Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Worst 200 Songs, Part V: #120-101

*Let's have the final chapter before we enter the top 100! Enjoy it with clips here

'Fear of the future is so deep in our hearts / We'll all but destroy ourselves'

120. Typically Tropical - 'Barbados'
(1975, #1, TM)

DL: More borderline racist and embarrassing novelty tripe, once again documenting the 1970s plight of Brits abroad. just as bad as the Vegaboys hit that it inspired. Mercifully, this no longer happens.

AN: Is there something recoverable in the communitarian aspect to this, the call and response, the singalong element? Just playing Devil’s Advocate. Obviously I don't like it really.

JG: Typically Western staging of a troubled Third World state (as was) as the usual island paradise. Later revived by the Vengaboys to inform us that they were going to eat pizza.

TM: It wouldn’t be half as annoying if the singer didn’t adopt the cod-Caribbean accent, auditioning to be Sting seemingly. That 70s synth sound is grating, rather than charming as it can often be.

119. Bobby Goldsboro - 'Honey'
(1968/75, #2 - both times, RC)

DL: Gooey dreck that makes 'Seasons In The Sun' sound like 'I Know It's Over'. Thinking about 1970s pop makes me feel so very tired. A constant in these kind of lists, and quite rightly so. Make it stop!

AN: I’d never heard this before. When it started up I was ready to defend it as Bacharachian orchestral kitsch. But then the chorus spectacularly failed to happen. Not good. A Westlife antecedent.

JG: This is completely forgettable easy-listening fluff, somewhat enlivened by the curious line: “I impressed her with a puppy.”

TM: Treacly ballad, monotonous enough to make ‘Windmills of Your Mind’ sound as adventurous as Nick Nicely’s ‘Hilly Fields (1892)’. “Guess you could say” such vapid smugness deserves a neck-wringing.

118. Kenny Loggins - 'Danger Zone'
(1986, #45, DL)

DL: One of my nominations and a staple of free CDs from the Daily Star circa 2004. Selected on the grounds that I couldn't imagine why anyone would possibly want to own it. Cinematically short of epic.

AN: Republican gym pop rock fuck.

JG: If you think about it hard, the individual elements (a continuous pulse-like rhythm, lots of synth bits, muted guitars) almost have something of Can or Neu! about them, but recalibrated for heinous Reaganite celebrations of jingoist toss.

TM: I resent the infernal persistence of these sort of films and this species of chugging, airbrushed 80s rock. Transformers: the Movie is nostalgic viewing for me and its music is at least enjoyably ludicrous.

117. Reverend and the Makers - 'He Said He Loved Me'
(2007, #16, DL)

DL: Laughably simplistic social commentary from the man who must have been dragged through several hedges backwards clinging onto the Arctic Monkeys’ coat-tails. Educated enough to lyricise better too.

AN: 2007 was a dark time for music. But then again, so is 2012. Will somebody please just do something good? It’s getting fricking desperate in here.

JG: Middle class types playing on their “northernness” to get away with writing some utterly ignorant Jeremy Kyle shite about chavs whilst having no more idea of such demographic environments than George fucking Osborne.

TM: Embarrassingly dire ‘northern’ vocals and sneering faces. The self-styled ‘The Reverend’ is a chancer, who claims to be influenced by John Cooper-Clarke. Evidence that Sheffield music is not always great.

116. Simple Minds - 'She's A River'
(1995, #9, TM)

DL: A world away from their innovative early work, this arrogant drone marked their last real dent into the hit parade. Even U2 did this kind of stadium synth-rock more convincingly. Sounds like cocaine.

AN: I had this on a tape of the Radio 1 Top Ten countdown in the early weeks of ’95. This was a lowlight. Human League’s ‘Tell Me When’ was also on there: an underrated little gem of a tune.

JG: She’s a river??? What the fuck does that even mean??? That you sit next to her and smoke doobies till you’re blue in the face???!!! No wonder she fucked off.

