Worst 90's songs
January 19, 2021 5:39 AM   Subscribe

I write poems (often presented as spoken word) that are comprised of lyrics from 90's songs. Right now I'm working on one based off the worst songs. I've read a lot of listicles, but it's usually the same ones over and over. (Listed those below the fold.) What other songs are worthy of inclusion, either according to you or a site you link to?

Currently, this one has lines from Barbie Girl, Who Let the Dogs Out, Macarena, My Heart Will Go On, Mmmbop, I'm Too Sexy, Mouth, Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm, What's Up, Tubthumpin', and Life is a Highway. Also including friends' picks Groove Is In the Heart, Lightning Crashes, Silver Springs, and The Sign.

So far the theme is shaping up to be more party than love ballad. But I'll try anything.
posted by mermaidcafe to Media & Arts (87 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Eiffel 65 - Blue
Lou Bega - Mambo No. 5
posted by knile at 5:49 AM on January 19 [10 favorites]

The Bad Touch - Bloodhound Gang (squeaks in with a 1999 release date)
posted by Balthamos at 5:56 AM on January 19 [6 favorites]

Sex and Candy - Marcy Playground
Counting Blue Cars - Dishwalla
Truly Madly Deeply - Savage Garden
posted by saladin at 5:58 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]

You Gotta Be - Des'ree (she sings it really nicely...but)
Anything by Technotronic (pump up the jam pump it up)
Whoomp! There It Is - Tag Team (I had to look up the artist!)
posted by wellred at 5:59 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]

Breakfast at Tiffany’s — Deep Blue Something
Heaven — Warrant
posted by corey flood at 6:01 AM on January 19 [4 favorites]

Tubthumping - Chumbawumba
posted by vitout at 6:03 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

"Everything About You" - Ugly Kid Joe
"Unbelievable" - EMF
posted by thelonius at 6:05 AM on January 19

Ice Ice Baby (1990).
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds at 6:05 AM on January 19 [6 favorites]

Jump Around — House of Pain
I Don’t Want to Wait — Paula Cole
Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman — Bryan Adams
More Than Words — Extreme
posted by corey flood at 6:07 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]

I Touch Myself, DiVinyls, squeaks by with a 1990 release date.

I Want You, Savage Garden
posted by gideonfrog at 6:11 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]

More Than Words — Extreme

This has activated repressed memories of the final gasp of hair metal bands, before Nirvana sent them off to play the State Fair circuit.

I therefore nominate "Cherry Pie", Warrant.
posted by thelonius at 6:12 AM on January 19 [13 favorites]

Popular - Nada Surf
Anything by Everclear
There is a gold mine with Limp Bizkit
posted by bfranklin at 6:25 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

Perhaps that is iconic, but their (Barenaked Ladies) "One Week" is more annoying
posted by thelonius at 6:28 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]

"No Way No Way" - Vanilla
posted by mydonkeybenjamin at 6:29 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

Informer - Snow
a licky boom boom down
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:29 AM on January 19 [15 favorites]

Loser - Beck
posted by medusa at 6:35 AM on January 19

Whether you heard of it depends where you are, but Daphne & Celeste's 'Ooh Stick You' was released in September 1999.
posted by biffa at 6:37 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]

Peaches by President of the United States of America
Bombastic by Shaggy
Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus
Thong Song by Sisqó
posted by MadMadam at 6:39 AM on January 19 [7 favorites]

Everything I do (I do for you) - That Bryan Adams song from Robin Hood. It has the weight, depth, and lyrical prowess of 8th grade poetry
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:40 AM on January 19 [19 favorites]

Life - Des'ree
Return to Innocence - Enigma
posted by pendrift at 6:43 AM on January 19

Achy Breaky Heart has to be in. This is not optional.
posted by flabdablet at 6:45 AM on January 19 [7 favorites]

Just popping in to say I unapologetically love 100% of the songs in this Ask. (Except Tubthumping.)
posted by sevensnowflakes at 6:45 AM on January 19 [25 favorites]

The absolute worst 90s song is Local H, Bound for the Floor.

And you just don't get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it's so pathetic
And you just don't get it, you keep it copacetic
And you learn to accept it, you know it's so pathetic

Absolute poetry.
posted by bondcliff at 6:46 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

We had to play that horrid Bryan Adams song in school band so I heartily second that nomination.

