Videos of the worst pop songs ever

Bolus presents YouTube videos of eight songs that elicit a specific kind of bummed-out feeling in the listener. It's like they were all cut from the same bolt of rash-inducing cloth. The songs are:
White Plains -- My Baby Loves Lovin'

Terry Jacks -- Seasons in the Sun

Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods -- Billy Don't Be a Hero

Captain & Tenille -- Muskrat Love

Tony DiFranco & the DiFranco Family -- Heartbeat (It's a Love Beat)

Bobby Goldsboro -- Honey

Sammy Johns -- Chevy Van

Debbie Boone -- You Light Up My Life

In Bolus' comments section, someone said Tony Orlando's "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" belongs on the list, and I agree. Link


  1. how could they leave out “i’m a little bit country, i’m a little bit rock and roll” by donnie and marie osmond? shameful.

  2. How can you have Muskrat Love without having Frankie Valli’s “Swear to God”?!!

    BTW, I miss the simpler times when the Captain’s refusal to be seen without his hat was news… :-(

  3. I like Billy, Don’t Be a Hero.

    It’s part of a totally overdone genre (the teenage/young person death song), but c’mon, it’s way better than “Tell Laura I Love Her.” At least on the same level as “Teen Angel.”

  4. Some years ago I put together what I called the Shock and Awe CD– my personal choices for godawful music. The playlist is here:

    One day I was sitting in a poker game telling someone about the disc, and listing the songs that were on it. At the time I had no idea that the person sitting next to me was the former lead singer for Paul Revere and the Raiders.


  5. i think we have a winner:

    Coven’s “One Tin Soldier” video from the movie “Billy Jack.”

    ‘and sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much…
    I wanna hold you till I die; till we both break down and cry…I wanna hold you till the fear in me sub sides…..’

  7. starlight vocal band – afternoon delight

    i think everyone who lost their virginity in 1977 still regrets this song, and gets chills when its played… and not in a good way

  8. It’s kind of sad that Air Supply couldn’t make the list. But there isn’t any Air Supply song in particular that’s terrible; everything that the band released just kind of coalesces together into an amorphous mass of badness.

    The same goes for Starship.

  9. three AWFUL songs that’d be on my list (dunno if they have videos, and not interested in looking) would be: “tie a yellow ribbon”, “wichita lineman” and my all-time least favored, “mrs. jones”.

  10. no,no,this won’t do at all. We’re all over the place. True Badness should be undeniable, not a matter of subjective taste. All the selections so far establish no pattern. I think we need to set parameters.

  11. My #1 choice; a song so bad it includes a unicorn chaser in its music video…

    Abracadabra by the Steve Miller Band

  12. We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun/But the sun burned our balls, so we wore our overalls.

    (Okay, that was a whole lot funnier back in 7th grade….)

  13. Bobby Goldsboro is Anton Chigurh!

    I think the music video for “Honey” explains some of the back-story to No Country For Old Men, which I have been yearning for. What you see in this video is a younger Anton Chirgurh, before a failed relationship and pop music career sent him down his path of destruction. When he wrote and performed this song, he was struggling to hold onto the last shreds of his former life, where flowers and singing birds had some meaning. His wife’s instability and self destructive behavior eventually put him over the edge, and we can even see, reflected in his blank stare, the darkness of his horizon.

    “she slipped and almost hurt herself … and I laughed until I cried”

  14. Meant to add :

    This is the pre `Rock Me Tonight’ Squier

    Aw yeah, he rocked pretty hard then!

  15. Wow “You Light Up My Life” is usually listed under the most inspirational songs out there.

    I guess it depends on who listens to it. Not my bag of tea however.

  16. Not even close. As far as I’m concerned, the worst songs ever were,

    “Tiptoe through the tulips” by Tiny Tim,

    “I got a brand new key” -Deanna Arter,

    “MacArthur Park”, Richard Harris

    “All by myself” by Celine Dion.

    “unfaithful” Rhianna-

  17. I loved the seventies and pop radio –and Chevy Van kicked ass! Why do they make you feel so bummed out? Did you get molested at summer camp? Poor fella…

  18. AAARGH It’s like the Jukebox from Hell!

    (Please Mr. Please. Don’t play B17…)

  19. One word: “Wildfire”.

    It’s the “My Friend Flicka” of pop, and not in a good way.

  20. @ #21 Casptunes: Jefferson Starship, FTW. Srsly. Have you seen the video or heard the lyrics? Why must Grace Slick use her phenomenal powers for EVIL?

