Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Search For the Worst Song Ever

I'm a fan of using hyperbole and exaggeration to comedic effect. The drawback of this, of course, is that you've actually found the best/worst/biggest thing ever, there's no good way to top yourself.

Very few places is this more aggravating than in the world of music. For example, I would posit that the song "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas is the single worst song to become popular on the radio in recent memory, but one listen to "When In Doubt" by Stentorian - a song that will surely be featured in this space in the near future - and it's extremely clear that there's a difference between "insipidly annoying song on the radio" and "worst song ever".

That's what this search is all about. I'm not trying to find the "annoying song that your coworker's 13-year old daughter insists on playing 12 times a day and if you hear it one more time you're totally going to freak out". I'm trying to find the worst song ever. The worst lyrics tied to the worst melody sung by the worst singer as the worst band ever plays the whole thing - poorly.

A few things I'm looking for in this search...


Pitch perfection is not a requirement for good vocals. I don't believe anyone really thinks Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse) has a fantastic voice, but he makes it work. Many, many, many others.........don't.

Likewise, production doesn't always need to be crisp and clean to fit in with a song. A lot of times, it actually sounds better when there's a little bit of an edge (or, possibly, a lot of edge). With very few exceptions, when things sound like they're being played underwater, in a concert hall a mile and a half away, through ears that have been packed full of mud... something's gone wrong.

This category covers things which cannot easily be explained using things like reason, logic, and common sense. It's impossible to figure out why a certain element of a song is there, because it's impossible to understand the motive behind doing such a thing. Most truly awful songs have at least a little of this in them, but for our purposes, we'll only use this for the particularly eggregious examples.

My humps. My humps my humps my humps. My humps my humps my humps. My lovely lady lumps. Check it out!

Shoddy Play
Fairly self-explanitory. The drummer who can't keep time, the bass player who seems like he's playing a different song, the guitarist who really doesn't know more than one or two chords.

The Earbleeder
An earbleeder is a special kind of awful. Whereas most bad songs are content to simply offend your sensibilities, an earbleeder is a song that almost literally hurts the ears. Shrill voices, screeching feedback, and incredibly bad mixing can all contribute to this condition.

The Cover Song
Cover songs can, in their proper context, be good and can offer new perspectives on old songs. Unfortunately, while it might have seemed like a good idea for your past-its-prime new wave band to take on a politcally charged song by one of the most in your face rap groups ever; rest assured, it wasn't.

I'll be adding a new entrant every so often, along with a link so that the song in question can be heard in all of its awful glory.

Also, starting Monday of next week, I'll be chronicling my 50 favorite moments in music - ten a day. It should be good times.


  1. My Humps is hard to beat. That song called Photograph(?) by Nickelback is pretty bad too.