Jay Sage: Welcome back to the EB Chat Wrap where Jared Feldman and yours truly discuss a wide variety of topics from All Things Entertaining. A while back we spoke about some of the best songs written or produced by acts/artists that are almost universally regarded as being of poor quality. Today it’s the opposite: Terrible Songs by Great Bands/Artists. Go.
Jared Feldman: I know this entire discussion will probably cause some controversy, so I’m gonna go big, and then maybe hide from the mob. The Beatles are universally regarded as the greatest most influential band of all time, but Hey Jude is just an awful song. The first half is passable for a Beatles track, but the last 5 minutes of na na na na na na, etc goes on far too long and just makes me angry when I hear the entire song on the radio. Nothing against the Beatles but they really missed the boat with that one.
Sage: I was almost sure that you were going to say Yellow Submarine when you first mentioned The Beatles. It’s the sort of tune that gets obnoxiously thrown into their “classics” because Ringo wrote it, but if any name besides The Beatles was attached to that song, it would have been a laughing stock. The same probably goes for Octopus’ Garden. As for Hey Jude, I’m willing to jump on board with “overrated”, but not generally bad. Though I do admit I change songs after 30 seconds of naaaaaa na na, nananana. Anyway, my next submission would be “Good Riddance”. Green Day remains a tremendously influential punk outfit despite all the cries of “sell out”, but that damn song is just painful.
Feldman: I love the fact that the song was written ironically, and yet it’s become a seminal favorite for graduations and endings. The song in and of itself is rather plain and simple, for me the thing that makes it annoying and practically unlistenable are all the attachments that people have made to it. It is so unlike the rest of Green Day’s music that I try to just disconnect it in my mind.
Sage: Yeah. Call me a cynic, but “we wrote it ironically” is something that bands tend to say AFTER the song turns out to suck. But I could be wrong. What’s next on your list?
Feldman: A song that seems to be universally derided is “We Built This City” by Starship. Starship wasn’t a good band, but they were a part of the genesis of Jefferson Airplane, a very good band. Typically thought of as one of the worst songs ever, “We Built This City” was a typification of the end of the disco and beginning of hair metal 1980’s music.
Sage: Count that one as a guilty pleasure of mine, though I won’t even try to claim that it’s an objectively good song. The 80’s proffered a number of bad songs and albums as well known artists began playing with synthesizers waaaay too much. We have the benefit of perspective, so I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. In that vein, I’ll throw my own favorite band Queen under the bus with such 80s hits as Flash and Body Language.
Feldman: Queen were tremendous artists, but they were really hit or miss with a lot of their songs. As a predominantly 80’s band that did a lot of arena rock there’s bound to be a few that just don’t cut it in retrospect. Flash has an interesting nuance to it, but its really in the that vein of novelty song that doesn’t belong in a serious discussion about music. I’m gonna say one for me is “All My Love” by Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin were one of the most prodigious and creative heavy metal bands but “All My Love” is far too commercial and predictable for the London rock outfit. While it might not be a terrible song in the most conventional sense, compared to their other work, it falls far short.
Sage: Nonsense. Every Led Zeppelin song was perfect. Ok, I’m clear, the rock gods aren’t listening anymore. Along with All My Love, I could never get into the faux-calypso rhythms of Dyer Maker, and I’m not a fan of South Bound Suarez. How about R.E.M.? Written for a television theme, “Stand” is just awful. It has one of the most unintentionally hilarious music videos attached to it, though.
Feldman: That’s one of the those songs that people like because they think about the associated TV show rather than music in and of itself. Its just not good, R.E.M. are a great band but they didn’t cut it with everyone. I want to reiterate that we aren’t just trashing everyone, but there are plenty of amazing bands that didn’t quite hit it right with every single piece of music. Pobody’s nerfect, that’s what I always say.
Sage: This is very true. Creating a flawless album is about as rare as pitching a perfect game in baseball, so in particular when we’re talking bands with great longevity and well over 20 albums, you’re bound to find a fair share of stinkers. On that note, one of the most unimpeachable artists out there is Bruce Springsteen. Even for non-fans, people tend to admit that the quality is pretty consistent. But one song, Dancing in the Dark, raises everybody’s ire.
Feldman: [Slow Clap] I’m impressed by you saying that Jay, I know you are an unabashed Springsteen fan and I think this shows great growth. I agree, Springsteen’s heartland rock style typically rings true, but Dancing is one time it is just over the top and too much.
Sage: Ok, tit for tat, then. What Pink Floyd song sucks?
Feldman: I enjoy the works of Pink Floyd, though I don’t worship the notes that play. Lets go for the throat with “Money.” Considering the rest of Floyd’s library Money is rather commercial utilizing the cash register sound effect instead of creating an actually good song. For a contemporary analogue, look at M.I.A paper planes with the incessant gunshot, reload, cash register trio.
Sage: Not that I agree Money is a bad song, but I applaud the successful Pink Floyd/M.I.A comparison. If only for the legendary bassline, I appreciate the song. It’s no Comfortably Numb, but it’s ok. Anyway, I think that does it for this edition of the Chat Wrap. Next up, I guess, is mediocre songs by pretty good bands. Actually, that sounds boring. Tepidly passable songs by ‘meh’ bands?
Feldman: Meh songs it is, or maybe we’ll find a slightly more creative musical outlet. Anyway be sure to keep reading for more news and insights on All Things Entertaining.