Worst artists ever!

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Patrick M
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Worst artists ever!

Postby Patrick M » Mon Apr 19, 2004 8:58 pm

The May issue of Blender is going to have the 50 worst songs ever. You can find the top 10 in this article.

In the meantime, here are the 50 worst artists...ever!


The 50 Worst Artists in Music History
Extended drum solos. Prog-rock concept albums. Kenny G. We endured all these — and much worse! — to bring you Blender’s list of the 50 most talentless music acts of all time. Just please don’t ask us to do it again. Ever…

By John Aizlewood, Clark Collis, J.D. Considine, John Harris, Howard Johnson, Rob Kemp, Daniel Krauss, Mat Snow and Jonah Weiner

Blender, September 2003

Everything bad about the ’60s, in one easy-to-avoid package
Legend has it that this Los Angeles acid-rock quintet had consumed such massive amounts of marijuana during the 1968 sessions for “In the Garden of Eden” that keyboardist-singer Doug Ingle could only mumble the title. Hence, “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” was born, and its unexpurgated 17-minute version (including a two-and-a- half-minute drum solo) inaugurated the dubious era of free-form FM radio.
Appalling fact In-a-Gadda-da-Vida was the first LP ever to be certified platinum.
Worst CD Sun and Steel (MCA, 1975)

Very poor name. Even poorer band
“We were together longer than we ever thought we’d be,” said Toad the Wet Sprocket singer Glenn Phillips when the band gave up in 1998. Longer than the rest of us had hoped, too. But the California four-piece defied the odds for 12 years, even piercing the Top 40 with their R.E.M. readymades.
Appalling fact Toad decided to have another go this year, playing dates with Counting Crows. Run.
Worst CD Pale (Columbia, 1990)

The dumbest of the Dirty South
In the late ’90s, rapper and label head Percy Miller copycatted G-funk, simplified it and launched a fleet of indistinguishable MCs wrapped in cheap-looking, jewel-riddled artwork. P’s worst offense was his solo work (his obnoxious breakout single, “Make Em Say Ugh,” consisted of little more than a repeated groan). Like a crawfish-suckin’ P. Diddy, he has, shockingly, earned millions from his No Limit imprint, which includes a clothing line, a publishing house — and even a phone company.
Appalling fact Master P had a Ferrari custom-painted in a Gucci-logo pattern.
Worst CD Only God Can Judge Me (No Limit, 1999)

Mediocre band, woeful balladeers
Buffalo, New York’s Goo Goo Dolls are former garage-rockers who, since their 1995 acoustic hit “Name,” have successfully flogged a pallid brand of Bon Jovi–lite “rock.” “Iris,” their smash 1998 weepie, gives power ballads a bad name.
Worst CD Gutterflower (Warner Bros., 2002)

Beards. Extended “jams.” Oh dear, oh dear
For a brief time (between 1992 and 1996), it seemed that any workaday bar band, if it was willing to gamely trek around the country for at least three years, had a chance at superstardom (cf. Hootie and the Blowfish, Blues Traveler). Blame the Spin Doctors, hairy New Yorkers who — thanks to the supremely annoying “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Two Princes” — momentarily opened a route between dive bars and the Billboard charts.
Appalling fact The Doctors got together while they were students at New York’s New School of Jazz.
Worst CD Homebelly Groove Live (Epic, 1992)

The curse of many a late-’80s dinner party
Having grown up on the French-Spanish border, the six cousins who formed Gipsy Kings craftily aspired to sell their mixture of flamenco, Eurotrash pop and questionable hairdos to a world desperate for something seemingly exotic. They seduced the über-rich at St. Tropez before hitching their wagon to the then-huge world-music boom, diluting the flamenco with drums, bass and even synthesizers. Soon, they became the Muzak in every bistro in the free world.
Appalling fact Well-known groover George H.W. Bush was so fond of the Gipsy Kings that he asked them to perform at his inaugural presidential ball. For some reason, they declined.
Worst CD Este Mundo (Elektra, 1991)

None more metal. None more gay
An American answer to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, Rochester, New York’s Manowar embody every conceivable heavy-metal cliché: Bodybuilders all, the four wear leather and animal pelts onstage; singer Eric Adams shrieks only of death, warfare and the glory of metal; Joey DeMaio performs solo bass renditions of “The Flight of the Bumblebee.” They’re quite possibly the most ludicrous people in rock & roll history.
Appalling fact In 1993, Russian youth voted Manowar above the Beatles and Michael Jackson as the act they would most like to see perform live.
Worst CD Sign of the Hammer (EMI, 1985)

“Every generation blames the one before,” they sang. So we will
While Phil Collins was torturing the world with his archetypal ’80s soft-rock, his Genesis colleague Mike Rutherford unwisely decided to join in. Ergo the Mechanics, a trio built around Rutherford, former Squeeze vocalist-keyboardist Paul Carrack and the late Paul Young. As shown by the 1989 number 1 hit “The Living Years,” an unbearably sentimental ode to Rutherford’s deceased father, they made Collins sound like the MC5.
Appalling fact Against significant odds, there is a U.K.-based Mike & the Mechanics tribute band, the Living Years.
Worst CD Beggar on a Beach of Gold (Virgin, 1995)

Can play two synthesizers at once — but nothing that people want to hear
Keyboard “wizard” and professional cape wearer Wakeman’s diabolical taste revealed itself early, when he elected to join prog-rockers Yes instead of David Bowie’s backing band, the Spiders From Mars. Not content with contributing to Yes’s inexcusably pompous albums, he also spent the mid-’70s releasing a series of baroquely awful solo theme records, including The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. For reasons that are still unclear, he opted to perform that one on ice.
Appalling fact While playing Yes songs live, Wakeman would wolf down curry during sections in which he had little to do.
Worst CD Lisztomania (A&M, 1975)

Dumb and dumberer
Led by ex–Deep Purple frontman David Coverdale, Whitesnake’s ’80s success with their karaoke Led Zeppelin routine can be explained only by the public’s enduring love for the double entendre, as exemplified on such songs as “Slide It In,” “Slow Poke Music” and “Spit It Out.”
Worst CD Slip of the Tongue (Geffen, 1989)

A video made them; heroin undid them
Led by Axl Rose’s mewling, drug-plagued pal Shannon Hoon, Blind Melon’s lightweight rock would have been forgotten completely were it not for the boundless charm of “Bee Girl” Heather DeLoach, whose hoofing in the video for “No Rain” made the tune the band’s lone hit.
Worst CD Soup (Capitol, 1995)

Should have stuck to saving the planet
He organized the Live Aid concerts, but “Saint” Bob Geldof is a less-than-godlike musical talent. In 1989, he released The Vegetarians of Love, a terrible quasi-Cajun album that was recorded in five days — and sounded like it. Thirteen years later came Sex, Age & Death, effectively a midlife crisis — replete with achingly embarrassing claims of undiminished sexual potency — set to music. Like most of his solo work, it stiffed.
Appalling fact One recent Geldof song, “10:15,” features the line “She told me I was beautiful/And I made her come a lot.”
Worst CD Sex, Age & Death (Koch, 2002)

He was the Lizard King. No, really…
While in college, many young men still choose to immerse themselves in such ill-advised subjects as Nietzsche, black magic and Native American folklore. Most get over it; Jim Morrison, unfortunately, inflicted his terminally adolescent views on the wider world. The consequences included overblown screeds of nonsense such as “The End” and “The Crystal Ship,” plus, effectively, the invention of goth. Then he got fat and died.
Appalling fact Morrison is widely believed to have suffered his fatal heart attack while masturbating in the bathtub.
Worst CD The Soft Parade (Elektra, 1969)

Well, their mothers must love them
“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll make an exception,” quipped Groucho Marx. He’d have been hard-pressed to remember this utterly unremarkable Ohio boy band, though he would have loved to have forgotten their music. Harmonies, schmaltzy urban soul and even more saccharine life philosophy (“Persevere, work hard, have faith and eventually you’ll reach your goal”) paid dividends in the late ’90s, as third-rate cheese such as “I Do (Cherish You)” and “Because of You” somehow became big hits.
Appalling fact Buy the 98 Degrees official board game — and find out which band member once autographed a diaper!
Worst CD This Christmas (Uptown/ Universal, 1999)

