On the Jukebox in Hell…

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.

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About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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13 Responses to On the Jukebox in Hell…

  1. A couple off the top of my head from that era: “Run, Joey, Run” by Joey Geddes, and “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” from Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods…

    • Bill Neagle says:

      NOOOO!! Please, for my sake, don’t bring up that song and put it back into the heads of all who read! It might live again. (And, NO, I am NOT trying to be a hero!)

  2. Jane says:

    So, jumping ahead about 20 years, in light of the recent twerking incident, I had to recommend dear old dad’s Achy Breaky Heart…. the song is clearly wrong, in many ways, but the hair may have that beat by a mile…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byQIPdHMpjc

  3. Don says:

    “Signs,” by the Five Man Electrical Band? Pretty much any Song with a Message irritates me, though it’s hard to think of any I loathe more than “One Tin Soldier.”

  4. Blaknsam says:

    This is easy pickings. “Afternoon Delight”, “Seasons in the Sun”, “The Night Chicago Died”, “Wildfire”, “Don’t Give Up On Us, Baby”, whatever that terrible, terrible song by England Dan and John Ford Coley was, Taco’s full-length “Puttin’ on the Ritz” with the synthesizer/vocoder breakdown, “Run, Joey, Run”, “Billy Don’t Be A Hero”, “You Light Up My Life”, “Wind Beneath My Wings”, Alanis Morrisette’s “Thank U”, “Ironic”, and “Hand In My Pocket”, John Travolta’s “Let Her In”, “Feelings”, “Alone Again, Naturally”. God, so many. And while “Playground in My Mind” is one of the most excruciating songs in recorded history, McCartney’s “My Love” is no great shakes, either…except for the guitar solo, which is awesome.

    • nightfly says:

      Oh, Lawsamercy… .WILDFIRE. Wrote a little something about that waaaaay back in the day. There was just this pathetic “ideal” in mid-70’s pop that demanded that “authentic” music required the listener to be depressed after ten minutes. See also Andrew Gold’s “Lonely Boy” and Barry Manilow’s “Looks Like We Made It” and so on and so on. Sometimes I suspect that disco went mainstream because at least people seemed to be having a good time while listening.

  5. Bill Neagle says:

    I have to mention a couple here as well. “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon, who is sooo much better than this. I’m not fond of “The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia”, either.

  6. Joe says:

    OK, I just have one. The Kingston Trio recorded it earlier and the Beach Boys passed on it. I guess it was the sober atmosphere of the post Viet Nam era that made this song a hit for Terry Jacks, but my personal anti-favorite in this category is “Seasons in the Sun.” This song was on the juke box at a little gasthaus outside the base in Germany, where I was stationed for two years of my service in the Army. My arrival there brought about an immediate end to the LTR I had been in stateside. I would sometimes go there to drown my sorrows and it was one of the songs that the box had been programmed to kick out gratis during idle times. “Goodbye my friends, its hard to die…” Please not again!

  7. Pingback: In Which the Prof Seeks an Antidote | Professor Mondo

  8. Andrew Stevens says:

    Obviously Macarthur Park. Musically, it’s actually not that bad. Lyrically it is the worst popular song ever written.

  9. Michael Dearing says:

    A lot of goodies! One I’d forgotten about was “Teen Angel” by Mark Dinning – one of the “great” teen death songs of the late 50s. Honorable mention to “Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson (apparently covered by Pearl Jam).

  10. J. Otto Pohl says:

    Here is a post with links to lots of good music I put up on 6 October 2013.

    http://jpohl.blogspot.com/2013/10/music-it-is-universal-not-just-property.html

  11. Joseph says:

    Pretty much any successful Chicago song from the eighties. Peter Cetera embraced 80’s production, and Diane Warren penning their last major hit did not help.

    Also, Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey”. It’s brain death set to music.

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