Thursday, July 06, 2006

Bad Songs

Via Dave Barry:

In a recent column I noted that certain songs are always getting played on the radio, despite the fact that these songs have been shown, in scientific laboratory tests, to be bad. One example I cited was Neil Diamond's ballad "I Am, I Said," in which Neil complains repeatedly that nobody hears him, "not even the chair." I pointed out that this does not make a ton of sense, unless Neil has unusually intelligent furniture. ("Mr. Diamond, your BarcaLounger is on line two.")

Well, it turns out that there are some major Neil Diamond fans out there in Readerland. They sent me a large pile of hostile mail with mouth froth spewing out of the envelope seams. In the interest of journalistic fairness, I will summarize their main arguments here:

Dear Pukenose:
Just who the hell do you think you are to blah blah
a great artist like Neil blah blah more than 20 gold
records blah blah how many gold records do YOU have,
you scumsucking wad of blah blah I personally have
attended 1,794 of Neil's concerts blah blah What about
"Love on the Rocks"? Huh? What about "Cracklin'
Rosie"? blah blah if you had ONE-TENTH of Neil's
talent blah blah so I listened to "Heart Light" 40
times in a row and the next day the cyst was GONE
and the doctor said he had never seen such a rapid
blah blah. What about "Play Me"? What about "Song
Sung Blah"? Cancel my subscription, if I have one.

So we can clearly see that music is a matter of personal taste. Person A may hate a particular song, such as "Havin' My Baby" by Paul Anka (who I suspect is also Neil Sedaka), and Person B might love this song. But does this mean that Person B is wrong? Of course not. It simply means that Person B is an idiot. Because some songs are just plain bad, and "Havin' My Baby" is one of them, and another one is "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown."


Other popular choices were "A Horse with No Name," performed by America; "Billy, Don't Be a Hero," by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods; "Kung Fu Fighting," by Carl Douglas; "Copacabana," by Barry Manilow; "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo," by Lobo; "Seasons in the Sun," by Terry Jacks; "Feelings," by various weenies; "Precious and Few," by some people who make the weenies who sang "Feelings" sound like Ray Charles; "The Pepsi Song," by Ray Charles; "Muskrat Love," by The Captain and Tennille; every song ever recorded by Bobby Goldsboro; and virtually every song recorded since about 1972.

"It's worse than ever" is how my wife put it.

Barry's conducting a survey: feel free to participate.

I wonder if the song has to be popular? If not, I nominate "Skinhead Boy." Though "Muskrat Love," I agree, is a close second.


Eli said...

I have at least 3 or 4 of those songs on my iPod, along with two friends' least favorite songs of all time ("Walking On Sunshine", and "My Baby Takes The Morning Train" - however, I do *not* have "Gonna Harden My Heart" or Swingout Sister's "Breakout").

(Um, my apologies if this doubles - I didn't see the "your comment is awaiting moderation" message)

B&Massa said...

Dunno, but is it wise to admit to liking songs others have labelled as "bad"? Personal taste is fine and all, but there are some dirty little secrets I LOVE, but unofficial, off-shore CIA interogation techniques will never get me to reveal them

Anonymous said...

actually,"no one heard at all not even the chair" line was inspired by Neil's shrink,who told him to let his feelings out to the chair.But ofcourse,the chair is not real so the chair also did not really hear him.

flawedplan said...

Ah, thanks for that. His shrink must have been a Gestalt therapist, very hip in the 70's. Gestalt still rocks my world, Neil Diamond, never.

MH said...

I hope nobody's forgetting the unmatched awfulness that is I've Never Been To Me.

shrimplate said...

"Kung Fu Fighting" was delightfully covered by the venerable Robyn Hitchcock in one of his groovy solo-acoustic spins, I think it was on the rather rare album "Eye."

It really sounds cool when he does it that way. Kind've a send-up, but plainly enjoyable, too.

One of my little mental hobbies is to re-arrange songs in my head, or in my own music-making, to see if they sound better in a different style.

Like maybe "I Am I Said" would sound OK if the old band Anthrax did it in speed-metal style.

Maybe "Billy Don't Be a Hero" would sound cool in a trombone-ska version by Bim Skala Bim.

Yes, these things can be done.