The Worst Song of the 90s?

Rolling Stone’s weekend poll was simple:  help contribute to create a list of the ten worst songs of the 90s. Any genre was fair game.

This required some consideration.  While the early part of the decade was pretty solid, what with the rise of the Alternative Nation, the Lollapalooza Generation and Britpop, the second half of the 90s produced some horrible swill.  And let’s not forget Top 40 gems like “Mmbop,” “Barbie Girl” and “My Heart Will Go On.”

Here’s my top ten with my choices restricted to just the alt-rock genre.

1.  “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba

At first, I was happy to see these anarcho-punks finally get some attention after years of wandering the agit-prop wilderness.  Later, though, I just wanted them and this song to go back to their squat and stay there.

2.  “Discotheque” by U2

The Pop album was a rushed, unfinished project that (a) didn’t live up to the expectations of the band; and (b) is considered to be a low point by 99% of fans.  Anyone know the last time they played anything from this album in concert?

3.  “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts

Otherwise known as “the theme from Friends.”  I’ve never been able to dance around a fountain in the dark since.

4.  “Nookie” from Limp Bizkit

Hard to believe but Bizkit used to attract tens and tens of thousands of people to their shows and they sold millions upon millions of albums.  I attribute this to end-of-the-millennium psychosis.

5.  “Arms Wide Open” from Creed

What?  Do I need to explain myself?

6.  “Perfect Day” by EMF

The same band who scored a major hit with “Unbelievable” on their first album, Schubert Dip, in 1991 turned in this kazoo-blowing clunker of a single in 1995.  I remember playing this once–ONCE–on the radio and thinking to myself “What the hell is this?”  Oh, leader Ian Dench is now making millions writing songs for Beyonce.

7.  “Smooth” by Santana featuring Rob Thomas

Never, ever liked it.  But things got so dire in the late 90s that this song was first introduced through alternative radio, mainly because matchbox 20 was, for a brief time, considered alt-rock.  Yes, it was a grim time.

8.  “Hippychick” by Soho

Built around a criminally vulgar use of the Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now,” there were lawsuits.  Good for Johnny Marr.

9.  “Closing Time”/Semisonic

Mawkish end-of-the-night last-call bar-closer.  I hope I never hear it again.

10.  “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors

I have an inexplicable hate-on for jam bands of all sorts.  It must be a genetic/chemical failing on my part.  But even if I was healthy, I’d hate this song.

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.

14 thoughts on “The Worst Song of the 90s?

  • August 29, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I'm surprised "Your Woman" by White Town is not at the top of your (and everyone elses list) what a horrible, horrible song.

  • August 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Man I love Discothèque and Stare at the Sun off the Pop album.

    Though White Town, as much as I couldn't stand their song when it was climbing the MUCH charts, I really like it now. It's just got a great vibe

    Couldn't agree more with some of the stuff up there, including Smooth, but I do admit Two Princes is a guilty pleasure from when I was like 10

  • August 29, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Right Here, Right Now …Jesus Jones
    After about two listens that song really starting to get on my nerves.
    It was Like Stone Roses Lite……

  • August 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Hey; it's 2000 & Eleven, and soon going on Twelve. Some of the kids now entering College next week weren't even alive back when the Blue Jays won their second consecutive World Series. Give us a Worst Songs of the Aughts (00s) list.

  • August 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I'd have to add Cornershop's Brimful of Asha to the list. That song was total garbage, but got played on The Edge 102.1 like it was the anthem for a a nation. Definitely not!

  • August 29, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    I agree on U2… that was an era that resulted in extremely inconsistent music from them.

    I can also see some merit in "Your Woman" by White Town courtesy of @ScottH. And if that Rembrandts song never plays again, I will be a happy man.

  • August 29, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Right! Completely forgot about that piece of crud.

  • August 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Good point. Let me think on it for later this week. Any suggestions to get things started?

  • August 29, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Nary a mention of Sugar Ray? "Fly" still makes me vomit in my mouth a little every time I hear it. That and "Name" by Goo Goo Dolls. And don't get me started on Hootie. Alan, we're going to need a top (bottom) 100 if I think about it much longer. As for the aughts? You'd pretty much have to have some Nickelback in there, no? Or, better yet, let's not put them there because that means we don't have to talk about them.

  • August 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    The sad thing is, I actually really like the tone of the Rembrandts' lead guitar on that song. So bright and cheery.

    Personally, my vote for worst song of the '90s goes to anything, ANYTHING by Alanis Morrisette. I heard "Ironic" in a bar in Prague a few weeks ago, and all I could do was cringe (and continue drinking heavily).

  • August 29, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Wasn't that also the irony that was Ironic – that no example in the song actually was an example of irony?

    I have a proposal: Can we expand the list to a Top 15 and ALL your suggestions would get in. They're all very worthy.

    Would Smash Mouth's "All Star" or Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" count in this lsting? I can't remember if the Edge played them at all or much, but they're certainly on my list of "happy to never ever hear again" songs.

  • August 29, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    re: AC comment "Good Point".
    I'm not sure if your reply was towards my Aughts list mention. Not being a modern alt-rawk fan at all, I've referred to it as "three husky boys punching nutsacks in a parent's… basement". Instead I followed middle of the abandoned road acts like Canada's Paper Moon, I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness, Ladyhawk[e], and Over the Atlantic while still welcoming a bit of the differing mainstream stuff.

    If I were to suggest a worst song it would probably be from Alexis on Fire. I listened to a library copy earlier this year, nice seeming lyrics and a decent backup singer to start off – then it's only a scream fest. Too bad, they probably had the makings of quite a few real mass audience hits. Editors and Interpol were too repetive sounding.

  • August 30, 2011 at 12:21 am

    I would have to add 'Who Let the Dogs Out' by the Bahamen. If ever I am unfortunate enough to hear that peice of poop, I turn and walk away. By far the absolute worst song of the 90's for me.

  • January 29, 2023 at 9:58 am

    Better late than never…not sure how I fell down this rabbit hole and found a 12 year old post but….

    Alan., by now you probably know that Closing Time is not really about a bar closing, right?


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