Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thirty Days of Blogging: Day 21: Musical Lists

So I was thinking last week that if I had to name my least-favorite Bowie song, what would it be?  But then, that seems too easy: you could pick one of the tracks from the second half of Tonight, say ("Borneo" jumps to mind) and you'd easily find some pretty substandard songs.

So, a more interesting question is: what's my least favorite popular Bowie song?  "Popular" means, in this case, a song that's frequently on the radio, which any halfway educated musical fan would know, and which is generally liked and admired by the public at large.  Basically: a song by an artist you like that a lot of other people like, but you don't.  And--that you've never liked.  I.e.: it's not a song you've gotten burned out on, or outgrew (e.g."Stairway to Heaven").  It's song you've always disliked--from the first time you heard it.  It's the worst good song the artist has ever done.

And then I started thinking this idea of 'worst good' could extend to other bands.  I mean, for any band we like, there's probably one or two or their hits, songs that many people other like, that I have never ever cared for.  Right?  So then I started assembling a list.  And here it is: my 'worst good' songs by some of my favorite artists.

Oh--also: the songs have to be artists you generally otherwise admire.  You can't pick a band whose work you generally dislike or don't really get into.  (So, I'm not listing songs by The Rolling Stones or REM, e.g.)

David Bowie: "Fashion."  Probably the only Bowie song where, if I hear it on the radio, I'm switching stations.  Unless it's near the bridge ('listen to me/don't listen to me...").  I dig the bridge.

Led Zeppelin: "Kashmir."  There's some interview where Robert Plant talks about this song represents, for him, the essence of Led Zeppelin.  Bleh.  For me it represents the essence of badness.

The Beetles: "Hey Jude."  Not only do I like the song, I don't like the story of how the song was written.  Maybe if it didn't have that endless outro (Na na na na na......) I'd like it more.  But probably not.

The Police: "Can't Stand Losing You."

Neil Young: "A Man Needs a Maid."  Maybe this isn't a big enough hit to count?

Bob Dylan: "Idiot Wind."  Dylan's tricky because he doesn't really have a lot of hits, but this is a well-known song from a well known album.  So.  I'm counting it.


Dezmond said...

Interesting idea. I never liked "Fashion" either, downright irritating. I agree on "Kashmir" as well, it is boring.

I'll have a go. Using your criteria (artist I generally really like, at least a well known song if not a hit):

Van Morrison - "Brown Eyed Girl." Not so much a bad song as an average song for him. And yet, invariably, it is the ONLY song of his, from a vast, deep, remarkable catalogue, that you ever hear on the radio or played by cover bands. If I were ever to have my wedding over again and I had a band playing, I would tell them "play some Van Morrison, and it can't be 'Brown Eyed Girl.'" I assure you they could not do it.

Bob Dylan - "Blowin' in the Wind"

Elton John - "Crocodile Rock." Sure you could go with a multitude of Elton, post-1983 or so. But that is too easy. This is from his great period, and I appreciate that it is supposed to be a fun stylistic throwback, but it has always grated on me.

Led Zeppelin - "MIsty Mountain Hop," "Black Dog" and "Kashmir." "Misty Mountain Hop" is not all that bad of a song, actually, but I HATE the part where Plant sounds like he has a lot of phlegm in his throat and you hear it rattling all around (one of the "ooh ooh ooh ooh" parts). Clear your throat before cutting the song!

Pink Floyd - "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" (any part). BORING.

Bruce Springsteen - "My Hometown." And of course, of all the great possibilities, that is the one Neil Young picks to cover on his latest record.

Sting - "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot." Once one of my favorite rock lyricists, his songwriting has come down to trite, cliched, self-help quotes.

The Who - "See Me, Feel Me." Supposed to be this grand finale for 'Tommy,' always hated it.

Neil Young - "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"

JMW said...

"Brown Eyed Girl," for me, falls into the category of just Sick Of It. It's not that I don't like the song. But enough already.

Agree with Dez's Elton John pick. That's a terrible song. I'd add "Honky Cat" and "Saturday Night's All Right for Fighting."

Agree completely about "Hey Jude." For me it's the outro. Without that, I'd like it. The endlessness of it, though. Ugh. Same with "Sympathy for the Devil" with the Stones -- HATE the repetitive outro. (Aside: that you don't like the Stones or REM as much as you should is a real character flaw, ANCIANT. Work on that.)

I can't hear Bowie's "Fame" without breaking out in hives.

The Police: "Walking on the Moon."

Dezmond said...

Yeah, I guess by my own description "Brown Eyed Girl" falls within the "good song but I never want to hear it again" category.

JMW, "Honky Cat" is fine and "saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" is a good song. "Walking On the Moon" is worthwhile if for nothing else than Stewart Copeland's fantastic percussion and cymbal work.

JMW is right, ANCIANT. The fact that you do not like the Stones as much as you should is a real problem. A real problem. As far as REM goes, I can understand that, though. I have tried many times with them and it just doesn't click for me.