song has been recorded by a number of artists, including Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, The Mamas & Papas (there they are again; what was John Phillips thinking?) and a particularly abysmal version by Mick Jagger & David Bowie from 1985.

I hate to break it to you, but this song is the epitome of stupid escapism and should never again be heard by human ears. The only type of event that would cause this kind of mass, communal dancing through the streets of all of the cities mentioned in the lyrics would be an oncoming nuclear bomb or chemical attack. Only we wouldn't call it "dancing". It's called a riot, and it's a BAD THING!

One last footnote: one of the cities mentioned is "Philadelphia, PA", a town where I once lived. How ridiculous is the assertion that Philadelphia would suddenly break into dancing? Well, dancing is prohibited by the Philadelphia Parking Authority in all parking lots prior to sports contests at the stadiums and arenas there. In reality, if a group of people start dancing in the streets of Philadelphia, the first reaction is to call 9-1-1 to get these idiots off the streets, or, failing that, a few sharp billy clubs to the back of the head. Philadelphia, PA indeed! This song needed a fact checker.

"Young Turks" - Rod Stewart - Ah, what would an article of musical criticism from me be without yet another pot shot at that legendary Acid-Throated Bard of All Things Mediocre?

Since 1974, we have had a LOT of musical crap from this one source. I am hoping that one day the powers that be give him a Lifetime Achievement Grammy inscribed with the words: "To Rod Stewart; ENOUGH ALREADY!". Until that day comes, his picture is on my mental dartboard.

There are a lot of truly stupid songs in the Rod Stewart "Canon", but "Young Turks" was dated, dumb and worthless a mere one day after first appearing on the radio in the early '80's. The main instrument in this song is one of those cheesy, Casio keyboards that were all the rage with New Wave bands of the time period. The story line of this song is a teenage couple who, acting on empty-headed impulse, run away from home. The song ends with the female half of the couple giving birth to a 10-pound baby boy. Way to encourage responsible behavior, Rod. Should we expect any less from someone who trades in the latest model he's nailing the moment she turns 30? If that wasn't bad enough, there's the chorus:

"Young hearts be free tonight

Time is on your side

Don't let 'em put you down

Don't let 'em push you around

Don't ever let them change your point of view

Show me a teenager who is absolutely correct and set in his world view, and I'll show you a teenager with some form of mental disability. "Don't ever let them change your point of view"? Teenagers NEED a change in point of view. It's called pot, and they'll discover it in college. The National Institutes of Health has drawn a direct correlation between this song and a spike in teen pregnancies during the time period (well, not really, but I'd like to think so).

"Plush" - Stone Temple Pilots - My wife and I argue constantly about the merits of this band. To me, this song tells you all you need to know about how bad the results can be when a different record label is anxious to find an up-and-coming band with a similar sound to a band that has already hit it big. In this case, Pearl Jam had already made it, and Stone Temple Pilots were quickly pushed out into the world to be sound-alike pretenders to greatness.

Musically, there is just a bit too much of a similarity in sound between "Plush" and Pearl Jam's "Even Flow", from their multi-million selling debut "Ten". This song would be a bad idea if we stopped there, but then, Weiland (their lead singer; yea, like with his lack of talent and penchant for heroin, he earned the right to go by one name) put lyrics to this copycat song that may very well be the most incoherent and intelligence-insulting pile of fecal matter I have ever heard sung out of a human mouth:

"And I feel, I feel

When the dogs begin to smell her

Will she smell alone?"

Sorry to be profane, but what in the fuck does THAT mean? Stone Temple Pilots think so much of their lyrical abilities that they actually have the lyrics to this "song" currently posted on their website (Go ahead; they're there, I already checked). If I EVER write lyrics like this and show them to you, you have my permission to either bash my face in with a Louisville Slugger, send me to Bellevue or into rehab, whichever is most applicable at the time. The worst part of this song? It was a single TWICE, once electric and once acoustic, where you can actually understand the lyrics being sung. Why would a band do that with lyrics like these?

"All You Zombies" - The Hooters - Sweet Jesus, where do I begin?

I lived in Philly when The Hooters broke into the Great Beyond of airplay in the early '80's. I had to hear different incarnations of this song on local radio a full THREE YEARS before the rest of the country. Pity me. I'm still in recovery. I can barely get through "Night Of The Living Dead" without an indirect zombie flashback to this song.

After all this time, I am wondering what was so compelling about the Book of Exodus that it needed to be turned into an ersatz reggae power ballad. Worse yet, what the hell does Moses delivering his people from Egypt have to do with zombies? Note to Rob Hyman, Hooters lyricist: When attempting to write a political statement in song, draw a clear parallel between the point you're trying to make and the story you're telling. I don't get it. NO ONE gets it. Never sing about zombies again!

Footnote: My wife and I are viewers of VH1 Classic. Lately they have had a very nice program called "Pay To Play", where you can pay for a certain number of videos based on the size of your donation, with all of the proceeds going to Hurricane Katrina relief. We were watching it recently and at the top of the hour, the VJ is announcing who sent money in to see their favorite videos that were about to be played. The final name she said was "...and Eric Bazilian of Bryn Mawr, PA". I immediately recognized this name as being the guitarist for The Hooters, which was funny, because the VJ didn't seem to know who he was.What happened at the bottom of the hour? Three Hooters videos played back-to-back, beginning with "All You Zombies". It has truly come to this; The Hooters' music is so poorly regarded 20 years later that the only way you can hear it is for the members of the band to PAY to have it played. Unfortunately, Eric was a co-writer of the next song on the list, so the royalties he has earned may buy a lot of crappy music on your airwaves. Hopefully, VH1 Classic's program has been a success and can be ended as soon as possible to avoid this kind of whoring by washed-up musicians from my hometown.

"God" - Joan Osbourne - As if the madness of The Hooters in the '80's hadn't left a bad enough taste in all of our collective mouths, good ol' Rob and Eric kept writing songs together, resulting in this all-encompassing bowl of dried rhino snot disguised as a musical statement. Lyrics?

"Yea yea, God is great

yea, yea, God is good

yea, yea, yea, yea, yea

What if God was one of us

If you change the vocal inflections while singing these lyrics, it could very well sound like a 14-year-old boy beating off to the Bible. Was there really a need for this kind of statement?
I have never met a single person in my ever-expanding circle of acquaintances who actually likes this song, which, based on the model of the previous song on the list, leads me to believe that Rob and Eric had to have paid someone to break this compost pile of a composition to a wider audience. I truly think that this is a case where a video with a chick with a nose ring had more to do with the popularity of the song rather than any compelling merits of the song itself. I have to hand it to Rob and Eric. If you're going to write a dumb and pointless song that may not go anywhere, have a circus midget, a bearded lady or (if available) a chick with frizzy hair and a nose ring to record it. What's the old axiom? People are so scared of the Yankees because they're dazzled by the pinstripes. This song may be the most successful example of "bait and switch" ever inflicted on an unsuspecting and drooling public at large. Nice going, boys!

And thus ends my list. Add or subtract where you like, but these are the dumbest songs I've ever found. I am not so jaded as to think that dumber songs will not be created in the future. Rest assured that if it enters my ears, you and the composers will both hear about it in the strongest language possible.

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