"Living on the Edge" by Aerosmith
Aerosmith has written some of the greatest songs in hard rock history. "Walk This Way," "Sweet Emotion" and, of course, "Dream On" to name a few. But for several years in the late '70s and early '80s, they decided to start sucking full time, while engaging in excessive drug use. And then in 1987, Aerosmith released Permanent Vacation, and we were so glad to have them back. "Dude Looks Like a Lady," "Rag Doll" and even the cheesy "Angel" were great. Indeed, we were so happy that we sort of didn't even notice it when they began sucking it really hard again. It wasn't until 1998 and their mega-cheese, Diane Warren-penned crap "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" that we realized, wow, apparently Aerosmith just got tired of being awesome. How did this happen?
Well, all the signs were there in 1993, even though "Living on the Edge" is still all over classic rock radio.
From its whiny, jangling opening vocals of lyrical vapidity ("There's something wrong with the world today") to its overblown, yet ball-less, chorus, it's six minutes and 21 seconds of pure mediocrity. Steven Tyler, who typically exhibits a metal singer's range and a rapper's metric alacrity, merely phones in generic B-plus rock vocals more fitting for Bad Company or your boss' rock band -- the one whose demo tape he keeps trying to play for the receptionist in a failed attempt to get laid.
"Come Sail Away" by Styx
OK. Here it is. Maybe, just maybe, one of the worst songs ever written. All the great bands of the '70s have their opus. Led Zeppelin had "Stairway to Heaven." Aerosmith had "Dream On." Kansas had "Carry on Wayward Son." And Styx thought they had theirs with "Come Sail Away." But there's one important distinction between "Come Sail Away" and those other songs: "Come Sail Away" is the only one the Devil plays in hell while sodomizing pedophiles.
And unlike most things that suck this hard, its suckitude is subtle. It creeps in slowly like a boring elevator conversation, but by the end, it has devoured each and every one of your internal organs like a musical cancer that leaves only your brain and auditory nerves intact so you can hear every single note until the sweet release of death.
Let's break it down!
Its start off almost pleasingly. Some piano and reflective lyrics. A song looking back on the past and using the ocean as a metaphor for life.
And then ...
"On board I'm the captain, so climb aboard."
OK, that's a bit clumsy. Too much "board" going on, but not fatal. Still melodically pleasing, and the pipe organ comes in after that, proving this is a song aiming to be an epic. Don't believe me? Angels. The song has a "gathering of angels." Oh, and look, guitars. Is this song going to rock? Yes, guitars. Big Who-type power chords and the whole band singing "come sail away." We have an anthem, ladies and gentlemen. Ladies and gentlemen, we have an anthem.
And then ...
Uh, what's going on at three and a half minutes in? Oh, right, this song came out in 1977 and Styx realized that pretty pianos followed by Who power chords weren't enough for rock immortality. They needed prog-sounding keyboards like Emerson Lake & Palmer's "Lucky Man" or the song they're completely aping, The Who's "Baba O'Riley." Just a shameless, derivative and indulgent middle passage.
And then ...
Lyrics so awful that I laugh every single time I hear them. Turns out those angels he was singing about weren't angels:
"I thought that they were angels but to my surprise
They climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies."
Do you get it? Yes, they were aliens. Why? Because it was the late '70s and aliens were cool, that's why. But this raises a more hilarious question: If Dennis DeYoung knew they were aliens why the hell did he tell us they were angels at the start of the song? Is he singing in real time? It's not really what we call a surprise ending. It reads more like just a mistake. As if the next lyric could be "Oh, yeah, and by the way, that thing wasn't a boat. Turns out I was just on a waterbed tripping balls."
Pictured above: Not angels.
But whether they be angels or aliens, they want the singer to sail away. So basically, let's sum this up: Reflective man vows to do his best in life, has a false vision of angels and is then abducted by aliens. And you thought "Mr. Roboto" was retarded.
Check out more from Gladstone in My Break Up Letter To Regina Spektor and Excerpts from Gary Condit's Book 'Humping Is Not Murder'.