  21. Your all wrong people ( except Takuan who is right )! So many songs , so many deserving of being on a bad list ,but few of them are truly execrable. To get to the truly AWFUL songs one must bring in Country and Western to the table:
    “Daddy’s Hands”

    Then there is
    “My name is Michael” Just bone chiling.

    But. the. all. time. worst. song. has. to. be.
    “Dear Mr jesus”

    These are atom bombs of melodic badness!
    BTW – I really like
    “Wildfire” and “Witchita Lineman”

  22. How come so many of these are on the “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” soundtrack?

  23. This has always been the worst song of all time. Here’s an interpretation by The Cheese Factory:

  24. If you have not seen the “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” rendition of “Honey”, complete with a tour of the “Honey House”, it is must-see comedy. (I can’t seem to find it online, though.)

    And how a very mediocre song about a guy coming home from prison got to be the theme for returning military veterans is beyond me. (“Tie a Yellow Ribbon”)

  25. hmm, I like one tin soldier, and billy dont be a hero, and “sometimes when we touch,” and “unfaithful,” and “wildfire”, AND ‘tie a yellow ribbon.’ Come on, that last is even a fun, feel good kinda song. hehe. ‘Afternoon Delight’ is very silly, but its kind of fun too.

    I will agree with muskrat love though. I absolutely detest that song with all my heart. Pteh

  26. This is the stupidest post I think I’ve ever seen on boingboing. So a pop song is automatically terrible because it has sad subject matter? I guess we’d better add “Yesterday”, “Fire and Rain”, and “Only Living Boy in New York” to the list.

    *Rolls Eyes* What’s the new post going to be?


  27. OK, my nominations to the list. Sorry, no video links — I can’t justify the time spent searching for them.

    “Age of Aquarius” – 5th Dimension
    “In My Beautiful Balloon” – who the hell knows
    “I Write the Songs” – Barry Manilow

    In fact, let’s just create a blanket Barry Manilow addition, and call it a day.

  28. Oh yes, and the band ‘Bread’ should be forced to apologize profusely for fouling the universe with their own particularly odious brand of “music.”

  29. We performed ‘Age of Aquarius’ in my pops chorale a year or two back; from a performer’s perspective its quite musically interesting, really.

  30. I remember hearing “Seasons in the Sun” playing regularly on the radio when I was about six or seven, and feeling disturbed by this “death” thing the guy appeared to be singing about. Cheesy, yes, but it still kinda gives me the willies.

  31. Y’all just hate good music. You can have your Bell Biv Devoes and Vampire Weekends. I’m going with Sammy Johns and the rest of my Time Life AM Gold classics.

  32. How about “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood? That’s some bad stuff, there, homies, but maybe it hasn’t been around long enough to gain that kind of infamy that the “Afternoon Delights” and “Sugar, Sugars” (by the Archies) of this world have garnered.

    I would also like to nominate “I Hope You Dance” by Lea Ann Womack. Simply atrocious.

  33. Ok, let’s all really embarrass ourselves and reveal what we think is good music. From any era. I think you’ll all be just a little more humble then.
    As far as really awful music; how about everything that’s ever been on MTV or VH1?

  34. The first song I thought of was that “Knock three times on the ceiling if you love me, twice on the pipes if the answer is no” song.

    Don’t know the name or the “artist”, but that belongs there.

    PROTO ARTIST “Mrs. Jones” gets worse by the number of times the singer says “ee” in the “me” part: Me-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee and MRS., MRS. Jooooones….”

    Of course, once it gets to about 20 “ees”, then it becomes ridiculous. Only Bill Murray could get away with 20.

  35. Truly terrible is the b-side of one of the songs listed here. The b-side of Terry Jack’s Seasons in the Sun. A song called “Put the Bone In”. Not what you might infer from the title, it is actually a plea from a little boy to the neighborhood butcher for a bone for his sick/dying dog. This was later covered by the band Soul Asylum. Listen if you dare.

  36. #38- I don’t know what to feel about somehow being armed with the knowledge that BLUE SWEDE’S version of “Hooked On A Feeling” is the one that contains the “oo-ga-sha-ga’s”.

  37. “It Don’t Matter to Me” by Bread. Look up the lyrics to find out why I think of it as the Sloppy Seconds Song.

  38. @ #19 — in billy squier’s defense, it was the early 1980s. after michael jackson put out his thriller album, EVERYONE had to get on the dance video bandwagon. just ask pat benatar. she has said that she will never ever EVER do another dancing video after “love is a battlefield”.

    that sammy johns video should be enshrined in the smithsonian, just for showing REAL 70s vans and fashion. awesome!

