Last week, I wrote a column called 5 Rock Radio Classics That Actually Suck about rock radio favorites I always assumed were good until I broke them down critically. Well, as came as a surprise to no one, the list sure did piss some people off. And in the comments (that I read with masochistic delight) I was accused of being a fan of both Nickelback and "hipster/douchebag/pitchfork" music. Really odd comments considering I said nice things about Freebird and Layla and several Aerosmith songs. Then again, the commenters were right when they accused me of blowing Editor in Chief Jack O'Brien to keep my job so maybe they know more than I realize.
In any event, notwithstanding how retarded I am or how much I suck, the column did pretty well. So I thought about it some more and I have additional songs for the list. Spoiler alert. If you hated the last column, I promise you, you will hate this column too, so please, please, please don't read it. Or do that other thing you like to do: read all of it and tell me how much it sucks. In fact, just to be sure, after you read it, go and read my Cracked serialized novella Notes from the Internet Apocalypse and then watch all my old Hate By Numbers videos. And puke all over it. That's ok too.
Also, I should point out, I'm not trolling. If I were trolling you'd see Stairway to Heaven or Hey Jude or Carry on Wayward Son on this list. And I would never do that. Not because I'm afraid of pissing people off (clearly) but because they're great songs. Also, if I were trolling, I'd also probably mention that I'm in your mother, like right now. And she's really into it. But I'm not a troll, so I'll just say I may or may not be in your mother.
Again, the following songs are included here if they meet two criteria:
1. They are songs that have been played continuously on classic rock radio since their release until today:
2. And they have no musical, lyrical, or even sociological justification for being immortalized by constant play.
Lastly, I don't think anyone needs to be told (including me) that this list is subjective. Of course, it is. Most things in life are subjective. For example, I once had a girlfriend who hated it when I did that thing with the thing, but your mother is like totally into it. I mean, may or may not be totally into it.
Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones
I know. The Stones. How could I? Well, first off let me say that I didn't. I didn't put The Rolling Stones on a list; I put Start Me Up on a list. And I'll get to that in a moment, but as long as we're talking about the Stones...
I'll be the first to admit that The Rolling Stones have about fifteen to twenty absolutely sensational pop rock songs: Satisfaction, Sympathy for the Devil, Wild Horses, Paint it Black, 19th Nervous Breakdown. . . but they've been a band for over 40 years. The Beatles put out that many great songs on just three album sides. And the other thing that always rubbed me the wrong way about the Stones was that unlike the Beatles or Pink Floyd --whose sound evolved by breaking new ground-- the Stones were always caving to what was already fashionable. When they wanted to break into America after The Beatles, they recorded The Beatles song I Want To Be Your Man sounding a lot like the Beatles. When the Beatles went psychedelic in 1967 with songs like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds the Stones did 2000 Light Years From Home
When Glam Rock exploded in the early 70's, Mick donned eye shadow and put out the heavily
But ok, that brings us to Start Me Up. Certainly, one of the Stones' most played songs and yet, there is nothing distinctive about it. Listening to it is always frustrating because it feels like it's about to go into some great chorus that just never comes. I can't listen to Start Me Up without changing mental channels to Beast of Burden or even Shattered or any other Stones songs where something actually happens. It just the straightest most nondescript Stones hit ever where Mick's minimal and meaningless lyrics merely double Richards' riff, adding no lyrical or melodic flourish. At the end of the day, the most exciting thing about Start Me Up is its association with a Windows 95 commercial, which is kinda harsh tokes for something that's supposed to be a classic song from the bad boys of Rock.
I put this song here for two reasons: 1) Because it really, really sucks; and 2) as my personal apology to David Lee Roth. Let me explain:
When I was a small boy, Van Halen were rock gods. Jump and Panama were massive hits and Davie Lee Roth was everywhere with his ass-shaking antics and over the top smarm. When Van Halen broke up, Eddie Van Halen did an excellent job of vilifying Diamond Dave just as he would do with Sammy Hagar years later. I realize now that this is mostly likely because Eddie Van Halen is a douchebag, but at the time, I listened to every word. And I heard all these stories about how Eddie wanted to grow as an artist and do serious compositions, but that Dave just cared about goofing off and screaming over records.
So I welcomed Sammy Hagar as the new lead singer of Van Halen, and it seemed like Eddie was right because the new Van Halen was more earnest and the new Davie Lee Roth was like an exercise in self-parody. But by the time When It's Love came out on the OU812 album, I realized something that apparently David Lee Roth knew all along:
Van Halen's music is not supposed to be taken seriously.
Eddie Van Halen may be one of the greatest guitarists in rock history, but his compositions sure are all things cheesy. Van Halen NEEDS a frontman like David Lee Roth who gets what makes music fun.
