By now, many of you have probably seen the story about BBC6 listeners voting on the dumbest lyrics of all time. I’m normally all over this kind of thing — I have at least a half-dozen books at home about the worst of everything, including Jimmy Guterman and Owen O’Donnell’s classic 50 Worst Rock & Roll Records of All Time — but for the amount of coverage it’s been getting, this little contest is really sort of lame. It looks like voters were given ten lyrics to choose from, and here they are:
ABC, “That Was Then But This Is Now” — “More Sacrifices than an Aztec priest/ Standing here straining at that leash/ All fall down, Can’t complain, mustn’t grumble/ Help yourself to another piece of apple crumble”
Snap, “Rhythm Is A Dancer” — “I’m as serious as cancer/ When I say Rhythm is a Dancer”
Human League, “The Lebanon” — “Before he leaves the camp he stops/ He scans the world outside/ And where there used to be some shops/ Is where the snipers sometimes hide”
Razorlight, “Somewhere Else” — “And I met a girl/ she asked me my name, I told her what it was”
Duran Duran, “Is There Something I Should Know?” — “And fiery demons all dance when you walk through that door/ Don’t say you’re easy on me you’re about as easy as a nuclear war”
Oasis, “Champagne Supernova” — “Slowly walking down the hall/ Faster than a cannonball/ Where were you when we were getting high?”
Des’ree, “Life” — “I don’t want to see a ghost/ It’s the sight that I fear most/ I’d rather have a piece of toast/ Watch the evening news”
Black Sabbath, “War Pigs” — “Generals gathered in their masses/ Just like witches at black masses”
Toto, “Africa” — “The wild dogs cry out in the night/ As they grow restless longing for some solitary company/ I know that I must do what’s right/ Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti”
U2, “Elevation” — “I’ve got no self control, Been living like a mole now/ Going down, excavation/ High and high in the sky/ You make me feel like I can fly/ So high, Elevation”
There are definitely some crappy lines in there — and of these ten, I have no problem saying Des’ree’s deserved to “win” — but if this was really the best they could do, I suspect they haven’t listened to much music. Given an afternoon, I could easily come up with a better/worse list.
Oh, look, there it is!
This is a pretty informal list, obviously. I’d be willing to concede that many of them are capable of holding personal meaning for forgiving listeners — most, not all; that Yes lyric gets my unequivocal vote for worst of all time — but they’re all much, much worse than anything those pussies at the BBC came up with. I welcome your additions (in fact, Jason has already added Queen and The Cure). Without further ado…
Styx, “Mr. Roboto” — “You’re wondering who I am / Machine or mannequin / With parts made in Japan” I have no love for Tommy Shaw, which is why I smile when I think about him getting up on stage and gritting his teeth through the Kilroy tour. I feel bad for everyone else involved, however. Especially anyone who bought tickets.
Sting, “Love is the Seventh Wave” — “There is no deeper wave than this / Rising in the world / There is no deeper wave than this / Listen to me, girl” Proof that not even a lute-wielding muso is above rhyming “world” with “girl.”
Steve Winwood, “Don’t You Know What the Night Can Do?” — “Let the rhythm enfold you / Let me hold you / Now we turn into music / Now we will never lose it / When the rhythm and night ride / No heart can hide” Like the beer Winwood was shilling, this song comes across at first like a reasonable facsimile of a quality product; gag it down a few times, however, and you soon learn the difference.
Steve Miller, “Abracadabra” — The whole fucking song. When Sugar Ray covered “Abracadabra,” the term “perfectly awful” gained new meaning.
Rod Stewart, “Love Touch” (download) — “I wanna be good for you / I didn’t mean to be bad / But darlin’ I’m still the best / That you ever had / Just give me a chance / To let me show you how much / I wanna give you my love touch / Love touch” Stewart didn’t just jump the shark here — he jumped it, pulled down his pants, shit into a paper bag, lit that bag on fire, and hucked it at the shark.