Hey, Mr. DJ: Keep your day job!
As a remixer of note, “Oakey” is lauded for turning the guitar-loving masses into Ecstasy-aware, sodden-shirted neophytes of ’90s dance music. But 2002’s Bunkka, the Englishman’s first album of original material, was an abject exercise in marketing, not music. Ham-fisted and clichéd, lacking direction and sparkle, nothing Oakenfold created himself would have inspired any DJs worth a lick. Dreadful.
Appalling fact Perry Farrell, Tricky, Ice Cube and Nelly Furtado all lined up to contribute to Bunkka. Presumably without hearing the music first.
Worst CD Bunkka (Maverick/Warner Bros., 2002)

These U2 sound-alikes never did find what they were looking for
Blessed with the same spiritual longing as U2 — but, sadly, none of the musical cunning — this Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, quartet made a brief but insignificant splash in the early ’90s as purveyors of grandiose, vaguely uplifting alt-rock. Although their hold on the mainstream had evaporated by the end of the decade, their blend of loud guitars and portentous lyrics helped pave the way for crypto-Christian rockers Creed. Nice one, Live.
Appalling fact The album title Secret Samadhi derives from a form of Hindu meditation.
Worst CD Secret Samadhi (MCA, 1997)

An uncontestable argument against the ’80s
Japan formed in 1974 and soon discovered that their mixture of washed-out glam-rock, vaguely literary pretensions and bucketloads of makeup prompted little more than cruel laughter. The dawn of the ’80s, however, found things moving their way, and by 1981, plenty of easily distracted teens were wobbling enigmatically to “Voices Raised in Welcome, Hands Held in Prayer,” “The Art of Parties” and “Still Life in Mobile Homes” (the titles say it all).
Appalling fact Their version of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles’ “I Second That Emotion” might be the worst Motown cover of all time.
Worst CD Gentlemen Take Polaroids (Virgin, 1980)

The great folk-rock scare
Philadelphians Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian assembled a quintet that specialized in a vile blend of folk-rock and New Wave, in the process proving that the mandolin is more irritating than the synthesizer.
Worst CD Zig Zag (Columbia, 1989)

Too positive for their own good
Their 1992 debut, 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of…, sold 5 million copies despite containing some of the preachiest, most contrived “wisdom” ever laid down. Their studio follow-up, Zingalamundi, sank without a trace.
Worst CD Unplugged (Chrysalis, 1993)

The devil-king of MOR
When it comes to the dreaded genre of adult contemporary, few were as archetypal as Winnetka, Illinois–born Richard Marx. The unbearably syrupy “Right Here Waiting,” from 1989, remains his most far-reaching hit, but it shows the extent to which America fell for his combination of mullet, Wedding Singer apparel and softer-than-soft rock that it was his third consecutive number 1 single.
Appalling fact Before his brief burst of stardom, Marx honed his painfully bland art as a backing singer for Lionel Richie.
Worst CD Repeat Offender (Capitol, 1989)

The audience rarely sang along to “Dogshit”
And so it came to pass in the 1980s that two Canadian Kevins changed their names to cEvin and Nivek in order to make themselves more interesting, hired a singer named Dwayne (who would die of a heroin overdose) and spent almost a decade making ear-torturing industrial music. The sound of whiny students on drugs sampling Timothy Leary — as scary as Mannheim Steamroller.
Appalling fact On the Head Trauma tour, cEvin sliced open his stomach with broken glass and performed a vivisection. Relax, everyone — he was only pretending.
Worst CD Too Dark Park (Nettwerk, 1990)

They said Brad Roberts’s voice was so deep it could be heard only by whales. Not true, sadly
If you want to be recognized as serious recording artists with a whimsical, folksy bent, it’s probably best not to notch your only hit with a daft novelty song based around the world’s silliest lead vocal and title it “Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm.” The remainder of God Shuffled His Feet, this Canadian band’s second album, was much worse. They released I Don’t Care That You Don’t Mind in 2001. No one cared.
Appalling fact They’re Canadian.
Worst CD A Worm’s Life (Arista, 1996)

These Oklahomans sang about sex. But they couldn’t keep it up
Oklahoma City’s gain was New York’s loss when these four high-school friends left their hometown and headed east in search of fame. They found it in 1991 with the double-platinum single “I Wanna Sex You Up,” a literally unbelievable slice of lasciviousness from such inoffensive boys. Diluted hit followed diluted hit, but three watery albums later, CMB suddenly found themselves all washed up.
Appalling fact As kids, CMB regularly buttonholed such touring acts as Huey Lewis & the News and Bon Jovi for impromptu a cappella auditions.
Worst CD Now & Forever (Giant, 1996)

One more reason to hate the French?
Seemingly hellbent from birth on proving that Michael Bolton isn’t the cheesiest balladeer on the face of the planet, the French-Canadian singer first secured a manager at age 12 — creepily, she later married him. But far more terrifying is her endless string of shrieking über-hits, particularly the Titanic theme, “My Heart Will Go On” — which, if it had been played on the ship itself, would surely have made passengers leap to their doom long before the iceberg did its dastardly deed.
Appalling fact You might want to stay clear of Nevada until 2006: Dion recently began a three-year engagement at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
Worst CD Céline Dion (Epic, 1992)

The white, talentless Stevie Wonder
Where to start — the ludicrous headgear? The atrocious dancing? No, let us start, and finish, with the fact that Stevie Wonder has more talent in his dark glasses than Jay Kay has in his entire body.
Worst CD A Funk Odyssey (Epic, 2001)

With ex-members of Journey!
Suck-cheeked soft-rocker John Waite had scored big in 1984 with the ballad “Missing You.” But with his solo career stalling, and half of Journey toilet-bound without a singer, they forged an unholy late-’80s alliance. Bad English retailed puffed-up power ballads, while Waite cast himself as a doomed romantic hero.
Worst CD Backlash (Epic, 1991)

Whoever said the devil has all the best tunes was probably listening to Creed at the time
It’s doubtful there’s a more irritating sight in videodom than Creed’s Scott Stapp pulling one of his crucifixion poses while a wind machine blows his hair in the appropriate direction. But the Florida group’s real crime is its music, an overblown distillation of grunge’s most obviously commercial elements every inch as vapid as the music Nirvana and company were rebelling against.
Appalling fact This April, a fan sued the band following a show at which, it was alleged, Stapp was so incapacitated he was “unable to sing a single song.”
Worst CD Weathered (Wind-Up, 2001)

“Care for some prog-rock with cartoon-character vocals on the side?” “No, thanks!”
Perhaps the most tune-free act ever to chart an album in the Top 10 (Pork Soda hit number 7 in 1993), Oakland, California’s Primus were led by Les Claypool, a bass virtuoso and startlingly nasal vocalist. Musicians and the terminally nerdy gaped in wide wonder at the trio’s prodigious instrumental “chops”; everyone else was repulsed by the band’s combination of the worst aspects of Frank Zappa and Rush.
Appalling fact The rallying cry for Primus’s misguided fans was “Primus sucks!” — intended as sarcasm yet all too true.
Worst CD Pork Soda (Interscope, 1993)

The sound inside the head of Pink Floyd’s engineer. Zzzzzz…
Having conquered the Dark Side of the Moon, EMI Records’ beardy staff engineer Alan Parsons decided that what the universe really needed was a prog-rock concept album based on the work of nineteenth-century horror novelist Edgar Allan Poe, narrated by Orson Welles. It didn’t, of course, but an undeterred Parsons soldiered on, swapping prog-rock for vapid AOR in the ’80s. Finally bundled off to play guitar in Ringo Starr’s backing band, he was never seen again.
Appalling fact In the ’90s, the world-champion Chicago Bulls took the court to the pretentious swells of Parsons’s “Sirius.”
Worst CD Pyramid (Arista, 1978)

He came from England. Thanks, England
In the mid-’80s, it was difficult to avoid synth-wielding Brits. The sprig-haired, perma-grinning Howard Jones was the most irritating, seemingly convinced that he had something very important to tell the world — his 1984 debut was grandly titled Human’s Lib — but unclear exactly what it was.
Appalling fact Early in his career, Jones was accompanied by “improvisational dance” expert Jed Hoile, who, in keeping with the lyrics to “New Song,” mimed throwing off his “mental chains.”
Worst CD Live Acoustic America (Plump, 1996)

Giving male sensitivity a bad name — one song at a time
A graduate of the coffeehouse circuit around the University of Illinois, Fogelberg came to epitomize the most emetic qualities of the ’70s singer-songwriter: the high, quavering voice, the knee-jerk sentimentality, the earnestly strummed acoustic guitar. He was blessed with a gift for vacuously pretty melodies, and his work also anticipated the vapidity of New Age music — although with the added annoyance of bad lyrics.
Appalling fact His 1982 hit “Run for the Roses” smelled of horse manure, and it was in fact about the Kentucky Derby.
Worst CD Twin Sons of Different Mothers (with Tim Weisberg) (Full Moon/Epic, 1978)

With his clean white bucks, he made rock & roll safe for ’50s nerds
Back before blue-eyed soul, Pat Boone made a career out of watering down ’50s R&B hits. Appealing to an audience who considered “race music” to be almost as bad as interracial dating, he had enormous success in making Fats Domino seem boring and Little Richard straight. After he spent the ’80s as a spokesperson for Christian conservatism, his album In a Metal Mood cursed heavy metal by treating it like big-band schlock.
Appalling fact In 1977, his daughter Debbie topped the charts with “You Light Up My Life.”
Worst CD In a Metal Mood (Hip-O, 1997)

He rapped, he co-owned
As silent co-owner of the hip-hop magazine The Source, Benzino embarrassingly ordered extensive feature coverage of his 2001 debut album, The Benzino Project, in the pages of his periodical. It didn’t work: The album sold fewer than 75,000 copies.
Worst CD The Benzino Project (Motown, 2001)

Artless art-rock
Oingo Boingo singer Danny Elfman went on to become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand soundtrack composers. But during his first go-round, he and his movie-director brother led this ostentatiously orchestrated L.A. New Wave group that began its pretentious career, not surprisingly, as a performance-art troupe.
Worst CD Only a Lad (A&M, 1981)

Fabio meets Tesh!
As a member of the Greek national swimming team, 14-year-old Yanni Chryssomallis broke his country’s national freestyle record. But instead of bringing further glory to his homeland by going to the Olympics, he emigrated to the U.S. in 1972 and began his 30-year quest to offer wretched New Age twaddle to legions of Midwestern matrons, spa proprietors, insomniacs and his former paramour Linda Evans. Swimming’s loss is music’s loss.
Appalling fact “I avoid words. If instrumental music is done properly, it bypasses logic, programming and society. It becomes primal. I compose by emotion.”
Worst CD Yanni Live at the Acropolis (Private Music, 1993)

Big on solos, short on songs
With his passion for the music of Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore, Swedish guitar show-off Yngwie Malmsteen co-opted his hero’s deadpan demeanor, neoclassical solos and frilly cuffs, garnering kudos from ’80s bedroom guitar onanists for his playing speed. Yet Malmsteen never employed a proper songwriter, and his noodling hard rock — sometimes augmented by a full orchestra — has scored increasingly minuscule returns.
Appalling fact Malmsteen’s 1983 show at London’s Marquee club sold out in minutes because of unsuspecting Bruce Springsteen fans who thought they were attending a secret gig by the Boss.
Worst CD Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra (Ranch Life, 1999)

Even Bill Wyman laughs at Mick’s solo records
Given the roll call of A-list rockers who have appeared on the Stones frontman’s four solo ventures, even a tone-deaf 6-year-old could have produced something you’d want to hear twice, or at least once. Alas, it seems, there’s never a tone-deaf 6-year-old around when you need one. Even on 1993’s not-entirely-grim Wandering Spirit, produced by Rick Rubin, Jagger does his damnedest to ruin things by inexplicably singing a sea shanty. That’s right — a sea shanty!
Appalling fact In his native U.K., Jagger’s latest solo release, Goddess in the Doorway, sold just 954 copies on its first day of release.
Worst CD Goddess in the Doorway (Virgin, 2001)

David Bowie’s darkest (non-acting) hour
In 1989, having presumably become bored with excelling at pop, glam-rock and funk, chameleon David Bowie decided to demonstrate that he too could be really, really bad. The vehicle for this unlikely ambition was the plodding rock four-piece Tin Machine, whose two critically mauled studio albums and one “hilariously” titled live document (Oy Vey, Baby) found Bowie voluntarily subsuming his genius beneath chorus-free tunes and guitarist Reeves Gabrels’s habit of playing his instrument with a vibrator.
Appalling fact The band’s roadies wore T-shirts that read FUCK YOU, I LIKE TIN MACHINE. They were the only ones.
Worst CD Oy Vey, Baby (Victory, 1991)

The least talented Jackson
Her voice may be thinner than Janet’s and her charisma dimmer than Tito’s, but her eyebrows uncannily resembled Michael’s, and for a short, confusing time in the ’80s, that was enough to earn Latoya Jackson a record deal. Typically, it was her private life rather than her hapless music that gained the most attention, after she accused her father of sexual abuse.
Worst CD From Nashville to You (Mar-Gor, 1994)

The sound of eunuchs sobbing
Disproving the theory that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, Air Supply contained not one but two mewling, lovesick softies whose name was Russell. In the early ’80s, the Australian duo’s gutless ballads — music so remorselessly fey it made Journey sound like Danzig — sent a generation of jilted lovers toppling into depression that was as clinical as the Russells’ music. Mercifully, though, by the end of the decade, the pair had cried themselves to sleep.
Appalling fact Determined to ruin the festive season, Air Supply once recorded a Christmas album.
Worst CD The Christmas Album (Arista, 1987)

Gives patriotism a bad name
“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” Samuel Johnson said, but in Lee Greenwood’s case, it’s the ultimate meal ticket for a Nashville hack. A bland balladeer with a weakness for overwrought sentimentality, he wrote the 1984 tune “God Bless the U.S.A.” in response to the Soviet downing of a South Korean airliner. It became a campaign theme for George H.W. Bush and was recently excavated in torturous fashion by the American Idol 2 cast during the war in Iraq.
Appalling fact Greenwood performed a duet with Latoya Jackson on her dreadful 1994 album, From Nashville to You.
Worst CD You’ve Got a Good Love Comin’ (MCA, 1985)

The white boy to end all white boys
You know that yearbook photograph you won’t let anyone see? The one whose very existence keeps you awake shaking at night? Imagine it was a horribly dated number 1 single from 1990 called “Ice Ice Baby,” and you have an idea what life is like for Robert Van Winkle. It doesn’t stop there: Ice starred in the abysmal 1991 Hollywood vehicle Cool as Ice, and after squandering his quick fortune, mounted an unsuccessful comeback in 1998 as (shudder) a rap-rocker.
Appalling fact Widely denounced by hip-hop fans as a phony, Ice rebuffed his detractors at the 1991 American Music Awards: “Kiss my white ass!”
Worst CD Hard to Swallow (Republic, 1998)

Ridiculous album sleeves, virtuoso playing, soulless rock. It can be only one band
Asia’s music turned out to be exactly the sum of its parts: former technicians from King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Yes who got together with an erstwhile Buggle at the start of the ’80s. It promised the most self-important prog-rock melded with the limp-wristed worst of AOR, and it delivered. The band’s self-titled debut sold more than 4 million copies, which only encouraged them.
Appalling fact To this day, keyboardist Geoff Downes is happy to offer Asia’s mission statement: “To play music that is panoramic, symphonic and rock at the same time.”
Worst CD Astra (Geffen, 1985)

