Friday, April 24

The Friday Random Ten+5 has officially had enough.

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.


Seth said...

How about "Tubthumper" by Chumbawumba? Ugh. I can hardly write those words without feeling ill.

Unknown said...

"What Hurts The Most" by Rascal Flatts, a staple of any shitty easy listening station in the past few years

Reed said...

As soon as I saw the subject, I was thinking Alanis as well, but not Ironic because by the time that was released, I decided I was completely done with radio. The song that made me swear off of it for good was her first single, "Dave Coulier" or whatever the crap it was called. And the second one I would have chosen would have been "Life is a Highway." So you're not leaving me with much here...

Some others:
Gloria Estefan "Conga"
Meredith Brooks, "Bitch"
The Eagles, "Hotel California"
That Santana/Matchbox 20 Guy song
That Matchbox 20 song
Shania Twain, "Feel like a Woman" (sadly, still very popular here in Argentina! Grrrrr)
And how could you leave out Hootie? I'd say "Hold My Hand", but really any single from them would qualify.

Random 10:
1. Hum, "The Scientists"
2. Pink Floyd, "Is Anybody Out There?"
3. Jimi Hendrix, "Izabella"
4. U2, "Love And Peace Or Else"
5. The Arcade Fire, "In the Backseat"
6. Inch, "Root Canal/Manitoba"
7. Zombies, "Butcher's Tale"
8. Johnny Cash, "Five Feet High and Rising"
9. Nine Inch Nails, "The Beginning of the End"
10. Otis Redding, "Pain In My Heart"

Holly said...

Here I will defend End of the Road, for purely sentimental reasons: It was topping the charts when I was in 5th grade, and at the end of the school year all the boys in my class got together and sang it to this one lady teacher who was retiring. The entire six minutes. Breathtaking hilarity.

Universal Remonster said...

The difference between Live and Creed is that Live actually wrote songs. I can still rock out to "I Alone", even if it was overplayed.

My five -

1. "I don't want to miss a thing" by Aerosmith

2. "I'm Blue" by Eiffel 65 (please put away your glowsticks and murder yourself)

3. "I want it that way" by the Backstreet Boys (this song makes absolutely no sense. No sense whatsoever. Listen to the lyrics. OMG it burns...)

4. "My Heart Will Go On' by the Dion (same reasons as you pretty much.)

5. "The techno remix of "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" by Madonna (which to this day makes me lose all bowel control. It's the music equivalent of the brown note.)

Ollllddude said...

Fortunately, I have no idea what you are talking about; I haven't listened to AM music (do they even have it anymore?) in 40 years, and I haven't listened to any music in the 92+ range on the FM dial for an equal length of time. I am a fast learner; you all should follow my lead, imo.

Tantra Flower said...

Life is a Highway was/is way overplayed, and the lyrics are pretty dumb, but the harmonica junkie in me still digs it a lot. What I don't understand is why Rascall Flatts felt a remake was necessary. I never saw the point of that...or them for that matter.

I avoid top 40 radio whenever possible.

Random 10:
1. The Hooters - And We Danced
2. Three Dog Night - The Show Must Go On
3. U2 - New Year's Day
4. Abba - Does Your Mother Know
5. Widespread Panic - Heaven
6. Johnny Cash - The Man Who Couldn't Cry (live - American Recordings)
7. The BoDeans - Ultimately Fine
8. Lipps, Inc. - Funkytown
9. They Might Be Giants - Why Does the Sun Shine?
10. The Smiths - Stretch Out and Wait

RusDawg said...

Losing my Religion is probably the most overrated REM song ever, but their most underrated song ever seemed to never get any play time...."Leave" off of New Adventures in Hi-Fi

Josh M. said...

I still would relish punching Adam Duritz in the face for recording "Mr. Jones." God, I hate that song.

Of course, the most overplayed pop song in history might be "I Will Always Love You" - but dammit, I still like that song. I can still picture Kevin Costner running through the snow. (That last bit added in to make my first gay comment seem less gay by comparison).

EmotionalFescue said...

The same man who gave us "Life is a "Highway" was also the lead singer and song writer for the band Red Rider which gave us "Lunatic Fringe". So he's not completely satanic.

ACG said...

In more recent pop-culture news, anything that Five for Fighting puts out is going to be overplayed and indescribably annoying within a matter of days. "100 Years." "Superman." O THE FALSETTO HUMANITY.

I know I have a catalog of other overplayed songs in my head, but I can't get to them right now, because I now have "100 Years" on a constant loop in my brain and must go slam my head in a door.

TKAthens said...

I'll pretend you never said what you said about "Losing My Religion" and that way, when I see you again, I can continue to look at you and not wish fiery, hot death to rain down upon you from on high.

Jason Bini said...

When I think of overplayed pop songs TWO come to Mind...
The Cardigans - Lovefool
"LOVE me, LOVE, SAY that you LOOOOVE me."
And of course, Aqua - Barbie Girl. Which I believe where around the same time as each other and Tumbthumper. Gloriously bad era.

Zen Bubba said...

"Losing my Religion" isn't the most over played REM song, "The One I Love" is. We should have seen the suckfest that is REM coming from just that song...

