Here at All Things Go Music Dot Com, we are never in want of a good gush session. There’s always new music to love, and unlike the more curmudgeony corners of the internet, we prefer to keep things positive on our end. But sometimes you just need to rant, na mean? Inspired by the very excellent AV Club HateSongs feature, I asked the staff: what song makes you feel like your blood transfusion is rejecting your body the moment it comes on the radio? The one that sends you into a panic over the location of emergency exits when a friend plays it at a party? The one that singlehandedly ruins an entire movie with a place on the soundtrack? And most importantly, why? See what we all had to say after the jump.
The Eagles – “Hotel California”
Hotel California is the jackass who shouts and waves his credit card in the bartender’s face and gets a drink before anyone else. Hotel California is the spambot scalper that speaks captcha. Hotel California shows up to the airport in a phony wheelchair, crying for help from pretty attendants who whisk it to the front of the line while the rest of us trudge down interminable terminals.
There are songs that make me cry out in disgust the moment I hear the first chord, and then there is Hotel California. The former are the ex boyfriends you hide from or fight with or roll your eyes toward when you see them at parties, but Hotel California is the one that turns your blood so cold you can’t even react, the one you used to love so deeply when you were young and stupid enough to think lyrics like “you can check out any time you like / but you can never leave” really meant something, that a shallow metaphor for the music industry performed by a bunch of whiny rock stars was remotely interesting.
Hotel California takes advantage of young people desperate for yearbook-worthy quotes to define themselves, teenagers blindly searching for authenticity with open and trusting arms. I wish I could take back every second I spent listening to this damn song in high school and give that time to Joy Division or Bryan Ferry or Love or any artist who gives their listeners half of what we’re willing to put into it.
Sidenote, the last person who requested Hotel California died as a result. So, there’s that.
One Direction – “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful”
“Hey babe, I’m SUPER attracted to your low self-esteem,” whisper all the members of One Direction in unison. “But because I know that decades of conditioning will keep those personal insecurities in place no matter how I try to hit it, let me just say one thing.” They adjust their belt buckles; they’re half hard already. They’re about to lay down the greatest gift of all. “YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL,” they say, authoritative and generous, just like a boy should be. “AND WITHOUT ME, YOU’LL NEVER KNOW.”
It doesn’t help that this song came out the womb sounding like a Kidz Bop cover, but I’d take a thousand “rapey” music videos or Eminem wanna-strangle-u-bitch songs over these gross “Hey there, little girl” pop confections. Here’s the thing: A) Pretty girls know they’re pretty and B) if they don’t, the vibe behind songs like this has a lot to do with it and C) who even gives a shit and D) when will someone write a song about a girl being fucking awesome just in general? You want a song about beauty, give me “All Eyes On You” by St. Lucia, or perhaps more realistically “Creep” by Radiohead slash Ludacris “What’s Your Fantasy,” but I’ll have none of this 1D shit.
Honorable Mentions: James Blunt – “You’re Beautiful”; Bruno Mars – “Just The Way You Are” & “Nothing On You” (two time offender)
M.I.A. – “Paper Planes”
This installment of “The One” is so relevant because two years ago I wrote an entry on my Tumblr (LOL) about the top five songs I wanted to murder titled “H8 U 4EVER.” Two years later, M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” still tops this list. Imagine walking into any concert venue, bar, or club between 2008 and 2009 and not hearing this song. Also imagine every time this song did come on people did not feel the need to shoot blanks towards the sky with their metaphorical hand pistols. Didn’t happen. H8 U 4EVER.
The Lumineers – “Mad World”
Folk music, back in the beginning, was basically what punk music was to the 70s and 80s…it was political, rebellious, angry and decadent. It pushed the boundaries, brought up the vocals in the mix and made you listen to exactly what the songwriter had to say. It was confrontational. It was fucking rock and roll.
…And to hear that legacy besmirched by The Lumineers, these futzing, shoeless-as-a-style-choice hipster clowns singing greeting-card nonsense about soul mates is enough to send Woodie Guthrie spinning in his grave. This isn’t folk music. This is Maroon 5. This is music for the closing montage in Grey’s Anatomy. This is Grocery Store Music. Give me a freaking break.
Honorable Mentions: Macklemore – “Thrift Shop”; Marcy’s Playground – “Sex and Candy”; Macklemore – “Thrift Shop” once more for good measure
PSY – “Gangnam Style”
Between The Black Eyed Peas’ entire music collection, Creed consistently trying to take me higher and Simple Plan’s mere existence there truly is so much to hate out there. How does one pick just one?! I mean, Nickleback keeps trying to get me to look at that damn photograph where something was on Joey’s head, Nicki Minaj is allowed to sing in a voice that is the exact equivalent of me singing after sucking in a ton of helium (then she actually passes judgement on other singers on American Idol), and did I mention Taylor Swift consistently putting out the same damn song over and over again? We get it Taylor, you’re incredibly insecure and you are lost without male companionship. Stop overcompensating by consistently singing about being over your “boyfriends,” who clearly want nothing to do with you and your clown painted face.
