Rolling Stone recently released the results of a reader poll claiming to be the definitive list of “the 10 Worst songs from the ‘80s.” Such lists are a dime a dozen, and I don’t put much stock in them, but this one got me a little riled.
I’ll tell you why after I give you the complete list, for quick reference:
10. Rick Astley – “Never Gonna Give You Up”
9. Taco – “Puttin’ On the Ritz”
8. Toni Basil – “Mickey”
7. Bobby McFerrin – “Don’t Worry Be Happy”
6. Falco – “Rock Me Amadeus”
5. Men Without Hats – “The Safety Dance”
4. Wham! – “Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go)”
3. Chris de Burgh – “Lady in Red”
2. Europe – “The Final Countdown”
1. Starship – “We Built This City”
Yes, there are some truly bad songs on this list – and I’m sorry to say I actually used to really like a few of these songs that I now recognize as complete dreck (Europe, I’m looking at you. And you, Falco.)
And some of these tracks were just never good – I still don’t know how Rick Astley managed even to crack the charts! I feel vindicated now by the fact that I always hated that shit.
But there are a few items that, simply put, are out of place on this list, and I can’t abide seeing them included.
- Safety Dance?! Come on! Yes, it’s a product of its day, but that was a good song. It hasn’t aged incredibly well, but it’s far from being in the bottom 10. Men Without Hats’ Pop Goes the World was SO MUCH worse.
- Lady in Red – while I never particularly liked it – is certainly not offensive. It’s just innocuous. Forgettable, more than anything. I’d rather see Stevie Wonder’s I just called to say I love you on the list. Given Stevie’s history of great music, this song was an affront to his legacy… and much more saccharine than DeBurgh’s track.
- Wake Me Up is pure pop. Aside from being overly-cheery, I see nothing wrong with it. I think a cover version could easily clean up any lingering instrumentation issues. There’s no reason this should be on the list and not Katrina and the Waves’ Walkin on Sunshine! That’s an affront! WoS is one of the worst pop songs ever released in any decade – and it just never goes away. It’s ubiquitous in every second radio-station and allergy-medication TV commercial nowadays!)
- And now the biggest offender: We Built this City listed as #1 worst song of the ‘80s. I’m flat-out gob-smacked by this selection. Sure, the lyrics are a bit corporate, but the music is solid, and frankly still very listenable today. I don’t care what you might say about the rest of the list, but this song is just being slandered here. Unforgivable – especially since Billy Ocean’s Get out of My Dreams (Get into my car) is by all accounts THE worst song of the ‘80s – both musically and lyrically. Gah!
Clearly I’m getting myself worked up. <breathe> It’s just a list. Let’s focus on our common hatred instead. At least we all agree that Europe’s The Final Countdown is a horrible, horrible piece of trash. Mind you, on this week’s coverville – which featured covers of all these tunes – I was introduced to Dolapdere Big Gang, a Turkish band that has prepared an absolutely astounding cover of The Final Countdown. Brilliant: