What are the worst songs?
July 5, 2014 10:00 AM   Subscribe

vathek's recent FPP about a truly, truly awful song made me wonder: What are the worst songs ever recorded? What songs are legendary for their mediocrity? I'm familiar with "Friday" but that's about where my expertise here ends.

I'm interested in any category: awful songs that somehow became pop hits, or songs that are just plain unlistenable.
posted by LSK to Media & Arts (90 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Wikipedia has quite a detailed list of worst songs. Not sure if agree with Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da being on there, it's not that bad.
posted by fallingleaves at 10:07 AM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Blender Magazine says this.

I personally vote for Paul Anka's "You're Having my Baby," but when I was a nightclub DJ, I could guarantee getting several beer bottles thrown at my head if ever I played "We Built this City ."
posted by kinetic at 10:10 AM on July 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

My Lovely Horse? Of course, it is faux, and it was written with mediocrity in mind, but still - it is bad and should qualify for every bad music repertoire.

How Much Is That Doggy In The Window is more genuinely unspeakable. The Fifties were a golden age for schlock.
posted by BWA at 10:24 AM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's obviously subjective, but I consider Rick Derringer's "Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo" to be absolute, sanity-threatening garbage.*

*Rick also wrote "Hang on Sloopy", however, so he's not a total monster.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:46 AM on July 5, 2014

Kajagoogoo's " Too Shy"
posted by brujita at 11:04 AM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Vanilla were a short-lived pop band in the UK in the 1990s. They were allegedly signed due to a bet between Simon Cowell and Pete Waterman as to whether or not you could make pop stars out anybody regardless of talent. The result - No Way, No Way - was just awful, yet somehow managed to reach the lofty heights of number 14 in the UK charts in 1997.
posted by peteyjlawson at 11:07 AM on July 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Party All The Time by Eddie Murphy is the worst song I can think of, since someone already mentioned We Built This City. Also, the Life Day song sung by Princess Leia in the Star Wars Holiday Special is pretty awful.
posted by tomboko at 11:09 AM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

If You Like PiƱa Coladas (aka The Escape)

Lady in Red

She's like the Wind *shiver*

I'd also agree with Party all the Time.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:31 AM on July 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

Also, there might be people who argue that this is so bad it's good, but they would be wrong: I'm a Barbie Girl.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:32 AM on July 5, 2014

I thought that Two Nice Girls' "I Spent My Last $10 (On Birth Control and Beer)" was god-awful when I heard it on KRUI in grad school. YMMV
posted by brujita at 11:45 AM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm afraid to say it because now it will be stuck in my head, but I'm sure Yummy, Yummy, Yummy I've Got Love in My Tummy tops most worst song ever lists.

Please don't click the link. For your own sanity. Dont. Do. It.
posted by brookeb at 11:52 AM on July 5, 2014 [12 favorites]

This was a good topic of conversation on a drive home from errand-running just now. We are still busy arguing over the parameters of how this question should be approached, but my partner feels it would be criminally negligent not to point you at April Winchell's MP3 library site, which certainly has some contenders. He'd like to put in a vote for "God Will Fuck You Up" from the "Terrifying Christian Recordings" part of the site.
posted by Stacey at 11:54 AM on July 5, 2014 [9 favorites]

Dave Barry had a survey on the subject 20 years ago, with the result being "MacArthur Park", in both the Richard Harris original and the Donna Summer cover. It's hard to argue with.

(Second place was "Yummy Yummy Yummy (I've Got Love in My Tummy)," and third was "(You're) Having My Baby.")
posted by Shmuel510 at 12:04 PM on July 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Don Henley's Dirty Laundry is, in my book, the thoroughly execrable.

Mojo Nixon hates him too.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:06 PM on July 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

there might be people who argue that this is so bad it's good

No, Aqua are in fact so good they're good.

If you're looking for awful Europop: Blue (Da Ba Dee).