There’s one song that finds a way to rise above all this mediocrity though and that’s Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” Just typing that full title out hurt. If you’ve ever put this song on at a party I hate you. Seriously, think about it. When people look back at our generation, the most played video OF ALL TIME is this song. Is that the legacy we want to leave? At risk of having a heart attack from talking more about this song I am going to end this rant now, but before I go keep this in mind: Every time you hit play on this song an angel dies. Fact.
Honorable Mentions: Anything Nickleback; Anything Taylor Swift; Anything Black Eyed Peas
Journey – “Don’t Stop Believing”
How did this happen? When “Don’t Stop Believin'” debuted, it peaked at a “meh” #9 in the US (#2 in Canada, but c’mon, it’s Canada) and should have faded into shitty MOR soft-rock obscurity. Instead, 30 years later, it’s the best selling rock song of all time on iTunes and the LA Times has gall to ask if it’s “the most pop-culturally significant song of all time ever in the history of universe.” Seriously.
It’s hard to understand how this song entered the American rock music cannon despite its initial lackluster performance, but it’s easy to see why it succeeds. Sure, everything about this song is all wrong: the brain-dead lyrics, the overindulgent guitar solos, the shaky geography (“South Detroit” isn’t a place). But the song’s emotional rhetoric is so banal and unrefined that it connects with the large swath of Americans that lack a trace of aesthetic musical sensibility. How else can you explain its popularity among Glee fans and every Coors Light guzzling mouth-breather you went to high school with? This is music for people who hate music.
Tony Soprano deserved better than to go out with this noise playing.
Honorable Mentions: Kid Rock – “All Summer Long” (Most Kid Rock songs would work here, but this beauty has the particular honor of making “Werewolves of London” – previously one of my favorite songs – completely unlistenable. I hope you know what you’ve done, Bob)
LMFAO – “Party Rock Anthem”
WEE WOOP WOOP WOOP, WEEEE WOOP WOOP WOOP, WEEE WOOP WOOP WOOP, WEE WOOP WOOP WOOP. BLEEP BLOOP WEEP WOOOP.
Bandwagon garbage. The thing that I hate isn’t the song itself. It’s relatively easy to avoid the radio so I didn’t need to hear it as much when it was just a hit song. It’s when it became a hit commercial soundtrack with that fucking Kia commercial. You know what really grinds my gears? God awful music plus dancing hamsters. Mix those two together and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Yes, I’m here for the arsenic Kool-Aid, party of one.
Honorable Mentions: Al Walser – “I Can’t Live Without You”
Goo Goo Dolls – “Iris”
Let me preface this by saying I’m not here to deny the beauty of this song or something. I’m here to tell you why this song is fucking horrible. I’m here to tell you why I haven’t been able to listen to more than 30 seconds of this song for the past 12 years. So put down stuff and step into my office…
A long, long time ago I watched an episode of the X-Files* on a small antenna television at my grandparents’ house on the island. It started off with a casual game of baseball being played next to a corn field (Field of Dreams style); that was until they found a dead baby under home plate. As one could expect, the baby was bludgeoned, swollen and completely distorted. You follow Scully and Mulder as they unearth a string of clues that ultimately lead to a teenage couple – a troubled girl and her 8-Mile boyfriend who works at an auto body shop to support them both. In some fit of youthful panic she kills her child and buries it. With the hopes of protecting his girlfriend from any more emotional or physical pain, the boyfriend takes the proverbial bullet and is sent to jail. In an extremely drawn out hearing and jail admittance sequence “Iris” is playing. You see the sadness in this kids eyes and you can tell he has nothing left to live for….and then there is this damn song. Through a series of bullying and solitary b-roll shots, Rzeznik’s emotions, lyrics, and voice stab at your heart strings – just like that girl stabbed her baby. The episode ends with a slow pan into a jail cell. The boyfriend is hanging from the ceiling. Suicide.
…we should all be so lucky.
*It is of important note that with great likelihood what I am recounting is a conglomeration of the X-Files, Law & Order SVU, and any other television show I have encountered in my entire life.
