Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Thirteen Worst Rock Songs of All Time

Greasetruck has produced yet another single, and I will say this about it: it is better than some rock songs. Specifically, it is better than some of the rock songs on this list.

The first step to artistic satisfaction is to set the bar low. Random Idiots was always pleased when people categorized the noises we made as "Music." And so I set the bar very low with this new song, "On the Range." All I wanted to do was write a better song than "Horse with No Name" by America. "Horse with No Name," originally called "The Desert Song," was inspired by a Salvador Dali painting of a distorted horse in a spartan land; the painting was on the on the wall of Arthur Brown's home studio.

But Arthur Brown resided in Puddletown, Dorset, on the Piddle river . . . in England-- which is about as far from desert terrain as can be imagined. Perhaps America should have written a song about elves or faeries or gnomes . . . or pubs.

And though the song has some of the most uninspired and obtusely imagined lyrics in rock history ("The heat was hot", "There were plants, and birds, and rocks, and things") I will admit that it was genius to change the name from the extremely literal "The Desert Song" to the trippier "Horse with No Name," as this opened the door to symbolic misinterpretation and ambiguity.

Here are some alternate perspectives I found on the internet: one guy claims that the song was about the band getting stoned, getting naked and then entering a restaurant and attempting (unsuccessfully) to get served. Although I have found no corroboration for this, I have reproduced it here because I find this theory hysterical and totally unsubstantiated. But if this is the case, why not actually write the song about THAT? That would be an entertaining song. Others claim that the nameless horse is actually "heroin."

My song takes place on a "range," and like America, I recorded my song nowhere near such a landscape. I'm not even exactly sure what a range is. And my journey starts in my kitchen, so again, like "Horse with No name," there might be multiple meanings to my lyrics. Also, my song is mainly two chords, which is true for "Horse with No Name," as well. I believe my song is better, but only you can judge this. To help you like my song more, I have included a list of incredibly bad rock songs. If you don't like my song, simply read the list and think about these songs. Then click on the SoundClick widget and listen again. This activity will make you like my song more, because you will subconsciously (or even better, consciously!) compare my song to these songs, and you will start to realize how much better my song is. I have included the lyrics to my song at the end of the post, but if you can't remember the words to some of these other gems, you'll have to Google them.

Now, I should warn you: these songs are awful. They are all much worse than "Brown Eyed Girl." If you skim down the list and realize that you LIKE these songs, then understand that your taste is skewed and you should never give musical recommendations to anyone (except other who like the songs on this list) and perhaps you shouldn't be allowed to listen to music, unless it's on headphones, so that others don't have to listen to what you are listening to.

1. Aqualung by Jethro Tull. A grating riff. Lyrics that wander between gross imagery and lame poetry, including lines like, "Watching as the frilly panties run." A mixture of heavy metal distortion and flute. A guy who stands on one leg and nestles his other foot into his crotch. Enough said.

2. Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams. Who calls a guitar a "six string"? I hope the best days of your life were not spent with this song playing in the background.

3. Rock and Roll Fantasy by Bad Company. Yes, you have achieved your dream as a rock star, but are you so unimaginative that your rock and roll fantasy is pretty much a rock concert? Which is your job, which you probably do a hundred times a year. The jesters make it sound surreal for a moment, but they only get one line. And after recounting such a mundane fantasy, do you need to repeat what it is so much? Bad meta is the worst.

4. Jukebox Hero by Foreigner. So many bad Foreigner songs to choose from. Pretty much the same problem as "Rock and Roll Fantasy," only even more annoying because Lou Gramm is singing.

5. Abracadabra by Steve Miller. "I want to reach out and grab ya." If the song is about magic, then why does the narrator need to grope the "angel" in "black panties"? It was tough to choose just one awful Steve Miller song, as he did rhyme "superstitious" and "suspicious," and then, in Homer-esque fashion, "suspicious" and "suspicious" in the godawful "Rock'n Me," and he rhymed "El Paso" and "hassle," and "Texas" and "facts is," in "Take the Money and Run," but "Abracadabra" sucks on a higher plane than those other trite songs.

6. SSSSuuusssuuduiooiisssuuuuusu by Phil Collins. That's the string of letters I had to Google to find the lyrics to "Sussudio." There is only one way to do justice to how bad this song is:

There's this girl that's been on my mind
All the time, Sussudio oh oh
Now she don't even know my name
But I think she likes me just the same
Sussudio oh oh

Oh if she called me I'd be there
I'd come running anywhere
She's all I need, all my life
I feel so good if I just say the word
Sussudio, just say the word
Oh Sussudio

Now I know that I'm too young
My love has just begun
Sussudio oh oh
Ooh give me a chance, give me a sign
I'll show her anytime
Sussudio oh oh

7. A Day in the Life by The Beatles. Just testing you. This song is good.

8. Kashmir by Led Zeppelin. Obtuse lyrics about an exotic land. A minor gypsy scale with a chromatic progression. Led Zeppelin. It all sounds good until you press play. I would rather listen to Ozzy Osbourne chewing off the head of a bat than this pretentiously monotonous dirge.

