Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Worst 200 Songs, Part II: #180-161

Okay, time for part #2 of a rundown that has already proved extremely divisive. Though we have avoided the usual 200 novelty hits that you'd usually expect to find in this type of thing, it is this part of the chart whereby the majority of nominations of that ilk have finished up. If, for some unfathomable reason you'd like to enjoy this part of the project whilst listening to the records themselves, then I've put together a YouTube playlist.

180. MC Miker G & Deejay Sven - 'Holiday Rap'

(1986, #6, JG)


DL
: A further offering of funny foreigners, this time employing that wacky and innocent hip-hop delivery that could not survive the dual-pronged assault of NWA and this exact Madonna-sampling arsegem.

AN
: The Dutch haven't produced much of note since De Stijl, have they? Oh, I suppose there was Total Football. That was great. ‘Holiday’ has endless potential for creative re-appropriation, but this makes you regret that it does.

JG
: Thick Dutch accents, Cliff-Richard references, misappropriation of hip-hop, “Ring a dang a dong for a holleedai”. What’s not to like?

TM
: Sublimely abysmal stuff from Amsterdam rap duo whose “We’re here to stay” was presumptuous. Miker’s beat-box psychosis has only been matched by Rolf Harris; is that the first ‘shit’ uttered on TOTP?


179. Ocean Colour Scene - 'The Day We Caught the Train'

(1996, #4, RC)


DL
: In an unprecedented U-turn, I’m maybe disgustingly going to have to admit this is a fine and somewhat timeless Summer tune when disassociated from Chris Evans and opportunistic neo-liberal movements.

AN
: Despite my personal affection for this (memories of the first weekend of Euro '96), I can't justify it objectively, politically, ethically, or lyrically.

JG
: Despite their many, many critics, Ocean Colour Scene had millions of loyal and faithful fans. Those fans were wrong.

TM
: I just can’t board this bleary, laddish locomotive; can’t get with his lairy "ROLL A NUMBER!” bellowing. “I laid my plans in solid rock”: isn’t that the problem? No more rock and roll for you, lad!


178. Adam Faith - 'Lonely Pup (In a Christmas Shop)'

(1960, #4, RC)


DL
: Adam Faith's reported last words were ''Channel Five is all shit, isn't it? Christ, the crap they put on there. It's a waste of space''. Surely that's some recompense for this mortifying, twee slop.

AN
: Consumerist candy imitating America in the worst possible way. A good looking chap though, Adam Faith.

JG
: Whilst fully endorsing the old adage that a dog should not just be for Christmas, that’s not quite how I feel about this record. Roll on 'Little Saint Nick'.

TM
: Irksome enunciation of ‘oh so good’. It is a phoned-in recital from future Budgie and malign manager in Stardust. No such life here. Mercifully brief at 104 seconds, which spared it a higher placing.


177. Danny Mirror - 'I Remember Elvis Presley (The King is Dead)'

(1977, #4, TM)


DL
: Surely a bizarre, ambulance-chasing sinister parody isn't the most appropriate way to pay tribute to your chosen recently-passed cultural icon? Tacky, cynical and arguably ill-intentioned.

AN
: Pop beginning to eat itself. Some might say it recently collapsed on the toilet, covered in excrement, reeking of hamburger.

JG
: This is a bit tasteless, no? Imagine if OMD had released a song called 'Bleeding in the Gutter' in February 1981 to the tune of 'Help!'

TM
: Mirror was actually the Rotterdam born Eddy Ouwens – responsible for co-writing Teach In’s passable Eurovision winner of 1975, ‘Ding-A-Dong’. This is somewhat less catchy and drearily deferential.


176. Telly Savalas - 'If'

(1975, #1, RC)


DL
: Bizarrely, it seemed the world was crying out for a spoken-word Kojak cover version of a Bread track that surpasses infinitely the original's gooiness albeit with more shuddersome threat in 1975.

AN
: Consumerist candy imitating America via Greece in the worst possible sense. Telly Savalas somewhat less fetching than Adam Faith.

JG
: I actually find this quite admirable, a 50 year old man striking up a Camel Light and huskily cooing his way through this standard. Pisses on Shatner’s 'Mr. Tambourine Man', at any rate.

TM
: Wing-collared, follically-challenged actor speaks over sluggish sludge. "And if the world should stop revolving; Y’ know, spinning slowly down to die". Listening to this, I know how the old orb feels.


175. McFly - 'Transylvania'

(2007, #1, TM)


DL
: I think that 'Transatlantic' would have been a better moniker given the drawl of messrs Fletcher and Jones. A number one hit whose week in the sun I have no recollection of whatsoever. Passable.

AN
: McFly were one of those inexplicably credible shit things about the noughties, like Hollyoaks and Justin Lee Collins.

JG
: This starts off promisingly enough, what with its glam rock references, but soon descends into the type of caterwauling shite that only McFly can do.

TM
: Infuriating, yelping charade. There are nods to the Beach Boys, Queen and maybe even XTC but it entirely lacks wit or zest. The "sorry if we disagree" bit predicts forthcoming landfill-indie larks.