Honorable Mentions: Aaliyah – “Try Again”; Mariah Carey – every song
Sammy Adams – “Driving Me Crazy”
The network at my office shut down, sending my coworkers and I into a frenzy to figure out the source of the problem–I knew the cause but maintained silence to keep my employed status in tact; the metro platform was overcrowded to the point where someone could have easily been pushed into an oncoming train; people stood on the left side of the escalator. People kept getting in the way of the train doors delaying everyone’s important engagements for the evening–all this while the platform kept filling up; I came home to find my dogs and cats covered in shit and piss as well as the entire house–they all made sure to take naps on my bed; I opened the windows all around my house to ward off the nausea, the wind blew through the living room windows and immediately an urge was felt to grab my family’s trusty Cutco knives and do myself in; the power went out for hours, but only in the refrigerator–the Big Guy was trying to starve me to death; the car was dead and a tree fell on the phone lines next door–calling for help was useless; the bizarre dreams of ghosts and the supernatural became a reality–the house had come alive in one final attempt to save itself. But as soon as I took off my headphones, it all ended.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “Thrift Shop”
I know. So easy. It’s like fishing with dynamite.
No, mine will not be the first crack at this furry leopard printed pinata; the candy is all eaten, the party is over. But that doesn’t change the fact that I STILL can’t stand this song. If I did nothing else for the rest of my life but eat, sleep, and write about hating this song, I would still only barely scratch the surface, but let’s just go over the basic points. Macklemore? A walking, talking congealed mass of expired vanilla pudding joylessly squeezing out hollow, ersatz knock-offs of Eminem and Atmosphere flows. Ryan Lewis? A gifted producer whose work is TOTALLY RUINED FOREVER as a result of his association with the aforementioned sentient pudding. This song? Fails at a) being funny b) being poignant c) rewarding multiple listens or d) all of the OF COURSE IT’S D.
Seattle, you don’t DESERVE a basketball team anymore if this is the best ya got.
Honorable Mentions: Macklemore – “Song”; Macklemore – “Other Song”; Macklemore – “Additional Macklemore Song”
OMC – “How Bizarre”
I understood that I would actually have to listen to this song in order to truly digest my feelings of disdain for it, but then I had a masochistically fantastic idea: I would listen to the song on repeat for an hour. It would be a test of nerves and sanity; I was going to look this beast in the eye and see who would blink first…
~4 minutes in: This is a new feeling. Usually when having to endure this song, I know that I just have to make it roughly 4 minutes before it’s all over. But now, as the track fades out and my tensed muscles start to instinctively relax, that first quick pluck of a guitar signals the song’s first repetition, and I feel my heart sink with despair.
6 minutes in: I realize that I’ve never heard this song on high-quality headphones. Ever the optimist, I think that maybe it will help unearth some secret divinity to this song.
7 minutes in: I come to the conclusion that hearing the spacing between the accordion and trumpet lines does not positively affect my view of this song in any way. If anything, I feel like I am being surrounded by it. It is a boa constrictor and I am the helpless mouse.
~16 minutes in: As the backup singers chant, “It’s making me crazy,” I start to wonder if they are speaking to me directly. Are they coming from inside my own head? Is this my subconscious talking to me? I begin questioning my place in the universe and the aspect of free will.
~38 minutes in: The lyrics are now tattooed on my brain. I begin to understand the story as a whole.
~40 minutes in: I come to see this tale of fugitive escape as a harrowing bit of folklore. He is Dr. Richard Kimble; he is Whitey Bulger; he is the inner rebel in all of us who has broken free of his chains.
~42 minutes in: We are all criminals; some commit crimes against the state, some commit crimes against others, most commit crimes against ourselves. I begin to truly understand how bizarre it all is.
~48 minutes: I forget what life was like before this song, like when one is sick and can’t remember what it feels like to be healthy. Every time I look around, it’s in my face.
~54 minutes: IT’S ALL A SCAM! The song’s final lines finally resonate with me. “Want to know the rest? Buy the rights…” Buy the rights?! You lure me in with your danceable rhythms, you seduce me with your tales of romantic unwarranted prosecution, you infect my brain, and in the end, all you want is for me to give you money to hear the ending?! No! I will not stand for this. Don’t try and pull an E-Harmony Free Communication Weekend tease and think you can get away with it! Soylent Green is people! Soylent Green is people!
~55 minutes: I am indignantly hate-listening. I tried to expand my horizons. I tried to see the good in you, and, for just a second, I thought I found it. But I know now that you are the woman in room 237. Your false beauty falls apart the closer you get to me until I see you for the monster you are.
~60 minutes: It’s over. I have made it. I wrap myself in a blanket and make some tea with milk and honey. It warms my soul and reminds me that we must live our life for the present and not the past. I am not a victim, I am a survivor.
Honorable Mentions: Eagle Eye Cherry – “Save Tonight”; LFO – “Summer Girls”, LMFAO – “Sexy And I Know It”