Paul McCartney, “Biker Like an Icon” (download) — “There was a girl who loved a biker / She used to follow him across America / But the biker didn’t like her” In the Dumbest McCartney Song competition, it’s a dead heat between this and “Freedom,” but at least with “Freedom,” McCartney was trying to say something meaningful. The only message I can make out here is “I hate my fans.”
Loverboy, “Notorious” (download) — “Well there’s a lone wolf out on the prowl tonight / Lurkin’ in the shadows, always out of sight / I said, little girl, don’t you hesitate, cause you’re usin’ live bait” This is one of those lines you really need to listen to in order to fully appreciate it — you can really hear the miserable self-awareness in each of the multitracked Mike Renos shouting “live bait.”
Chicago, “You Come to My Senses” (download) — “You come to my senses / Every time I close my eyes / I have no defenses / You come to my senses / I can’t stop this ache inside / I have no defenses / You come to my senses” A song so horrible, the band (with one notably humorous exception) refused to play it on tour, even though it was a single. They can’t be blamed for writing it — that honor falls to the Wonder Hacks, Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg — but they sure didn’t have to record it.
Sammy Hagar, “Mas Tequila” — “She did a mean macarena to the funky cold medina / Behind a body shot and three margaritas” Here’s where Hagar realized that he could be twice as obnoxious as Jimmy Buffett, sell half as many records, and still do quite well for himself.
The Jacksons and Mick Jagger, “State of Shock” (download) — “You look so great, every time I see your face / You put me in a state, uh, uh, uh, uh / A state of shock” Not even a song. It makes “Abracadabra” look like “All Along the Watchtower.” It’s also absolutely the worst duet Jagger recorded in the ’80s, which is incredible when you stop to consider the competition.
Heart, “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You” — “I told him, ‘I am the flower, you are the seed / We walked in the garden / We planted a tree’” Come on. You had to know this would be on the list, right? Of all the shit Heart recorded between ‘85 and ‘90, this is unquestionably the worst. In fact, put it up agaisnt anything the hated Starship was doing at the time — yes, even “We Built This City”! — and Starship emerges victorious. The worst part of an awful, awful song.
Glenn Frey, “Sexy Girl” — “She’s a sexy girl, sexy girl, sexy girl / She’s a very sexy girl / She’s a sexy girl, sexy girl, sexy girl / She’s a very sexy girl” It’s mainly — although not completely — because of this song that I believe Glenn Frey’s body-building kick in the late ’80s was inspired by fear for his own safety.
The Fabulous Thunderbirds, “Tuff Enuff” — “For you baby I would swim the sea / Nothing I’d do for you that’s too tuff for me / I’d put out a burning building with a shovel and dirt / And not even worry about getting hurt” What about fans losing their ability to take you seriously?
Don Henley, “Damn It, Rose” (download) — “We’re being treated to the wisdom / Of some puffed up little fart / Doing exactly what I used to do / Pretentions to anarchy and art” The worst verse of the worst song on the worst album of Henley’s career. I’m sure he’d claim that pretentiously swearing off pretensions was some sort of meta-cool device, but no — he’s just really fucking pretentious.
Debbie Gibson, “Electric Youth” — “We’ve got the most time / To make the world go ’round / Oh, can you spare a dime? / Place your bet on our sound / Come back to town” It’s really sort of unfair of me to single out these particular lines, because nothing in the entire song makes a lick of sense. Of course, neither does the fact that it went to #1, or that it became a perfume. Oh, can you spare a dime?
Brian Wilson, “Desert Drive” — “Gotta get crankin’ now, gotta get movin’ now / Fasten your belt I’m takin’ good care of you” Wilson’s diehard fans stuck with him through decades of abuse and broken promises, just waiting for the day when he’d finally clean up, get control of his own career, and release an album free from interference by meddling producers/therapists/cousins. Gettin’ in Over My Head was the result, and this is from that album. I don’t know what else to say.
