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Are These the 20 Worst Songs of All Time?

Earlier this week I reported on a project purportedly designed to flush out the worst songs in the universe. The New York Post–which also reported on the story–asked its readers to chime in on the matter.The result is this list of the 20 worst songs of all time. Thoughts?

  1. Starship, “We Built This City” (Truly awful. This is what the DNA that gave us “Somebody to Love” mutated into.)
  2. USA for Africa, “We Are the World” (Beyond sappy.)
  3. Barenaked Ladies, “One Week” (I can think of worse.)
  4. Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” (Worst? No. Annoyingly ubiquitous? Maybe.)
  5. Berlin, “Take My Breath Away” (One of the most insipid hooks of all time.)
  6. Terry Jacks, “Seasons in the Sun” (One of the world’s biggest tear-jerkers.)
  7. Rick Dees and his Cast of Idiots, “Disco Duck” (A criminal waste of polyvinyl chloride.)
  8. Steve Miller Band, “The Joker”(Overplayed? Absolutely. But worthy of a “worst” list? Hardly.)
  9. Baha Men, “Who Let the Dogs Out” (A cliche)
  10. Piko-Taro: “PPAP” (In case you’re unaware of this one, go here.)
  11. Hues Corporation, “Rock the Boat” (Mindless early disco, but there are worse songs.)
  12. Eddie Murphy, “Party All the Time” (Eddie will never live this one down.)
  13. Nena, “99 Luftballoons” (Really? Judging things a little harsh, I think.)
  14. The Beatles, “Hey Jude” (Insanity. Who could possibly hate this song?)
  15. Bryan Adams, “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” (Still more Cancon. I’ve always hated this one.)
  16. Men Without Hats, “Safety Dance” (C’mon! Mindless fun from the synthpop era!)
  17. Los del Rio, “Macarena” (Ubiquitous. Annoying.)
  18. Billy Ray Cyrus, “Achy Breaky Heart” (No argument from me.)
  19. Europe, “The Final Countdown” (Cheesy, yes. But I can come up with worse.)
  20. Designer, “Panda” (I didn’t know this one. Now I understand.)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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24 thoughts on “Are These the 20 Worst Songs of All Time?

  • A few I agree with, some I don’t. One man’s treasure is another man’s garbage. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” and “We Are The World” have always been right up there for me. Awful, annoying songs, and they won Grammys. Right now the song I find the most annoying is the song “Frozen,” from the animated film of the same name. I can’t stand the girl’s voice who is singing it. It’s like nails on a blackboard, and the song is awful. Unfortunately it is on rotation on the Sirius station they play at one of my regular gigs, so every night I have to endure it at least twice.

  • And just as an afterthought, there is absolutely nothing wrong with “99 Luftballoons,” or “Hey Jude,” or “The Safety Dance,” or “The Joker.” If any of you armchair critics think you can write something better, I’d be happy to give it a listen. Otherwise, shut TFU!

  • These lists always turn into “Songs many many many of us once loved but are now sick of”. “Hey Jude” and the “Joker” are classics. Many more on the list were huge but have no staying power to become classics. How can White Lion… “When the Children Cry” not be on the list and “The Safety Dance” is.

  • No one heard of Nico, Chelsea Girl album is pure torture. Squeaky caulk on a blackboard sounds better.

  • Zoincks!! So much really God Awful stuff…

    I would add…
    Parachute Club’s “Rise up”….bad CanCon
    Whitesnake’s “Slide it in…”…really??
    Twisted Sister, You can’t stop Rock and Roll!’
    Anything EVER by either Kylie or Danni Minogue
    The Celine Dion “Titanic” song

    ….but they all got paid….

  • How come Rebecca Black’s “Friday” is not on this list??? It’s not even a song, and she didn’t sing – it was all done with auto-tune.

  • MacArthur Park is the worst song of all time…Fact.

      • MacArthur Park makes me laugh. Bad, yes, but I don’t injure myself trying to shut the radio off like I do when You Give Love A Bad Name comes on.

    • Mel’s Rock Pile made it great.

  • I would agree that there are songs far more worthy of inclusion on this list than “Hey Jude” or “99 Luftballons”, but I would honestly love to see Alan’s 20 worst songs list. I’ve seen some lists that Alan has commented on like this one, but I think we can all agree that Alan’s an authoritative voice in music scholarship and a definitive selection of the worst of the worst from him would be interesting.

  • How is the whole Air Supply catalog not anywhere on this list of 20??

  • We are the world gets a pass for what it was. Do they know it’s Christmas and Tears are not enough are equally bad.

  • I once jumped out of a moving car when “Taking Care of Business” came on for the millionth time

  • Unskinny bop. Take On Me.

  • “Save Your Kisses For Me” – Brotherhood Of Man

  • I forgot one. “Photograph,” by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock. If someone told me to sit down and write a country song with as many possible clichés as possible in it, I don’t think I could even come close. The only thing missing is that somebody’s dog doesn’t die. It’s an awful song, terribly written, and yet for some reason people love it. I have no idea why?

    I do NOT agree with “MacArthur Park.” Jimmy Webb is one of the 20th century’s greatest songwriters. The song was “experimental”…he admits that, but you have to remember the time in which it was written, and that it was a hit record for Richard Harris. What’s next? Are you going to take on Burt Bacharach and say “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” deserves to be on this list as well?

  • I’m very happy to see barenaked ladies here and baha men too. No Matchbox 20? Well, I admit their music was just bland, not annoying.

  • Nothing is worse than “Hollaback Girl.”

  • Come ON! Charlene’s “Never been to me” should have been on this list. Ugh!

  • Lenny Kravitz – American Woman (when compared to the original, truly awful)

    Bill Whithers – Lovely Day (suicide come to mind)

    Most commercial christmas music

    Shakira – Whenever, wherever

    Lady Gaga – Edge of Glory

  • Ugh. Runaway train. And anything from five for fighting. Oh and Paradise by the dashboard light .. they all make me angry


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