I'll throw in Cliff Richard's Mistletoe and Wine and Paul McCartney's We All Stand Together. Somehow awful songs seem all the more awful when they come from decent artists. (Yes, Cliff was decent once; Rik was right.)

As alluded to above: Stock, Aitken, Waterman's catalogue could be mined. At their best SAW's productions were earwormy pop; at their worst, production-line bilge: Kylie's Loco-Motion.

Bottom of the barrel scraping: the godawful output of Black Lace. Agadoo; Do The Conga; the truly appalling Gang Bang (lyrics).
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:10 PM on July 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Allow me to introduce you to song poems. What's not linked there is often on youtube -- such as the gloriously bad Jimmy Carter Says Yes.
posted by JanetLand at 12:15 PM on July 5, 2014

For my own part, this is hard to answer because I like a lot of bad songs. A transcendently bad song is much, much more interesting and entertaining than a merely mediocre one.

Never has this point been better made than by artists Komar & Melamid, in cooperation with composer Dave Soldier. They created a survey asking people what features they most wanted, and most didn't want, in a song. They then created two songs:

The Most Unwanted Song contains all the features most often cited as unwanted. It includes an operatic soprano, yodelling, rap, lyrics about cowboys, tubas, accordions, harps, varying tempos, children singing about holidays, commercial content, politics... It's almost 22 minutes long, and if you like bad music, it is brilliant. I have listened to it a few dozen times, sometimes even when not inflicting it on other people.

The Most Wanted Song is its inverse. It contains everything people most claimed to want. It is completely insipid. I have listened to it twice; the second time, I was playing it for somebody else, and figured it probably wasn't as bad as I remembered it being.

Depending on your point of view, either of them might qualify as an answer to the question at hand.
posted by Shmuel510 at 12:16 PM on July 5, 2014 [21 favorites]

When the PBS Kids show Arthur needed a song for D.W. to play that would drive Arthur around the bend, they came up with Crazy Bus.
posted by Shmuel510 at 12:25 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've always hated I Eat Cannibals. Try harder.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:31 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also: every version of Living Next Door To Alice, but particularly the Smokie / Roy "Chubby" Brown remake. 70s glurge pop plus 90s laddish misogyny.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:44 PM on July 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

"Africa" by Toto is also pretty bad.

Don't even get me started on The Beach Boy's "Kokomo."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:46 PM on July 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Surely William Shatner singing Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds is the worst song ever recorded.
posted by TheRaven at 1:02 PM on July 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've encountered many, many people who deeply hate "What's Up" by 4 Non Blondes. And like most of Grand Funk Railroad's output, their signature hit "We're an American Band" is very widely hated. Another often-mentioned target would be a particular species of "soft" corporate rock ballad like Air Supply's sublimely awful "All Out of Love."

Really, outside of a small number of truly universally despised popular songs, it's personal and to a lesser extent decade-based tastes. A fan of 80s synth-pop probably won't hate "too Shy" that much, and a lot of people would find Blender's condemnation of "The Sounds of Silence" utterly bizarre. It wasn't too many years back that people would've loaded this with nothing but disco hits, for that matter.

Pop music criticism and pop music tastes are often idiosyncratic, but almost everyone -- including a lot of critics, and especially rock critics -- try to justify rankings or reactions by appealing to weird, sometimes ad hoc notions of authenticity. Only a rare few awful hit songs stand the test of time to be hated by multiple generations, or even turned on by the generation that made them hits in the first place.
posted by kewb at 1:03 PM on July 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime is the worst, it hitting a trifecta of being a bad cheery song made by an incredible talent, that is difficult to avoid hearing repeatedly at a time when you are stressed and harried, namely last-minute christmas shopping. Seriously, it is the worst.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:55 PM on July 5, 2014 [32 favorites]

"Dave Barry's Bad Song Book" will cover them all for you. Teen death songs are the worst, i.e. "Tell Laura I Love Her."* "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Ha!" will also make your ears bleed to listen to it.