- I only wanna be with you - Hootie and the blowfish
- If I had a million dollars - Bare Naked Ladies
- How Bizarre - OMC
- The Freshmen - The Verve Pipe
posted by Stoof at 6:47 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]

Jackyl - The Lumberjack

Sublime - What I Got

Also recommending Snow - Informer
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:48 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

I forgot G*psy Woman (She's Homeless) by Crystal Waters
(title adjusted for Mefi's filter)
posted by Stoof at 6:49 AM on January 19

Spin Doctors, Two Princes
Positive K, I Got a Man
Extreme, More than Words
posted by miles per flower at 6:51 AM on January 19 [4 favorites]

I think it this is an opportunity to re-examine what terrible music abounded in the 90's, songs like Barbie by aqua are too easy. These are both super 90's and the lyrics have always elicited a hmmmmm from me:
  • "Affirmation" — Savage Garden
  • ‘Men In Black’ — Will Smith
  • ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)’ — Backstreet Boys. or ‘I want it that way‘
  • "One Headlight" — Wallflowers
  • "Rape Me" — Nirvana
  • "My Name Is" — Eminem
  • "1979" — Smashing Pumpkins
  • "Just A Girl" — No Doubt

posted by zenon at 7:04 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

"Whoever You Are" - Geggy Tah
"Ironic" - Alanis Morrisette
posted by LionIndex at 7:04 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

"Perhaps that is iconic, but their (Barenaked Ladies) 'One Week' is more annoying"

For the record, "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" is by Crash Test Dummies.

Also, Barenaked Ladies were primarily a comedy band, and while I do think some of their work has some emotional resonance, "One Week" was intended primarily to be amusing, not profound. That's kind of like saying Weird Al's lyrics are silly. Of course they are.

My nomination is "Touch It" by Monifah. I understand that it is held in some regard as a kind of feminist empowerment anthem, but just reading the lyrics out of context, some can sound a bit clunky.

(On the topic of female sexual empowerment, Khia's "My Neck My Back" apparently wasn't released until 2002.)

I find it absolutely shocking that "I Want It That Way" has only been mentioned once, and so late. I was of the opinion that it is the undisputed champion of awful lyrics. Maybe they're too awful?

On preview: Hahaha, Geggy Tah. Sometimes I listen to that song as I'm falling asleep, and it has the opposite effect as my head is filled with questions about how that whole thing happened.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:08 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]

"Tomorrow" - Silverchair
posted by LionIndex at 7:08 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]

I think people might need to review the difference between “bad song” and “song I don’t like.”
posted by holborne at 7:13 AM on January 19 [49 favorites]

Paula Cole - Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?
Goo Goo Dolls - Name (among others)
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:16 AM on January 19

I Wanna Sex You Up - Color Me Badd
Absolutely every song by Alanis Morisette (sorry, not sorry)
Foolish Games - Jewel
posted by maddieD at 7:19 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]




posted by Hypatia at 7:20 AM on January 19 [20 favorites]

Everyone here is wrong and the only correct answer is Summer Girls by LFO

Choose literally any lyric, and despair!
posted by wreckingball at 7:20 AM on January 19 [17 favorites]

Crush - Jennifer Paige (1998)

It's raising my adrenaline
You're banging on a heart of tin

posted by carmicha at 7:25 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]

Came here for LFO and was not disappointed.

I wanted to nominate Crazy Town, "Butterfly" but it looks like that didn't come out until 2000. The album it was on was released in 1999, so maybe it squeaks in there.
posted by Fuego at 7:32 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

Perhaps as a more objective measure of badness, these are the songs from the 90s that were #1 hits in the UK that got a 1 out of 10 on Freakytrigger's "Popular" project, which ranks all the UK #1 hits (plus one 2/10 I particularly despise):

Bombalurina - Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
Hale and Pace - The Stonk
Mr. Blobby - Mr. Blobby
Gary Barlow - Forever Love
Boyzone - No Matter What
Baz Luhrmann - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)
posted by LSK at 7:33 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

Hands by Jewel.
Anything by Train.
Most of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:34 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]

Ooof I want to fight you all so bad but my pop-music-lovin' heart resists.

On the other hand, Misterussell says to add Cotton Eye Joe to the list.
posted by kimberussell at 7:42 AM on January 19 [8 favorites]

"One of Us" - Joan Osborne
posted by LionIndex at 7:44 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]

Depending on your opinion of more...overwrought Guns ‘N’ Roses, you could add November Rain, Don’t Cry, or really just about anything from the Use Your Illusions.

Baby Got Back, of course, does NOT belong on this list.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:46 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

Half of you are astonishingly wrong.

....I nominate:

What is Love (Baby Don't Hurt Me).
I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing by Aerosmith.
Hold On by Wilson Phillips (released 1990).
Lovefool by the Cardigans.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:48 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]

"Right Here, Right Now" - Jesus Jones
posted by LionIndex at 7:50 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]

Oh God and "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand" which sucks on the merits but also has one of the most obnoxious titles of any song that ever received significant airplay.
posted by saladin at 7:59 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

The entirety of the Wild Wild West soundtrack.

