The 5 Worst Songs in the History of Rock Music

Listing bad songs is easy -- it's simple enough to find songs (or entire albums) that're bad on purpose, let alone songs that are godawful via traditional means. There's no point in making a list of the musically worst songs ever, because the list would be endless and repetitive and could just be a list of songs by the Shaggs, who may have been well-meaning but were objectively the sonic equivalent of a terrifyingly rapid descent into madness in which you are grinningly beaten to death with the entire contents of a hardware store. Listing inept and/or embarrassing songs is pointless. But there are certain kinds of songs that I would argue are 10,000 times worse than the atonal hammering of the Shaggs, or Troll Lou Reed, or Contractual Obligation Neil Young, or anyone else, and here are the worst of them ...

#5. The Post-Grunge Nightmare

And they're all rock songs and they're all from the early 2000s -- the point in rock music where everything had been done already, but before the genre as a whole realized viable ways forward (polished retroism and desert rock, for starters). Pop music is sort of consistent across time, and rap probably still has final frontiers to explore, but rock was firmly in transition back then, and the era was marked by a vacuum of innovation held up by a previously established infrastructure, allowing the talentless to coast in on the historical momentum of the genre. It was shit, in other words.

And emblematic of this wave of Shit-Rock was the Fred Durst-championed Puddle of Mudd, and emblematic of them was the moron anthem "She Hates Me" (complete with ultra-cool censoring):

In the '80s, rock was dominated by asinine hair metal, people with nothing to say saying nothing and living the rock star life while using women as hood ornaments, and just generally being more full of shit than Ayn Rand after a Mexican buffet. Then, in a conscious reaction to all that, a new generation started to make some generally better rock music (and then the British made some better rock music in reaction to THAT). Hair metal disappeared virtually overnight, and though the new stuff sucked in its own ways, mainstream rock was at least sort of about weirdo self-expression again for a little bit. It was a natural and necessary evolution. "She Hates Me" is essentially the reverse of all that condensed into three jock-tastic, fake-angsty minutes. Evolution? Fuck you!

#4. The Canadian

To succeed, all you need to do is copy successful people, right? Well, the big American acts all have attractive singers and catchy tunes and slickly produced videos with imagery of cars and rocking out, and the kids like the "urban" music, so let's urbanify it 18 percent, and if we just combine all that in our big musical blender then logically we'll produce the exact same success, right? Well, I'll go ahead and let the artist known as Kazzer answer that one for you:

The Kazzers of the world are the result of wanting to make music but not needing to, and then, lack of talent in hand, pursuing glitzy, American-style success by copying others (speaking as a Canadian, it's a pervasive issue with all our godawful major music exports -- the ones we're constantly apologizing for, and that distract from all our really good artists). But the kind of person who thinks they can succeed by copying others is generally the kind of person who can't even copy others properly. They copy successful artists -- they don't copy what MADE them successful.

And so what you get is Kazzer -- a genuinely unnerving uncanny-valley image of what someone in a boardroom thinks a musician looks like. It's musical gentrification -- where people with the means to live anywhere fucking insist on moving into the one part of town where all the cool shops are, and there goes the neighborhood.

As much as desire for fame being your sole motivation can in some cases be a bridge to success, it's a way more common trait among the Never Were. Sustained success in art is generally the weird combination of filling some societal need while filling your own (like it or not, even Fred Durst needed art to fill a hole in his life). Someone has to need it, especially you. Copy the superficial elements and what you mostly get is that nondescript band with the one hit and whatserface from last year and that guy and are you fucking serious and Kazzer and the fourth-worst song ever, because the only need they were all filling was their own need to be on TV.

#3. Finding Out You Wish You Were Deaf

Here's one of those songs you have definitely heard but don't know the name of (because it was named by idiots), the twilight world of shadows and suffering that is "Finding Out True Love Is Blind":

This might be too straightforward, actually. Sometimes a song is just objectively a blight on humanity because it's laughably cobbled together from the hoariest paint-by-numbers rock cliches, or because it's the dirtiest, oldest men on the radio trying to appeal to young people (or anyone), or because it has that lame talk-singing to disguise that the guy can't sing, or because it's so perfectly representative of a genre and format that was out of ideas, or just because the singer looks like Ozzy Osbourne if he did that thing in Timecop where you disastrously come into contact with yourself from another plane of existence but stopped halfway through to buy a horrible leather jacket, and as he too-loudly proclaims his big, racist list of beyond-imaginary sexual conquests, even the most ardent opponent of virgin-shaming (myself among them) has to conclude that there has been a lot of sex happening in the world and none of it has ever been happening within 500 yards of these awful men and their third-worst song in history.

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Winston Rowntree

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