Roth knew exactly who he was and what Van Halen was and with him at the helm they were one of the most entertaining hard rock acts of all time. While Sammy Hagar's vocals are fine (indeed, on a technical level he's a more talented vocalist than Roth) without all of Roth's shtick, you're just left with Eddie's keyboard-laden compositions. Listen up and tell me this song isn't every bit as wimpy as Winger. And that whole Beatlesesque-Little Help From My Friends lead vocal, backing vocal Q and A is just disturbingly awful for a band that's supposed to kick ass.
Mr. Roth, I apologize for ever doubting you. Forgive me.
OK, Def Leppard fans. Before you crucify me right while I'm in the middle of having sex (or maybe not having sex) with your mom, listen closely: Def Leppard has done some great things. 1983's Pyromania is a great album. Photograph is one of the greatest hard rock/pop songs ever written. But Pour Some Sugar On Me is from 1987's Hysteria. And while Pyromania and Hysteria have a lot of the same letters in common, the differences between them are as significant as having an ejaculation versus getting an inoculation.
It's hard to give objective proof of why the song sucks such hard, I mean other than pointing to the pool of blood dripping from your ears after it's played, but I'll try. First off, "pour some sugar on me" is arguably the gayest rock metaphor ever written. And I don't mean gay as in lame (although it's that too). I mean gay as in homosexual. Unless, we're talking about the rare phenomenon of the female squirting orgasm, "pour some sugar on me" sounds like a request to have a starring role in an all dude Bukkake film. And hey, that's fine. Faith No More have had some very effective homoerotic lyrics ("you're the master and I take it on my knees," and "if I tighten up my hole you may never see the light again") but I kinda feel like Joe Elliot wasn't quite aware of the image he was creating.
Also, the lyrics were composed by Joe Elliot and producer Mutt Lange rambling stream of conscious
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nonsense words into dictaphones and then swapping and rewriting. And while many great songs have been created with novel experimental cut up techniques (David Bowie cutting up lyrics and rearranging at random on Moonage Daydream or George Martin cutting up pipe organ solos in the back of The Beatles' Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite) these lyrics actually sound worthless as the process that created them.
Also, is it too dickish to say the drums on this sound like they were played by a guy with one arm? It is, right? OK. I won't say that.
Bruce Springsteen is a legend. Born to Run, Thunder Road, and even later songs like Streets of Philadelphia truly speak to the Boss's overt talent and secure his place in the history of great folk and rock singer/songwriters. He's actually a pretty good guitarist too and, of course, a legendary performer.
And while it's true that during junior high school a bunch of Springsteen fans called me a "fag" for liking Davie Bowie, this is not a petty attempt to have my revenge. Glory Days off 1984's Born in the USA album is quite simply proof that the plastic mentality and musical wasteland of the 1980s can even tarnish a legend. That's the only way to explain the steaming turd that is Glory Days.
I'm not sure how they got that idea about me...
It doesn't even sound like Springsteen. That horrendous blaring cheesy 8 note keyboard riff is more fitting for a
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J. Geil's Band song than the heir apparent to Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. It's probably no more simplistically ridiculous than Born in the USA, but that song carries some lyrical weight that spoke to the mindset of the decade. Glory Days is about a dude who used to pitch baseballs pretty well.
First some housekeeping. Again, the premise of these columns is dumping on songs that have been perennial favorites on classic rock radio and don't deserve that status. Whether you call Green Day punk (if you like being wrong and don't understand punk) or whether you call them cheesy guitar-based pop (if you want to be right) the simple fact is since their debut in the 90s until today, Green Day has always been played on classic rock radio.
I'll admit it. Unlike the other four bands on this list, I generally dislike this band, and, hey, that's my opinion right. And you'll give your opposite opinion in the comments and tell me not to give my opinion because allegedly people aren't suppose to give opinions on Cracked, and then we'll both fall to our death and die on your M.C. Escher staircase of faulty logic.
But Green Day basically always got on my nerves for writing pure pop songs and claiming to be punk. Stepping on a distortion pedal and affecting a ridiculous pseudo sex pistols accent doesn't make you a punk band. I was content to just say, "Oh, Green Day. You're inoffensive. You write pleasant little power pop songs," but they really held to that "we're punk" thing in the 90s and yeah , it bugged me. And I couldn't even vent this anger by writing semi-literate growling comments on the blog posts of anyone who praised them as a punk band, because we didn't really have the Internet in '94 when they broke big so y'know I had to like just talk to people in real life. GRRRRRR.
Which brings us to their most famous song. Time of Your Life. How to prove it's awful? Well, sure it's a simple G/C/D construction like a million other songs or every Indigo Girls song ever written, but that in and of itself is not fatal. I mean, Don McLean's American Pie is simple and still classic. So I need a better reason that that. How about the fact that 14 year old girls all over the world love this song and want to put it on iMovie video collages about those crazy times at sleepaway? That's pretty damning, right? No? How about that I can't hear this song without starting to sing
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Punk Rock Girl by The Dead Milkmen? Well, I can't prove it to you. I know that. And right now you're either screaming Amen! Or screaming for my death. I can accept that. It's fine with me. Either way it's hard to hear you over the screams of your mother (who I may or may not be having sex with right now).