I hope you haven't had anything to eat recently, because, as promised
last week, today I am presenting the winners of the Bad Song Survey.
In analyzing these results, I had to make a few adjustments. For
example, the Bob Dylan song ``Lay Lady Lay'' would have easily won as
Worst Overall Song, with 17,006 votes, except that I had to disallow 17,
004 votes on the grounds that they were cast by my Research Department,
Judi Smith, who tabulated the votes, and who HATES ``Lay Lady Lay.''
To win, a song had to be known well enough that a lot of people could
hate it. This is a shame in a way, because some obscure songs that
people voted for are wonderfully hideous. One reader sent a tape of a
song called ``Hooty Sapperticker'' by a group called ``Barbara and the
Boys.'' This could be the worst song I've ever heard. It consists almost
entirely of The Boys singing ``Hooty! Hooty! Hooty!'' and then Barbara
saying: ``Howdy Hooty Sapperticker!''
Several readers sent in an amazing CD from Rhino Records called
``Golden Throats,'' which consists of popular actors attempting to sing
popular music, including William Shatner attempting ``Lucy In The Sky
With Diamonds,'' Leonard Nimoy attempting ``Proud Mary,'' Mae West
attempting ``Twist and Shout,'' Eddie Albert attempting ``Blowin' in the
Wind,'' and -- this is my favorite -- Jack `` Soul'' Webb attempting ``Try
a Little Tenderness.'' You need this CD.
But now for our survey results. Without question, the voters' choice
for Worst Song -- in both the Worst Overall AND Worst Lyrics category --
is ... (drum roll ...)
``MacArthur Park,'' as sung by Richard Harris, and later remade, for
no comprehensible reason, by Donna Summer.
It's hard to argue with this selection. My 12-year-old son, Rob, was
going through a pile of ballots, and he asked me how ``MacArthur Park''
goes, so I sang it, giving it my best shot, and Rob laughed so hard that
when I got to the part about leaving the cake out in the rain, and it
took so long to bake it, and I'll never have that recipe again, Rob was
on the floor. He didn't BELIEVE those lyrics were real. He was SURE his
wacky old humor-columnist dad was making them up.
The clear runner-up, again in both categories, is ``Yummy Yummy Yummy
(I Got Love In My Tummy),'' performed by Ohio Express. (A voter sent me
an even WORSE version of this, performed by actress Julie London, who at
one time -- and don't tell me this is mere coincidence -- was married to
Coming in a strong third is ``(You're) Having My Baby'' by Paul Anka.
This song is deeply hated. As one voter put it: ``It has no redeeming
value whatsoever -- except my friend Brian yelled out during the birth
scene in the sequel to `The Fly' in full song, `Having my maggot!'''
Honorable mention goes to Bobby Goldsboro, who got many votes for
various songs, especially ``Honey.'' One voter wrote: ``Why does
everybody hate Bobby Goldsboro's `Honey'? I hate it too, but I want to
Why? Consider this verse: ``She wrecked the car and she was sad; And
so afraid that I'd be mad, but what the heck; Tho' I pretended hard to
be; Guess you could say she saw through me; And hugged my neck.''
As one reader observed: ``Bobby never caught on that he could have
bored a hole in himself and let the sap out.''
A recent song that has aroused great hostility is ``Achy Breaky
Heart,'' by Billy Ray Cyrus. According to voter Mark Freeman, the song
sounds like this: ``You can tell my lips, or you can tell my hips, that
you're going to dump me if you can; But don't tell my liver, it never
would forgive her, it might blow up and circumcize this man!''
Many voters feel a special Lifetime Bad Achievement Award should go
to Mac Davis, who wrote ``In the Ghetto,'' ``Watching Scotty Grow,'' AND
``Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me,'' which contains one of the worst lines
in musical history: ``You're a hot-blooded woman-child; And it's warm
where you're touching me.'' That might be as bad as the part in
``Careless Whisper'' where George Michael sings: ``I'm never gonna dance
again; Guilty feet have got no rhythm.''
Speaking of bad lyrics, many voters also cited Paul McCartney, who,
ever since his body was taken over by a pod person, has been writing
things like: ``Someone's knockin' at the door; Somebody's ringin' the
bell; (repeat); Do me a favor, open the door, and let him in.''
There were strong votes for various tragedy songs, especially ``Teen
Angel'' (``I'll never kiss your lips again; They buried you today.'')
and ``Timothy,'' a song about -- really -- three trapped miners, two of
whom wind up EATING the third.
Other tremendously unpopular songs, for their lyrics or overall
badness, are: ``Muskrat Love,'' ``Sugar Sugar,'' ``I'm Too Sexy,''
``Surfin' Bird,'' ``I've Never Been To Me,'' ``In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,''
``Afternoon Delight,'' ``Feelings,'' ``You Light Up My Life'' and ``In
the Year 2525'' (VIOLENT hatred for this song).
In closing, let me say that you voters have performed a
major public service, and that just because your song didn't make
the list, that doesn't mean it isn't awful (unless you were one of
the badly misguided people who voted for ``The Tupperware Song'').
Let me also say that I am very relieved to learn that there
are people besides me who hate ``Stairway to Heaven.'' Thank you.
P.S. Also ``I Shot the Sheriff.''
Copyright 1993 the Miami Herald