9. Saturday in the Park by Chicago. This is just a visceral hatred. I don't know why, but I think that I might even dislike the people who like this song.

11. Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard. It seems like the narrator is getting some kind of bodily fluid poured all over him. Possibly his own ejaculation. Plus, it's got really annoying drums and chorus.

12. Kiss on my List by Hall and Oates. "Out of Touch" is also really really bad. Do you need a song to get either of these sentiments across? They seem too trivial for the medium. It's sad that more of their songs weren't like "Rich Girl," which is the best eighties tune that was actually released in the seventies. Great song.

13. On the Range by Greasetruck. Pretty bad, but the lyrics are slightly better tan "Horse with No Name." Here they are. You be the judge.

On the range . . .
I saw something strange.

There was a burning ring of fire and a pot of boiling sauce,
smoke and charcoal filled the air, I knew that all was lost.
I gasped, I clawed, I sucked and then my face fell toward the food.

I hit my head on the floor, and I finally understood--
sparks flew from the Heavens and burned above the swaying grass,
my horse spit out his stirrup, turned and gave a violent laugh--

there was a cavern full of darkness and a lady with no clothes,
a clown atop a burro with a yellow bulbous nose.
Three men were eating sausage from a rusty metal tin,
while jackals gnawed on rotted meat spilled from a garbage bin.

I smelled sadness and desire and a perfumed pack of whores.

I saw sixteen red faced devils round a fire roasting s'mores.
My dog stood on his hind legs and he pointed at the moon,
he said "now the tide is low, but waxing will come soon."

Then he ran into the blackness and I heard a low pitched growl,

and he came back walking proudly-- in his mouth there was a trowel.
He was followed by a mason wearing white from head to foot,
layered with wet plaster speckled with a blackish soot.

"I buried Tutankhamen," said the mason, then he fell,

and the ground cracked wide open and a fire sprang from Hell.
My horse it bucked, I flew, I knew it was the end,
but a chicken grabbed me with his beak and said to me, "My friend,

you have been just shy of madness, you have been inside the maze,
you have seen the darkness lit up, you have wandered through the haze,
you have climbed atop the mountain, you have seen the pickerel crawl,
you have talked to thorny cactus, you have heard the lizard's call

and now to end your journey, I'll reveal one final thing
to give your life some meaning, make your journey form a ring
several rules to live by and a final word of truth,
something you can chew on with your single gold capped tooth.

So listen like a child, like a hunter with a bow,
listen while I tell you, I will tell you very slow--
when you think that you are thinking, when you thought that you have thinked
when you pluck your ukulele, did you pluck the note you plinked?

when you touch upon an angel do you feel her gauzy wings
when you ride on through the desert, is the desert full of things
or are things what we make them-- is the desert full of sand?
Is the reason we have touching the same reason we have hands?

If I sound like Lewis Carroll," said the chicken, "then I am."

And he dropped me like a Muslim drops a slice of fatty ham,
and I fell upon my horse and this waked him from his dream
and he looked at me and said, "Now is the time when we should scream."

But I was just a cashew in a bowl at a saloon
and if you hadn't waked me, then very very soon
a hungry gap toothed hooker would have put me in her mouth
and riding her saliva, I would have headed south.

and then my horse he he whinnied, he broke my grip and rode
and I saw my house a'burning and red truck in the road.

I saw something strange.


Jerry said...

There's enough here to annoy every regular reader of this blog. I like it.

cgormley said...

Um, Dave I think you may have forgotten one song for your list ... I don't know ... maybe "Horse with No Name".

Whitney said...

That is hilarious. Gormley just made this the funniest post Dave's ever had.

Whitney said...

And Dave, you will be shocked to learn that I am not a huge fan of the songs you listed. I do have them all on my iPod, of course, but that doesn't mean that much.

I do enjoy "Kashmir," and I think I could defend my stance (it's cool rocking Zeppelin and was in Fast Times) better than you attacked it with your nerdy music theory overanalysis. Plus, its ridiculous, self-indulgent pomposity (8:33 and an e-bow) nearly single-handed led to the backlash known as punk rock.

Oh, and I like "Horse with No Name."

