Sunday, 17 April 2005

The Bad Song Survey

So is pop music depressing, as I'd asked here? Dave Barry's 'Bad Song Survey' might help you decide.

My vote for the worst song of all time is 'Train in Vain' by The Clash, but I'm not sure if meets his criterion that "a song had to be known well enough that a lot of people could hate it." I'm also not entirely sure that it's worse than his winner, which is truly laugh-out-loud hideous - and there's a lot of dross that winner had to beat off, including unsurprisingly the Billy Ray Cyrus virus.

Dave Barry's Lifetime Bad Achievement awards are also well considered. Elton John tops that poll for me, but that's just an old punk talking.

Dr Sally Jo Cunningham has embarked on a New Zealand survey of what people hate about songs "as part of research on music information retrieval." Story here.


  1. And I've just remembered a candidate for the Most Embarassing Live Performance of a Crap Song I've ever seen.

    The scene is the Auckland Domain in with an audience of 200,000. Dame Malvina Major took the stage to perfom 'Hey Jude' with John Rowles. Some fifteen minutes into the 'naah, nah, nah, nananana' section - or at leat it seemed like fifteen minutes; it may have only been two - New Zealand's second greatest opera diva, who was made a dame for her performances of some of the greatest music ever writte,n suddenly woke up and - from where we sat - you could see her visibly looking round thinking 'What in God's name am I doing here singing na, na, na, na with an off-beige karaoke singer?'

    Much of the audience wondered the same thing, and when MC John Hawkesby slithered onto the stage to smile toothily and say 'Wasn't that wonderful? Shouldn't they release that as a single?' the audience replied with one voice 'No!'

    It almost redeemed the performance. Almost.

  2. 'Stairway to Heaven' performed by Rolf Harris on British TV show 'The Word', complete with wobbleboard has to be another strong candidate for Most Embarassing Live Performance of a Crap Song I've ever seen.

    Although Rolf's performance was miraculously irony-free, the only redeeming feature of this peformance was that it is now impossible to hear 'Hairway' without pissing myself laughing - much better than my previous reactions.

    Our house and my guitar have a 'No Stairway rule.

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  4. HAH - I have to say, I agree with you one hundred percent on the "Train in Vain" thing. The Clash are perhaps one of the most overrated bands, consistently, ever.

    And good call on the High Fidelity quote... the book was better than the movie, which is to say, the movie was phenomenal, the book only slightly more so.

    And it really depends on what year of Elton John you're talking about... like wine, it's not all equal.

    And I agree that Zeppelin weren't so good after their first album.

  5. Bloody hell - the Clash over rated!! This is like not noticing that Rolf Harris was taking the piss with Stairway to Heaven although the "altogether boys" bit gives the game away.

  6. If Elton has died in 1975 - he would be thought of as one of the great rock stars of all time. Unfortunately he made a bad career move and remained alive.

  7. Ha ha - I just bought The Best of The Clash yesterday. The Clash were great! London Calling is one of the best songs of all time!The worst artists are the likes of Bob Dylan & Neil Young. I am far too young to remember their heyday, but they couldn't carry a tune in a bucket and sound like they are trying to clean out their sinuses by honking. And Supertramp - that Long Way Home song is one of the worst ever produced. There was a new cover of it recently, much to my horror. Bet Bob Dylan is one of your favourites eh...

  8. Eh - Dylan had talent on a couple of albums. And sorry, the jury is in and they've declared London Calling's sheetnotes honorary toilet paper (of course, this works the other way around, too...)

  9. Heh... I know whether to be happy or sad that I missed Dame Malvina's ritual slaughter of 'Hey Jude', but it would be nice if record companies stopped releasing CDs of divas who should know better doing cruel and perverse things to show tunes.


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