by Kevin Kelly
In the eighties—the greatest decade for music and pop culture—I was on top of the world and in-the-know about everything having to do with music. As I got older and the times changed, I lost interest. You may disagree, but listening Kurt Cobain scream “I feel stupid and contagious” wasn’t nearly as interesting to me as Simon Le Bon telling me to “flex flex flex flex.” These days, an artist has to be having a major moment in order for me to take notice. I only recently embraced—with extreme reservations—Lady Gaga and her “Bad Romance.” (Let me know when she does something original and stops borrowing from Madonna, Grace Jones, and now Ace of Base with her latest single.)
I’m sure there are many songs that have been recorded since the eighties and early nineties that could fill this list, but—fortunately for me—I haven’t heard a lot of them. (You’ll see there are a few exceptions that “leaked” through.) Here is my list of things I have had the misfortune to hear. You’ll notice I jump around between the 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s, so—having read my explanation above—you’ll understand the absence of songs from recent years.
1.) Tom Petty- “Free Fallin’” Quite possibly my most hated song of all time. That nasal chorus is just the most grating thing I have ever had to endure and it sticks in your brain like an unwanted family reunion deviled egg repeats on you long after you’ve swallowed it.
2.) Los Del Rio—“Macarena” I dislike this one so much, I’ve never listened to the entire song. There’s really only one short idea going on here, and it gets repeated over and over again. At least I assume it does, since I’ve never heard the whole thing.
3.) Bobby McFerrin–”Don’t Worry, Be Happy” Irritating on so many levels, with a video that is just maddening. It was popular during my record store days, and I assumed anyone who bought it was an asshole. I’m sure I was right.
4.) John Fogerty- “Centerfield” It was a toss up between this and his “The Old Man Down The Road” (an equally hateful song), but I chose “Centerfield” because of the embarrassing handclaps. I don’t know how John Fogerty manages to sound both nasal and raspy, but he does. I’m not surprised that he got sued for plagiarizing himself. That doesn’t even make sense, but neither does the success of this song.
5.) Paul Simon- “You Can Call Me Al” Paul tries to hit high notes that aren’t in his range, and WHY is Chevy Chase in this video? Please, please tell me now.
6.) Whitney Houston- “I Will Always Love You” And I will always hate Whitney Houston for having the audacity to dare spoil Dolly Parton’s beautiful, tender ballad. You’re yelling the chorus, lady. We get it. Shut up. At least Dolly got some fat cash from it.
7.) Lynyrd Skynyrd—“Free Bird” My babysitter, Jenny Fouty, (who also gave me piano lessons) once told me that if you listen to this song you’d turn into trash, and who wants to be trash? I wasn’t thinking “white trash,” I was thinking actual garbage that went into a trash can. I never heard the original song until years after Will To Power covered it in the late 80′s. Obviously, I prefer Will To Power’s version.
8.) Billy Ray Cyrus—“Achy Breaky Heart” Another song I will never understand the appeal of. People who bought this CD were strongly judged. They all had mullets, too.
9.) Gary Wright—“Dream Weaver.” I remember riding around in my mom’s Mustang and being seriously car sick and this song was on the radio. I threw up, and, even though that happened over 30 years ago, that’s what I think of when I hear this song.
10.) Santana—“Smooth” This is the song that finally killed off regular broadcast radio for me: the last nail in the proverbial coffin. Played hourly, and hated during every minute.
11.) LeAnne Womack—“I Hope You Dance” It’s the equivalent of having Soft Soap squirted directly into your eyes. Squeaky clean and hopelessly sentimental, it’s music that was written specifically for wedding receptions. I hate wedding receptions.
12.) Led Zeppelin—“Stairway To Heaven” A song I’ve never heard in its entirety because I don’t have the time. Too long, too slow, no drum machines or synths, don’t care.
13.) House Of Pain—“Jump Around” Prince says there’s joy in repetition. This is proof to the contrary.
14.) Naughty By Nature—“O.P.P.” I hate abbreviations and people yelling them. I hate them even more when I don’t know what the letters stand for.
15.) Blues Traveler—“Run Around” At least they had an “image”, but I guess I’m not a fan of large, gun toting men who play the harmonica.
16.) Counting Crows—“Mr. Jones” This was just an excruciatingly bad time in music for me, can you tell? No one was sexy, nothing was memorable or fun. It’s just a big pile of rubber blah.
17.) The Black Crowes—“Hard To Handle” See above. Ugh. Make it stop. This makes me want to listen to Kraftwerk.
18.) Georgia Satellites—“Keep Your Hands To Yourself” That won’t be a problem, you’re not terribly attractive. I’m listening to Bananarama’s “Singles Collection” to erase the stench.
19.) Pearl Jam—“Jeremy” How was this a hit single? It was such a dreadful, depressing time for music. Bring back “The Safety Dance.” I need something I can get DOWN to. People that don’t look like they bathe on a daily basis doing self-indulgent music that is all “serious and important” isn’t entertaining to me.
20.) Portishead—“Sour Times (Nobody Loves Me)” More depressing wowsee wowsee woo-woo music. Go away honey, nobody cares. Music to steam clean your wall-to-wall shag carpeting to.
21.) Bon Jovi—“Wanted Dead Or Alive” I’ve never been a fan of Western movies, and I certainly don’t want my Eighties Greaties mucked up by the genre. Where’s Huey Lewis when you need him?
22.) AC/DC—“Hell’s Bells” This was played at the end of the first middle school dance I ever attended in the sixth grade. I remember an eighth grade girl who looked like a 32-year old mother of four (and yes, I still remember her name) screaming “HELLS BELLS” at the top her lungs when the song started, in my young, tender face. It was startling to my innocent nature, and I exited the gym immediately. The dance was over.
23.) Bob Marley—“Could You Be Loved” I have never understood Bob Marley’s appeal. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never taken the pot. When I hear the word “reggae”, it’s defined by Musical Youth’s “Pass The Dutchie” for me. Now THERE’S a song I can support.
24.) John Cougar Mellencamp—“Pink Houses” What? How dare someone from Indiana put John Cougar Mellencamp on such a list! Well, believe it. When I lived in California everyone assumed I was born in a pink house in the middle of a cornfield because of this down-home ditty. I don’t recall ever seeing a pink house, and that’s saying a lot from someone who grew up near a city called Whitestown.
25.) Billy Vera & The Beaters—“At This Moment.” At this moment, I’ve just taken my last Pepto Bismol caplet. More non-sexiness going on in the 80′s, what is happening? Surely Alex P. Keaton could have chosen a better song than this to hook a girlfriend with. He was a Republican, I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Kevin Kelly became a writer when he figured out the only job he would ever be suited for, Simon Le Bon’s replacement in Duran Duran, wasn’t going to happen. He is also a pastry chef. View his blog for more of his correct opinions, alarmingly good advice, top-notch reviews, and scrumptious recipes. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.