  39. Not to get all Meta on you, but this posting illustrates an emerging theme in internet commentary on culture. You could never create a post of the 10, 50 or 1000 best songs/videos. Opinions on that subject are strong and widely varied. The response and controversy would be on the level of intercontinental war. Defining badness is easier and nobody’s going to break your nose for leaving their most hated song off the list. It’s easier to reach consensus about what sucks. Doesn’t this mean that internet based collaborative cultural commentary is destined to evolve into an exhaustive inventory of the contents of the bottom of the barrel?
    Think about it.

  40. Necessary: A script that changes all instances of the string “eBGIQ7ZuuiU” to some random other RickRoll.

    It’s bad when I can recognise the RickRoll from having memorised the URL ID.

  41. My $.02:
    Kenny and Dolly, “Islands in the Stream”
    MC Hammer, “Addams Groove”
    Vitamin C, “Smile”
    LEN, “Steal my Sunshine”.

  42. ~sheepishly counting the songs on this list that I really really like~

    I guess I’ll be checking out YouTube links at home tonight…

  43. BOC “Burnin’ for You” has always been one of my favorite bad videos. In addition to the fact that it’s horribly cheesy, it puts the subject of the song in a whole new disturbing light:

    Although I’d have to agree that the Starship and Billy Squire vids linked to above rank as close seconds for me…

  44. This is utterly inexplicable.

    No one has mentioned “More than words” by Extreme. It was wildly popular on the radio, oh, some time in the nineties (oh, the forsaken, wretched nineties!) buoyed up the charts by teenieboppers who thought it was romantic.

    Apparently it was written to get a girl into bed. And according to wikipedia, it also featured ‘intricate guitar work’. But the howling disharmonic vocals, clunky by-the-numbers lyrics make this manipulative and cynical song the biggest piece of crap ever dealt before goatse.


  45. What’s wrong with you people? Air Supply rocks and Steve Miller’s Abracadabra is incredible. Do yourself a favor and get the 12″ extended mix with all the extra lazers and space sounds. …Whoever posted the link to Dear Mr. Jesus was right though, that really is the worst thing ever. Thanks.

  46. Oh come on.
    Many of the songs listed here are beloved chestnuts.
    (Chevy Van?? Really?)

    You need to find songs that are uniformly hated by all, that induced violence toward self and others. Songs like Jimmy Osmond’s “Long Haired Lover From Liverpool”.

    So say I.

  47. I love a lot of these songs. Who doesn’t like a little cheeze now and then. some of these are great simply for the karaoke opportunities.

    My #1 and #2 most hated songs are “What I like about You” by The Romantics and “We Built this City” by Starship.

  48. Maybe you all forgot Oran “Juice” Jones and his classic – Walking in the Rain

    I saw you (and him, and him)
    Walking in the RaaINNNNNNNNNNNNNN

    Still stuck in my head almost 15 years later. To boot, it has quite possibly on eof the worst raps ever to close out the song!

  49. see, I don’t think a bad song can be camp. I thoroughly enjoy many songs which appear bad, but are really just a bit camp, like David Bowies pin-ups album. Bad sons aren’t fun; they’re boring, which is why i would nominate many Phil Collins tracks [in the news today for announcing he wont be returning to the su-su-studio ever again.] Whoever put down tiny tim as bad should really reflect on that.

    Rick Wakemans legends of kin arthur. FTW. I swear, you cant watch Spinal tap after listening to that because it isn’t funny any more. So bad, they staged a version /on ice/.

    he does pull some awesome faces tho.

  50. actually Im watching it now and i cant help think merlin would have thought it kick ass. Take that, harry potter fans. it was cool to dress up as a wizard way before j.k. rowling rocked up.

  51. Uh, Breaker One-Nine, this here’s the Rubber Duck
    You got a copy on me Pig-Pen? C’mon

    Uh, yeah 10-4 Pig Pen, fer sure, fer sure
    By golly it’s clean clear to Flag-Town, C’mon

    Uh, yeah, that’s a big 10-4 Pig-Pen,
    Yeah, we definitely got us the front door good buddy,
    Mercy sakes alive, looks like we got us a convoy

  52. Also, as someone who lived through, studied, and still loves the ’70s… it appears that the original list is primarily just another “Oh look at the ’70s. We’re cooler than that now ain’t we! Look at them! That was 35 years ago. Look how dorky… didn’t they even know how to be good? What is that they’re wearing? Crazy. Those songs are silly, they must be bad.”

    I declare this list to be highly unscientific and lacking in criteria!