Beware all bands named after states or continents!
Their folksy 1977 hit “Dust in the Wind,” a tractor-size fiddle player and a guitarist in bib overalls suggested pioneer-spirited rural rockers. The truth was far more sinister. Bereft of sex and emotion, Kansas’s music was a noxious fusion of Jethro Tull and Yes, appealing only to male sci-fi bores and guaranteed to drive any self-respecting frontiersman headlong into the nearest bear trap.
Appalling fact A feature of their live shows was roadie T. Rat, who would come onstage in a trench coat, top hat and clown mask. Then he would disrobe and dance butt-naked.
Worst CD Point of Know Return (Columbia, 1977)

They built this city on rock & roll. And crap!
In 1985, Starship rose like a phoenix from the ashes of once-mighty psychedelic overlords Jefferson Airplane/Starship — but only if, by phoenix, you mean “ultra-lame, MTV-pandering purveyors of MOR schlock.” Best remembered for “We Built This City,” they were also responsible for unleashing the Diane Warren–penned “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” a song bad enough to appear on the soundtrack of the diabolical Andrew McCarthy “comedy” Mannequin. And its sequel!
Appalling fact Singer Grace Slick later disavowed “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” claiming in an interview, “I know damn well how fast a relationship can fall apart.”
Worst CD Love Among the Cannibals (RCA, 1989)

This guy really blows!
Hated equally by jazz and rock fans, Kenny Gorelick’s limpid instrumentals and obsequious cameos helped turn the soprano sax solo into pop music’s most feared cliché. He started his career with fusion hack Jeff Lorber, and his 1986 album, Duotones, established a steady market for anodyne, minimal background music, an aesthetic that reached its zenith in 1997 when “The G” set a world record by holding a single note for 45 minutes.
Appalling fact He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington with a degree in accounting.
Worst CD Classics in the Key of G (Arista, 1999)

Otis Redding died for this?
With his curly locks and toned abs, Michael Bolton looked like nothing so much as the hero of a cheap bodice-ripper, which was enough to earn him a fervent audience for his over-emoted late-’80s power ballads. Unfortunately, his greatest desire was to sing R&B oldies, which he went through like Sherman through Georgia.
Appalling fact After losing a plagiarism suit to the Isley Brothers, Bolton tried to avoid paying them royalties by buying their publishing house.
Worst CD Timeless: The Classics (Columbia, 1992)

Welcome back, my friends, to the second-worst band in history!
“Boasting” former members of the Nice, King Crimson and — yes! — Atomic Rooster, the less-than-super ’70s supergroup ELP shunned blues-based rock in favor of bombastically reinterpreted classical works — with bewilderingly successful results. A nightmarish enough proposition on record, the Brit trio’s live shows were peppered by interminable solo spots, including a 20-minute drum workout by Carl Palmer that ended with him ringing a cowbell held between his teeth.
Appalling fact Singer-bassist Greg Lake performed on a $10,000 Persian rug that roadies vacuumed before every show.
Worst CD Love Beach (Rhino, 1978)

They sound even stupider than they look
Two trailer-trash types who wear face paint, pretend to be a street gang and drench cult devotees in cheap soda called Faygo, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are more notorious for their beef with Eminem (who pistol-whipped an ICP homey in 2001) than their ham-fisted rap-rock music. They claim that a “dark carnival” visited them one night, prophesied impending apocalypse and made them its messengers. Between this circus gospel, they find plenty of time to rap about 40-ouncers and venereal disease.
Appalling fact While appearing on The Howard Stern Show in 1999, Shaggy 2 Dope told Sharon Osbourne to “buff my pickle.” She declined.
Worst CD The Wraith: Shangri-La (D3, 2002)

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Postby Ron » Wed Apr 21, 2004 1:26 am

Appalling fact Morrison is widely believed to have suffered his fatal heart attack while masturbating in the bathtub.

Crap. Never knew you could die from that. Well, I guess this serves as a warning.
Dr. Ron :mrgreen:TM "Do it 'till you're sick of it. Do it 'till you can't do it no more." Jesse Winchester

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Postby Rspaight » Wed Apr 21, 2004 9:15 am

Pretty good list. Of course, I own the larger part of the whole catalog of some of those acts, but let he who is without a love for crappy music cast the first stone.

Here's my Top Ten Bad Artists Blender Didn't Mention:

10. Roger Waters
9. The Cranberries
8. Skid Row
7. Harry Chapin
6. Sean "Puff Daddy/P. Diddy" Combs
5. Stephen Stills
4. Courtney Love
3. Will To Power
2. The Escape Club
1. Michael Jonathan

RQOTW: "I'll make sure that our future is defined not by the letters ACLU, but by the letters USA." -- Mitt Romney

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Postby TSmithPage » Wed Apr 21, 2004 10:13 am

Does Michael Jonathan even count? I guess if you have to suffer through his version of American Pie during a taping of Woodsongs, it does, but he is the only one on your list that a major label never wasted money on, so that should be worth something... :lol:

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Postby Rspaight » Wed Apr 21, 2004 10:48 am

What can I say? He has a special place in my heart.

Besides, the pressure of picking a #1 bad artist was too much to handle, so I sort of copped out. I figured there were at least two or three people registered here that would know who I was talking about.

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Postby lukpac » Wed Apr 21, 2004 12:00 pm

Stephen Stills? That first album is great...
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Postby Rspaight » Wed Apr 21, 2004 12:37 pm

Stills makes me mad because he seems to personify the whole "smug rich California self-centered hippie" thing. His biggest solo hit is about how it's OK to bang groupies when your wife's not around.

He does have talent -- his guitar playing, for one, and he's written some decent songs -- but he strikes me as sort of propping up CSN (Nash's stuff is insufferable and Crosby is more often than not drugged into uselessness) while basking in the adulation of drunken baby boomers everywhere. (It's either him or Jimmy Buffett that push those buttons for me. By no small coincidence, they were the favorite artists of a really annoying record store owner I worked for at one time.)

That said, I own and enjoy a lot of his music, such as CSN and Buffalo Springfield material. I'd probably even like the first solo album and Manassas. He just annoys me. And since it's my list, that's good enough.

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Postby Xenu » Wed Apr 21, 2004 4:16 pm

I wish nobody paid attention to these lists. There're like, what, seven or eight a year now? Wanna generate controversy? Crap on 50 bands.
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Postby Patrick M » Wed Apr 21, 2004 4:25 pm

Feeling pissy, Mr. McGoodwin?
Chuck thinks that I look to good to be a computer geek. I think that I know too much about interface design, css, xhtml, php, asp, perl, and ia (too name a few things) to not be one.

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Postby lukpac » Thu Apr 22, 2004 4:47 pm

Rspaight wrote:Stills makes me mad because he seems to personify the whole "smug rich California self-centered hippie" thing. His biggest solo hit is about how it's OK to bang groupies when your wife's not around.

Yeah, the lyrics are a bit heavy on "peace and free love", but the song itself is great, IMO.

He does have talent -- his guitar playing, for one, and he's written some decent songs -- but he strikes me as sort of propping up CSN (Nash's stuff is insufferable and Crosby is more often than not drugged into uselessness) while basking in the adulation of drunken baby boomers everywhere. (It's either him or Jimmy Buffett that push those buttons for me. By no small coincidence, they were the favorite artists of a really annoying record store owner I worked for at one time.)

I hate Buffett, FYI.

Stills is my favorite member of CSN(&Y), both in and out of the group. That said, I really don't think the other two can be discounted. Yeah, Nash can seem a bit sappy at times, but songs like Pre Road Downs, Teach Your Children, Chicago, etc are still classics. And while Crosby certainly has his share of issues, so do plenty of other musicians.

And of course both Nash and Crosby have plenty of musical talent, especially vocally.

Random sidenote - my Dad's cousin boats/boated with David Crosby. Of course, I've never met the guy (his cousin) and I don't think my dad has seen him in years.
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Postby Rspaight » Fri Apr 23, 2004 9:38 am

Fair enough. It's a purely subjective thing -- he just bugs me. That's the beauty of these lists. I can't stand the Cure and a friend of mine loves them. I like the Velvet Underground and my wife loathes them. My college roommate loved Harry Chapin and I found myself liking him at the time. I tried listening to him again recently and nearly barfed. There's no accounting for taste.

Stills is a weird case because I like (and own) a lot of his music but...

Oh, well, such is life.

