Because I’m one of those folks who has substituted listening to music for a lifestyle, I have lots of songs I’m passionate about, for better or worse. Well, it’s a dark, rainy day in Mondoville as a front rolls through, so I thought I’d share some of the songs that immediately come to my mind when I think of spectacularly awful songs. We’re not talking novelty songs per se here — no “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” or “Pac-Man Fever”, for example. No, these are the songs that may well have been hits, but I’m confounded by that fact, and can only attribute it to mass psychosis. Here are a couple or three to get you started, but participation is recommended — let it cleanse you.
We can thank Paul McCartney’s “My Love” for keeping this one from going to the top of the charts in 1973. Vocalist Clint Holmes went on to be Joan Rivers’s sidekick on her short-lived late night talk show, and a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight. Despite all that, I think further punishment is probably due.
With a voice that sounds like Shirley Temple with a 3-pack-a-day habit, Melanie Safka (who performed under her first name only) inflicted this one on us in 1971. I’m not even sure this one qualifies as a single entendre, but it went to number one. (I can remember a boy and girl from my first-grade class doing this one as a duet at a talent show at some point in elementary school. MERCIFUL HEAVEN — WHERE WERE THE PARENTS?)
And to complete our early-1970s trifecta, we bring you (the) Coven. Their first album was dark, proggy doom-psych (True facts: The bassist’s name was Oz Osborne, and the first track on their first album was called “Black Sabbath.” Wonder if any copies made it to Birmingham, England.), but for the next album, they turned to a cover of a leaden storybook protest song, complete with animated video (I think the sound effects add a lot.). As it happened, the track was part of the soundtrack to hippie-justice flick Billy Jack, which let it hit the top 100 three different times, cracking the top 30 in 1971. Since then, frontwoman Jinx Dawson has been viewed by some critics as a sort of grandmother of goth-rock. All I can say is get a job, hippies.
OK, kids — the ball is in your court.