Music To Our Ears? No Way


January 24, 1993|By DAVE BARRY

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.

Several readers sent in an amazing compact disc 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.

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."

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 circumcise 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."

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."

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."

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