TM: Clattering bunkum, with a U2 likeness and inexplicable Buddhist monk motif in the video. Once they had travelled; by 1995 their terminus was Stadium Rock gigs and lengthy features in Q magazine.

Hi, I'm Khalid from infamously masterly Dr Who
adventure 'Time Flight', walking a tightrope

115. Tina Turner - 'The Best'

(1989, #5, AN)

DL: Can't say it's one of my favourites, but for an omnipresent late 80s soft-rock track, it does its job. Can't see much in it actively worth loathing. It's just there and it's not going away soon.

AN: My choices were shit, weren’t they?

JG: I usually enjoy this song more if one completes the time-honoured trick of exchanging the word for “you” for “I” and vice versa.

TM: It’s hard to overstate the prevalence of this bathetic, overblown song in 1990-95: music for bland, kitchen unit magnates. It was SAFC chairman Bob Murray’s favourite and a perennial at Crosby-Buxton era games.

114. N-Dubz - 'I Need You'
(2009, #5, DL)

DL: The very moment I heard "Facebook" name-dropped into the chorus of this, I decided I had dropped out of Radio 1's demographic. Light as an excuse for persistent online stalking too. "Bang bang shoes"?!

AN: An awful-sounding tune from a band with the most awful-sounding name in pop history.

JG: This is just an advertorial for Facebook, right?

TM: Petty, gormless anthem for misogynist stalkers: “I been searching all over Facebook”. “And that’s why we call them bitches” – pots calling kettles black and all that. Plus: silliest hat since #147.

113. David Gray - 'Babylon'
(2000, #5, DL)

DL: If you're missing faux-hippy Jo Whiley's tenure at the above station, don't, unless you sadistically enjoyed having boring, prematurely middle-aged singer-songwriters like this pounded into the ears.

AN: I vividly remember being 16 and hearing Jo Whiley (who I saw as a sort of female John Peel) hyping this up on Radio 1 in 2000 and thinking, hang on, something has gone badly wrong here. This was a seminal moment in the bourgeois incursion into the “indie” centre-left.

JG: OK, the man can sing, but seriously, how is this excessively cosy shite any different to nonsense like Des’Ree’s notorious 'Life', only masked by a slightly more refined lyricism? Music for pre-9/11 “End of History” bores.

TM: It’s my ‘5’ rating that keeps this out of the Top 100. The opening is surprisingly wistful and evocative; then the familiarly dismal chorus enters – so odious! He is also culpable for this utter calamity.

112. Tottenham Hotspur FC - 'Ossie's Dream (Spurs Are On Their Way to Wembley)'
(1981, #5, JG)

DL: This looks, sounds, and feels much more than thirty-one years old, featuring traditional football song platitudes that no one would ever actually say, not even pundits. But laugh at the funny Argie!

AN: Ossie Ardiles. Fucking hell.

JG: There was a whole generation of novelty football songs like this that in hindsight look like understandable attempts to create a happy image to counter the pockmarks of hooliganism and racism afflicting the Beautiful Game at the time. Still, none of the others feature Ardiles reading “in the cup for Totting-ham” off an autocue.

TM: Mild enough compared with a few of the football horrors to come in this list. Yet this is a tired, scarf-waving musical knees-up that even the most die-hard mockney wannabe could not rehabilitate.

111. Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin - 'Separate Lives'
(1985, #4, DL)

DL: If you take some of his songs on face value (excuse the pun) then some of Collins' work is fairly agreeable pop. Not even the U.S. R’n’B community can defend this, though. Like an egg throwing a strop.

AN: Phil Collins. Fucking hell.

JG: Every bit as turgid as only something associated with the dreaded Phil Collins can be. Nashville non-entity Marilyn Martin ended up as a realtor and therefore contributed to our current economic misery just as she previously contributed to our cultural misery.