Speaking of irony in songs, last summer Springsteen's "Radio Nowhere" was a song about how all radio stations play the same songs. You probably remember it as every station in America had it in continuous rotation.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

Yeah, that Santana/Matchbox 20 song could've easily made the top five, and probably should've. You can't tell me anyone would've given a crap about that song without the novelty of the Santana name being attached to it.

And Stanicek, you're not gonna like this, but "Losing My Religion" (combined with "Shiny Happy People") was the reason I loathed R.E.M. for the first couple years I was aware of their existence. It was only when my friends wore me down with "Automatic for the People," one of the greatest albums ever recorded, that I started to like R.E.M. Fortunately, this was long before I went to college, so I was nice and indoctrinated by the time I got up to Athens.

TKAthens said...

Well I suppose I can let you keep your opinion - horribly, incomprehensibly broken though it is - so long as you continue to support the greater good of R.E.M. as a band. Consider the gypsy hex I placed upon you earlier this hour, unhexified.

Universal Remonster said...

I still think REM's "Up" is the most underrated album of all time. Not to get off topic...

Jon Ross said...

Long time reader... first time visitor to Athens this weekend for the Twilight Criterium. If you're in town, look for the Michigan fan and I'll buy you a beer.

Reed said...

URemonster wins. I had totally forgotten about the onslaught of Aerosmith suck. Yet it continues. FU, UR for reminding me!

SpartanDan said...

Overplaying good songs doesn't seem to bother me at all, and the only radio stations I listen to at all are pretty good about not beating any particular song into the ground. So I haven't been bothered by this too much.

That said, I have a younger sister who, thankfully, was *just* young enough to avoid getting caught up in the worst of the teeny-bopper era, but not quite young enough to miss it entirely. And the school bus driver in junior high picked the one station that actually played the garbage that was so erroneously called "music" at the time. Very little that was played on that station was tolerable the first time, much less the thousandth. To make matters worse, that station changed playlists maybe once a month. I could, quite literally, have often told you what time it was to within 30 seconds just by hearing which song they were playing.

Two songs stand out as the worst of the godawfulness that was KDWB: that damn Hanson song with the gibberish chorus, and "The Thong Song". If I hear either one again, things are going to get real stabby in a hurry.

1. Night Ranger, "Sister Christian"
2. Disturbed, "Fear"
3. Rammstein, "Benzin"
4. Queen, "Somebody to Love"
5. Pink Floyd, "Goodbye Cruel World"
6. Metallica, "Hero of the Day"
7. Soil, "Pride"
8. Papa Roach, "I Devise My Own Demise"
9. Rush, "Closer to the Heart"
10. Van Halen, "Poundcake"

Maria Horton said...

Definitely 2nding "What Hurts the Most". I will also through in "Live Like You Were Dying". As well as Verve Pipe "Freshmen". I will gladly shake the goodness out of anybody who works at 95.7 and 103.7 if I hear the following anymore: "Shoulder Lean", "Rock Ya Hips", and "Dead and Gone". House of Pain, "Jump Around"; Naughty By Nature, "O.P.P." Hell I'll 2nd most of this... since I'm drunk I will wrap it up with please never sing a "maria" song to someone named Maria... we've heard it... and never do it to children... it's scares them... trust me.

1. N.E.R.D., "Everybody Nose"
2. Pink Floyd, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond"
3. Lil Wayne ft. Drake, "Every Girl"
4. Tom Petty, "You Don't Know How It Feels"
5. Snoop Dogg, "Lodi Dodi"
6. Led Zepplin, "Hey Hey What Can I Do"
7. Big Pun, "It's So Hard"
8. Human League, "Don't You Want Me Baby"
9. Pharcyde, "She Keeps On Passing Me By"
10. David Bowie, "Ziggy Stardust"

Josh M. said...

Hanson rules.

jkelsofarrell said...

Anything by the Red Hot Fucking Chili Peppers. Can't we all just admit that they were only cool in 1989 when Mother's Milk was released and that the rest of their discography is really just the same song slightly rearranged?

holly said...

you have highlighted some of the songs i am pretty sure played on the soundtrack in purgatory..."life is a highway", "ironic", and "the heart (and this song) will go on (interminably)"...not to be forgotten are columbus, ga's town anthems: "caribbean queen" by billy ocean, "tell it to my heart" taylor dayne, "get outta my dreams, get into my car" billy ocean. or anything else by billy ocean or taylor dayne, played on the loop track in c-town, i am convinced. another good one to forget forever is that lisa loeb song from reality bites. aaaaahahhhhhh!
--and i agree doug that the only fitting place for shiny happy people is maybe the romper room in purgatory.

holly said...

two more haunting me today:
"we didn't start the fire" billy joel. maybe not billy, but please put it out..
"we built this city on rock and roll"..knee deep in anything but the hoopla when i hear that one by jefferson starship. blea!

Paul said...

Did anyone else (besides jerk-off Zen Bubba who doesn't like R.E.M.) notice that the second song in the "non-suckastic random ten" is the song preceding "LMR" on "Out of Time?" Isn't it... ironic? *snort*

tantra: you and I likely have eerily similar iPod libraries.

Ashley said...

"Heaven" by Los Lonely Boys makes me violent.

Maria Horton said...

Wow... I had to dance to "We didn't Start the Fire"... and had to wear these hideous pink and green costumes... to this day I loathe that color combination...