Here’s my official list of the five worst songs ever recorded. After assembling this compilation, it became apparent that most of them have one notable thing in common: They are top-shelf one-hit wonders. Gee, I wonder why.
1. Me and You and a Dog Named Boo by Lobo:
Believe it or not, this perplexing little tune helped me get extra sleep when I was young. It conjures up adolescent memories of a twangy, out-of-tune-ish male voice singing about a dog and a friend in a grammatically incorrect fashion. “Me and you” is the wrong order for pronouns, and he broke the word “being” into two mismatched musical syllables:
“Me and you and a dog named Boo
Travelin’ and a-livin’ on the land
Me and you and a dog named Boo
How I loved be in a free man”
Bear in mind that when this Lobo classic was alive and kicking, I was its unwilling prisoner because it aired about once every five minutes on the radio. Sadly, there were no cassette tapes or 8-tracks to offer pleasant album-length alternatives, so I was forced to either listen to this illiterate nomad’s saga or listen to nothing. I chose the latter.
But it wasn’t just me. Whenever it came on and I was at a friend’s house, they’d stop what they were doing and turn off the radio. I remember coming home from school one random day, happily bouncing over to my very own metallic red radio, and turning its burgundy knob to the “on” position.
This song was playing. As usual.
I shut the radio off, then I went outside and played. When I returned several hours later, I turned the radio back on, hoping for better results.
This song was playing. Again.
I shut the radio off and went to bed. And when a song helps an overactive kid get extra sleep, it wins a permanent place in the category of “worst” songs.
2. Seasons in the Sunby Terry Jacks
This depressing little ditty was designed to have you crying by the time its solemn ending rolled around. It did make me cry, but not over its content. I sobbed uncontrollably because it was force-fed to us via the radio right after the simmering 60s morphed into the surreptitious 70s.
“Seasons in the Sun” did not play on the radio every five or ten minutes, it simply aired every other song. After listening to it for the thousandth time, it was catapulted directly to the status of “worst” song.
Its morbidly mellifluous lyrics feature a young man going around and bidding farewell to his loved ones:
“Goodbye papa, it’s hard to die
When all the birds are singing in the sky;
Now that the spring is in the air
Little children ev’rywhere
When you’ll see them, I’ll be there.
We had joy, we had fun
We had seasons in the sun;
But the wine and the song
Like the seasons have all gone.”
Melodically, the song drones along, but we shouldn’t overlook “key” changes toward the end of the tune that attempt to give this musical lament extra dramatic climactic emphasis.
Every once in awhile some innovative DJ digs it up and plays it under the auspicious assertion that it is a “golden oldie.” In my book of “worst” songs, it falls into the cataclysmic category of “please-don’t-play-this-song-again-ever.”
3. Timothy by The Buoys
Boys in the Buoys intentionally floated the cannibalistic envelope forward, trying to earn negative press with their starvation-inspired “Timothy.” The fact that it was written to strike fear into the faint of heart instantly makes it one of the worse songs ever.
“Timothy” was penned by Rupert Holmes (Pina Colada guy), and was banned on a plethora of U. S. radio stations in 1971. It is difficult to believe that our one-and-only pop radio station actually let the song (dis)grace the airways:
“Hungry as hell no food to eat
And Joe said that he would sell his soul
For just a piece of meat
Water enough to drink for two
And Joe said to me, “I’ll have a swig
And then there’s some for you.”
Timothy, Timothy, Joe was looking at you
Timothy, Timothy, God what did we do?”
The lyrics didn’t bother me as much as the musical ineptitude, which included squeaky sounding violins, overzealous vocals and blaring off-key brass.
When I innocently asked my parents for their interpretation of “Timothy,” they emphasized that it was about a group of men with a donkey who ended up stranded somewhere. They asserted that Timothy was the name of the donkey that may or may not have been served up for dinner.
I naively bought their explanation, and when I argued about it with my friends, I made quite an “ass” of myself.
4. Escape (aka The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes
This song is a tribute to infidelity, but that’s not what makes it a less-than-decent tacky tune. It is one of those intrepid little numbers that might send someone into asylum if they are forced to listen to it more than once. Maybe we should just blast it repeatedly at our war-torn enemies until they begin weeping and surrender.
The syrupy lyrics depict a personal ad placed by a lonely soul, describing the things he is seeking in a partner. With a predictable ironic twist, the feisty female who responds to the ad happens to be his significant other!
This situation warrants one huge question Why place an ad looking for someone new when you haven’t broken up with the person to whom you are already committed?
Originally I thought this was only called the Pina Colada Song, so when I saw it listed as “Escape” the Pina Colada Song I got excited because I thought it was a solution to avoid listening to it ever again.
“Yes I like Pina Coladas – And getting caught in the rain
I’m not much into health food – I am into champagne
I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon
And cut through all this red-tape
At a bar called O’Malley’s
Where we’ll plan our escape.”
So I waited with high hopes – And she walked in the place
I knew her smile in an instant – I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely lady – And she said, “Oh it’s you.”
Then we laughed for a moment
And I said, “I never knew”
Aw. How cozy. After they met up in the bar, I wonder how long it took for the “she” part of the song to begin hounding the “he” part of the song, demanding to know:
a. How many other pina colada sippers responded to his ad?
b. How long the ad had been running and in how many publications?
c. How he could be so sneaky?
Maybe the title of the song is “Escape” because that’s what the guy in question wanted to do when confronted with his lack of loyalty.
5. “Yummy Yummy Yummy” by The Ohio Express
This was a bad song because it was too easy to remember for its own good. My mom used to sing it when she was in a good mood, although I was embarrassed by her flat tones and choice of unforgivably memorable lyrics. Can you picture your mom smiling at you and singing these sophisticated words:
“Yummy yummy yummy
I got love in my tummy
And I feel like lovin’ you”
These were the only lyrics she actually knew, therefore you can understand why they are the only words from “Yummy Yummy Yummy” that I can recall.
Additionally, when my mom was in a bad mood and we asked for something, she sang the one-word syllable “no” repeatedly to the lyrics of the “Slinky” song.
Don’t worry, the “Slinky” song will never make it into the “worst song” category. As a matter of fact, it owns a spot in the “cool toy” jingle collection. After all, it boasts about being the hit of the day when you’re ready to play.
Maybe the five musical entities listed above should have tried a little harder to latch onto the “hit of the day when you’re ready to play” concept.