A couple weeks ago I was watching an episode of "Family Guy" and there was a long interlude in which Stewie sang Bryan Adams's 1991 hit "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" in its entirety. And I was reminded of something I hadn't thought of in probably a decade: I fucking hate that song. For like that entire year, there was no way of getting away from that song -- on the radio, in restaurants, in waiting rooms, in fricking roller rinks for "couples skate," etc. etc. etc. There came a point when I might've actually sympathized with any fundamentalist Muslim leader who called out a fatwa on Adams for recording it.
But that's only one of numerous songs each year that get overplayed to the point of turning listeners' brains to mush. I blame most of this on mainstream radio stations, who play the same songs over and over again to the point where even really good songs -- "Under the Bridge," for example, which got rotated ad nauseam by Columbus's big top-40 station back in '92 -- can start to grate on your nerves; when the song in question sucks, it's enough to trigger "Manchurian Candidate"-style killing sprees. With that in mind, this week's +5 is my list of the Five Most Overplayed Pop Songs Relative To Their Actual Musical Merit (only going back through my lifetime, of course -- baby boomers, if any of y'all got sick to death of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" or "I Can't Help Myself" back in the day, by all means, chime in in the comments.)
Tom Cochrane, "Life is a Highway" (1991)
Now there's an original metaphor. Well played, Tom. Can someone tell me what "Life is a highway/I wanna ride it all night long' means? 'Cause all it sounds like is "I want to continue to be alive," also a very original sentiment. You still hear this crap in unimaginative TV advertisements all the time.
Alanis Morrisette, "Ironic" (1996)
Yes, this song was wildly overplayed back in '96 and '97, and no, none of the things Alanis sang about were actually ironic, they were just unfortunate coincidences -- as my friend Benjie said, the song should've just been called "Bummer" ("Isn't it a bummer/Don't you think?"). But I will say this: Maybe Alanis made all the lyrics intentionally un-ironic, in which case the mere fact that such an un-ironic song was called "Ironic" would actually be the most ironic thing ever. If that's the case, then Alanis Morrissette is a diabolical genius who should be directing our military/diplomatic strategy against Iran and North Korea.
No Doubt, "Don't Speak" (1996)
So overplayed it actually had the effect of making Gwen Stefani less hot, which is quite an accomplishment. I remember being in Washington in the summer of 2000 and they were still playing this fucking thing nonstop.
Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On" (1997)
Another no-brainer. Believe it or not, once upon a time Celine Dion was a perfectly respectable pop singer, but this song turned her reputation from "Pretty Canadian chick with some pipes" to "All I want is two bullets so that I can shoot her and then turn the gun on myself." I wrote a whole column about it for The Red & Black not long after "Titanic" came out, and I still twitch whenever I hear it.
Christina Aguilera, Pink, Li'l Kim, and Mya, "Lady Marmalade" (2001)
Seriously, examine the picture above for a few minutes. Did we as a society ever actually find that sexy? I guess everything really was different before 9/11. Give Aguilera credit, at least, for dumping that look and going with the whole '40s pinup glam thing, but I have no idea what the other three are doing.
Just missed the cut: "Losing My Religion," R.E.M.'s most overrated song ever; Boyz II Men's "End of the Road," one of those songs written specifically for acne-faced pre-teens to call into Casey Kasem's Top 40 and dedicate to their exes; "I Alone" by Live, who was doing the whole ridiculously-over-emotive-and-bombastic thing long before Creed got to it; that "Backstreet's Back" song by the Backstreet Boys; and "Hanging by a Moment" by Lifehouse, which sounds like it was written by a 14-year-old girl who just finished taking her first creative-writing class.
And now the totally non-overplayed, non-sucktastic Random Ten:
1. The Jam, "A Town Called Malice"
2. R.E.M., "Radio Song"
3. Passengers, "Elvis Ate America"
4. Avenue Q cast, "The Avenue Q Theme"
5. The Chemical Brothers, "Get Up On It Like This"
6. The Streets, "Who Got the Funk?"
7. Fine Young Cannibals, "Good Thing"
8. Dead Kennedys, "Drug Me"
9. Leftfield, "Shallow Grave"
10. David Bowie and Pet Shop Boys, "Hallo Spaceboy"
Your turn -- your own Random Tens and not-so-random lists of songs you'll put a sharpened pencil through your eardrum if you have to hear them one more time, in the comments, por favor.