What happens when a popular song from a particular era is so polarized upon its release, yet it cannot stand the test of time? It becomes one of the worst songs ever recorded. Many of them are often referred to as novelty songs, which is an accurate description. They were popular and even beloved when released, but forgotten over time.
At any rate, here are 10 such examples of rock and pop songs released in the last forty years that we wished were never heard from again or why were they even made in the first place? Get ready for the cheesiest, most outdated and out of tune songs you wish you did not have to endure. Unfortunately some of us had to grow up with these songs.
10. Brand New Key – Melanie (1971)
When I saw this recent television commercial with a baby in a wheeled walker racing through the desert, forests and freeway of traffic to go to someone’s house I immediately recognized the song that is featured. “Brand New Key” was a number #1 song from my days in middle school. Needless to say, this was not one of my favorite songs and it got annoying hearing it on the radio continuously.
Unfortunately, hearing the song now really hurts my ears. I actually have to walk out of the room when the commercial comes on. By the way, the commercial is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. It’s the song choice I could do without. Melanie was a popular folk/country/rock singer in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Most of her songs were serious in nature, but for this one it was purposely written as a novelty song to lighten up her concerts. Vocally it’s sung in such erratic keys. It’s like listening to a song of scratching nails on a chalkboard.
9. Who Let the Dogs Out – Baha Men (2000)
Oddly, some of these songs on this list will actually be popular with kids today. This is certainly one of them. It was a big hit initially in some Caribbean countries. The prominent Calypso rhythm was toned down for American listeners. In the song’s chorus it simply comprises of “woof, woof, woof, woof, woof.” That sure took some songwriting genius. “Who Let the Dogs Out” was a huge hit in the UK reaching at #2. Thankfully it only charted to #40 in the U.S., but is still a popular song at sports venues.
8. Feelings – Morris Albert (1975)
Without question one of the sappiest, over-the-top and melodramatic songs ever written and recorded. The singer was from Brazil and “Feelings” was his only hit song that reached #6. Here is a prime example of a song that was very popular for its time, but has not withstood the test of time in this cynical century. Morris Albert sounds like he’s about to cry in the song. Just get over it!
7. Precious and Few – Climax (1971)
If you thought the previously listed song was sappy this one takes it to an even higher level. Once again it was their only hit peaking at #3 on the Billboard pop chart for this unknown band. This song and information about the musicians is very obscure, even in this information age. As you can see this song has certainly not weathered the test of time.
6. (You’re) Having My Baby – Paul Anka (1974)
They say things come in three’s. Here is yet another melodramatic and over-the-top song that is too literal with its lyrics. Yes, it is about the joys of the singer being a father. However, the beauty of pop songs lies in its subtleties. This is definitely not a subtle. Paul Anka had a lot of outstanding songs he wrote and recorded as a teen idol. In his comeback song, which reached #1 on the pop chart, it was another case of it being very popular when released, but times have certainly changed.
5. You Light Up My Life – Debby Boone (1977)
Believe it or not this song by the daughter of Pat Boone and cousin to George Clooney was one of the biggest hits of 1977. It won Song of the Year at the Grammys, along with Best New Artist for Debby Boone, and an Oscar for Best Song. When this was released it was the zenith of the disco craze.
Yet, the song remained at #1 for ten consecutive weeks. My only guess as to why “You Light Up My Life” was ever released must have been as a contrast to the songs on the radio. This would be for listeners who did not like disco, but craved for something cheesier. Now it would be categorized as a contemporary Christian song. Whenever I hear this song it sounds like something you’d see on a Miss America Pageant during their talent competition.
4. Muskrat Love – Captain and Tenille (1976)
Now we’re coming into the most bizarre and hideous songs ever recorded that were in fact popular on the radio. If you thought the previous songs were bad, and they are, it only gets worse. If ever there was a song and singing duo I cannot stomach to listen to or watch to this very day it is this husband and wife team. Their first hit was actually quite good and I loved singing along to that song, but then came along “Muskrat Love.”
This is by far, in my humble opinion, the worst pop song ever in the history of recorded music. You wonder why I have not listed it at number one. That’s because it’s so bad it doesn’t deserve to be at #1. There are actually worse songs. Yes, it is about muskrats mating. In the middle of the song there’s an instrumental break that is suppose to be muskrats doing the dirty deed. The video is truly awful in every proportion you have to watch it to believe it. The song peaked at #4 on the Billboard singles chart.
3. Basketball Jones – Cheech and Chong (1973)
Out of all the songs on the list this is the only album track, yet it did get a lot of radio airplay. When I first heard this song, or whatever you want to call it, I thought it was a joke. Cheech and Chong were a comedy team in the early 1970s whose material was mostly about drugs. “Basketball Jones” was from their “Los Cochinos” comedy album.
It’s the story of Tyrone Shoelaces who loves to play basketball. Cheech Marin is the vocalist for the character of Tyrone Shoelaces. What I never knew about this song were the high profile musicians featured such as George Harrison on lead guitar and Billy Preston on piano. Other vocalists were Carole King and Michelle Phillips (The Mamas and The Papas). One thing’s for certain Cheech cannot sing.
2. MacArthur Park – Richard Harris (1968)
Granted, Richard Harris is an outstanding actor. He appeared in the first two Harry Potter films. This has to be one of the most unusual songs to ever grace the airwaves and Billboard charts. Harris is not known for being a singer, though he did sing-talk in his film role as King Arthur in “Camelot.” As a result he was approached to do this song. It is over seven minutes long with extended instrumental breaks. However, the lyrics are so strange, their laughable. I mean who in their right mind would leave a cake out in the rain?
Strangely enough, “MacArthur Park” peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The musical arrangement is so dated it’s awful. Why this song was so popular back then remains a mystery. The good news is there was a remake of this song during the disco era by Donna Summer. I must confess I actually liked the song when I first heard it. Of course that was a long time ago.
1. Disco Duck – Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots (1976)
There is no denying this has to be the worst pop song ever conceived and recorded, bar none. Here is an example of another song on the list today’s generation of kids enjoy. It is a song I cannot stand to listen due to the singer, Rick Dees, or some other vocalist who’s doing the voiceover of the duck. When I hear that duck’s voice it sounds like nails on a chalkboard. Lyrically it is beyond silly and nonsensical. It was meant to be an anti-disco song.
Believe it or not it went all the way to #1 on the pop chart. There was a TV show in the ’80s Rick Dees hosted called “Solid Gold.” They had various musical guests perform their songs with the Solid Gold dancers in the background. I went to a taping of this show in LA. Guess who was the musical guest? Guess what song they did? Yes, it was Rick Dees and “Disco Duck.” However, he did a great spoof of his novelty song that was quite funny. By the way Dees lip-synched it, which was standard practice of the show.
Out of this list there were 4 #1 hits, 4 others were in the Top Ten, one being in the Top 40 and the last remaining one an album track. On paper these songs looked like they were successful, yet they lost their luster somewhere along the way. There are plenty of horrific songs, yet these 10 worst pop and rock songs were the consensus of a lot of lists I perused. I just happened to agree with them.
Broadcast Yourself, YouTube
Matthew Wilkening, “HP ePrint ‘Happy Baby’ Commercial – What’s the Song?”, AOL Radio Blog
Song Meanings at Songfacts, Songfacts
The Free Encyclopedia, Wikipedia