Nudge Reviews: The Worst Songs of Each Decade
Music might very well be the greatest human invention, but people are always saying "it's just not as good as it used to be". So to prove them wrong, I went to the popular music reviews site Rate Your Music and grabbed the worst rated singles from every decade. The results: awful.
Before the 50’s: Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan - N***** Loves His Possum
Arthur Collins was the Justin Bieber of the early 20th century. He was without a doubt the most famous recording artist of the era, and his comedic collaborations with tenor Byron Harlan were beloved by Americans. Their speciality? A fortunately forgotten musical style named “coon songs”, which basically consisted on making fun of black people, usually while pretending to be one.
So yes, Justin Bieber.
“N***** Loves His Possum” was released in 1906, and by that time the “coon” craze was actually fading away. The recording quality is about as good as you would expect from 1906, with some craaaazy sound effects and a lot of old-timey racism, which is obviously the reason this song is so badly regarded. I don’t really have a lot to say besides that I'm glad society has evolved enough and given the N-word back to their rightful owners: African-Americans.
50’s: Pat Boone - Tutti Frutti
As you might or might not know already, Tutti Frutti is originally a Little Richard song, but he, besides a flamboyant, insane person, was also black.
Mostly flamboyant, though.
American society in the 50’s was still slightly racist, I’d bet, so for this kind of songs to be broadcast to a general (white) audience, they had to be sung by a different, more appealing (white) person. That’s where Pat Boone comes in.
And while Richard’s version was wild and fun, Boone’s was a criminally washed-out cover with not an ounce of the passion of the original. Was Boone to blame? No, it wasn't even his decision to sing it, but his producers. They wanted to cash in attracting young white kids who liked Little Richard but whose parents would send them to military boot camp if they found out they were listening to a black artist.
60’s: Victor Lundgren - An Open Letter to My Teenage Son
Spoken word is...not actually music, just one person speaking. So what could have been awful enough to get so, so much hate? This is just a letter! To a son! Isn't that just sweet?
Unfortunately, this letter was pretty much the opposite of sweet.
Pictured: Victor Lundgren
Lundgren was an unknown radio personality who for some reason reached the #10 spot in the Billboard list on 1967. As you probably know, that was during the Vietnam War. Like every war, there were two opinions about it in society: either you hate war and death and violence, or you love your country’s right to just kill yellow people if they want to. Guess what was Victor Lundgren’s stance about war with the help of these sample “lyrics”:
And I love you too, Son.
But I also love our country and the principles for which we stand.
And if you decide to burn your draft card,
then burn your birth certificate at the same time.
From that moment on, I have no son!
Kinda harsh, if you ask me.
70’s: Donny Osmond - Puppy Love
Puppy love! Those have to be the two cutest nouns in the English language! You monsters, how can you hate that?
“Puppy Love” was written in 1960 by Paul Anka, who you might remember as that guy who didn't get any credit for singing (and writing the English lyrics for) “My Way” before Frank Sinatra did. However, it was adopted in 1972 by Donny Osmond, teen heartthrob member of The Osmonds, who were basically a white version of The Jackson 5.
Aren’t they just adorable?
Donny was the second youngest and the one all the girls loved, so some producer decided it was a good idea to make him sing “Puppy Love”. Saying the song is schmaltzy is an understatement: it makes The Carpenters sound like thrash metal. Hopefully Donny Osmond reformed and now leads a better life as background dancer for Weird Al.
A better life.
80’s: Michael Bolton - How Am I Supposed To Live Without You
Michael Bolton is a universally hated singer, but it’s sometimes really difficult to pinpoint why exactly that is. He’s not a great vocalist, but not a terrible one either. He’s corny as hell but it was the 80’s, and who wasn't?
I’d say it was all hair envy
It’s just a very sappy song, with some cringe-worthy lyrics (“I didn't come here for cryin'/didn't come here to break down”...yet that’s the only thing he does in this song) and the excessive production that became a staple of the decade this song was made in. The instrumentation is probably the worst thing about this, with those fake synths pooping musical awkwardness everywhere.
It was extremely derivative and unoriginal, but people bought it. Who’s laughing now?
Fuck you, I’m a pirate.
90’s: Kenny G - What a Wonderful World
There’s a conspiracy theory that states that Kenny G, the worst enemy of elevators everywhere, and Michael Bolton are actually the same person.
It’s unfortunately false, like most conspiracy theories.
Both artists, for lack of a better word, are generally despised by the music community. And, as Michael Bolton did with “When A Man Loves a Woman”, Kenny G also shat all over a beloved classic.
“What a Wonderful World” is an immortal song with a powerful message that is completely lost when you replace the lyrics with countless wanky saxophone solos. Fortunately, Kenny G wasn’t that cruel, so he decided to keep Louis Armstrong’s voice and just cover it with his woodwind jerk-off and a wonderfully muzaky background.
I’d say the hate for this one is justified.
00’s: Kevin Federline - PopoZao
Kevin Federline is mostly famous for being both a waste of space and oxygen and being married to Britney Spears. Which is actually good, because it means this abomination didn't actually become very popular.
He’s kinda asking to be punched, to be fair.
Just listen to the first ten seconds and if you’re not pointing a revolver to your temple by then, congratulations! The bad part is, you have AIDS. Those shrieks you heard? It was AIDS, entering your body through your ears.
This song has a vaguely Brazilian touch, with all that Portuguese speaking, but we don’t really care at all at this point. Singing these lyrics in any country that speaks the language will get you in jail, or summon the lost spirit of the Aztec god of the dead, Mictlantecuhtli, I guess. Both are equally possible.
10’s: Artists for Haiti - We Are the World
In 1984, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure wrote a charity Christmas single called “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, that was sung by the best British music acts at the moment (like Boy George and Phil Collins) and it was pretty atrocious. The next year, America did the same, this time with the help of Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson himself. That song, “We Are the World”, was even worse.
The photos were cool though.
Fast forward to 2010. Haiti, a small country in the Caribbean, was struck by an earthquake that killed hundred of thousands and basically destroyed the whole country. American celebrities considered it appropriate to recycle a 25 years-old rubbish song to feel like they were helping.
The star-studded cast included Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Lil Wayne and even Celine Dion, who had disappeared for like ten years before returning for this conceited shitfest. I'm not against celebrities doing things for a good cause, but this was lazy and horrid.
I didn't even start talking about the music itself, but all you need to know is that Bieber opens it and it goes downhill from there. I don’t know if Tony Bennett fucking knew how to sing at some point but he doesn't now. They freaking reuse Michael Jackson footage. Miley Cyrus can’t hit the freaking notes but there’s no one there to tell her. Fuck Enrique Iglesias and his pretend affectation. FUCK Wyclef Jean singing like a constipated seal. Fuck Adam Levine for making me think he was Stevie Wonder. Celine Dion starts to sing and bats all around the world hit a tree and die. Then Nick Jonas poops a bit. And then Lil Wayne just exists.
I wish I had enough poison for the whole pack of you.
The rap section is the only thing they actually added to the original song and it’s about as bad as you can imagine, but at least it features Snoop Dogg, and he makes me laugh because he looks like a meerkat.
Fun fact: if you pause the video at 5:19, you can see the exact moment when Brian Wilson realized he made Pet Sounds in vain.
Maybe Mike Love was right.
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