* Amusingly enough, Seanan McGuire's book "Sparrow Hill Road" uses those characters in a few stories, in which Laura has become a vengeful professor and ghost Tommy has long since forgiven the main ghost character for not managing to stop him from being an idiot.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:01 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's interesting that some of my favorite songs (and I'm using "favorite" in a non-ironic way) are listed here as candidate for the worst song ever. I'm not sure if this counts, but I think this is the worst lyric ever: "There's a killer on the road / His brain is squirmin' like a toad" (from "Riders on the Storm", by the Doors).
posted by alex1965 at 2:15 PM on July 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

3OH! 3's "Don't Trust Me".
posted by brujita at 2:18 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

My vote for most insipid lyrics goes to A Horse With No Name.

(Thanks for the April Winchell link, Stacey. A gold mine of Awesomely Bad.)
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:26 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Cheeky Girls - The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum) sprang immediately to mind (still waiting on the invention of brain bleach).
posted by billiebee at 2:28 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Komar and Melamid attempted to determine this scientifically. They surveyed many people about what specific things they like and dislike about music. Then they took the most disliked things -- for example, a whole lot of people claim to dislike accordions, or country western, or lyrics about philosophy -- and, with the help of Dave Soldier, slapped them all together into a single song: The Most Unwanted Song.

It's one of my favorite songs.
posted by Flunkie at 2:28 PM on July 5, 2014

I read an interview with David Yow where he identified "Love the One You're With" as his last favorite song and elaborated on why, and I concur. If I didn't like it before that, I hated it even more after that. It's the worst song.

A close runner up is "Shaddup You Face." How did that get made? Why? Why?
posted by ostranenie at 2:52 PM on July 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Metal Machine Music? Maybe Paul McCartney's "Temporary Secretary"?
posted by ostranenie at 2:53 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

If we're including Christmas music, then "The Christmas Shoes" is the worst song ever. A bad song musically, but also the actual words are the worst - "Merry Christmas, my mom's dying, thanks Jesus."

Also, Cotton Eye Joe, Macarena, and Zoot Suit Riot. The 90s were rife with group-dancing-related horrible songs.
posted by melissasaurus at 3:43 PM on July 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Considering the holiday we just had, I'd think Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" has to be in the discussion.

Also, James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" is pretty bad on a number of levels.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 4:03 PM on July 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've Never Been To Me is running-into-moving-traffic-to-flee levels of terrible.
posted by Otto the Magnificent at 4:04 PM on July 5, 2014 [9 favorites]

My Sharona, which, let's be honest, the instrumentation of this song sounds worse than a karaoke cover of same. It's also shallow and gross and entirely forgettable aside from the earwormy hook. I listen to a lot of schlocky classic rock radio in the car, but I always change the station when My Sharona comes on.
posted by Sara C. at 4:18 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also, despite my love of Dolly Parton, I have to nominate Me And Little Andy in the "maudlin pap" category of Worst Songs. So much worse than either "I've Never Been To Me" or "Macarthur Park".
posted by Sara C. at 4:20 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

What do you get when your disciplinarian dad makes you record a rock album because it was foretold in his palm reading? The Shaggs.
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 4:44 PM on July 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

I will put in a plug for some Australian artists. Tucker's Daughter by Ian Moss is enough to reduce me to incoherent rage. Worth a point for Ian's champion mullet alone. Speaking of mullets, the illustrious career of Craig McLachlan is also a rich goldmine.

I personally love Party All The Time for the blind item - widely guessed to be about Eddie Murphy - of the celebrity who used to, ah, perform for his conquests to the soundtrack of his greatest hit. I find the idea of Eddie impressing his loves by prancing around and jacking off in time to that song amusing beyond all reasonableness. Now for the brain bleach.
posted by arha at 5:00 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

My friends dad used to torture us with ABC - The look of love.

The video makes it seem even worse, honestly.
posted by emptythought at 6:13 PM on July 5, 2014

In the year 2525 got to number #1.
Seasons in the Sun is the only music that makes me contemplate ending it all.
Afternoon Delight incites me to violence.

