Here they are: The Worst Songs Ever!

“It makes my ears bleed!” “It makes me feel sick!”  “It makes my hair stand on end!”

These are some of the comments I’ve received in my quest to identify the Worst Songs Ever.  Although the 1970s is considered to be The Decade of Bad Songs (that era gave us “Run Joey Run,”  “Convoy,” and “Kung Fu Fighting“), there were plenty of duds before then, and they’re still cranking them out today.

Meghan Trainor’s 2014 ode to big backsides, “It’s All About That Bass” got its share of votes (“I’m skinny and I can’t help it, leave me alone”) along with Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” (“I TURN it off, every time it comes on”) and the “Frozen” anthem, “Let It Go” (“Please tell your ten-year-old daughter to like another song!”)

From recent years, “What Does the Fox Say?” caught plenty of scorn (“I know what I’d tell that fox”), along with the Black Eyed Peas “My Humps” (“Belongs in the Bad Song Hall of Fame”), and “Who Let the Dogs Out?” (“They should have unleashed them in the studio!”)

1990s music lovers had plenty to say, from Hanson’s “MmmBop” (“Mmmm..No!”), the bubblegum-flavored “Barbie Girl” (“Even Ken hates this one”), and Ricky Martin’s “Living La Vida Loca” (“I know all the words,  and I’m not proud of that.”)

Whitney Houston’s 1992 power ballad “I Will Always Love You” also came under fire.  “Pure howling. It brings shivers from head to toe!”

The 1980s are remembered for MTV and big-hair, but some haven’t forgiven that decade for Starship’s “We Built This City” (From the band that gave us some of the best songs of the 60s?  Did they sober up or something?”), Toni Basil’s cheerleader anthem “Mickey” (“I pulled a muscle trying to switch to another station”), and every song recorded by Rick Astley (“Never Gonna Give You Up“), Boy George (“Karma Chameleon“), and the B-52’s (“Rock Lobster“).

The 1970s decade is in a league of its own.  There were nominations for the Temptations epic “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” (“Is it over yet? Please, make it stop”), the tear-jerker “Seasons in the Sun” (“We had joy, we had fun, until this song came on”), and 3 Dog Night’s hard-to-avoid “Joy to the World” (“If I hear Jeremiah was a bullfrog one more time, my head will explode!”)

Paul McCartney’s 70s output incurred the wrath of many, starting with “Silly Love Songs” (“After writing all those Beatles classics, he must have run out of ideas.”) The lyrics of “Let ‘Em In” were quoted: “Someone’s knockin’ at the door, somebody’s ringing the bell, do me a favor, open the door, let ’em in.”  (“Did he make a bet that his fans would buy anything? I guess he won.”)

Then there was America’s “Horse With No Name” (“At first I thought it was Neil Young, but he wouldn’t stoop to that”), “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” (“Boo is the right word”), and Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” (“A one-hit wonder. No wonder.”)

That decade must also be held accountable for “Billy Don’t Be A Hero,” “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” “The Night Chicago Died,” “Delta Dawn,” and the infamous “Muskrat Love.” Who can forget these words: “Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam, do the jitterbug out in muskrat land, and they shimmy and Sam is so skinny.”  Yes, I played that on the radio.  A lot.  Please forgive me.

The 60s gave us the tragic “Leader of the Pack,” and the never-ending “MacArthur Park” (“Somebody, get that cake out of the rain already, it’s been 50 years!”)  There were also votes for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Sugar, Sugar” (true confession: those are two of my guilty pleasures).

Even though we only hear them over the holidays, several Christmas songs were named: Jose Feliciano’s earworm “Feliz Navidad,” McCartney’s repetitive “Wonderful Christmas Time” and the unfortunately unforgettable “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” (“Whoever got rich from that should send us all a rebate!”)

That brings us to the 3 Worst Songs Ever, as selected by you.  Number three is “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega from 1999 (“I’ve seen too many drunks try to dance to this at wedding receptions”), and number two is the 1995 dance sensation “Macarena” (“Every time they say Macarena, it’s followed by the sound my cat makes when he spits up a hairball”)

So what’s the Worst Song Ever?  It’s another 70s stinker, Rick Dees’ “Disco Duck,” which topped the charts in 1976.  Can’t argue with this one, folks.  Thanks for sending in your nominations!  You have a good ear for bad music.

About David Carroll

David Carroll is a longtime Chattanooga radio and TV broadcaster, and has anchored the evening news on WRCB-TV since 1987. He is the author of "Chattanooga Radio & Television" published by Arcadia.

23 thoughts on “Here they are: The Worst Songs Ever!

  1. Jerry LIngerfelt

    And of course the Purple People Eater fits in there somewhere. I don’t really like living in the past but today’s music, (I sound like my daddy) is driving me back to listen to the music I played in the 50’s. I became a Country music fan a few years ago and now they have turned that music into Rock and Roll. I like the old Rock but either make it Country or Rock, not a tweener! Spoken like a true old F…..t. JL

  2. Debra Cooper

    Well I have to be honest, some of your “worst” lists were actually some of my “favorites” back in the day. I won’t say which ones, but I will say this. I was always a Stevie Nicks fan but I agree about her son Edge of Seventeen. Never understood it, and still don’t today. My 3 worst probably would have been: MmmmBop, Kung Fu Fighting, and that so, so, so annoying Santa Baby.

  3. Ed Ramsey

    The two non-Christmas McCartney songs were on the same album! Disco Duck was…uhhh…one of the first Platinum singles. All in bad taste!

    1. Rod Hampton

      David… It’s strange that the so called “Worst Songs Ever” are some of the “Most Money Making Songs Ever”. How does that work?

      1. David Carroll

        Hi Rod! It amuses me to listen to some radio personalities who play obscure songs that are “far superior” to the hits that overshadowed them. As I recall, we tried to play some of those obscure songs, and nobody liked them when they were released! And in all fairness, many of the great sellers haven’t held up very well, in my opinion.

  4. Cherie Childs

    My oldest daughter at about 13 years old got my 45s out after she listened to them she said “it’s a wonder everyone didn’t commit suicide listening to those songs.” I have to

  5. Betty Proctor

    Wow, what a list! I too loved some of those songs, and still do. ‘Nuf said, we’ll leave it at that. Enjoy your show!

  6. Steve Green

    Play the hits. And warm you’re done playing the hits, play them again. Sometimes you really have. To hold your nose!

  7. Don Rudh

    Some of the worst were ones I really like. One man’s prize, another’s poison. I really like 50’s genre best but I’m an old guy so that makes sense I suppose. I did enjoy Whitney Houston’s voice. Thanks for your enjoyable posts David.

  8. Jeff in Sa-ra-so-ta!

    Where is “Annie’s Song”?
    I think John Denver was listening to the song when he slammed his plane into the cliff.


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