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Postby Patrick M » Fri Apr 23, 2004 12:55 pm

You gotta love "Lullaby."

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Postby lukpac » Fri Apr 23, 2004 4:25 pm

I actually didn't mind Phil Collins at one point in my life.
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Postby Patrick M » Tue May 04, 2004 5:09 pm

Run for Your Life! It’s the 50 Worst Songs Ever!

Some have crap-tastic melodies. Others are wretchedly performed. And quite a few don’t make any sense whatsoever. Blender removes its earplugs to present the 50 tunes we love to hate

By John Aizlewood, Clark Collis, Steve Kandell, Ben Mitchell, Tony Power, James Slaughter, Rob Tannenbaum, Mim Udovitch, Rene Vienet and Jonah Weiner

Blender, May 2004

“My Heart Will Go On” 1998
And on and on and on…

Lop off all but the first 20 seconds of this monster ballad, and it still merits a slot on this list for the unconscionable crime of adding pan-flute solos to the pop lexicon. But it doesn’t stop there: With a voice full of ornamental quivers and trembles, Canadian dynamo Céline Dion pushes arena-size schmaltz into the red, first cutting her syllables preciously short, then strangling each one out. Never has a song about all-consuming love sounded so trivial and been so inescapable — it powered the Titanic soundtrack to a year-topping 10 million copies sold, and made millions more pray that an iceberg would somehow hit Dion.

Worst Moment The third chorus, where she goes from soft to eye-bleedingly loud.

“I’m Too Sexy” 1992
The answer to Spinal Tap’s question “What’s wrong with being sexy?”

Right Said Fred were horrible, bald novelty Brits whose one claim to fame was a song that announced that they were “too sexy” for most things, from “New York” to “my cat.” Alas, singer Richard Fairbrass resembled Midnight Oil’s Peter Garrett, and was therefore “too sexy” for precisely nothing. The song spawned a welter of grating catchphrases starting with “I’m too sexy” repeated endlessly by annoying people: “I’m too sexy for my tractor,” etc. Disturbingly, the Freds, as nobody calls them, are still going.

Worst Moment The so-called chorus, in which, instead of mumbling, Fairbrass tries to sing. Stop it. Stop it now!

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” 1968
You can practically hear them gritting their teeth

The Beatles proved conclusively that there were two things they could not do: play reggae and feign enjoyment. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” was a ska track recorded at a point during the White Album sessions when the Beatles would happily have beaten one another to death if only they had had some clubs on hand. As a result, this sounds less like reggae than the desperately chirpy songs Cockneys used to sing to keep their spirits up while the Luftwaffe rained death on them during the Blitz.

Worst Moment The woefully unconvincing laughter in the final line: “If you want some fun — heh-heh-heh-heh! — take ob-la-di-bla-da!”

“The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You” 1996
It’s Great-Uncle Disgusting — from Canada!

When Adams chose to do sexy after 15 years of chaste, aw-shucks rockin’, even his fans were stunned — as if they’d just seen a stag film starring Richie Cunningham. “I don’t look good in no Armani suits,” he leered in the song’s only believable moment, before suggesting he’d rather “wear” the song’s female protagonist over a blues riff like someone explaining ZZ Top to an accountant. This wasn’t the creepiest track off his album 18 Til I Die; that accolade goes to a song called “(I Wanna Be) Your Underwear.”

Worst Moment “…There’s only one thing that fits me like it should.” Ick.

“Hangin’ Tough” 1989
Boy-band blueprint!

It sucked the Swing out of New Jack, bleached the Blues out of Rhythm &, and featured white boys calling themselves “funky” despite some very unfunky denim vests. This Boston quintet triggered a hormonal rush among 13-year-old girls and intense confusion among their boyfriends, and paved the way for megaselling boy bands who ran low on talent and high on dumb hats. This 1988 hit was all crossed arms and scowls, but the tuff-guy routine didn’t gel: These nancy boys make the Sharks and Jets look like G-Unit.

Worst Moment The boys warn: “Don’t cross our path or you’re gonna get stomped!” Scary!

“Mesmerize” 2002
The most hated man in hip-hop — for good reason!

Many rappers sing poorly, but none as irritatingly as Jeffrey Atkins. In 2001, he went from a raise-da-roof club grunter who treated women like car doors to a tone-deaf warbler who swore he worshiped them — and cried in his videos to prove it. On this 2002 duet with the reliably transparent Ashanti, he can’t contain his horny side, repeating a cracked-voiced mantra about “Your lips/Your smile/Your hips/Those thighs” and admitting his “fetish for fucking you with your skirt on.” Gains points for honesty; loses many more for coming off like an ogling doofus.

Worst Moment The two-note chorus, which is a laundry list of female body parts.

“I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” 1993
Bitch-titted balladeer seeks dictionary

Forget that this song comes from Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell and that pop albums can’t really have sequels. Forget that it’s 12 minutes — and crammed with pianos, choirs and every over-the-top adornment that producer Jim Steinman could get his hands on, it feels twice that length. No, this epic chunk of histrionics’ worst offense is that it doesn’t make any sense. You wouldn’t do what, exactly? It’s OK for rock songs to be dumb. But not stupid.

Worst Moment Shamelessly aping “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” the boy-girl duet kicks in at around the nine-minute mark.

“Follow Me” 2000
Sleaze-rap DJ goes solo, blows like Hootie

Breaking out on his own, the leading light of Kid Rock’s “Detroit playas” reneges on his boss’s promise to “cause chaos” and “rock like Amadeus.” He does, however, cause nausea and rock like Muzak with his nobody-saw-it-coming lite-FM stylings, hummin’, strummin’ and practically promisin’ to tuck you in at night. The unexpected bonus? It gives hope to everyone awaiting the Terminator X collection of Air Supply covers.

Worst Moment Knowing every rhyme before it happens — the first time you hear the song.

“The Sounds of Silence” 1965
If Frasier Crane were a song, he would sound like this

From the terrible opening line, in which darkness is addressed as “my old friend,” the lyrics of “The Sounds of Silence” sound like a vicious parody of a pompous and pretentious mid-’60s folk singer. But it’s no joke: While a rock band twangs aimlessly in the middle distance, Simon & Garfunkel thunder away in voices that suggest they’re scowling and wagging their fingers as they sing. The overall experience is like being lectured on the meaning of life by a jumped-up freshman.

Worst Moment “Hear my words that I might teach you”: Officially the most self-important line in rock history!

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” 1989
Can you fit a cultural history of the twentieth century into four minutes? Uh, no

Despite its bombastic production, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” resembles a term paper scribbled the night before it’s due. As the song progresses, Joel audibly realizes he can’t cram it all in: The ’70s get four bellowed words amid the widdly-woo guitars and meet-thy-maker drums. The chorus denies responsibility for any events mentioned, clearing up the common misconception that Billy Joel developed the H-bomb.

Worst Moment “China’s under martial law, rock & roller cola wars!”: No way does conflating Tiananmen Square with Michael Jackson selling Pepsi trivialize a massacre.

“I Wanna Sex You Up” 1991
Small-penis alert!

These Oklahoma R&B smoothies looked like rejects from a Benetton ad and sounded like flunkies from the Keith Sweat School of Horny Jamz. This is one long string of fake falsetto moans — there’s more heat in an Herbal Essences commercial — and the imagery ranges from perplexing (“We can do it till we both wake up”) to downright unpleasant (“Makin’ love until we drown”). Not recommended for the bedroom, unless your bedroom also features leopard-print picture frames, mirrored ceilings and a five-gallon tub of Astroglide from Costco.

Worst Moment Toward the end, la-la-la’s creep in under whispered phrases like “Lay back and enjoy the ride.”

“She Bangs” 2000
La vida proves not to be so loca after all

The arrangers of Ricky Martin’s follow-up to “La Vida Loca” worked with the fevered desperation of men who had been driven to the desert and made to dig their own graves at gunpoint: first with the hooting 180-piece horn section, then the percussion played by a crateful of ADD-afflicted chimpanzees, and — finally, in a last-ditch effort at the fade — a male chorus as numerous and frenzied as the Red Army Choir let loose in a Cuban whorehouse. The ingredients of its epic predecessor are all here — but it’s all wrong, and worse still, unintentionally hilarious.