I've never heard all 3 back to back, and I recommend you don't, either.
posted by Prof Iterole at 6:14 PM on July 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Party All The Time by Eddie Murphy is the worst song I can think of

Holy shit, you're just going to drop that bomb but not mention Boogie in your/the butt also by Mr. Murphy?

It's the B side to party all the time, and it's SO much worse. That song is actually so bad that i watched it drive someone to murderous, possessions smashing irrational anger once.
posted by emptythought at 6:18 PM on July 5, 2014 [7 favorites]

A truly mediocre song has to have no redeeming qualities that make me want to listen a second time, but not be outright "turn it off, now!" bad. It's just completely ignorable.

Like Pearl Jam - Last Kiss. I just don't hear a single thing in it that would explain what anyone likes about it. Lyrics are boring, musically boring and predictable, vocals nothing special, instrument playing nothing special... I appreciate the band, but that song is just... not good.
posted by ctmf at 6:21 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm kinda okay with the cheez factor mentioned in many of these comments.

I think the most difficult thing that I have ever heard was a Jian Ghomeshi radio interview with the touring cast of Les Miz. Just take the bombastic pseudo-opera power-balladry, but without the spacious acoustics and blaring synths of the concert hall, so it's actors just belting it out in a radio studio with only piano accompaniment and some fairly imperfect intonation. Oh, Ouch.
posted by ovvl at 6:23 PM on July 5, 2014

I have completely lost my partner to this question. He's been lost in this site for hours. Sigh.
posted by Stacey at 6:27 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Came in to third the Dave Barry book. It was based on a huge reader survery, and made me cry from laughter (Richard Jeni on America's "A Horse With No Name": "You're in the desert, you got nothing else to do. NAME THE FREAKIN' HORSE!")
posted by Mchelly at 6:56 PM on July 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Party All The Time by Eddie Murphy is the worst song I can think of

Holy shit, you're just going to drop that bomb but not mention Boogie in your/the butt yt also by Mr. Murphy?

Indeed, both are terrible. But 'Boogie' was a comedy song played on Dr. Demento, and 'Party' was a mainstream hit... trying to take itself so painfully seriously.
posted by tomboko at 7:00 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is a hard question to answer, as there are a variety of categories of bad music, and some are easy to grow to love.

There is naive or outsider music, as an example, where the musicians aren't competent or learned enough to recreate mainsteam standards of music. Among these artists, you'll find such wonders as Shooby Taylor, who scatted weirdly over existing albums, The Shaggs, who existed in their own universe if overrehearsed pop oddities, the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, who screamed over jagged guitar riffs, and John Truby, who wrote the astonishing "Blind Man's Penis" as an acid-fueled prank.

There is deliberately terrible music, which is often done to challenge the conventions of traditional music or as a fuck you to a studio. Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" is the fomer, Van Morrison's contractual obligation album (containing songs like "Ringworm") the latter.

Then there is music that is terrible because it is insipid. We've seen a lot of examples of that in this thread. A lot of Christian rock is like this, as is a lot of European pop music. 70s light rock sort of specialized in insipidness.

Finally, there is music that is terrible because it is a moral abomination. The music of Johnny Rebel is this -- it's unengaging country music with explicitly racist lyrics. There is more music like this in the world than you might imagine.
posted by maxsparber at 7:19 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Irwin Chusid had a long-running show on WFMU called "Incorrect Music." He sought out music that was sincerely, heartfelt and arguably awful. However, much of it wouldn't belong with much of what is being discussed above, songs written by well-known recording artists.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Philip Michael Thomas.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:20 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

It is going to be somewhat subjective (witness the people who wrong-wrong-wrongly suggested classics like "Africa," "We're an American Band," and even "Barbie Girl" above) so it may be instructive to look at other knowledgeable people's justifications for their choices - witness the A.V. Club's Hatesong column.

