Chicago-18_cropped

World’s Worst Songs: “25 or 6 to 4″ by Chicago

We aren't all that crazy about the logo design on the album cover, either.

We aren’t all that crazy about the logo design on the album cover, either.


Wait, what?

Chicago’s third single, “25 or 6 to 4,” was released in the summer of 1970, and it is flat awesome. It proves just how hard a horn band can rock, and it makes supposed bad-asses like Van Halen sound like pussies. Sixteen years later, under the influence of heaven knows what, the band and producer David Foster decided to update “25 or 6 to 4″ for a new generation on the album Chicago 18, but the result was one of the World’s Worst Songs.

The reason couldn’t be simpler: the new “25 or 6 to 4″ has absolutely none of what made the original so great. New lead singer Jason Scheff is not particularly offensive on it, but he’s neither Terry Kath nor Peter Cetera, either. Foster chose to bury the iconic horn section in an ocean of drum machines and other then-cutting-edge electronics. If you’ve ever hammered the gas pedal in an underpowered car and been frustrated when the thing refuses to speed up, you’ll understand what it’s like to listen to the martial beat and slowed tempo of the remake compared to the original. And where Kath’s powerful solo is purposeful and unrelenting, whoever played on the remake (Foster, Michael Landau, and Buzz Feiten are credited on the album) can only get off the same scratchy, meandering noise that’s on dozens of records made in the same era.

The 1986 remake of “25 or 6 to 4″ is as badly dated to the mid 80s as a cylinder recording of a barbershop song is dated to a hundred years ago. The best thing you can say about this stiff, cold performance is that it fits the video, which is set in the year 2036.




  • http://www.popdose.com/ Ted

    I was working for a radio station in ’86 when this POS landed on my PD’s desk. He cued it up and gave it a spin. He was convinced it was going to be a huge (re)hit for Chicago. When I expressed my distaste for this “new” version, he just said “Watch. This single is designed to expose a new generation to the greatness of Chicago.” I said, “I think it’s a stiff.”

    I’m glad I was proven right.

  • David_E

    The bread to a “Don’t Stand So Close to Me ’86” shit sandwich.

  • mc3

    I have yet to disagree with any of your selections for this series. When I saw the headline, I felt a rage building inside me… “25 or 6 to 4? Are you kidding me?”

    Good thing I read on. I had totally suppressed the memory of this turd long ago. It’s just wrong. Somebody should have served time for this offense.

    Love (well not really) the video… it’s 2036 yet people are still dressing like its the 80’s and are using manual typewriters!

  • http://twitter.com/mordalo Mordalo

    The headline threw me for a loop as well. Nothing like a little misdirection, eh?

  • http://www.facebook.com/link.crawford Link Crawford

    I am a huge Chicago fan, but I am also realistic. This song is terrible…the ’80’s production sounds so bad. It’s one saving grace is a nice ‘doit’ at 3:43 (on the video).

  • http://www.facebook.com/oliverio.martinezgarza Oliverio Martinez Garza

    I’m confused…wasn’t Chicago 18 released in 1989-1990? How can you say this was released to radio in 86?

  • mstgator

    “Chicago 18″ was released in 1986 (their first album post-Cetera). 1989-90 was their unnumbered “Greatest Hits 1982-1989″ album, which thankfully didn’t include this song.

  • http://www.somethingelsereviews.com/ Pico

    “And where Kath’s powerful solo is purposeful and unrelenting, whoever played on the remake (Foster, Michael Landau, and Buzz Feiten are credited on the album) can only get off the same scratchy, meandering noise that’s on dozens of records made in the same era.”

    The lead guitar on that track is Steve Lukather’s.