Most of my lists are songs I like. There are also songs I don’t like. And then there are songs–not necessarily bad songs–that grate like chalk on my personal blackboard (remember that cliche?) and lead me to change the station. In no particular order, this list includes…
Good Vibrations, Beach Boys. Yes, it’s a classic; yes it supposedly inspired the Beatles; yes it’s wildly overrated. The Beach Boys are the best when having “fun, fun, fun.” When Brian Wilson goes operatic, with no danceable beat, no hummable melody, pretentiously silly lyrics (“she’s giving me excitations”) and runs on a minute longer than usual, I don’t get it.
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), Eurhythmics. Sickly sweet cotton candy for the ear, this is rock’n’roll goo. Here Comes the Rain Again is basically the same song, with the same effect. Ick.
Ain’t No Sunshine, Bill Withers. Just the sound of Withers’s droopy voice sends me to the radio dial. This number is undoubtedly the one that bothers me the most, although I’m no friend of Lean On Me, either.
My Sharona, The Knack. Aural assault, with no redeeming qualities. How this reached #1 and was named top single of the year is beyond me, marking a fallow period (1979) for rock.
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Rolling Stones. Only slightly more melodic than My Sharona, with equally irrelevant lyrics, this shared the curse of being horribly overplayed; any initial joy was bludgeoned away the thousandth’s time you heard it, with a thousand more to come.
Hound Dog, Elvis Presley. What Sharona was in the ’70s and Satisfaction was in the ’60s, Hound Dog was in the ’50s. Recorded as a B-side joke, it became the King’s biggest-selling single. It has none of the authenticity of early Elvis, deserved Steve Allen’s famous mockery and does not improve upon multiple hearings.
Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Screw, Jimmy Buffett. Recorded as satire, but now played constantly on Radio Margaritaville, it’s no longer cute or funny. By using the Hawaiian Hula Girls to sing background, Jimmy tries to imply that it’s not offensive to women or children in the audience, without success. (Although trying to limit the list to one song per artist, I must add a special shout-out to the live performance of Changes in Latitudes that RM insists on playing. Buffett ruins the perfectly good song by shouting, off-key, the last word or each line, making the song literally unlistenable.)
Hey Jude, The Beatles. This song goes on and on…and on, for more than seven minutes. And unlike, say, Stairway to Heaven (eight minutes), it goes nowhere.
So Into You, Atlanta Rhythm Section. Threatens to put me to sleep before I can get to the channel. A minor drone.
To be continued…