Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Worst 200 Songs Part 1: #200-181

And we're away...

And so we commence... the rules being: we each write a maximum of 200 characters (including spaces) per entry - as we have 200 entries and to save time and our respective sanities...

200. Queen - 'Don't Stop Me Now'
(released in 1979, reached #9 in the UK Singles Chart, nominated by DL)

David Lichfield: Student disco staple that always marked the depressing realisation you were off home alone to vomit and weep. Queen had many agreeable hits away from the pomp and decadence, this isn't one.

Alex Niven: A good song at heart but travestied forever by its involvement in a thousand noughties nightclub Cheesefests.

John Gibson: In which Freddie Mercury confuses his supersonic with his superluminal and Brian May sounds bored, like he’s already thinking more about badgers than Queen.

Tom May: While I would’ve chosen a later Queen song, it is tediously over-exposed, with witless metaphors (‘I am a satellite, I’m out of control’) and embodies a hedonism that is oppressive, not welcoming.

199. Billy Joel - 'We Didn't Start the Fire'
(1989, #7, TM)

DL: Not hated enough by me to transcend the lower reaches. Seen as something of a bombastic, novelty track by some, with a meaningless list of cultural milestones intoned over horrific 1980's production.

AN: Don't know it.

JG: Derisory, plodding rip off of REM’s ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It’ a year after that fact, as if no one was going to notice.

TM: Fukuyama pop, which devalues History with its smugly random gazetteer of post-war names and events. The nature of the ‘fire’ and America’s supposed fire-fighting are typically, tellingly indistinct.

198. Peter Gabriel - 'Sledgehammer'
(1986, #4, RC)

DL: With some crass, alarmingly un-erotic innuendo which had largely gone unnoticed by me before ('You can have a steam train, if you'd just lay down the tracks'), this flat behemoth slips in seamlessly.

AN: The sound of everything beginning to go badly wrong.

JG: More famous for its video than the song and rightly so, considering that this is effectively a Bud Light version of the Thornbridge Jaipur calibre Art of Noise.

TM: The clomping, steamrollering cadence of consumerism. Witness the promo’s frenetic inanity; adventures are shrivelled, sold. All the more dispiriting as he had been such a weird English talisman.

197. Paul McCartney & The Frog Chorus - 'We All Stand Together'
(1984, #3, DL)

DL: A perplexing snapshot of the decline demonstrated by Macca post-Beatles, 'The Frog Chorus' is the worst possible way to be introduced to this one-time icon, and is a legacy-tarnishing exhibit.

AN: Macca, what were you thinking? Although you did sneak some interesting touches into the arrangement...

JG: When we kids at school, we used the central refrain of song two years later to the effect of “bomb, bomb, bomb Libya”. This probably says something, although I have no idea quite what.

TM: Affable fare, if certainly many leagues from the genial absurdity and invention of Ram or McCartney II. It evokes the genteel socialism of E. Nesbit, rather than Ken Loach. There are worse things.

196. Peter Sarstedt - 'Where do you go to My Lovely?'
(1969, #1, DL)

DL: Nothing wrong with a lovelorn pop song, but this pseudo-Gallic portion of never-ending bile could make the most bright-eyed romantic commit acts deemed heinous in all cultures. Discount Jacques Brel.

AN: I like this quite a lot actually.

JG: I think your lovely goes away from your horrible warbling voice, Peter.

TM: A pale appropriation of the then-fashionable French chanson for dubious purposes. Sarstedt is self-satisfied in his cultural citations and presumptuous about she who he interminably objectifies.

195. Dr Hook - 'When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman'

(1979, #1, DL)

DL: You don't see 1990s chart-toppers sounding as far removed from the present as music like this did even just 11 years or so after release. Lyrically and musically off-putting, with more bad innuendo.

AN: This too.

JG: Middling, inoffensive, tepid, banal – how many words for “meh” do you want?

TM: A slither of boring, self-glorifying paranoia, which yields just as little pleasure as it did back in 1996 when it was inexplicably played by an elderly Maths teacher in class.

194. Bryan Adams - 'Everything I Do'
(1991, #1, TM)

No embedding allowed, as Adams is clearly watching out for projects like this!

DL: At the helm of the chart for a tortoise's lifetime, another tender ballad with all the convincing sincerity of a car park. The sound of Valentine's Night Jeremy Clarkson; even the radio edit drags.

AN: And this is one of my all time faves.

JG: In 1995 Bryan Adams sang a song about permanent debauchery called '18 Til I Die'. Two years later he bought the pub next door and promptly shut it so he could get to bed by 9.30. Tosspot.