    Having said that, I will add “Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney. That song gets in my brain and just ramrods all my grey matter like a liposuction wand, destroying my mind and making me want to do violence.

    Oh, and there should be a few Kiss songs on that list. Might I suggest “A World Without Heroes”. Now THAT’S bad beyond dispute.

    And for the record, “Afternoon Delight”, “Abracadabra”, “Wildfire” etc etc. These songs do not make me want to do violence. Even “Muscrat Love” deserves better treatment. And “Seasons In The Sun”. (Why don’t you just go kick some puppies while you’re at it?? And whoever put down Tiny Tim does need to take a long hard look at themselves… at “The Man In The Mirror”)

    I propose that the criteria for truly awful songs be their capacity for inducing violence in the listener. Now, proceed with the analysis.

    “Swingin'” by John Anderson???

  53. how about anything by Cabaret Voltaire? I know I /should/ like them, demographically speaking, but really it makes me want to extract my own brain throuh my nostrils with a flat head screwdriver.

  54. perhaps we should look for Evil and let the lame and stupid go…. evil,evil…. usually I’m so good at this……. (surely, Convoy is evil?)

  55. It seems that the 70s is taking some of the heat off the 80s, but what about ‘We Built This City on Rock and Roll’ by (no Jefferson, just) Starship?

  56. Convoy is not “evil”.
    No more evil that watching an episode of “Alice”.

    And by invoking Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” I did not mean to suggest that song is awful or evil. I love that song.

    For an evil song you have to go to something like “Baby Makes Her Blue Jeans Talk” by Dr. Hook.

  57. Too specialised, I think. I would argue My Sharona, on the basis of not only is it a crap song, it also rips off any number of good bands, who afterwards were thought of as Knack derivatives.

    the sun is burning by simon and Garfunkel? example of a song that just doesnt work.

    Also, this:

    should probably never happen.

  58. does Sondra count?

    No. Although she is the greatest entertainer in human history, she just rips off other people’s music. And have I ever mentioned that I have all 26 volumes of SuperHits of the 79s? You bring the tequila, I’ll spin the records.

  59. Every time I look for ‘bad’ music, I end up developing a weird taste for it:

    Mrs Miller: not lol, /awesome/.

  60. It’s difficult to differentiate between true badness and an acquired taste. Personally I’d run barefoot over broken glass in an iodine rainstorm to escape a Weird Al video but I understand he has quite a following.

  61. “Knock Three Times” is Tony Orlando and Dawn. They had a weekly variety show, so they churned out a lot of same-sounding hits, much like Cher.

  62. Over Christmas break during my sophomore year in high school, I went with my family to Disney World and Epcot.

    On the final evening of our three-day visit to the Magic Kingdom, while the rest of the Mazoolas staked out a prime viewing spot for that nights son et lumière, I begged some bucks from Dad and headed off by myself to pick up a few souvenirs. My prime target was a magic and novelty shop somewhere in the neighborhood of Cinderella’s Castle — which, if there is any justice in the world, will’ve been named “The Magic Kingdom.”* As I hurried to beat the shop’s imminent closure, I passed a large crowd waiting for that night’s big concert — due to start within moments, according to the PA.

    Having managed to slip through the door seconds before closing time, I quickly yet carefully made my purchases — a packet of flashpaper, as I recall, and a chrome-plastic water faucet mounted on a suction cup, hilariously intended to be affixed in places where finding an actual, working faucet would be utterly ridiculous and/or embarrassing; my first week back in school after the break, I bore a perfectly circular hickey in the middle of my forehead — and headed back to where I’d last seen my family.

    On the walk back, though, I’d no sooner passed the site of the concert-to-be when the crowd roar let me know the headliner *had* finally arrived. You can imagine my lack of excitement upon hearing the big-name talent appearing that night was Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods. I kept on walking…

    …only to be brought to a standstill by what happened next: An oddly familiar solo guitar melody went skittering out into the night — as the Heywoods opened their set with a cover of “Roundabout.”


    * Rest assured: Any minute now Cory will be providing links to the shop’s fan page; a scan of the original typescript of the shop owner’s long out-of-print memoir of years spent selling phony buck teeth and onion gum to the nation’s schoolboys; some guy’s site tracking progress towards recreating virtually his first visit to the store, accurate to the last detail and rendered in high resolution 3D (last updated March 2003) — oh, and his podcast of the scene in “Little Brother” where a phone phreak and proto-hacker is caught trying to shoplift a Bag o’ Laffs from a magic shop located on the grounds of an unnamed mega-themepark located in some vague Southern state, thus instilling within him a deep hatred of surveillance cameras and itching powder.