Worst Moment “She looks like a flower but she stings like a bee/Like every girl in his-to-ry!”

“Cotton Eye Joe” 1995
Just what the world needed: a Swedish techno-bluegrass crossover

Novelty European techno is not a genre noted for its multitude of artistic high points, but “Cotton Eye Joe” may well be its nadir. A Country & Western record made by people who evidently hate C&W music with every fiber of their being, it layers a thumping beat with every hillbilly cliché known to man — twanging Jew’s harp, people shouting “yee-haw!”, bluegrass banjo, horses neighing — and then tops it off with a vocalist singing in what may be the most risible American accent ever committed to tape.

Worst Moment Rednex have spent more weeks at number 1 in Germany than any other artist of the last 25 years.

“Rico Suave” 1991
He was Vanilla Ice for the Telemundo set

Long before Ricky Martin lived la vida loca, another fleet-footed, sexually ambiguous Latino star crossed over to pop-chart glory by turning an otherwise forgettable dance-pop tune into a ubiquitous and dreaded catchphrase. In the verses, this Don Juan in a bandanna boasted about his insatiable libido over a cheesy Casiotone beat, but it’s the chorus that really sticks in our cabeza: Reeeeeeeco. Suuaaaaaave. No es bueno.

Worst Moment Nothing brings a dance floor to a screeching halt like the line “I’m used to good ol’-fashioned homestyle Spanish cooking/If I try that, I’ll be puking.”

“Make Em Say Uhh!” 1998
Cristal meets constipation!

A lot of ideas occur to people in the shower, but the hook for this Dirty South smash sounds as though someone thought it up on the toilet during a strenuous bowel movement: Master P and a small army of cronies groan “Unnngghhh” no fewer than 25 (!) times here. Rapping, P mumbles, falls behind an already wooden beat and is generally trounced by the phenomenally speedy Mystikal, who tries to pump some crunk back into the sinking ship with an eleventh-hour guest verse.

Worst Moment Each hook, which sounds like the “before” section of an Ex-Lax ad.

“Shiny Happy People” 1991
What were they thinking?

It’s difficult to imagine the circumstances that led R.E.M. — intelligent, literate, subtle even when rocking out — to record this. Not only is “Shiny Happy People” an annoying song, but you also get the distinct sense that it’s going out of its way to annoy you. What other explanation is there for its riff — which sounds like a cellphone ring tone chosen by a sociopath — or its lyrics, which resemble something you would force children to learn as a punishment, or the backing vocals of B-52 Kate Pierson, which defy rational description?

Worst Moment “Throw your love around, take it into town, put it in the ground, where the flowers grow.”

“Longer” 1979
Dear Mr. Fogelberg: Why not consider a stage name?

Having trouble placing this song? Imagine you’re in a dentist’s chair with a 10-inch steel drill about to bore into your molars when this Muzak classic pipes in through the office speakers. The singer sounds like he could be your patchouli-scented sixth-grade history teacher, whispering politely about being in love with you longer than there have been fish in the ocean, higher than any bird ever flew. Then the violins kick in. Then you pray for the sweet, sweet relief of the drill.

Worst Moment Any musician who uses the phrase forest primeval with a straight face must be stopped.

“Barbie Girl” 1997
Scandi-wegian pedo-pop alert! Erk!

Brilliant idea: Take a child’s toy, turn it into a twisted sexual fantasy (“Kiss me here, touch me there”), set it to teeth-rotting synth-pop like a robot pony kicking children to death and hawk it like Happy Meals to the under-13s. Perhaps the gambit sounded acceptable in helium-huffing singer Lene Nystrøm’s native Norwegian, but in English it’s just plain wrong. Barbie manufacturer Mattel sued, but that didn’t stop “Barbie Girl” from casting a blight on 1997. One question sprang to mind if you were unlucky enough to catch the video: Weren’t they a little old to be doing this?

Worst Moment “Rapper” René Dif’s basso profundo “Come on, Barbie, let’s go party.”

“Will 2K” 1999
On New Year’s Eve, the Fresh Prince drops the ball

In 1999, the incoming millennium sent most rappers into doomsday mode, but not Will Smith. He was writing a celebration jam so wildly dorky it makes your local bar mitzvah DJ look like a member of the Strokes. Having jumped from ’hood to Hollywood, Smith can’t make the return trip: His overearnest, G-rated rhymes about fun bob along to an unlikely “Rock the Casbah” sample — you can practically see Joe Strummer wondering if he came to the right party and inching toward the exit.

Worst Moment In the running for the Worst Pun Ever award, Smith raps, “The new millennium — excuse me, Will-ennium.”

“Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” 1994
The worst hum in music ever

You know that jerk at your office who can burp the alphabet? That’s the way Brad Roberts sings. On this 1994 single, his voice is a ludicrously bassy croak as he narrates supposed “slice-of-life” stories that land with a dull thud: A car hits one kid and turns his hair white; another’s covered in birthmarks; the last has genuflecting, churchgoing parents. Sure, white hair’s weird and evangelicals are weirder, but why are you telling us this? Moreover, why do you insist on humming the chorus? You sound like E.T. crossed with Barry White, dude!

Worst Moment Any time Roberts sings a vowel.

“Greatest Love Of All” 1986
“Sexual chocolate!”

Immortalized by Eddie Murphy’s lascivious funk band in Coming to America, this heartrending über-ballad is still best known as Whitney Houston’s career zenith, before the marriage and the drugs took hold. Backed by a piano and what may or may not be a high-school symphony, Whit is at her proto-Mariah overexuding best, belting out platitudes about the joys of loving oneself above all others. Truly an anthem for the ’80s.

Worst Moment Picture a whacked-out Whitney and Bobby staggering through Israel in his-n’-hers prayer robes, then listen to the climactic line, “They can’t take away my dignity.”

“Breakfast At Tiffany’s” 1995
So bland, you can actually forget you’re listening to music while it’s playing

Less a song than an experiment to see how mundane college rock can become before it ceases to exist altogether. Texas’s Deep Blue Something matched frantic acoustic guitars to a perky melody and a lyric that re-creates the experience of being cornered at a party by a stranger who insists on telling you his romantic problems in excruciating detail: “So I said.…She said.…And I said.…”

Worst Moment Has there ever been a more boring line in a song than “And as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it?”

“Your Body is a Wonderland” 2001
Get this man a cold shower

“Ohhh,” the women of the world sigh, “why can’t I just find a nice guy — you know, someone who’ll compare my breasts to a theme park?” Yearn no more, ladies! Drool never sounded as sweet as it does on this slow-stirred ode to daytime sex — but even from the otherwise charming Mayer, it’s still drool. What’s more, sunny acoustic guitars belie some creepy undertones: When Mayer rasps “Discover me discovering you” and “I’ll use my hands,” it sounds as though he’s sitting in a dark room, playing pocket pool to a camera he planted in the women’s lavatory.

Worst Moment Mayer describes the “deep sea of blankets” on his bed. Ewww!

“The Final Countdown” 1987
The worst thing to come from both the band and the continent itself

Eschewing such traditional hair-metal concerns as girl-chasing and “steel horse”–riding, this Rocky 4 theme from the poodle-permed Swedes found frontman Joey Tempest announcing that he was off to Venus, “ ’cause maybe they’ve seen us!” — proof that English lyrics are best written by people with a working knowledge of the language. Tempest’s nonsensical caterwauling was backed by music that somehow managed to be fascist in its bombast yet also coma-inducingly dull.

Worst Moment The synth trills remind us that before they were a crappy metal band, Europe were a crappy prog-rock band.

“The End” 1967
The most pretentious rock star’s most pretentious song

Bombastic? Lugubrious? Sounds like it was recorded in a large metal shipping container and mixed by drunks? It must be a Doors song! Painful in so many ways, “The End,” for starters, has none. (OK, it’s 11 minutes and 45 seconds long.) Over anemic jazz noodling, Jim Morrison intones lyrics that would make the kid wearing the pentagram T-shirt in the back row of homeroom blush with shame. For example: “Father…I want to kill you/Mother…I want to unh-grblgrauauauauaugh!”

