As anyone who browses my iPod for more than five seconds can attest, I like bad music. Not entirely bad--don't worry, music snobs, I have plenty of Pitchfork-approved indie shit--but many of my favorite songs are also some of the worst music to ever be produced, ever. In this feature I'll describe the songs I love to hate and hate to love. And just remember--no matter how bad they are, they're still what I'm probably listening to on my cigarette breaks.
1. Rod Stewart, "Young Turks." Let me say right off the bat that words cannot describe how bad this song is. Even though I'll be using words to do just that, keep in mind that the only way to truly appreciate this song's awesome mediocrity is to listen for yourself.
That said, this is horrible. From the cheesy synth line that sounds like a ShopRite remix of "Take On Me" to Stewart's terribly limited vocal range, everything about this screams "We did a lot of blow and then had two days to make a single." Undoubtedly, the best/worst aspect of this song is the lyrics. Stewart tells us the story of Bobby--with his "head full of dreams"--and Patti (yes, Patti), two young lovers who decide to abandon their families and his the open road together.
Stewart gives us a bunch of gems, like when he tells us that "time is a thief when you're undecided" or a "fistful of sand" when it "slips right through your hands." Displaying the poetic sensibilities of an eight-grader, Stewart proceeds to inform us that "they headed for the coast in a blissful manner," somehow rhyming that with, "Happiness was found in each other's arms, as expected." Then, after commanding these "young turks" (perhaps Peter Bjorn and John's titular inspiration, but God I hope not) to be free about twenty times, Stewart lays the biggest news of all on us--Patti gave birth to a baby! Nothing says "youthful recklessness" like the horrors of teenage parenting. Young turks, be free tonight! I just hope that baby isn't riding the pickup truck that Bobby drives "like a lunatic."
2. Phil Collins, "You'll Be In My Heart." If music be the food of love, then this song is maple syrup. Warm, gooey, adult-contemporary maple syrup. Oh, and by the way, this is the Phil version. Which means it's totally rockin'! Just kidding, it means that it's overlong and probably brings in cheesy strings during the last chorus. Which it totally does!
You know that voice your grandpa makes when he's frustrated and scared by new technology? That kind of gutteral "Yaaah!" as he dismisses these damn kids and their hip-hop and their backwards caps? Yeah, that's what Phil's singing voice sounds like. All the time. When he sings, "No ma-hatter what they say," you may think he's having a heart attack, which would kind of work within the song, since it's about his heart. Ha.
Phil also imparts his middle-aged wisdom on the listener, telling us that "When destiny calls you, you must be strong." Because nothing says strength like a synth-and-strings-drenched Disney sountrack, Phil. And I'm pretty sure he commands his girl, "Don't listen to them, 'cause what do they know?" because everyone around her is warning her not to get with Phil Collins. And that's a piece of advice we can all take to heart.
3. Alanis Morissette, "Thank U." Now, I love my Alanis. Jagged Little Pills is one of my favorite 90s albums. That said, this is no "You Oughta Know." Or, um, "U Oughta Know." Right away, the "U" in the title tips you off that this is gonna be some new-age bullshit holier-than-thou deal, and Alanis doesn't disappoint! For reasons that remain unclear, she thanks India for helping her get off antibiotics, and thanks disillusionment for helping her stop blaming her boyfriend for dangling invisible carrots in front of her. Or something.
Because that's the thing--you have no idea what the hell she's saying. She sings in a half yodel, half I'm-giving-birth kind of shriek, which is ironic, since she goes on to thank silence. We're thankful for silnce, too--the silnce that comes when the song is over.
Don't get me wrong, it's a pretty song, and that opening synthesizer-as-raindrops thing works well. But the whole thing reeks of the same kind of faux-Mother-Earth-ness that you'll find in the "New Age" section of any given Barnes & Noble. It's like people who think they're spiritual for listening to Enya. It's like people who think they're one with the land by eating tofu. It's like rain on your wedding day.
Blech. Just awful. I will obviously listen to all these songs later today.