The time for reckoning with the Black Eyed Peas will soon be upon us.
posted by psoas at 8:37 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I hate hate hate 'We're an American Band' and Seger's 'Old Time Rock and Roll'. And 'Wonderful Christmastime' just makes me sad that someone I love could sink so low. But I love 4 Non Blondes' 'What's Up' and I listen to Toto's 'Africa' way more than anyone else is probably comfortable admitting. So trying to decide what's good or bad is pointless. People like what they like and I'd be an asshole trying to tell them otherwise because their tastes differ. I'm just happy people have found something that makes them happy.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:27 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, there's a difference between songs-you-hate-despite-technical-popcraft and genuine earturds like "Once You Understand," I mean, I guess I understand the opprobrium for Red Sovine, but my daddy was a truck driver from Missouri, and those songs capture a cultural mood extremely well and if your song holds up to a Tom Waits cover version you're OK in my book. But the smug, self-righteous melodrama of "(Things Get a Little Easier) Once You Understand" is just cringeworthy from top to bottom.
posted by Mothlight at 9:46 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought of Down Came The Rain by Mister Murray.

I'm afraid to say it because now it will be stuck in my head, but I'm sure Yummy, Yummy, Yummy I've Got Love in My Tummy tops most worst song ever lists.

You should listen to Julie London's version, however.
posted by rongorongo at 11:05 PM on July 5, 2014

Many worthy contenders here!

But none of them will defeat The Warrior

posted by Sauce Trough at 11:08 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Trying to separate awful songs from songs I just hate is more difficult than I thought. Cosmic Telephone Call deserves special mention, though. Disco Duck qualifies as one of the worst but I'll admit that Harden My Heart may just be hate.

My vote for most insipid lyrics goes to A Horse With No Name .

I tried searching for the ancient Letterman episode where Steve Martin goes on about how annoying the line "for there ain't no one for to give you no pain" is. Instead I discovered that there is something called a "Hung List" and both Steve Martin and Gordon Lightfoot are on it. That's definitely the worst of something.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:11 PM on July 5, 2014

I posted this song in the thread on the blue, but it bears mentioning here too: Johnny Get Angry by Joanie Sommers

Also, how did we get this far without a mention of My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion? Vomit city!
And Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle is on that list too.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:15 AM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Surprised to see no country here -- too easy I guess.

How about something patriotic: Proud to be an American
posted by klanawa at 1:04 AM on July 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

I can't believe that no-one has mentioned the musical genius that is Mrs Miller...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 1:17 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

oops, I forgot about this.

Fake Moon Landing is the worst thing I've ever heard / seen in my life. It's slow-cooker dogshit bad.

That nasal singer. That green screen! The screencaps from authoritative conspiracy youtubes! The kick drum! My right mouse button has a punchier sound than that kick drum.

I would tithe 10% of all my future income to the charity of Buzz Aldrin's choice if he would punch this band.
posted by Sauce Trough at 1:49 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Have You Ever Really, Really Really Ever Loved a Woman" by Bryan Adams deserves mention, as does Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey". That perfect combination of schlockiness, inept lyric-writing (practically every line makes him put the accent on the wrong syllable at least twice), and no detectable melody. (Its existence is redeemed, somewhat, by a Dave Barry correspondent who pointed out that the song is easier to take if you imagine that she gets taken away by Hell's angels).
posted by ibmcginty at 3:30 AM on July 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft by the Carpenters.

So sorry.
posted by rpfields at 4:55 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Worst lyrics is definitely "My Humps," good lord.

Also I am on super slow internet so can't look for it, but the guy who plays Stanley on "The Office" recorded a truly awful song/music video. It'll ruin your life.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 6:43 AM on July 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

My friends dad used to torture us with ABC - The look of love.

Blasphemy. That's one of the best songs ever made.

Historically the worst songs are definitely Wonderful Christmastime and MacArthur Park.

The worst recent songs that spring to mind are Pitbull - Timber (featuring Ke$ha) and Katy Perry - Dark Horse (featuring Juicy J).

What the fuck does "I'm coming at you like a dark horse" even mean?