There's a difference between bad song (Blue, All Star, Informer) and a song that's just over played to the point you want to pluck your ears from your head and set them on fire (Jewel, bless her heart). Putting a lot of women artists in this bucket may come across as sexist, like it's not Jewel's fault she hit the alt/pop/country trifecta so hard she was played EVERYWHERE.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:00 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

I’m as serious as cancer when I say that Rhythm is a Dancer.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 8:02 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]

Seconding Breakfast at Tiffany's, which would be unbeatable in any decade.

Other awful 90s songs:

Lightehouse Family, Lifted
The Cranberries, Zombie
Wet Wet Wet, Love Is All Around
posted by cincinnatus c at 8:28 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]

The overlap between people's worst songs and my best karaoke songs.... I Want It That Way, Tubthumping and Hold On are in my top 5.

I nominate Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:34 AM on January 19 [6 favorites]

I was just at the grocery store and they played "All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow, and I trudged through the aisles in despair.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 8:41 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]

Whoa whoa whoa Zombie is about the Troubles - the chorus is annoying but it's a really good song if you look at it.

Speaking of Sheryl Crow - Strong Enough makes me want to barf, because of the lyrics.
posted by wellred at 9:21 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]

I Want It That Way doesn't even make sense.
posted by oceano at 9:34 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]

Tank fly boss walk jam nitty gritty, you're listening to the voice from the big bad city, this is jam hot!
Otherwise known as Dub Be Good to Me by Beats International (aka early Fatboy Slim).

And somehow, no-one appears to have mentioned Here Comes the Hotstepper by Ini Kamoze

(I love both these songs, of course)
posted by underclocked at 10:04 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]

(Jewel, bless her heart)
Jewel peaked when she was eaten by Hitchhiker Joe in the mid '90s. Also a bad song, but much too obscure for this kind of list.

Just kidding, "Who Will Save Your Soul" is perfectly fine.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:22 AM on January 19

Came for Joan Osborne, although every Aerosmith song from the nineties is also horrid poetry.

I fail to see how Zombie is bad poetry, however annoying you might find the song.
All Star is also a horrible song, but while it's not even remotely forgivable musically the lyrics at least make sense as (sophomoric) poetry.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:35 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

I fail to see how Zombie is bad poetry, however annoying you might find the song.

Zombie is hilariously awful both musically and lyrically. Sure, it's about the Troubles, but it's a naive and idiotic treatment of them.

I would also nominate The Cranberries' "I Just Shot John Lennon" as an even worse song of the 1990s (albeit less well known), which beats even Zombie for a hamfisted take on a serious subject (surely the worst lyrics every written?).
posted by cincinnatus c at 10:59 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

No love for 'Short Dicked Man' by Gillette?
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 11:07 AM on January 19 [6 favorites]

Alternating between nods of furious agreement and gasps of shocked outrage reading previous nominations!

My suggestions:
  • Unskinny Bop - Poison (1990) What's got you so jumpy? Why can't you sit still, yeah? Like gasoline, you wanna pump me And leave me when you get your fill, yeah
  • Pretty Fly For A White Guy - The Offspring (1999) Now he's getting a tattoo yeah, he's getting ink done He asked for a 13, but they drew a 31 Friends say he's trying too hard and he's not quite hip But in his own mind he's the, he's the dopest trip
  • Sir Psycho Sexy - Red Hot Chili Peppers (1991) (Not released as a single, which is unsurprising when you read the rest of the very explicit lyrics.) He's a freak of nature But we love him so He's a freak of nature But we let him go

posted by Cheese Monster at 11:25 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]

The definitive answer is Accidentally Kelly Street, by Frente!
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 11:39 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

Anything by Shania Twain.

If you're going for overwrought Aerosmith, you surely need Bon Jovi too.
posted by redlines at 11:47 AM on January 19

Please stretch to 2000 so you can give some time to U2 - Elevation, aka the type specimen for the Ladybird First Readers school of lyric-craft.
posted by protorp at 12:11 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

holborne: I understood the question to be "bad songs" not on a big dumb list of THE WORST songs, songs with lyrics that would be somewhat recognizable or memorable. mermaidcafe had enough 'party anthems', and I argue the tracks don't need to be universally reviled. I came up with a range of music that I know people like, because I actually enjoy some of my list. But I know that all of those songs can provoke pure hatred in otherwise reasonable people. Everyone one of these are songs/artists is something that someone I know loathe. A lot.