TM: Not his nadir, but a deadening weight at the top of charts for four months. The emotive chords are hackneyed; this is stadium friendly, fists in the air fodder, with Claptonite guitar solo to boot.

193. David Bowie & Mick Jagger - 'Dancing in the Street'
(1985, #1, TM)

DL: Not even an unwittingly hilarious video can save this musical form of vandalism. A strong argument for compulsory retirement from the hit parade once one's creative seed has began to run dry.

AN: If you were to try to imagine an antithesis to Martha and the Vandellas in 1965, this would be it.

JG: The video for 'Dancing in the Street' marks the point at which Mick Jagger began his inexorable transformation into a clay animation of himself. Uninspired.

TM: “Okay! TOKYO!!! SARF AMERRRIIICAAAAA!!!!!” They bawl with all the subtlety of artillery and dance with the grace of the Chuckle Brothers. A garish, misbegotten 80s travesty of the Motown original.

192. Atomic Kitten - 'The Tide is High (Get the Feeling)'
(2002, #1, TM)

DL: A cover of a cover, this tacky reworking came complete with an inexcusable, banal new bridge, adonyne pop production and none of the magic exhibited by even the Blondie version. Awful, hen night pop.

AN: Like it.

JG: Tuneless, cynical reworking of Blondie’s middle-of-the-road, cod-reggae nonsense. Perhaps they should have chosen 'Rip Her to Shreds'.

TM: This has an infuriating sheen of utter blankness and blandness. Little to say other than that this reduces one of Blondie’s weaker hits to musical wallpaper, fit to soundtrack ITV holiday programmes.

191. Nizlopi - 'The JCB Song'
(2005, #1, TM)

DL: Cursed to headline tenth tents of free festivals forever, Nizlopi's one chart hit was the somewhat trite acoustic testimony of a bullying victim, from the truant context of his father's vehicle.

AN: The yelping revolution starts here. Middle-class inconsequentialism masquerading as pathos.

JG: Perhaps what’s most offensive about this is that it doesn’t even sound like a novelty/comedy record. No, it sounds like bloody Chet Atkins. Horrible.

TM: Have hated this since the first time I heard its weedy, calculated ‘folksiness’ while browsing in HMV. His voice has all the galling ‘profundity’ of a latter-day Nick Clegg. A ‘top laugh’ ‘boss’? Nah.

190. Ferry Aid - 'Let it Be'
(1987, #1, TM)

DL: If you can separate the good causes from the shite records usually released on the back of them, then it's easy to proudly announce the presence of Sun-backed abominations like this on the rundown.

AN: No clarification needed.

JG: A harsh choice, maybe, but this plodding version of one of The Beatles’ weakest moments does little for the ears. Still, you shouldn’t joke around about the wider circumstances.

TM: An inappropriately stoical response to an avoidable tragedy – sponsored by The Sun, who had given away cheap tickets for the MS Herald of Free Enterprise. Infinitely inane vocal gymnastics and guitar solos.

189. Duran Duran - 'Is There Something I Should Know'
(1983, #1, TM)

DL: Epitomising as they do all that was shallow and soulless about the 1980's, it's no surprise to see the many-Taylored quintet on the chart. One presumes that it's the unfortunate lyric that swung it.

AN: Sometimes, it matters that the people who wrote a song were complete and utter cunts.

JG: Simon le Bon – the most ironically named man in pop. This is terrible, but remarkably isn’t quite as bad as 'The Reflex'.

TM: “You’re about as easy as a NUCLEAR WAR!” We had Edwyn and Clare; Haircut 100 and ABC. Yet we opted for this brash, Thatcherite assault; assertive, finger-pointing bravado and an enduringly bad lyric.

188. Renee and Renato - 'Save Your Love'
(1982, #1, TM)

DL: Oh, get a room. Interestingly the last UK Number One single that completely pre-dates me, and I'm not entirely sure we've seen such a Cornetto advert of a song at the lunacy of the top spot since.

AN: Don't know it.

JG: Perhaps this is how Daily Mail readers imagine European integration at its best – a fat, sweating Italian murdering the art of opera to suck up to a blond from Howard’s fucking Way.

TM: The success of this typifies how many British people have seen Europe as consisting of little more than sun, sand and ‘funny foreigners’. Renee and Renato make Demis Roussos sound like John Lydon.