Lumpy said...

interestingly, while kashmir is in fast times, it's not on side 1 of led zeppelin IV.

Which i think was the critical part of damone's 5 part plan...

rob said...

true confession: i don't hate 'summer of '69'. carry on.

rob said...

is anyone else getting an inordinate amount of schadenfreude-drenched glee about the fact that unc is 2-7 in the acc?

TR said...

I too love the Heels' collapse. Roy Williams is a punk. His Kansas departure nonsense distracted the hell out of that team when it had a good shot of winning a title.

Maybe he will go to Coach K's strategy of recruiting white kids that are 6'3'-6'8' tall and losing the first tourney game where you don't hit your 3's (usually 2nd or 3rd round).

TJ said...

I enjoy every song on that list.

Except #13.

Whitney said...

And Dave, you'll have to deal with Oates yourself, buddy. Good luck.

rob said...

who wants to go with me to chapel hill for the tribe/carolina nit first-rounder?

Dave said...

"horse with no name" transcends the list. it's so bad it's good. and i HAD it on the list but then i figured that i had discussed it enough.

Dave said...

T.J., your taste in music is rivaled only by your taste in food.

TJ said...

Why thank you.

Marls said...

Do we have an ETA for the Michael Jack Mothership landing in NJ?

Mark said...

There's one good thing about "Saturday in the Park". It's the scene in Little Nicky (an otherwise terrible movie) where Sandler's character plays 'saturday...' backwards to reveal demonic messages from Chicago.

Satan rules.

Dan said...

when ordering food, find out what she wants and order for the both of you. it's a classy move.
the lady will have linguine and clam sauce and a coke with no ice.

Anonymous said...


Mark said...

Up to this point, I haven't really cared about the snow enveloping the northern part of the U.S. That is, until tonight. My city league basketball team just lost in the Finals (our first loss in 3 seasons) by one point. Due in no small measure to our 2nd best player being absent because he was snowed in in NYC.

I say, fuck snow.

rob said...

i don't claim to understand our appeal in asia, but i certainly enjoy it.

rob said...

lou carnesecca! bill wennington! together again.

rob said...

holy crap. anthony mason, sr. is absolutely enormous.

rob said...

jeremy hazell has no conscience

Mark said...

So nobody cares that my team lost tonight?

Fine. I bet my bong cares.

Mark said...

I know this is heresy to most people, but a large part of the reason that Cleveland's offense is so stagnant and predictable is LeBron. He has no post game and clearly prefers the pick and roll or isolation play at the top of the key. His teammates aren't great but he's going to have to figure out a way to diversify his offensive game if he wants to change the way that he's defended. His isos work against most teams, but not the elite teams. And that's where/who the Cavs struggle against.

Mark said...

But he can also do that...Jesus.

TR said...

Are the Magic going retro unis tonight? Any Sidney Green or Pat Cummings sightings?

Mark said...

Cleveland just ran a ridiculous LeBron to Shaq alley oop coming out of a timeout. Seriously fucking sick.

Mark said...

Yes TR. The jerseys of my youth. Jerry Reynolds, Otis Smith, Terry Catledge and many many more shitty and/or end of the line guys.

Mark said...

LeBron is fucking showing off. It is pretty damn impressive.

Marls said...

Anthony Mason sr. is super fat. He has a pork chop shaved into hi head. It's a classy move rat.

Marls said...

Ha ha ha Florida sux

Mark said...

Well then.

Dave said...

mark, i care that your team lost.

there is nothing uglier or more satisfying than competitive adult sports.

Whitney said...

Mark, I share your sentiment of loathing this snowstorm but for my own reasons that have developed in the last 24 hours. Story to come once it completely unfolds, but for now the snow is invited to go have intercourse with itself.

Zaharia said...

thanks for the inpust

they were really interesting :) so natural , the pics :)

john said...

Hi Dave. If this is still being read, could you acknowledge? I would like to write a brief piece on a song that is Always Overlooked as the Worst Of All Time. I liked your song selections more than any other site I visited, but have another one that should be worth a laugh.


Richard said...

Bungle in the Jungle, by Jethro Tull

Hurts so Good, by John Mellencamp

Anonymous said...

Terrific - hard to argue with them. Here are my top 10 worst rock songs:

Anonymous said...

D'oh TTen Worst Classic Rock Songs – the Heavy Metal Hall of Shame!

Brainy571 said...

okay... some of these songs sound annoying... but Kashmir is much better than you think. Nobody cares if it's just a progression, it's over eight minutes long, and it's about an adventure. now remind me to listen to the song ten more times and loud enough for the world to hear just to annoy you :)