Whenever a generation of individuals reaches a certain point, it inevitably begins to look back on the music of its adolescence as far superior to the garbage that today’s youth call “music.” However, while rose-colored glasses have a tendency to color one’s perception of his or her past, the fact remains that terrible music has been around long before divisive figures like Justin Bieber came around. In fact, some of the messages behind hit songs are quite disturbing when you stop and listen to them.
Though the inherent quality of music — like all other art forms — is open to interpretation, there are some songs that are so widely despised for any number of reasons that it’s relatively safe to label them as such. For this list, we’re attempting to gather some of the most dreadful examples of tunes to come out of the pop music era. We’re attempting to cover a number of genres here, but the most impactful guideline is the undeniable awfulness of the song in question.
1. “MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris (1968)
Younger listeners might recognize the tune from this Richard Harris disaster (yes, the first Dumbledore from the Harry Potter films once sang it) for its use in the “Weird Al” Yankovic parody “Jurassic Park.” Like that dino-centric attraction, “MacArthur Park” was beyond saving.
2. “Afternoon Delight” by Starland Vocal Band (1976)
For some reason, this sexual ditty about sharing some quality time with your beloved in the afternoon is performed in the most wholesome of ways. Of course, this is likely an ironic artistic choice, but that doesn’t mean it works. At least we got a memorable Anchorman scene out of it all.
3. “Muskrat Love” by Captain and Tennille (1976)
Yikes. There are no words for this one. Yes, it’s a treacly tune of a pair of amorous rodents. We’re not sure what’s worse: the subject matter or the ridiculous delivery of the vocals. Regardless, we can confirm that no part of this epic fail equals a song that is in any way listenable.
4. “Sussudio” by Phil Collins (1985)
Phil Collins may have a number of solid songs under his belt, but man, this sure isn’t one of them. Nonsensical and lacking in any kind of life, the tune falls flat on any artistic level, though that didn’t stop it from hitting number one on the charts. For shame.
5. “We Built This City” by Starship (1985)
Sure, this mid-1980s hit is catchy as all hell. Still, its repetitive chorus aside, there’s not a whole lot to love here. Even lead singer Grace Slick has disowned the song, which has inexplicably become a staple in pop culture for its ostensibly pro-rock message.
6. “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus (1992)
Those who can’t help but shake their head whenever Miley Cyrus acts out may be surprised to know that her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, also gave the world this absolute mess of a song. Somehow, this irritating, idiotic tune has literally nothing going for it. There are no words. Other than “achy” and “breaky” apparently.
7. “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes (1993)
4 Non Blondes didn’t exactly have a burgeoning career on the pop charts, but this hit has become a guilty pleasure for some listeners. Even though the lyrics are largely indecipherable, the chorus is fun in a nails-on-a-chalkboard sort of way at least. Right? Right?!
8. “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by Baha Men (2000)
If you were alive in the year 2000, then you were probably either caught up in the baffling success of this song or wondering if the record-buying public had lost their collective minds. In any case, we can all agree that the Baha Men should be left in the past for good. Please don’t let those dogs out again, we implore you.
9. “My Humps” by Black Eyed Peas (2005)
The Black Eyed Peas have rarely, if ever, delivered a song that offers anything more than superficial, underwhelming beats with idiotic lyrics laid over them (maybe “Where Is the Love”?). This one, however, is the very lowest the group has ever thrust upon the world. Just so, so bad on so many levels. Please get it out of our heads.
10. “Chinese Food” by Alison Gold (2013)
In this song from the producer of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” (which just barely evaded inclusion here), young Alison Gold simply talks about how much she love Chinese food — especially “chow m-m-m-m-mein,” it seems — and attacks listener’s ears with the dumbest lyrics ever written. Seriously, give it a listen. We’ll wait.
Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable
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