If it was just the most objectively worst song of that decade it would have to be Wiggle Wiggle from Mr Bob Dylan, which featured Slash doing a cameo on the record. It is just the most indulgent awfull mess, possibly ever, certainly for the 90's. It might be most famous for getting a fine cover treatment from Ween. But nobody has heard wiggle wiggle.
posted by zenon at 12:25 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure you all are cribbing my karaoke list!

Not on that list, but worthy of yours: Rico Suave - Gerardo (1990)
posted by meinvt at 2:02 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

If you have Achy Breaky Heart, you have to have Watermelon Crawl by Tracy Byrd.

(I do admit to dancing to it quite frequently with a friend while cleaning up after dinner in the co-op we lived in during grad school in Austin...)
posted by kathrynm at 2:12 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

The lyrics to "I Want It That Way" don't really make any sense because Max Martin, the Swedish producer who co-wrote the song, didn't have a perfect grasp of English. If lyrical inferiority is what you're looking for, you could mine his early catalog.

Email My Heart - Britney Spears

Here's a playlist called "WORST OF THE 90s"
posted by meemzi at 2:30 PM on January 19

It's French, but it did receive an American release and it is face-meltingly godawful--Dur dur d'etre bebe!
posted by zeusianfog at 3:03 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]

Are we all just listing awesome songs from the 90s? Cuz that’s what’s happening.

Wreckz-n-Effects - Rump Shaker
Tracy Byrd - Watermelon Crawl
posted by Sassyfras at 3:33 PM on January 19 [4 favorites]

Wait actually Mambo No. 5 wins in a landslide and everything else is comparatively Auden.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:50 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]

No Rain by Blind Melon makes me want to poke my ears out. Omg

Mambo no 5 is a definite. As is Achy Breaky Heart.
posted by ChristineSings at 7:14 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]

Butterfly - Crazy Town.

Just typing that made me angry.
posted by arha at 8:53 PM on January 19 [4 favorites]

How is the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” not on this list?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:09 PM on January 19

No Pigeons the terrible terrible “response” to TLC’s No Scrubs needs to be mentioned.
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 10:09 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]

If this poem is supposed to be made of the "worst" songs from the 90s, I think it either has to be your own personal worst list or it should be the stuff that keeps coming up on those lists of the worst. In other words, it's either totally unique to you, or there's a fair consensus. Splitting the difference and including stuff like Groove is in the Heart (which is pretty widely beloved) just because a friend doesn't like it is going to result in a poem that doesn't really come from you but is also too idiosyncratic to feel universal. If it's all stuff like Achy Breaky Heart people will get that these are lines from bad 90s songs, but if you throw in Rape Me or Zombie a lot of of your audience may just be confused. "Oh, I thought these were all bad songs, but then there's Nirvana and the Cranberries. I guess it's just a random mix of 90s songs. What's the point of that?"
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:00 PM on January 19 [4 favorites]

Remember Jordy the french kid - Dur Dur etre bebe?
posted by turkeybrain at 11:24 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

wynona's big brown beaver
posted by brujita at 3:23 AM on January 20

How about So Much Better by Evan Olson?
posted by pxe2000 at 10:01 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]

Silver Springs is a "worst" song?! Sacrilege!!!!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:40 PM on January 20

I nominate:
She thinks my tractor's sexy - Kenny Chesney
I left something turned on at home - Trace Adkins
posted by Blue Genie at 4:37 PM on January 20

Surely we can all agree on Hook by Blues Traveler... so catchy, so terrible...
posted by sumiami at 5:58 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]

It's not easy to top the lyrics of "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe" for sheer crapulence.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:35 PM on January 20

Cant believe I missed this thread. Also we've gotten this far and no one has said Hanson - MMMbop?
posted by cgg at 5:28 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]

The OP did.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:00 PM on January 23

wow, this thread is my own personal list of songs to sing along to in the car with the windows down. i feel very old.

del amitri - "roll to me"

yes "hook" is awful-great, but "run-around" is awfuller-greater.

how has no one said "mr jones" yet???!?! EUGH.

and excusez moi, how about "livin la vida loca"??!

AND "steal my sunshine"!
posted by wintersonata9 at 7:27 PM on January 23

Billie Piper - Because We Want To! Because we want to!

Goddamn that shit was annoying.
posted by automatronic at 2:41 PM on January 24

Please stretch to 2000 so you can give some time to U2 - Elevation, aka the type specimen for the Ladybird First Readers school of lyric-craft.

You don't need to stretch to 2000 when Des'ree's Life was released in 1998. The verse "I don't want to see a ghost / It's a sight that I fear most / I'd rather have a piece of toast / And watch the evening news." was still being voted the worst lyric of all time in multiple polls a decade later.
posted by automatronic at 2:53 PM on January 24

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