There are any number of really terrible songs out there. You know, the ones that, when they come on the car radio (even if you think you’re managing “content” with Sirius), make you want to Thelma & Louise and sail right over a cliff.
For me, the top of my Billboard Bad Songs chart has long been America’s“Horse with No Name.”
Siriusly Seriously, if a cop ever finds me with the nose of my Zipcar in a grassy mound on the highway median, they’ll be able to rule out DUI. And it probably won’t be because I sneezed or was swatting a bee or (I hope) had experienced a medical incident. Nope, it will be because I reached across the dashboard and was fumbling with the radio to find a song other than “Horse with No Name.”
When I was a kid, there was a TV quiz show called Name that Tune, in which contestants tried to name a popular tune in as few notes as possible. I’m pretty sure that for “Horse,” I’d have it at one.
Anyway, I’ve yet to hear anyone defend “Horse with No Name.” How in God’s name did it get to be #1 on the charts in 1972?
But a number of other songs have been offered up by friends and family as being equally bad, if not worse.
At a recent family gathering, my brother-in-law suggested The Turtles “Happy Together.” No one else understood how this quite magnificent shower song could make the worst list. Other than my b-in-law. How can you not love a song that includes the lyric, “If I should call you up, invest a dime.”
My cousin Rob’s chart topper was Oliver singing “Good Morning, Starshine,” the ultimate hippy-dippy, happy-dappy sound of the 1960’s. Since Rob was only a year old when the song came out in 1969, all I can say is that it must have really made an impression on him at an impressionable age. This song never really bothered me, until Rob pointed out the choral lyrics:
Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo
Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba
Early morning singing song…
I can see his point.
There were a couple more suggestions, but then we let it go, until my sister Trish picked it up last week, and texted a couple of nominees to me and my sister Kath. Thanks to the miracle and ridiculousness of modern technology, we participated in a group text fest with Kath and I sitting next to each other on her porch in Wellfleet, and Trish 100 miles away.
Trish’s submissions “for your review to add to the ‘worst song ever Hall of Fame” were “White Room” by Cream, and “The Year 2525” by one-hit-wonders Zager & Evans.
Here’s our text exchange on “White Room.”
M: White Room is bad, but I’ll give them a pass because, believe it or not, I had a Cream album.
T: Yeah I give them some room bc Eric Clapton but it’s a pretty bad song.
K: I give Cream a pass, too. They were the pscyhedelic gateway. Where is the hippie head scarf emoji when u need it.
Well, believe it or not, there is one. Ecce hippie head scarf emoji:
So, because of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and album ownership, “White Room” doesn’t quite make our cut.
But “The Year 2525”. Yes, yes, 2525 times yes.
M: In the year 2525, if man is still alive, there may never be a worse song.
This was a first: a nomination for worst song ever that I was able to entertain as a possible replacement for “Horse with No Name.”
T: 2525 really takes the cake. Which reminds me of MacArthur Park by Richard Harris which should also be on the list.
This, quite naturally, led to an exchange in which we texted the lyrics to “MacArthur Park” back and forth. (“Someone left the cake out in the rain…All the sweet green icing melting down…I don’t think that I can take it cuz it took so long to bake it…And I’ll never have that recipe again.”)
Yep, definitely a dog, but not in the same league as “2525.”
Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4”, however, quite possibly is.
As Trish texted, “Chicago had a lot of clunkers.”
Meanwhile, Kath was busy reading up on Zager & Evans, and found what appears to be an even worse song than “2525.” Something called “Mr. Turnkey.” We all went to our respective googles to find this on wikipedia:
"Mr. Turnkey" (a song about a rapist who nails his own wrist to the jail wall as punishment for his crime) went largely unnoticed by the public.
Well, I say thank the lords of LP for that. We all took a pass on listening to in on YouTube. There are some earworms you just don’t want to invite into your brain, and I’m pretty sure that “Mr. Turnkey” is one of them.
A few days later, T and I were in her car, heading to Worcester for a funeral, and listening to 60’s music. Most of what we heard was pleasantly nostalgic, with a couple of exceptions:
- “Bright Elusive Butterfly of Love” by Bob Lind
- “Reach Out into the Darkness” (Friend & Lover).
Ah, the sixties, when people were singing along to “I think it’s so groovy now, that people are finally getting together.”
While, “Reach Out” is awful, it didn’t make my top/bottom three for worst song ever. But “Bright Elusive Butterfly”. They really don’t make them much worth.
So I give you my Top/Bottom Three:
- “Horse with No Name”
- “Bright Elusive Butterfly of Love”
- “The Year 2525”
“Horse” may just be there out of sheer orneriness on my part. I never thought I’d live to see the day, but someone could easily talk me into replacing “Horse” with “Butterfly.”