I HAVE NO TIME FOR WESTERN MEDICINE
I AM CHARLES HAWTREY!
174. Who Cares? - 'Doctor in Distress'
(1985, failed to chart, TM)


DL: Are there any recorded instances of pop videos featuring vocalists cementing their takes whilst not looking like arsecunts? Absolutely horrendous pre-Autotune terror from start to end. Exterminate indeed.

AN
: I quite enjoyed this. Car crash kitsch, but interestingly bizarre.

JG
: Hard to say how far this over-busy synth-heavy single-issue campaigning helped the cause of Doctor Who during its dark nadir, but I can’t imagine Russell T. Davies was listening.

TM
: "Each screaming girl just hoped that a Yeti wouldn't shoot her"! The singer at 1:05 deserves this fate, with a smug Colin Baker. Sub-Hi-NRG farrago, only saved by Ainley and Courtney’s good humour.

"And the Brigadier and the Master! / And a K9 computer...!"
173. Journey - 'Don't Stop Believin''
(1982, #52*, RC)

*Originally and that's what counts


DL
: Perhaps sentimental power ballad that enjoyed a 28-year ascent to the UK Top Ten. Rather than toeing the party line, I'm happy to defend this, though not quite to the hilt. It does plod on a bit.

AN
: There are many better power ballads than this. It has what I'd call an "empty hook": mechanistically catchy but devoid of magic.

JG
: The US’s own 'Owner of a Lonely Heart'; the sound of prog rock becoming an amazingly worse art-form (MOR). Absolute shite.

TM
: Slick, airbrushed and utterly boring ‘anthemic’ rock; wasn’t good enough for 1982’s Top40 – and rightly so. As with your Bon Jovis and your Bryan Adams, a faux-rebellious anthem for complacent youth.


172. Catch - 'Bingo'

(1997, #23, TM)


DL
: This senseless appropriation of cheeky, humdrum indie-pop was rudely interrupted during a repeat late-night showing of the ITV Chart Show by some breaking news story or other. It wasn't recommenced.

AN
: With retrospect, I'm not sure we as a race ever recovered from this song.

JG
: Needlessly complicated arrangement about virginity-loss that tries too hard. I’d rather hear about Rolf Harris’s cherry-popping instead.

TM
: DesulTory tosh from the public schools. It presages Scouting for Girls and McFly with its debased 60s harmonies and utterly charmless vocal yearning for "where the films are blue"; posh Askwith alert!

171. Rod Stewart - 'Tom Traubert's Blues (Waltzing Matilda)'
(1992, #6, RC)

DL
: "Can I borrow a couple of bucks from you?" No you can't. I can only hope some of those British people packed some Benylin for him to absorb post-this lifeless drag of a Tom Waits rehash.

AN
: Never understood Rod Stewart. Or Australians for that matter.

JG
: Musically, this isn’t an absolute atrocity by any means. I just don’t know why it exists. What is it for?

TM
: Laborious mauling of the Tom Waits song; a bearded Rod milking all of the ersatz emotion he discerns, therefore missing the subtler emotions of the original. The line "no prima donnas" seems ironic.

170. Blue - 'One Love'

(2002, #3, DL)


DL
: (I'M LOSING THE WILL TO LIVE HERE!) Cliché-ridden British take on swing-beat totally devoid of soul, emotion, depth and integrity. Not the last time we'll hear from the then-ubiquitous combo. A colourless, gaping hole of a song.

AN
: I like it.

JG
: Tapping into our naive desires for (as Terre Thaemlitz puts it) shared human experience with no reference to social context. Annoyingly, it’s technically proficient enough not to be too hateful.

TM
: They walk the city streets like they own them. There are some typically ‘earnest’ boy-band vocal stylings. Not the worst but somehow makes cosmopolitanism seem dull.


169. Tom Jones and Mousse T - 'Sex Bomb'

(2000, #3, DL)


DL
: With the seductive power of your average Tory backbencher (Major's cabinet), this grossly unerotic offering of predatory creepiness must have poured thousands into the chastity belt industry.

AN
: I tend to look back on the turn of the century as a time when dance culture was still in rude health. This vitiates my argument utterly.

JG
: This is just a joke record. Ho ho, let’s get wizened Tom Jones in to sing about sexual desire, hee hee. In a similar vein to mid-1970s Carry On fare.

TM
: ‘It’s Not Unusual’ is profound and deathless; this is just disastrous. A sixty year-old’s strained chortling, backed by an approximation of funk that is little more than supermarket raunch.


168. Wheatus - 'Teenage Dirtbag'

(2001, #2, JG)


DL
: An inane take on the power-pop of Weezer without the poignancy, charm or eccentricity. 'Teenage Dirtbag' marks one of those rare instances where the underdog doesn't deserve to triumph.

AN
: This is an enjoyable pantomime song that stands up well in comparison with, say, The Darkness, who actually made a serious career out of this shit.

JG
: For anyone experiencing real Joy Division-esque angst and social isolation as a teenager, this is like Vanilla fucking Ice. Offensive, twee and making light of actual trauma.