TM: Power Ballad exemplar featuring the receding one on auto-pilot, accompanied by Martin’s showy melisma. As far as separation songs go, not a patch on Peter Hammill’s Over. Not the last we’ll see of PC.

110. Kula Shaker - 'Tattva'
(1996, #4, RC)

DL: Sometimes you wish The Beatles had not bothered going to India after all. 'Strawberry Fields'-looting cod-mysticism that was somehow not even their worst crime. Hinduism via Sky Sports and Carling.

AN: I don’t really mind Kula Shaker. The thing is, they used to get slapped down and ripped to shreds in the NME and Melody Maker, so you could just treat them for what they were: a sort of sixties pantomime. Fast forward to the noughties and Noel Fielding is hailed as a comic genius; no one bats an eyelid.

JG: Of the many atrocities committed during the Britpop era, the entire catalogue of Kula Shaker ranks among the worst. Tenth generation facsimiles of various ’60s radicals with the ink so worn it’s impossible to know what any of it might once have meant.

TM: Retro-rock with ludicrous mystical frills. Clemency for Mills’s ‘youthful indiscretions’ with the far-right would be more feasible had he not polluted our auditory senses with this unmitigated drivel.

109. Billy Ray Cyrus - 'Achy Breaky Heart'
(1992, #3, RC)

DL: I've got a theory about MOR Country rock: it's fucking shit. Like most genres that happily live outside of the mainstream UK charts, it takes a novelty record to enter the popular consciousness.

AN: Fakey mediocre shit.

JG: Another easy target, but this is the kind of easy-going depoliticised noddy country music (a music that began life as a folk music of dispossessed poor people) that is Republican through and through. At least the Dixie Chicks came to understand the connection.

TM: Cocksure country-pop from a vain specimen of traditional masculinity. If this isn’t bad enough he is also notable for allowing George W. Bush to use another of his songs as his 2000 campaign anthem.

108. Rod Stewart - 'Every Beat of My Heart'
(1986, #2, RC)

DL: Another mid 1980's power ballad with a heroic and patriotic sentiment. What commercial radio stations piped into wagons were invented for. Makes one think of amorous builders getting their oats.

AN: I’ve already expressed total incomprehension of the Rod Stewart aspect of life. This doesn’t change my view.

JG: Everything that is regrettable about patriotism – cloying sentimentality, the de-contextualisation of “national” signifiers (bagpipes in this case) and the screening out of real (Real?) social problems. All whilst living in tax exile.

TM: Absurd, bombastic Tartanry, with the Londoner Stewart bellowing: “Here’s one Jacobite!” Some of the most idiotically parochial lyrics ever, shouted out against a clattering 80s backdrop. Hell.

107. Fast Food Rockers - 'Fast Food Song'
(2003, #2, TM)

DL: Easy target, but about as funny as receiving a County Court Judgement on your birthday. Moronic to the point of nausea and more so when it was inescapable. Really, who pays good money for this stuff?

AN: I mean, this is a kids song isn't it? I find it hard to criticise this sort of thing without making vague gestures at the “infantilisation of culture” or something equally tendentious.

JG: An advert for various unethical food outlets performed by photogenic types who have clearly never been within 25 miles of any such establishments. Post-ironic in a bad way.

TM: As ‘amusing’ and appetising as an evening’s date with Andrew Lansley trying to sell his health reforms to you – if more coherent. It doesn’t exactly give Yeats or Donne a run for their money with its symbolic imagery.

106. Kaiser Chiefs - 'Ruby'
(2007, #1, DL)

DL: A pub rock 'indie' band that were in the right place at the right time; it was horrifying to see the expensive video and crisp Stephen Street production values applied to something so undeserving.

AN: People are talking now about a Britpop/nineties revival but the Kaiser Chiefs are proof that it never went away. The Vaccines are just the Kaiser Chiefs with less interesting arrangements aren’t they?

JG: Their early singles were at least faintly amusing, but Kaiser Chiefs had well run out of steam two years on with this boring song about unrequited love. Not exactly ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’, is it?