Queen, “Drowse” — “Waves of alternatives wash over my sleepiness / Have my eggs poached for breakfast I guess” I’ve never particularly cared for Queen, and now I can thank Jason for helping me understand why.
The Cure, “I Dig You” — “I dig you / You dig me / I dig you / You dig me / We dig each other / That’s groovy / Oh yeah!” Not a verse, not a chorus — this is the whole song. It’s incredibly stupid, but at least it’s succinct.
Yes, “Love Will Find a Way” (download) — “Here is my heart / Waiting for you / Here is my soul / I eat at Chez Nous” Few lines in all of rock & roll communicate more casual contempt for the folks subsidizing the artist’s lifestyle than these. If they could have found a way to rhyme “Fuck it, I can’t think of anything, let’s go home,” they surely would have. Much more entertaining than this stupid, stupid song is this thread discussing all the possible meanings of “I eat at Chez Nous.” (My favorite: “The song appears to be about trying to stay together in the face of some problem. ‘Eating’ at ‘our place’ could mean simply that ‘I’ am not ‘fooling around’…’I’ stay home to eat. The sharing of food is a basic bonding activity and could infer other (more personal) bonding activities are being kept ‘at home’ also.” I love Yes fans!)
UPDATE: While writing this piece, I contacted my pal Jeff Vrabel to see if he’d be interested in collaborating. Jeff’s my freelancing hero, and cracks my shit up on a regular basis; when people compliment my writing, and I say “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” it’s guys like Jeff I’m thinking of.
Jeff is, however, very lazy, and didn’t get his contributions to me until after this had posted…but hey, it’s the Internet, so we don’t have to go back to the presses — I’ll just tack these on here for your amusement. Enjoy!
“Come back, come back, back to Jamaica/Don’t you know, we made a big Mistaica,” Jimmy Buffett, “Jamaica Mistaica”. Buffett set to music an actual experience of being shot at while flying into a Jamaican airport (on a plane with, um, Bono and Chris Blackwell). But this six-minute retelling is not only the worst rhyme in a catalog full of rough ones, but the de facto summer concert bathroom break.
“I ain’t never seen an ass like that/The way you move it, you make my pee-pee go ‘Doing-doing-doing,”Eminem, “Ass Like That.” This idiot’s not even trying anymore.
“George W.’s got nothing on me/We got to take the power from he,” Beastie Boys, “We Got The.” We got the what? Third-grade English book?
“Never let me slip, cause if I slip, then I’m slippin,” Dr. Dre, “Nuthin’ But A G Thang.” Never let me write about this, ’cause if I write, then I’m writin’.
“When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet / Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets,” LFO, “Summer GIrls.” This song revels in its own idiocy, liquefies it and rubs it all over itself, but it still makes my bowels hurt.
“Make ‘em say uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh/Na na na na,” Master P, “Make ‘Em Say Uhh.” When my bowels hurt, this is the noise I make.
“I know a secret down in Uncle Tom’s Cabin… know who put the bodies in the wishing well,” Warrant, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Only Warrant would write a murder mystery song, put it on an album called “Cherry Pie” and call it “UNCLE TOM’S CABIN.” Next up: A mystery song about a three-way with groupies called “Far From The Madding Crowd.”
“Lucky that my breasts/Are small and humble/So you don’t confuse/Them with mountains,” Shakira, “Whenever, Wherever.” I feel bad making fun of anything that lets me think, however briefly, about the subject matter, but I’m pretty sure “humble” doesn’t rhyme with “mountains.”
“I’m like a bowl of gumbo/You ain’t hotter than this, I’m what they play in the clubo,” Mariah Carey, “Don’t Stop.” Making fun of Mariah Carey songwriting is like making fun of the slow kids, but still. Clubo?
“I don’t like cities, but I like New York/Other places ake me feel like a dork,” Madonna, “I Love New York.” This idiot’s not even trying anymore.