TM
: I don’t mind this too much, yet gave it a ‘7’ due to the irritating vocal timbre and excessive overplay. "Listen to Iron Maiden, baby, with me": typically retrogressive sentiments from 2001.


167. DJ Jean - 'The Launch'

(1999, #2, JG)


DL
: The kind of boring, repetitive and inconsequential Euro-house so typical of a sizeable portion of late nineties/early-noughties commercial dance. If you cut it open it would bleed 'meh'.

AN: I like it. Sort of.

JG: In the mid-90s dance music produced high-charting classics by the likes of Strike and Oceanic. ‘The Launch’ was the gravestone of any such further hopes.

TM: Our first dance music selection; sums up the problems of faceless DJ culture. This is post-human, unlike electronic music where humans and machines coalesce. Living in a satellite fantasy, indeed.



166. Alannah Myles - 'Black Velvet'

(1990, #2, RC)


DL
: By my calculations the 2nd tribute to Mr Presley on our countdown, but not as questionable as the first to my ears. Just your usual brooding, hackneyed 'classic' rock hit for your cunting Cadillac.

AN
: Some good-ish harmonies here.

JG
: To be honest, I have no idea why this middling, average, run of the mill Capital FM staple is in here. Unremarkable, but not a depth-plumber, I wouldn’t have thought.

TM
: Power balladry that would well accompany the unhinged, scheming histrionics of Jill Tyrell in Julia Davis’s Nighty Night. Peculiarly late-80s/early-90s but not in the AR Kane, Badalamenti or KLF sense.


165. Madonna - 'Music'

(2000, #1, DL)


DL
: Whatever happened to the melodic euphoria Madonna captured so easily up until the early nineties? 'Music' was just one of several examples of Madge bandwagon jumping. Forced, cold and calculated.

AN
: This is okay, not offensive for me.

JG
: Madonna was interesting when she was taking the lead in tackling various taboos about religion and sex. Here she sounds bored. Still, it’s better than the execrable “W.E.”.

TM
: Cynical commercial package that marked a rapid nosedive in quality from the Ray of Light era. ‘Music makes the people come together’. This induces indifference with its conceited video and lyrics.


164. Middle of the Road - 'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep'

(1971, #1, DL)


DL
: Sometimes you just have to be grateful for your date of birth. Were terms like 'twee', 'sickening' and 'nauseating' not in the popular consciousness in 1971? At least it has a tune, unlike #165.

AN
: Another pointless novelty song. Although the drums sound pretty good. Doesn't really need critiquing. Or perhaps it does ...

JG
: Is it just me, or does this (vocally at any rate) set the template that Abba would strip-mine to such effect? Plus, I know a very different version of the central refrain, but let’s not go there.

TM
: Moronically repetitive morsel of music; an exhibit in the case for prosecution of the pop song with its drearily senseless, insert-a-cliché lyrics. They did do better, but this is unforgivable.


163. Ja Rule (Feat. R. Kelly & Ashanti) - 'Wonderful'
(2004, #1, TM)

DL
: Neurotic, self-pitying and thinly-veiled celebration of material attainment so associated with this kind of thing, the phrase 'Ja Rule featuring R Kelly' being as appetising as a nail truffle alone.

AN
: Does this mark the end of the golden age of r'n'b? It's been all decline in the years since, but this still sounds good to me.

JG
: One of a long run of tiresome soundalike RnB songs about bling and gangsters, designed largely for white audiences. Dull production too. Where’s Timbaland when you need him?

TM:
It is a long road from Eric B & Rakim and Run DMC to this whining. Ashanti is subordinate; R Kelly is an inevitable malefactor: contribution #2 of 4 in this survey. The millionaire protests too much.


162. Blue - 'If You Come Back'

(2001, #1, TM)


DL
: Gone are the days when we could unwind, content in the knowledge that the trite and shallow boy-band ballad was an obsolete form. Thanks, JLS!

AN
: See above: I have (a very small amount of) time for Blue, though this is nowhere as good as 'One Love'.

JG
: As per ‘One Love’ I know this is poor and over-produced fluff but I find it hard to get too worked up about it. Now I think about it; that makes for a far greater sin than the ‘Holiday Rap’.

TM
: For me, more compellingly awful than #170 due to their grandstanding vocal aerobics from 2:08: “I don’t know WHAT TO SAY-E-AY!” This is ‘passion’ with all the clockwork sincerity of stage-school.


161. Hale and Pace - 'The Stonk'

(1991, #1, TM)


DL
: The best thing they ever put their name to, from the one-time kingpins of the ITV Sunday night graveyard slot. And you thought May and Taylor only sold legacies down rivers post-Mercury.

AN
: I guess this was a kind of nadir, yes.

JG
: Hale and Pace were a Sun reader’s idea of edgy comedy. Brian May is a Sun reader’s idea of art rock. Put them together and you have this. I rest my case.

TM
: Brian May-helmed abomination, not excused by its Comic Relief status. Dire, ‘honky-tonk’ music; pathetically ‘wacky’ dancing; inane, cretinous lyrics. Dave Gilmour looks thrilled to be involved.

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