And Timber is the spiritual successor to Rednex - Cotton Eyed Joe.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:06 AM on July 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

For all the MacArthur Park haters and closet lovers, here's a short piece by Jimmy Webb on the composing and recording.

As a period piece, A Tramp Shining is something to listen to, I tell you what.
posted by BWA at 7:47 AM on July 6, 2014

I feel confident in saying that 'Achy Breaky Heart' is the worst song ever written to have not only reached number one all over the word but to have stayed there for weeks at a time. It is seriously fucking dreadful and it makes me feel bad for anyone who says 'awww it's not that bad' because it is, it really is.

I feel the same way about 'Star Trekkin' and anything at all by the Vengaboys.
posted by h00py at 8:56 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Truly "Bad" songs have to at one time or another been played on a juke box, and had to be "serious" songs, I. e. not intended as novelties.

Blood Rock' DOA
The Captain and Tennielle's Muskrat Love
Maria Muldaur Midnight at the Oasis
posted by Gungho at 9:53 AM on July 6, 2014

Perfect Friend, by pro wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage, is a a bit of a contradiction. On one hand, it's a heartfelt tribute to one of Savage's dead colleagues, one for whom he clearly had a lot of respect and affection. On the other hand, its lyrics and instrumentation are totally incompetent, and Savage's growling is completely unsuited for an elegy. It's really something.
posted by I've a Horse Outside at 12:00 PM on July 6, 2014

I also want to nominate anything ever recorded by Creed, Nickelback, Linkin Park, and any other group considered "nu-metal."
posted by SisterHavana at 12:04 PM on July 6, 2014

Icona Pop - "I Love It" made a few Worst Songs lists in 2013.
posted by sunnychef88 at 1:18 PM on July 6, 2014

"Maria Muldaur Midnight at the Oasis"

Yet Amos Garrett's solo in the song routinely wins, places, or shows in
"Best Guitar Solo" lists all the time. I guess the song was played to death, though.
I wonder if any more-or-less overplayed song doesn't make hate lists?
posted by Chitownfats at 1:21 PM on July 6, 2014

Crazy Town - Butterfly
posted by porn in the woods at 1:36 PM on July 6, 2014

Before he wrote "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" Rupert Holmes wrote "Timothy". Recorded by The Buoys in 1971, it tells the story of three men trapped in a mine who proceed to eat their fellow miner.
posted by inturnaround at 1:38 PM on July 6, 2014

I have some more bad songs up my sleeve. These all border on the so-bad-it's-amazing, just like Think song in my other post, rather than the total depravity of "We Built This City" or the Paul McCartney song linked above.

T. Valentine's "Hello Lucille Are You a Lesbian?" is a bad classic (rereleased by Norton), a totally weird and tasteless pile of steaming id.

Kit Ream's whole album is a crazy mess, but "Don't Be So Holy Poly Over My Souly" is especially something. Supposedly he was heir to the Nabisco fortune. Strange scat singing and beat poetry inflected ranting. Among the most bizarre of what music collectors call "real people" albums.

Luie Luie's "El Touchy" is another real people classic. Luie invented a dance ("the Touchy") and wrote an album on which he played every instrument in order to popularize it.

Jerry Solomon's "Through the Woods" is probably a song that would appeal really deeply to a small number of people. To be very generous, Solomon is somewhere between Will Oldham and Jandek. The album is filled with organ drones that suggest someone who does not know how anything about how to play the organ. Solomon mumbles at great length, mostly repeating the words "through the woods."

The Newcomers' "The Whole World is a Picture Show" is a middling smooth soul song, but it carries the central metaphor so weirdly far that it sort of hurts to listen to. "There's streaking in public if you dig nudity/and there's always Watergate if you want to see a tragedy/there's war, there's peace, there's crime in the streets/and it's all right here for you to see/I said the whole world is a picture show!" Okay, dudes.

Bravura's "Vegetarians Don't Eat Meat" has baffled me since I heard it.

