Sunday, July 10, 2005

Yup, I like that one too...and that one....I know all the words to that one....crap.

Michele at ASV has a list of the most overrated songs in history, with lengthy commentary after each one. It's a really fun post to read (as is usually the case with Michele), even if I feel slightly dirty in still liking a lot of these songs. Here are her songs, with a few responses of my own:

1. Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven. Maybe part of why I like this song a lot is due to the fact that I've never really been one to study the meanings of lyrics. I just love this song's structure: you can barely feel the constant upping of the tempo over ten minutes or however long it is. I just think it's brilliant.

2. Don McLean - American Pie Yeah, it's self-important, unintelligible gobbledygook. But I still like it, for some reason I'm unable to illuminate. McLean's other songs make me wince. That one about Vincent Van Gogh is just treacle.

3. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Freebird Believe it or not, I've only heard this song a few times in my life. I gotta get out more. I like it, but I don't know it well enough to form an opinion on whether it's overrated.

4. Eagles - Hotel California I like this song, but I'm unimpressed when people tell me they know all its words. Sure, the song is eight minutes, but there's a minute of intro followed by three minutes of lyrics followed by four more minutes of guitar solo that only sounds good on the original recording. (Don't believe me? Listen to the exact same solo as played on the Hell Freezes Over reunion album. Ick.)

5. Meatloaf - Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Michele closes a lengthy diatribe about this song (which includes some really creepy descriptions of what happens when this song comes on the DJ's playlist at a wedding reception) with stating that she can't see anything redeeming about it. And she's probably right, since its lyrics portray the Artist As Disgusting Emotional Troll. But I guess that's what I like about it: that Meat Loaf made this gigando-hit out of a song that has him stand up, arena-rock style, and shout for all the world to hear, "I am a complete pig, and how do ya like that!" It's sort of admirable in that Archie Bunker kind of way, I guess. And I have to like that while other self-important rock acts were making epic songs out of incomprehensible poetry (see above), Meat Loaf is making a nine-minute epic out of a fifteen-year-old's one-night-stand at Inspiration Point. He's saying "You guys sing about a bustle in your hedgerow and stabbing things with your steely knives and cryptic shit about plane crashes outside Clearlake, Iowa. I'm gonna sing about the time I got lucky and dumped her the next day." Redeeming? No. Refreshing? A little.

6. Guns N Roses - November Rain Michele says that bad things happen when you diss GNR, but bring it on: I never once liked GNR. Hated 'em from the first time I heard "Sweet Child of Mine". Why, you might ask? Well, I think that Slash is a brilliant guitarist; love his work. The drummer and bass player seem OK (although no Alex VH or Michael Anthony). The problem with every GNR song is this: sooner or later Axl Rose starts singing, and at that moment my nerves instantly curl up. Seriously. The man's nasal delivery, coupled with his metal-esque tendency to blend singing with shouting, is to me the musical equivalent of when a large metal cabinet is dragged across a smooth concrete floor.

For this reason I have never owned a single GNR album, and I never will.

7. The Beatles - Hey Jude God almighty, I hate this song. I've never actually been much of a Beatles fan anyway. I tend, with almost no exception that I know of, to like their songs best when they're performed by anyone else, but as an actual act in themselves I always get this feeling that they're either a bubble-gum band just treading water until they can get to the business of revolutionizing music forever, or that they're in full music-revolutionary phase which turns me off anyway. But "Hey Jude" is just an annoying, unending, interminable piece of crap. I hate it well before the four minutes of "Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na" begins, and that part of the song just makes me cringe.

8. Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run in the USA in his Glory Days. I like Bruce. Oh well. I don't like "Born in the USA" much, delivering its message as it does with all the subtlety of a brick through a plate-glass window, and "Glory Days" suffers from the same back-end fault that afflicts "Hey Jude", only in Bruce's case it's four minutes of "Well ALL RIGHT! Come ON NOW! Well ALL RIGHT! Come ON NOW!" But "Dancing in the Dark" is cool; I liked his song for the movie Philadelphia way more than I actually liked the movie Philadelphia; and I do like that 9-11 themed album he did a few years back (although I suspect Michele hates it). Anyway, I like Springsteen's voice. I like it when rock stars sing with a voice that sounds like it's been through too many years of riding a bus and drinking bourbon.

Here are a few additions of my own:

"Spinning Wheel", Blood Sweat and Tears. I don't know what I hate more: the insipid lyrics, the awful brass chords that punctuate the song, or the "Carousel band on drugs" that closes the song. The whole thing stinks. I hate it.

"I Swear", All For One. Ah, yes -- summer 1994, when I would work a shift at Pizza Hut and hear this g**damn song at least eight times in the space of a single night. (Yes, I counted once. Eight is accurate.) And if somebody took mercy and changed the radio to the country station, it didn't matter because some country artist did the same song the same year! Ugh. Anyway, the song is like eating the world's biggest fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie without any milk at hand to wash it down.

Any song by Aerosmith that had a video starring Alicia Silverstone. Especially whichever one had her rigging up a stuntman gizmo so she could appear to be committing suicide by jumping off a bridge, but then give her boyfriend the finger while she dangles on her safety harness above a busy freeway. Yeah, right. Or the one where she goes off for a night of debauchery with some other chick and steals a farmboy's pants. I like Alicia Silverstone just fine, but these songs were overwrought crud.

"Losing My Religion", REM. Now, it's not a bad song by any means. But did it really warrant airplay on par with Elton John's "Candle in the Wind -- Princess Diana version"? I don't think so. And all those playings of "Losing My Religion" kept "Everybody Hurts" off the air. (At least in my town.)

"New York, New York". This song does two things: first, it brings out the inner Sinatra that everybody thinks they have. And the problem with that, of course, is that the song also proves what should be obvious: that nobody actually has an inner Sinatra. That's why there was only one Sinatra. I tend to really dislike songs that get adopted by every drunk in a given room. Which brings me to....

"Sweet Caroline", Neil Diamond. Full disclosure: it's a lot of fun to be in a bar full of drunken patrons when this songs comes up on the jukebox. Equally full disclosure: the song is pedestrian, at best, in any venue where alcohol is not involved. What's funny, though, is that two generations of drunks singing this song have elevated those three descending brass notes in the chorus to actually being part of the lyrics. No longer does the song go like this:

Sweet caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined
To believe they never would

No, it now actually goes like this:

Sweet caroline BUM BUM BUMMM!
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined BUM BUM BUMMM!
To believe they never would

"Brown Eyed Girl", Van Morrison. I love this song. But it's most certainly overrated, if its airplay as compared to the airplay of other, better Van Morrison songs is taken into account.

OK, enough of those for now. I'll leave off, though, with a funny joke I read on the MeFi thread I referenced in this post from yesterday:

Question: What did the Dead Head say when he ran outta dope?

Answer: "What is this crap we're listening to?"


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