Creating a “worst of” list is hard. Sure, it’s easy, and obviously more pleasant to talk about our favorite songs—the “bests” and the “greats”—because it create a connection between people.
A bond forged over shared musical interests is one that lasts a lifetime, even if that’s the only basis for the relationship. Music brings us together.
So, naturally, it’s always a little unnerving to create a personal “worsts” list, because there’s nothing more insulting than saying, “Hey, I think your ability to enjoy this song is wrong, therefore making you wrong.” But, unfortunately, it’s human nature to call out the crap.
Here’s my list.
Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
It hasn’t been safe to say “We’re halfway there” in a really, really long time. Bon Jovi recognizing the halfway point for everyone else. I attempted to give he entire Bon Jovi discography another shot when the Jovs himself had a cameo on 30 Rock as the “NBC Artist in Residence.” But, alas, this was unsuccessful. First, it’s great Jovi is turning to prayer in times of trouble, but to “swear” on it seems inevitably disappointing. Second, the staggered line of “we’ll – give – it – A – SHOT!” is almost as annoying as the breathy “ha-ha-ha-ha-has” throughout the background of the song. It’s borderline unlistenable, but now it’s stuck in my head for the next 72 hours (if I’m lucky.) Thanks for the musical herpes, Bon Jovi.
Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses
Ugh. Where does one have to go where there is green grass and attractive women? Right, Paradise City, a place for Axl Rose call home. Except this could be literally several hundred places on a basic map of the country, so if I were at the wheel of the winnebago, I’d have absolutely no idea where I was actually supposed to deliver Mr. Bandana. But it’s like they say: Every rose has its thorn. Once again: Ugh.
Here Without You – 3 Doors Down
This song is on this list because it’s not Kryptonite, therefore it is not enjoyable. Talk about taking a basic human emotion of loneliness and longing for someone who isn’t there and turning it into a three-minute cliche. I wish they were more than three doors down (great joke) so I could better drown out the mediocrity.
Photograph – Nickelback
Other writers are able to take the high road and construct a list such as this one without mentioning Nickelback. I am not one of those people. We’ve all heard the jokes and avoided the concerts, but this song is simply the worst, and here’s the simple reason why: It’s a song, which is something listened to using ears, demanding listeners to look at a freaking photo album because some guy called “Joey” had a particularly amusing object placed upon his head. I have my own collection of terrible photographs, and like a normal person I only use them to annoy my close family and friends, not an entire species.
Hotel California – Eagles
I’m starting this list off on a bold note. The Eagles’ ’77 hit “Hotel California” is oddly held in high regard by thousands of fans who hold this underwhelming six-minute tune dear to their hearts. For as popular as it was—topping the charts for approximately 168 hours—I find this song to be utterly boring. And the way the physical words “hotel” and “california” are “sung” is unpleasant, at the very least. It’s difficult for me to comprehend this wrongly beloved single was written by the same genius who wrote “Boys of Summer.” Mr. Don Henley, you were right to go solo.
Roxanne – The Police
Was this song recorded in a garage by a couple kids I went to high school with? If so, that would explain a lot. Experiencing this song as a karaoke catastrophe is hilarious, but experiencing the original as a catastrophe has less comedic moments. Sting is awkwardly yelling at both Roxanne and myself, or anyone listening, and I never get to a point where I feel all the musical components are in sync. This song is uncomfortable. It’s the Michael Scott of music.
Beverly Hills – Weezer
Weezer taught us that making The Blue Album doesn’t protect anyone from anything, most importantly from “Beverly Hills.” A Make Believe hit (ha), this song is the perfect example of what “spiraling downward” sounds like. Rivers Cuomo made some music, shared some laughs and a few tears, graduated from Harvard and then turned into a complete tool for an entire album. It’s similar to the point made in The Social Network where a Jesse-turned-Mark is told he won’t fit in because he’s a jerk, not a nerd. Cuomo, it’s okay that you went to Harvard and hold a particular liking for Asian women who play the cello. We like when you write songs about sweaters, so just keep on doing “you.”
Sugar Ray – Fly
Mark McGrath was one of the few things I consider actually “wrong” with the ’90s, so subsequently, so is “Fly.” The mass appeal this song held will forever be a mystery to be. Sometimes a song can be so simple it’s poetic. “Fly” is not one of those songs. It’s a song about nothing. Absolutely nothing. One could argue it’s about flying, but it’d be a stretch. But I can’t not picture McGrath’s highlights and sometimes-soul-patch-sometimes-goetee, and maybe that’s why this song is forever blacklisted on my playlist.
Jeremy – Pearl Jam
A general rule of thumb I follow is unless Eddie Vedder is writing music or the Into The Wild soundtrack, I’m not interested in his incoherent singing. I was born in 1992, but Jeremy was still popular when I became old enough to know what terrible songs sounded like. This songs is an example of angst being unnecessary—if you’re going to write a song about suicide, maybe add a touch of sincerity. For some reason the line “seemed a harmless little f***” bothers me within the context of the picture being painted, and it causes the entire tune to lose its appeal. But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the fact that “recess lady’s breast” is a lyric here and I can’t get over that.
Korn – Falling Away from Me
Korn will always be the band that used the same stylization as a major toy retailer. There is also the skinny dreads and/or braids and a rather elaborate microphone. Nu Metal is an acquired taste along with frontman lead vocalist Jonathan Davis’ voice, but “musical preference” isn’t a factor into whether or not “Falling Away from Me” is a good song, because it’s not. It sounds a little too demonic and twisted, and it samples a little bit of everything “rock” and “metal,” resulting in a confusing, disconnected sound.