    As I hurried to

  63. @ 58 — i don’t get why that’s on your “bad” list. it’s a classic song, and it’s a fairly standard 80s video. the band could (did?) sleepwalk through it. unless you hate it just for the gold lamé 80s style fashion shirt… then i completely understand.

    @75 — “my sharona” is a perfectly crafted piece of pop. you can’t sully it with your slanderous words.

  64. Hey Takuan,

    “Convoy” is not evil. I first heard it on Dr. Demento. Nothing that Dr. Demento plays is evil. Silly, sure, but not evil.

    CUPCAKE FAERIE is right at #29, though, you can’t get a complete list of “bad songs” without including country.


  65. my-ai-ai-ai whoo Sharona? If you listen to Television, who the Knack were ripping off, I don’t think you can go back. Its one thing to rip off established artists, [I briefly played drums in a band where we unabashedly copied richard hell tracks and just changed the words a bit] its quite another to rip off a band still looking for its break.

  66. quite correct, Dr. Demento makes all clean and pure, but it WAS evil before he played it

  67. Just for a reality check, the Number One Absolutely Positively Most Popular Pop Song of the 1990s was Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time. So those comments about “how can you be hatin’ on my song, it’s a classic”. Nuh-uh.

  68. strider_mt2K wrote:

    AAARGH It’s like the Jukebox from Hell!

    (Please Mr. Please. Don’t play B17…)

    Fair enough, but how about B52?

    Rock Lobster

  69. Cranky Old Woman @#23:

    Don’t mean to nitpick, but are we listing the originals or interpretations? All by Myself as originally written and performed by Eric Carmen surely deserves inclusion on its own, erm, merits. But you knew that.

    Not that I’m defending my compatriot Céline, mind you. I haven’t read The Inferno in a while, but I’m pretty sure her version of this has its own circle of Hell.

  70. So because a song isn’t happy it is automatically eligible to be one of the worst? Don’t get me wrong, some of those songs are bad songs, but there are far worse that are not listed, I guess based on Mark’s preamble, because they are “happy”.

  71. I can see the O.P. is of a certain age. For some reason all of those songs are from the 1970’s.

    The 70’s were a great time for lyrics in rock, so it isn’t a surprise that there are some uses of excessive force. For every Don McLean there is a Dan Fogelberg. For every Bruce Springsteen there is a Terry Jacks.

    Taking an example: Midnight at the Oasis – the vocal performance is actually pretty good, if a little high-pitched. The lyrics are terrible “…send your camel to bed…”, “…cactus is our friend…”. Just what are these people doing? We may be in for a similar “flowering” in the 2010’s, since the economy is looking very ’70’s (stagflation, anyone?) these days.

    For my own list. I have to say that “Knock Three Times” beats out “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” for bottom fishing in my list. The banging and clanging are so gimmicky (and if you’ve ever seen the video of Tony Orlando and Dawn miming the pipe banging etc., it’s even cornier). “Seasons in the Sun” and “Billy Don’t be a Hero” are in there, too. So sad that these songs came out the year I copped my first feel. It kind of sours the memory.

    Some more food for thought: What about Freddy Fender’s “Before the Next Teardrop Falls”. Or is that exempt because it’s country? That insidious suicide song, “Alone Again, Naturally” by Gilbert O’Sullivan? The unapologetic sexism of “Let’s make Lots of Money” by the Pet Shop Boys? The completely wordless “Tarzan Boy” by Baltimora? “Loving You” by Minnie Ripperton, more for the lyrics than the soprano (howling/virtuosity) she displays. Jewel’s “Pieces of You” disc has a few candidates, too (Foolish Games, Pieces of You).

  72. Oh, it took courage to even read to the bottom of the thread. I feel like I’ve been trapped in an elevator on the way down to hell!

    It is hard to quantify gruesome. I couldn’t put any of these in any kind of order, but I didn’t see a single suggestion anyone had made that didn’t leave me both nodding and shuddering.

    Might I add ANYTHING by Seals and Croft.

    Also, that pop song that started out:

    “My baby takes the morning train…”


  73. #86:

    Rock Lobster is nothing, nothing, compared to the B-52’s version of Stairway to Heaven.

    I have seen the belly of the Beast. Well, heard its stomach rumbling, at least.


  74. Sure, the Terry Jacks version of “Seasons in the Sun” is awful, but the original is sublime:

    Oh, and “American Pie” by Don McLean is the worst song ever.

Comments are closed.