#885countdown Talk: What makes a song “the worst?”

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Journey clowning around in the 80s. Many people think they wrote some of the worst songs ever, others stringently defend them. Or so we hear.
Journey clowning around in the 80s. Many people think they wrote some of the worst songs ever, others stringently defend them. Or so we hear.

As we’re winding down the 885 All Time Greatest Songs countdown playback, we’re also looking forward to part two of the countdown – the playback of the 88 Worst Songs. The notion of “best,” “greatest” and “worst” are, of course, quite subjective. Which will explain why (partial spoiler alert) there will be some songs on both the 885 All Time Greatest and 88 Worst Songs. As Paul Simon once said, “one man’s ceiling is another man’s floors;” or – to put it a slightly different way – “one person’s trash is another’s treasure.”

As we get ready to play the worst songs (as voted on by the WXPN community) tomorrow starting at 10 a.m., we want to know: “what exactly makes a worst song?”

Google the phrase “worst songs” and you’ll get endless pages of Worst Songs lists. Back in January of this year, the music web site Consequence of Sound deemed “Fireflies” by Owl City as the worst pop song. Wikipedia has list of worst songs, some of which include “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, “Sussudio” by Phil Collins, and “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt. Yes, even trusty old BuzzFeed has a list they called These Are 30 of The Worst Songs Ever Written, including “Hotel California,” by The Eagles, “Buttefly” by Crazy Town, “Crank Dat” (crank what?) by Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, and a universally agreed upon worst song, “Who Let The Dogs Out” by The Baha Men.

We put the question of “what makes a song, the worst” out to the XPN community in an attempt to quantify the qualities of worst songs. Here’s some responses:

Some folks defined the worst as anything by Journey and Billy Joel. We’ll agree to disagree on Billy Joel. Maybe even Journey.

On the XPN Facebook page, folks used the following descriptions and adjectives for a “worst” song: Schlocky. Overproduced. Cloying. Obnoxious. A song that takes itself too seriously. There’s also some passionate back and forth from music fans that are pro-Rush and anti-Rush, pro-Ted Nugent and anti-Nuge, pro-Journey and anti-Journey, circling back to my point at the start that “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

Last February NPR Music has a discussion about The Worst Songs Of All Time. They listed songs like “Wonderful Christmas Time,” by Paul McCartney, “Wild Wild West” by Escape Club, “Africa” by Toto (how dare they include this brilliant pop song!), and the Disney classic, “It’s A Small World.” Agree? Disagree? Everybody’s right and everybody’s wrong.

There’s a good chance you might hear some of these songs tomorrow. I will tell you though that if certain novelty songs can count as a “worst song,” I’ll leave you with one song that thankfully did not make the 88 Worst Songs:

 

Related: The best 24 or 25 tweets we’ve seen about the #885countdown (so far)

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