TM: “Due to lack interest”: the Chiefs show admirable foresight of their own deserved obscurity today, with their sole utility as a punch-line for all too obvious gags about the 2011 ‘England Riots’.

105. Black Eyed Peas - 'I Gotta Feeling'
(2009, #1, DL)

DL: King of a thousand Prozac electro-urban anthems, its lyrical themes are utterly depressing in that we're stuck with hearing this at any major social event we ever attend during the rest of our lives.

AN: Good call Dave. Empty hooks running riot.

JG: The prospect of devil-may-care hedonism has rarely sounded so joyless.

TM: Liked this initially when I heard it: though that was before it gained context. Relentless airplay has worn away some of its appeal, but I still wouldn’t put this anywhere near a Worst 200 personally.

104. Brotherhood of Man - 'Figaro'
(1978, #1, TM)

DL: Tacky and tasteless as the Seventies efforts that have plagued our chart so far are, it's terrifying to imagine what the era has in store for us as we progress. An insultingly inferior ABBA pastiche.

AN: Novelty trash. Quite like the wah-wah guitars though.

JG: This is just embarrassing holiday music from the era when the Costa del Sol was a novelty. The roots of ‘Macarena’ and ‘The Ketchup Song’ can be found right here.

TM: Asinine simulation, nay, assassination of Abba’s daft but wonderful ‘Fernando’. This lothario lacks even the vaguest revolutionary credentials and this “magic” “Romeo” just seems a bit of a creep.

103. Nick Berry - 'Every Loser Wins'
(1986, #1, TM)

DL: Funny how few soap operas have attempted to release singles on the back of an in-house band since 1986. I defended 'Heartbeat', this I cannot. Precedent for many solo soap star pop careers, however.

AN: Wow, this is pretty bad. I reckon there’s probably a degree of global consensus straddling race/religion/creed about this.

JG: Quite apart from Berry’s flat voice (which required extremes of reverb, the Auto-tune of its day), the message of this song is complete Thatcherite toss. Because if every loser wins, then those that never “win” must therefore be undeserving incompetents who aren’t self-reliant enough, etc.

TM: Garrulous piano tinkling does not disguise a rather dull song. Road / love metaphors, illuminating light in tunnels and pearls of existentialist wisdom: “Nothing is certain in a changing world”.

102. Viva Brother - 'Darling Buds of May'
(2011, failed to chart, TM)

DL: This inspired our project, and is a laughable failure in terms of a supposed ‘resurgence’ in meat-and-potatoes indie-pop. Note the stolen 'Some Might Say' passage. Britpop is not coming back! Capiche?

AN: British art really is terrible right now right across the board isn’t it? Just risible.

JG: Kagouls? Check. Button-down shirts? Check. Boring non-entities playing at being lads? Check. Roaring commercial success? Un-check. Viva Brother – the new Heavy Stereo.

TM: Astonishing that this hasn’t quite made the Top 100! “IT. IS. WHAT. IT. IS!” This derisory, strutting shite should live in infamy as a cautionary tale for all budding British ‘guitar-bands’. Laughable!

'Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for humans now'
101. Staind - 'Outside'
(2001, #33, JG)

: Nu-metal was fucking horrible, but when its key players slowed down the tempo to show off their sensitive sides, the results were scathingly bad. How is this not monotonous? Charmless, ugly music.

AN: Ha. This cheered me up.

JG: Self-pitying, disempowering shite that aims low by simply asserting that all those beautiful people are just ugly and unhappy inside too. But postmodern capitalism rewards superficiality and plasticity. Shallow people are pleased with themselves. This, shockingly, is why you are unhappy. Dig deeper and the insights will start to come.

TM: The dirge-friendly grain of his voice affronts almost as much as Lee Newell’s. Recently and somewhat aptly, a new Staind track entitled ‘The Bottom’ appeared on the Transformers: Dark of the Moon soundtrack.

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