Worst Moment According to online lyrics guides, that last vocal eruption actually contains the words that constitute the most appropriate response to the song: Fuck you.

“I’ll Be Missing You” 1997
…and your platinum-selling albums. Sob!

A little over three months after the tragic shooting of his best friend, the Notorious B.I.G., a distraught Puffy Combs channeled his grief into “I’ll Be Missing You,” a nauseating brew of gloopy sentimentality and strategic-marketing mawkishness. Opportunistic? Perhaps. But how very therapeutic it must have been for Puffy to have this memorial to his departed chum spend 11 weeks at number 1.

Worst Moment The mumbling insincerity of the spoken-word intro: “I saw your son today.…He looked just like you.”

“Superman” 2000
Musical kryptonite

In the chaotic days following 9/11, people were grasping at whatever they could find for comfort. But perhaps nothing shows how out of sorts America was than the ascendance of this turgid ballad by once-and-future-unknown John Ondrasik as this grieving nation’s unofficial anthem. Maybe it was the sensitive-guy lyrics (“Even heroes have the right to bleed”) delivered over Billy Joel–lite piano noodling that soothed America’s frazzled nerves. But if this man is allowed to continue recording, then surely the terrorists have won.

Worst Moment Those falsetto notes in the chorus are enough to bring Osama bin Laden and Lex Luthor to their knees.

“Sunglasses At Night” 1984
If you look up one-hit wonder in the dictionary, this is what you’ll find

Over a keyboard riff that sounds more than a little like that of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” the brooding Quebecois Hart mugged worse than Derek Zoolander as he extolled the virtues of going incognito. With its lack of anything resembling a human being playing an instrument, this is disposable synth-pop at its most bubblegum.

Worst Moment The chorus, in which Hart warns, “Don’t switch a blade on the guy in shades, oh, no,” was an attempt at tough-guy posing, but it made him sound like the musical equivalent of Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club. That is, not very tough at all.

“Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” 2002
Oklahoma redneck runs for office on Hate ticket

Outraged by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Toby Keith enlisted in the Air Force — no, sorry, he wrote a fight anthem so vengeful, it makes “The Star-Spangled Banner” sound like “Give Peace a Chance.” Though right-wing radio hosts and politicians called him a hero, Keith (who hadn’t had a hit in years) moaned, “It sucks ass that I have to defend myself for being patriotic.” Wrong. You have to defend yourself for celebrating violence and bloodlust.

Worst Moment“We’ll put a boot in your ass; it’s the American way,” Keith sings, mistaking revenge for ideals of liberty.

“Two Princes” 1992
This is what happens when jam bands go pop

It’s obviously unfair to dislike a song because of the appearance of the band that recorded it. Yet the very sound of “Two Princes” evokes the way the Spin Doctors looked. With its riff repeated long past endurance, dopey lyrics and abominable vocal scatting, it could only have been the work of scrabbly beared, questionably hatted, red-eyed stoners staggering out of the rehearsal room convinced they have discovered the missing link between grunge, the Grateful Dead and Jamiroquai — blissfully unaware that no one in his right mind was looking for that in the first place.

Worst Moment “Dit-dit-dit! Dit-dit-dit-a-dobba-dobba-dobba dobba!”

“Dancing On The Ceiling” 1986
The world’s least convincing party song

Sounding suspiciously as if it was written in order to fit a video treatment rather than the other way around, this dispiritingly unfunky celebration appears literally to be about dancing on a ceiling — “People starting to climb the walls.…The only thing we want to do tonight is go round and round and turn upside down.” Even more troubling is the thought that in the ’80s, this rancidly thin stew of AOR dynamics and curiously Rick Wakeman–ish keyboards was Motown’s idea of a hot party record.

Worst Moment The fake party ambience, clearly the work of bored studio employees forced to whoop and cheer.

“Broken Wings” 1985
The thoroughly nasty sound of yuppie angst

“Broken Wings” is primarily annoying not for its anodyne mid-’80s production, nor for its lyrics, which make its central protagonist sound like someone you would seek a restraining order against (“You’re half of the flesh, and blood makes me whole,” he sings, reaching for the duct tape and the nail gun). It’s primarily annoying because it’s a four-minute intro with no song attached. When the booming drums finally kick in, they announce the arrival not of a fantastic chorus or an epic finale, but the greatest anticlimax in pop, featuring what can only be described as a synth bass solo.

Worst Moment The synth bass solo.

“You’re the Inspiration” 1984
And you thought the Cubs were the biggest losers in this town? Wrong!

It’s hard to believe, but at one point Chicago were a fairly well-respected rock band. Then Peter Cetera joined, and they jettisoned any remaining street cred in favor of soft-rock ballads your grandmother would deem harmless. In this, their most egregious offense, Cetera’s gratingly affected and overmodulated vocals float over 1984 standard-issue electric piano, and a nation of greasy, awkward seventh graders slow-danced for the very first time.

Worst Moment That power-rock drum fill before the second verse, apparently designed to mollify hatas who thought the band had lost its edge.

“Pumps and a Bump” 1994
Next stop: bankruptcy court!

It takes a special kind of awful to destroy a career. This song is that kind of awful. Four years after winning our hearts with his Rick James samples, deft footwork and baggy pants, Hammer (né MC Hammer) took an ill-advised stab at gangsta rap. Over third-rate Dre beats and high-pitched synth samples, the former Saturday-morning cartoon star freestyled about his love of women with gigantic asses. Soon after it nosedived off the charts, Hammer gave up chubby-chasing and devoted his life to Jesus.

Worst Moment The line “You wiggity-wiggity wack if you ain’t got biggity back” must have been found on Sir Mix-a-Lot’s cutting-room floor.

“What’s Up?” 1993

To grunge what “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” was to the Woodstock Generation Whenever a new genre comes along, one thing is guaranteed: Sooner or later someone will reduce its values to platitudes, then set them to music so trite you could use it to sell soft drinks. “What’s Up?” stapled grunge angst to the AOR that grunge was supposed to stamp out, then added the remarkable vocals of Linda Perry, a woman so tormented by what she referred to as her “lahf” — which she had apparently spent trying to climb that “heeyuhl of howp” — that she had invented her own accent.

Worst Moment The first chorus, in which Perry unleashes the one thing ’90s rock had lacked to that point: yodeling.

“I’ll Be There For You” 1995
With friends like these…

Like a support group crammed into a pop ditty, this theme song–turned–radio hit is crushingly sunny, cheaply “empathetic” and unsparingly upbeat. The Beatles-adoring duo harmonize about romantic travails, dead-end jobs and the overwhelming power of — you guessed it — friendship. The only way it could be more irritating is if they repeated “Turn that frown upside down” for three minutes and 10 seconds. It is a powerfully appropriate theme, as it’s impossible to hear a note and not think of Rachel’s haircut, Chandler’s grin, Ross’s whimper.

Worst Moment Four handclaps punctuate the song’s first line, all mimed peppiness and overprescribed Prozac.

“From a Distance” 1990
Satanic ballad depicts the Lord as neglectful oaf

Ignoring an entire century of existentialism and science that declared God dead, bawdy bathhouse babe Bette Midler keeps a straight face throughout liberal homilies, stiff rhymes and more sound F/X than a Mel Gibson movie. Sure, war and famine suck, but Midler assures us that “God is watching us, from a distance.” In other words, the Almighty is some kind of heavenly grandfather, loving and caring, but too doddering and distracted to really get involved. Thanks, God!

Worst Moment The drum machine. If God exists, He probably hates drum machines.

“Illegal Alien” 1983
Did nobody ever suggest that this song might be considered a teensy bit…offensive?

The ’80s was the decade when rock superstars like Genesis discovered their social conscience. What better way to draw attention to the plight of illegal Hispanic immigrant workers than by adopting a Speedy Gonzales accent and singing a jaunty AOR track depicting Mexicans as freeloading degenerates? Perhaps fearing that the song’s subtle ethnic humor might be missed by some listeners, Phil Collins sported a Zapata mustache and a sombrero in the video.