187. England World Cup Squad - 'Whole World at Our Feet'
(1986, #66, TM)

DL: Long-forgotten and intolerable 1986 World Cup single and reason in itself for getting New Order in four years later. And a Top 70 smash. Seemingly made up on the spot to an improvised Casio backing.

AN: Thankfully, this sort of thing doesn't happen any more.

JG: Football songs hit a nadir in the mid-80s, right up until the time John Barnes started rapping. There’s no rapping on this one.

TM: A “battle cry” rendered on the cheapest synth imaginable; a “lion’s roar” akin to a cartoon mouse. Kids’ party musical ‘flourishes’. A chorus of footballers. A world away from the ‘Motion’ of 1990.

186. Limahl - 'Too Much Trouble'
(1984, #64, TM)

DL: Another 1980s flop, this time from the man who outgrew Kajagoogoo. I'm hoping for a high placing for his former band's major crime, but this is certainly one for the 'how can anyone enjoy this' pile?

AN: Don't know it.

JG: Limahl’s haircut was once described in the NME as looking like a mullet but the wrong way round. And that’s about as much as can be said for this forgettable, piddling non-song.

TM: Achieving a staggering two places higher than its predecessor in this list, this is a tedious, flatulent eighties effort that I find hard to sit through, inexplicable cricket motif in the video and all.

185. Michael Jackson - 'Cry'
(2001, #25, TM)

DL: Exactly the poor man's 'Earth Song' you'd have expected from all subsequent albums; it's unfathomable that an artist can fall this far from grace creatively regardless of any private decline.

AN: By this point of MJ's life/career, crying must have felt like something humans used to do.

JG: Jacko in the midst of his ongoing quest to become as irrelevant as humanly possible. A waste of a mountainous talent.

TM: Sickening, maudlin, R. Kelly-assisted shite. I have little to add to what I said here about this self-help peddling dirge. One of the very lowest ebbs of a strange career, epitomising his sad descent.

184. Glenn Hoddle & Chris Waddle - 'Diamond Lights'
(1987, #12, TM)

DL: A pretty rubbish record that can surely be enjoyed ironically. Embarrasing and cringe-worthy certainly, but I'd say, all-in-all, the world would be a worse place if we didn't have this to chortle at.

AN: Chris Waddle you mulletted wanker. This is what happens when you betray the Toon.

JG: Written by the genius behind Russ Abbot’s hits from the same period. Sounds more “adult contemporary” than Abbot's 'Atmosphere'. Terrible.

TM: A famous folly, with Hoddle ardent for some desperate glory and Waddle hanging onto that microphone stand like a life-raft. Not on the same detestable level as much of this run-down but worth a place.

183. Blur - 'Parklife'
(1994, #10, AN)

DL: Forever conjoined to class tourism, political cultural hijacking, inanity and generic compilation albums, 'Parklife' is certainly on my 'don't want to hear ever again' list, but the band are not.

AN: An offensively patronising, pseudo-working-class recitative slapped on top of two-chord oompah-oompah shite.

JG: It sounds cheesy and oh-so-Britpop now, but we have to remember that Parklife is actually an acerbic, angry record, and its 'retro' sound conveys a sense of little changing since the 70s. I like it.

TM: There is a parallel history of Britpop where Blur were as consistently on the mark as Pulp, Disco Inferno and Saint Etienne. They had great material on most albums but also belittling hits like this.

182. Pendulum - 'Propane Nightmares'
(2008, #8, DL)

DL: Why do metal fans like Pendulum so much and almost no other electronic music? Why no drum and bass fans like Pendulum? See also: Skrillex in similar pattern. I can only put it down to that emo vocal.

AN: A nightmare vision of contemporary youth culture.

JG: Metal-drum 'n' bass crossover wank. To be avoided at all costs.

TM: This possesses all the intricacy and nuance of Colin Baker’s cliff-hanger mugging in The Trial of a Time Lord. Rarely has the vocoder sounded as crass or synthesizers as artless. Utter claptrap.

181. Simple Minds - 'Don't You (Forget About Me)'
(1985, #7, RC)

DL: I can certainly see why these 1980s world-straddlers deserve a place in such a countdown, but I would have opted for 'Belfast Child'. Personally, I find this a swooping (bombastic), affable rock epic.

AN: There is absolutely nothing good about this.

JG: Q. What did Jim Kerr say when fending off a bread-wielding Frenchman? A. “Don’t you – baguette about me!”

TM: I agree with Robin’s nomination: shows a similar compromise to #198. Simple Minds were great up to and including New Gold Dream: experimental and melodious. Then came the Hollywood soundtrack swagger.

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