We love lists. David Letterman's Top Ten. Rolling Stone's top 100 whatevahs. Best Burger Joints in NYC. Ten Best CSI Spin Offs. It's a great source of entertainment and aggravation, not to mention great blog fodder. (Hey, isn't that a Coppola film?) In just a few weeks, my list of Top Albums of 2008 will appear, but between now and then, I thought I'd lob a few other fave lists at you to smack out of the blog park. The first is something old, actually, but I'm excited about resurrecting it. This originally appeared on the NYCD Blog. When Tony Sachs and I weren't disagreeing over the merits of Ray Conniff and the use of tubas in pop songs, we were writing this.
TEN SONGS THAT PISS US OFF!
Before we get to the list, we should mention that these are by no means our ten least favorite songs, or what we think are the ten worst songs ever recorded. No, these are songs that, when we hear them, stick in our craws like a sesame seed gets stuck in a dental bridge. The songs that, half an hour after we hear them, still leave us muttering to ourselves "How could somebody have not pointed out how annoying this song/line/word/verse/chorus is? Why must we be tormented like this?!" The fact that just about all these songs were big hits, and thus inescapable on the radio and/or MTV, also adds to the pissing-us-off factor.
10. MY LOVE - Paul McCartney & Wings. It's hard to believe that a mere four years before this was recorded, Paul was working on Abbey Road. But it's the lyrics -- the chorus, specifically -- that really puts it over the top for us. "Whoa whoa whoa whoa," Paul meaningfully intones, "whoa whoa whoa whoa. My love does it good." We don't think he ever would have had the guts to play it for Lennon had the Beatles still been a going concern in '73. The guitar solo isn't bad. We still hate the song. (Actually, "we" means Tony. Sal thinks it's very good, especially the guitar solo, played by Henry McCulloch (pictured below) which he thinks not only isn't "isn't bad," but is excellent.)
9. THE BEST- Tina Turner. Tina Turner had a much-deserved comeback in the 80's. We all read about her terrible life with Ike, and we embraced her every move after her not-bad remake of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" topped the charts. Unfortunately, the downhill slide began with the atrocious "We Don't Need Another Hero," from a Mad Max movie. (Why was that a hit?) But, the nadir of Miss Turner's existence is "The Best." (Actually, the nadir of her existence was probably getting beaten by Ike. But you know what we mean.) "You're simply the best/better than all the rest/better than anyone...." Uh..."better than you two over there/ and uh....better than that woman with with the baby stroller....and uh....better than all the rest...oh, said that already." We get it. It IS called "The Best," for Pete's sake.
8. I DON'T WANT TO WAIT - Paula Cole. This one pisses us off for one line, pretty much: "Say a little prayer for I." What the hell is that? Since Paula Cole's not a Rasta, we can only conclude that she was too lazy to come up with a line that rhymed with "Say a little prayer for ME." "Damn, what the hell rhymes with 'me'? Ahhh, screw it -- 'Say a little prayer for I.' " The fact that this song was not only a monster hit, staying on the charts for a full year, but also became the opening theme for Dawson's Creek, means that we still hear it every now and then, ten years after the fact, which leads us to conclude that the gods hate us.
7. ALMOST BLUE- Elvis Costello. A great song from a great songwriter and one of our all time faves. Period. So, why does it piss us off? One word: "this." Where is it? In the line, "Flirting with THIS disaster became me." The phrase is "flirting with disaster," not "this disaster." It is a speed bump in an otherwise beautiful attempt at a modern day standard. Costello is clever. "Do I step on the brakes to get out of her clutches," from "New Amsterdam. BRILLIANT! But it is not necessary to be cute everytime. We all know that Elvis Costello is no flash in "this" pan, so, maybe we'll let him slide. Still, that one additional word is very cringe-making.
6. WHO WILL SAVE YOUR SOUL - Jewel. Back in the mid '90s, it seemed like Jewel could do no right, cranking out one horrific, annoying single after another -- all of which stormed the VH-1 playlists and the Hot 100. But her first was the worst. "Who Will Save Your Soul" features Jewel folkily crooning, growling like a blueswoman (albeit a white blueswoman from Alaska), and cooing like a six-year-old, all within the twelve seconds or so of the insufferable chorus. Preachy lyric plus annoying singing plus dull melody equals pissed off Tony & Sal.
5. CROCODILE ROCK - Elton John. Elton's vast output has its merits, of course. But damn, this song pisses us off. We assume it was intended as a '50s rock and roll pastiche, but it removes all the passion and excitement that characterized the music and leaves in all the lame crap, like the sub-Frankie Valli chorus. It's like an episode of Happy Days set to music, but not the good early episodes. This is like one of those later episodes from 1980, where everyone has the blow-dried disco haircuts even though it's supposed to be 1962, and whenever Chachi walks on the set all the girls scream and applaud for about four minutes. That's what this song is like.
4. EVERYBODY HURTS - R.E.M. R.E.M. is one of our very favorite bands. Tony is even a member of the fan club. But oh lordy, does this song piss us off. On what's otherwise one of the best albums of the '90s (Automatic For The People), Michael Stipe whines and screeches his way through a trite self-help lyric and a shopworn melody. Stipe is an excellent frontman, but he should never, never try to make like a soul singer.
3. UNDER THE BRIDGE- Red Hot Chili Peppers. For four albums, the Chili Peppers rocked and funked and kicked our butts with their unique brand of James Brown-meets-Funkadelic-at-a-
2. DIRTY LAUNDRY--Don Henley. How do we hate this song? Let us count the ways. "KICK'EM WHEN THEY'RE UP! KICK'EM WHEN THEY'RE DOWN! KICK'EM WHEN THEY'RE UP! KICK'EM ALL AROUND!" Let's start with that. Then throw in the super-cheesy 80's production that's so dated it makes a Rudy Vallee 78 sound more current, and of course, Henley's delivery of the line, "Bubble-headed bleach-blonde," and what you have is a musical ipecac.
...and the #1 song that pisses us off...
1. ZOMBIE - The Cranberries. Sinead O'Connor's first two records weren't so amazing that we needed a replacement when she decided to give up music and become a lesbian Rasta nun. But Dolores O'Riordan felt different, and her irritating brogue was heard on the radio and in department stores throughout the mid '90s. We still can't decide what's more annoying, the chorus ("In yer heee-eead! In yer heee-eee-eee-eead! Zah-ham-beh! Zah-ham-beh! Zah-ham-beh!") or the fact that it appealed to everyone from age 6 to 65. What's wrong with you people?!
HONORABLE MENTION FOR SONG WE LIKE THAT STILL PISSES US OFF FOR REASONS WHICH HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SONG ITSELF:
I GOT YOU (I FEEL GOOD) - James Brown. This one is obviously a great song, but it pisses us off because for a while in the '80s, and even still, actually, it was used in the trailer for every lame comedy film that Hollywood spewed out. So, almost 20 years later, we can't hear it without also hearing a voiceover in our heads saying "He's a rich stockbroker with a thing for race cars. She's a sexy mechanic with a filthy mouth. Judge Reinhold and Shelley Long star in..."