Worst Moment The middle eight, featuring hilariously accented shouting of the arriba! and eh, greeengo! variety.

“Kokomo” 1988
They might as well have just pissed in Brian’s sandbox

The Boys’ Cocktail soundtrack single was their first number 1 since “Good Vibrations” 18 years earlier. But chart position is all the songs have in common. “Good Vibrations” is a glorious slice of Brian Wilson–penned pop perfection; “Kokomo” is a gloopy mess of faux-Carribean musical stylings cowritten by Mike Love. It’s all anodyne harmonizing and forced rhymes (“To Martinique, that Montserrat mystique!”) that would have driven Brian totally nuts had he not been totally nuts already.

Worst Moment The most diabolical rhyme is saved for, um, first: “Aruba, Jamaica, ooh, I wanna take ya!”

“Invisible” 2003
Bad haircut. Worse song!

It’s not just the schmaltzy play for loser pity (“If I was invisible — wait, I already am”). It’s not just the ridiculously purple lyrics. And it’s not just the thought of Aiken’s eternally asymmetrical porcupine ’do quivering as he soars into a high note. It’s the whole hey-girl-I-want-to-watch-you-while-you-think-you’re-alone-in-your-bedroom thing that transforms this song from a merely mediocre ballad to a disturbing voyeur fantasy, filling your head with images of Aiken downloading porn and thinking bad things about that girl from homeroom. What lurks in the hearts of lonely geeks? Clay Aiken knows, and it’s not pretty.

Worst Moment “I wish you could touch me with the colors of your life.”

“Ebony and Ivory” 1982
Racial-harmony dreck

See, it’s a metaphor: “Side by side on my piano/Keyboard/Oh, Lord/Why don’t we?” McCartney and Wonder want the races to get along as peacefully as the white and black keys on a piano — which seems unlikely, since the white keys didn’t enslave the black keys for hundreds of years. The anguished idealism inspired a Saturday Night Live duet between Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo: “I am dark and you are light/You are blind as a bat and I have sight.”

Worst Moment The repeated chorus at the end — where the song gets even chirpier.

“American Life” 2003
Desperately seeking…contemporary relevance

On which Madonna updates the “Material Girl”–era satire of commercialism and spiritual emptiness — but this time, she does it with what is hands-down the most embarrassing rap ever recorded. Nervous and choppy, she makes Debbie Harry sound as smooth as Jay-Z. The only thing worse than shouting “soy latte”? Rhyming it with “double shot-ay.” The rhymes don’t kick in for a full three minutes, but the song — propelled by a constipated digital beat and some bungled musings on celebrity culture — stinks the whole way through.

Worst Moment After rapping, Madonna sings, “Nothing is what it seeeems” in a manner drained of all profundity.

“Party All the Time” 1985
Beverly Hills Cop commits felony pop

Now, it might seem like a cruel satire: Leather-suited comedian teams up with Jheri-curled Superfreak to craft hit record. But no — in 1985, Eddie Murphy and Rick James really did get to number 2 with this catatonic checklist of funk clichés: the witlessly parping synthesizers, electro-totalitarian drums that are practically ready to invade Poland on their own, production mimicking karaoke night in an abandoned pet-food factory and…falsetto singing!

Worst Moment James oozes, “She-likes-to-paaarty — all — the — tiiiime,” leaving us in no doubt about what kind of “party” he has in mind. Relax, ladies: He was on crack.

“Don’t Worry Be Happy” 1988
Oh, great — a bumper sticker set to music

Just as there are few things more depressing than being told to cheer up, it’s difficult to think of a song more likely to plunge you into suicidal despondency than this. The finger-clicking rhythm, the Sesame Street backing and McFerrin’s various accents — all different, all patronizing — are an object lesson in trying too hard. The lyrics are appalling, too: If your landlord is indeed threatening you with legal action, you should not under any circumstances follow McFerrin’s advice, which seems to involve chuckling at him and saying “Look at me, I’m ’appy” in a comical Jamaican voice.

Worst Moment The whole wretched thing.

“The Heart Of Rock & Roll” 1984
A celebration of rock music …by a band seemingly intent on destroying it

Less a song than a craven attempt to curry favor from drunken arena crowds trained to roar on cue when they hear their city’s name mentioned. Coming off more like one of your dad’s golf buddies than a rock star, Lewis rattles off a list of American cities in a monotone so bland that subbing in “Bakersfield” for “San Antone” would drive the fans wild, and hopefully distract them from the fact that the bar band–caliber music suuuuucked.

Worst Moment The second verse, when that cheeky Huey almost uses the word ass. Ah, 1984 — such a simple time.

“Ice Ice Baby” 1990
When hip-hop stopped being the “black CNN”

Making fellow early-’90s pop-rap pioneer MC Hammer look cutting-edge by comparison, the chart-topping “Ice Ice Baby” was mindless white rap for mindless white people, set to the plodding bass line from Queen’s “Under Pressure” for easy move-busting. Lyrically, the Iceman recounts a trip to Palm Beach, where he is forced to reach for his “nine” by some moody dope fiends. It later emerged that this nice suburban boy fabricated his tough past and would probably soil himself at the sight of a real gun.

Worst Moment “To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal/Light up the stage and wax a chump like a candle.” None of this was remotely true.

“Rollin’” 2000
In which nü-metal veers from disaffected rage to “Will this do?”

Sounding like a middle-aged man trying to fight his way out of his son’s frat party using only random words of youth slang and an unconvincingly gruff tone of voice, Fred Durst dictates a light aerobic workout (“Hands up, now hands down.…Breathe in, now breathe out”) against a background of histrionic metal noise. The song is meaningless and embarrassing in equal measure.

Worst Moment Being addressed as both “partner” and “baby” in Durst’s drawling intro, shortly before being told, bafflingly, “You know what time it is.”

“Everybody Have Fun Tonight” 1986
If this song was a party, you’d lock yourself in the bathroom and cry

Initially called Huang Chung, but in no way Chinese, London-based funk tools Wang Chung changed their name to make it easier for whitey to pronounce, thus patronizing Asia and Europe in one stroke. Musically one of history’s least convivial party songs, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” was both lyrically preposterous (“On the edge of oblivion/All the world is Babylon”) and sung by Jack Hues as though he would turn to sulphur at the very thought of “fun.”

Worst Moment That chorus: “Everybody have fun tonight/Everybody Wang Chung tonight.”

“Achy Breaky Heart” 1992
At least the haircut never caught on. Oh, wait…

Country, but not as we know it. Written by Vietnam vet Don “Pickle Puss” Von Tress in the style of a brain-dead “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Achy Breaky Heart” represented every prejudice non-believers have about country: It was trite, it was inane, it was big in trailer parks and it was thoroughly enjoyed by the obese. Strangely, it was covered by Bruce Springsteen, with slightly less irony than you might imagine; still, this does not make it good.

Worst Moment An instrumental break that single-handedly rejuvenated the line-dancing fad.

“We Built This City” 1985
The truly horrible sound of a band taking the corporate dollar while sneering at those who take the corporate dollar

The lyrics of “We Built This City” appear to restate the importance of the band once known as Jefferson Airplane within San Francisco’s ’60s rock scene. Not so, says former leader Grace Slick, who by 1985 had handed her band to singer Mickey Thomas and a shadowy team of outside songwriters.

“Everybody thought we were talking about San Francisco. We weren’t,” Slick says. “It was written by an Englishman, Bernie Taupin, about Los Angeles in the early ’70s. Nobody was telling the truth!”

Certainly not Starship, who spend the song carrying on as if they invented rock & roll rebellion, while churning out music that encapsulates all that was wrong with rock in the ’80s: Sexless and corporate, it sounds less like a song than something built in a lab by a team of record-company executives.

The result was so awful that years afterward, it seems to bring on a personality disorder in the woman who sang it. “This is not me,” Slick remarks when reminded of the 1985 chart-topper. “Now you’re an actor. It’s the same as Meryl Streep playing Joan of Arc.”

Worst Moment “Who cares, they’re always changing corporation names,” sneers Slick — whose band had changed its name three times.