Wednesday, April 26, 2006

So Bad They're Great - a Mr. Dilettante seminar

Yesterday I talked about 1974, the worst year in rock history, and listed a number of the atrocities committed to vinyl that year. There's plenty more bad songs and it's a fun game to think of others - I didn't even get to things like "Afternoon Delight," "We Built This City" or "Rock Me Amadeus" yesterday, deserving of scorn as they are.

Here's a challenge to my high-single digit readership - let's take this a step further. I'd like to compile a list of songs that are "So Bad They're Great." The operative principle here is that we pick songs that are, at first glance, not so good, or even actively annoying, but that are fun in their own way. There are a lot of songs that fit this bill; nearly the entire body of work of the Sweet would fall into this category. Herewith, a few nominees to prime the pump:

"Walk Like an Egyptian," by the Bangles. A true irritant back in 1987, but a song that's dumb and fun, which pretty much sums up the Bangles.

"You Sexy Thing," by Hot Chocolate. In its original discofied mid-70s context, this song was somewhat hard to take. 30 years on, it sounds surprisingly fresh and singer Errol Brown's vaguely Caribbean voice is a lot more interesting than his successor, the bland Billy Ocean. Related song by same band - "Everyone's a Winner."

"Thunder Island," by Jay Ferguson. A one shot from the former lead singer for Spirit, a good but largely forgotten hippie era band, this straight ahead rocker offers a fairly randy tale of sex on the beach. Very 70s.

"I'm Not in Love," by 10cc. A real oddity, this 55-gallon drum of creamy orchestration and fey denials of amore holds up surprisingly well. 10cc was, like the Raspberries, a very 70s band that always brought out mixed reactions. I'd also suggest their faux-reggae "Dreadlock Holiday."

"Go All the Way," by the Raspberries. Speaking of those guys, this was a very straightforward lust-riven pop shot that had some bite. Unfortunately, Eric Carmen went on to do some really dire stuff later on.

"You Shook Me All Night Long," by AC/DC. Speaking of straightforward, this surprisingly poppy blast of metallic lust overcomes its headbanger pedigree.

"Der Komissar," by ATF. Somewhat incoherent but hooky as hell in a weirdly European way. You can hear the synth the minute you think of the title.

Okay, there's a start. The floor is open. Let's nominate!


Homer said...

As most of us are under-armed for this battle with a former DJ..I will endeavor to toss a few bombs in..

99 Luftballons
My Name is Luka
Video Killed the Radio Star (for those of us that remember it was the FIRST song played on MTV)
Seasons in the Sun

Anonymous said...

"Pop Music" by M
"Hey Mickie"
"Young Thurks, Be Free Tonight" - Stewart
"If I Had A Hammer" - Trini Lopez
"Just Another Manic Monday"-Bangles
"Shadows in The Night" - Benetar
"Xanadu" - Fig Newton John
"Do You Know The Way to San Jose" - Warwick
"Never Gonna Let You Down" - Astley

Anonymous said...

Basketball Jones, Mohammad Ali Song, Putting on the Ritz, Cars by Gary Neuman, We Built This City,

Mark said...

Hey homer,

Seasons in the Sun? Nuh uh. I'll give you Video Killed the Radio Star for historical accuracy, though. "Luka" is ok, but I do blame Suzanne Vega for clearing the way for a lot of much more dire crap that followed (cf. Sarah McLaughlin, Natalie Merchant in all iterations, etc.)

Mark said...

Hey anonymous,

Re "Never Let You Down," I merely choose to cite the testimony of Mojo Nixon - "Rick Astley is a pantywaist." I'll give you "Pop Music," though.

Mark said...

To anonymous #2, "Basketball Jones" is a beaut, but "We Built This City" is one of the absolute worst songs in the rock era; given the capabilities of the people who created it, it's arguably the most shameful, too.

Anonymous said...

The most shameful is yet to come. It will be whatever the next album is for either the Rolling Stones or Van Halen....