Pat Morris' "We're Diabetic" is a WFMU discovery. It's terrible musically. The chorus is "We're diabetic, we're diabetic, we're diabetic, we're diabetic, we're diabetic but we're not so different from the rest of you." Every verse is about all the things that makes diabetics different from the rest of us, like having to test their urine.
posted by vathek at 1:54 PM on July 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

Upside Down by Diana Ross is always the song that makes me realize it's time to leave the thrift store.
posted by jabes at 2:17 PM on July 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Oh god, Touchy! Vathek, I love you! I haven't heard that in a long while.

This thread should be subtitled: Your favorite sucky song doesn't suck enough.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:11 PM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and before I forget, here's a real gem: Al Harrington's "I Want a Daddy for Christmas." Playable link toward the bottom of the page.

You're welcome.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:20 PM on July 6, 2014

The Shaggs' It's Halloween is mighty bad. But bless the Shaggs... I never made a record.
posted by thinman at 12:35 AM on July 7, 2014

Seconding No Way No Way. I find it hard to hate on novelty songs, because the whole point of the genre is that they're a bit rubbish, but that's something special.

However, this Grease cover by two sitcom stars has the rare distinction of being the only Top of the Pops performance that resulted in a drop in sales that week.
posted by mippy at 6:02 AM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

"She's pretty/A fittie"
posted by mippy at 6:05 AM on July 7, 2014

Actually, I take back what I said about novelty songs - Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh. It starts out with a slight remix of the theme, and you think 'sure, it can't be so bad, besides, it's not aimed at me anyway...' If you can get past 1.35 though, you have braver ears than mine.

One of the KLF made this, so it's tongue in cheek (the production has that slick late-90s chart dance thing going on) but still unlistenable. Knowing their penchant for pranksterism, I think this possibly was a calculated attempt to make the most irritating song they could.
posted by mippy at 6:10 AM on July 7, 2014

I just got an e-mail from Spotify to inform me that "The Guy Who Sings Songs About Cities & Towns" (aka Matt Farley) has released Illinois IL Song Fun Yeah.

If you have not had the pleasure of being introduced to Farley and his work, I commend this FPP from January to your attention. (This is actually what got me to sign up for Spotify in the first place.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 7:05 AM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Important Trivia: Shaddap You Face actually kept Ultravox's Vienna in the number two spot in England!
posted by wittgenstein at 8:18 AM on July 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have always hated You're Unbelievable (with the Andrew Dice Clay sample) since the very first time I heard it.
posted by wittgenstein at 8:23 AM on July 7, 2014

Pachelbel's canon. It's the music played in hell. It sounds great at first, but through endless repetition of the same bland bars it drives you mad before it melts what's left of your brain.

It might be that I'm prejudiced against it by having played the tuba part in high school band, which is literally the same eight bars repeated over and over and over...
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:55 AM on July 7, 2014

Pachelbel's canon. It's the music played in hell.

I hope you've seen Rob Paravonian's rant on the subject?
posted by Shmuel510 at 12:27 PM on July 7, 2014

The song I hate most is Eddie Rabbitt's masterpiece of repetition, I Love A Rainy Night.
posted by booth at 8:21 PM on July 7, 2014

Brandy by Looking Glass is a horrific song on all fronts -- the music is cloying, the lyrics are not only poorly phrased but also simplistic and trite, and the entire message of the song is terrifyingly sexist.

It was written at Rutgers University, which is its only redeeming quality.
posted by nathanrudy at 5:06 AM on August 20, 2014

I can't think of a worse song than "The Lady In Red." It's not the most egregiously awful song ever recorded, but it's the only bad song I can't even enjoy ironically. If it were a movie, it would be something like Forces of Nature -- too bland and inoffensive to be "so bad it's good," like The Room, and nails-on-chalkboard torturous in a subtle enough way that people with horrible taste can mistake it for a good song.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 7:45 AM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

The answer is obviously Haysi Fantayze's Shiny Shiny.

Runner up is Toto Coelo's I Eat Cannibals
posted by echolalia67 at 3:56 PM on August 20, 2014

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