List of music considered the worst

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The music listed here has achieved a negative reputation and been called the worst music ever made by a combination of reputable sources.[clarification needed] Such sources include the music press, television broadcasters (such as MTV), radio stations and public polls.[citation needed]

To be reliable, these sources must consider a large amount of musical history and a wide range of viewpoints before judging a piece to be the "worst". This subject can also include works that are considered the worst-ever in fields closely related to music production, such as album artwork and music videos.[citation needed]

Paradoxically, a piece of music needs to have been noticeable, popular or memorable to be deemed the "worst ever." A piece that was unpopular and quickly forgotten is unlikely to top all-time public polls a few years after it was released. A piece usually needs to have had a high profile at the time of its release, such as an unexpected hit that was highly disliked outside of its fanbase. Or, in the case of established musicians or composers, an embarrassingly misjudged piece might eventually gain a "worst-ever" reputation among critics and fans. There is also the possibility of a well-known musician, with previous praised music, who creates a piece of music that gains negative reception.[citation needed]

A piece of music deemed the "worst ever" is usually either a repetitive earworm, a disrespectful cover, derivative work or posthumous release, an expensive flop, a failed attempt at avant-garde music, a joke or deliberately bad piece of music (e.g. to annoy a record label), or otherwise creatively compromised.[citation needed]

Scholarly accounts of the "worst music ever" are rare. Most polls or critical lists are light-hearted in nature, especially in pop music. Magazines reflect the preferences of their readers, and if polls are influenced by too small a group of readers or critics, they provide unreliable results. Most "worst ever" lists do not aim to take into account all music ever created, but are limited to certain time periods, styles of music, and geographical areas. Furthermore, individual tastes can vary widely, to the point where very little consensus on a worst song can be achieved; the winning song in a CNN e-mail poll received less than 5 percent of the total votes cast.[1]

There are a handful of scholars who have done more in-depth analysis of music perceived to be bad, including Irwin Chusid, Barry Hansen (better known by the stage name Dr. Demento) and Darryl W. Bullock, author of the 2013 book The World's Worst Records.[2] Chusid, in particular, has coined the term "outsider music" to refer to songs that are so far outside the mainstream that they are perceived to be some of the worst music ever written, although their raw, unpolished qualities have earned such songs and musicians a cult following.[citation needed]

Albums[edit]

Due to their longer playing time than songs, albums contain material that most people, apart from fans and professional critics, will not have heard. Therefore, "worst-ever" lists usually contain albums that many readers or viewers have not heard in their entirety, or the "worst" or most disappointing albums by well-regarded artists. An artist's actions or reputation might also influence the results. Such lists are harder to compile in the form of a public poll, unlike singles or music videos, which will usually have been heard or seen even by non-fans of the artist.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles (1967) 
Although widely acclaimed, the album has been censured by some. It was voted the worst record ever made in a 1998 Melody Maker poll of pop stars, DJs and journalists.[3] Among the harshest detractors was musician and journalist John Robb, who described the album as "the benchmark of 1967 - the low water point of rock 'n' roll".[3] In a scathing appraisal of the record prior to its 40th anniversary in 2007, Guardian critic Richard Smith wrote that it is, "if not the worst, then certainly the most overrated album of all time." He also contended that the "excruciating" LP was often ranked by members of the music press as the best ever due to affection for its cultural impact, and "not because of anything intrinsically great about the record".[4] Asked in 2007 to nominate the "supposedly great" album he would "gladly never hear again", artist and writer Billy Childish named Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and argued that it "signalled the death of rock 'n' roll".[5] Musician and author Bill Drummond, in a 2010 publication, called the record "the worst thing that ever happened to music".[6]
Philosophy of the World, The Shaggs (1969) 
The Shaggs, who had previously had minimal exposure to music, recorded this album at the behest of the band members' father, Austin Wiggin; the album achieved wide release in 1980, long after the band had disbanded and Wiggin had died. Chris Connelly wrote for Rolling Stone: "Without exaggeration, [Philosophy of the World] may stand as the worst album ever recorded."[7] Debra Rae Cohen, also writing for Rolling Stone, was so impressed by the album's poor quality that she referred to it as "the sickest, most stunningly awful wonderful record I've heard in ages".[8]
Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends, Screaming Lord Sutch (1970) 
This supergroup led by Sutch, a man with dubious musical talent but a pioneer in the horror rock genre, included a list of some of Britain's best known rock musicians, many of whom disowned the record when it was released. It was mentioned as the worst record ever released in a 1998 BBC poll and was also mentioned as such in The Top 1000 Albums of All Time by Colin Larkin. A negative review published in Rolling Stone called Sutch "absolutely terrible" and lamented that under the restrictions of the project, the collection of talented musicians on hand were made to sound "like a fouled parody of themselves".[9]
Having Fun with Elvis on Stage, Elvis Presley (1974) 
This album was a spoken word compilation that contained almost no actual music, compiled in a seemingly incomprehensible manner. It ranked #1 in Jimmy Guterman and Owen O'Donnell's list of the worst rock and roll albums in the 1991 book, The Worst Rock and Roll Records of All Time, duly noting the lack of rock and roll on the album.[10] The AllMusic review of the albums states: "Some have called Having Fun with Elvis on Stage thoroughly unlistenable, but actually it's worse than that; hearing it is like witnessing an auto wreck that somehow plowed into a carnival freak show, leaving onlookers at once too horrified and too baffled to turn away."[11]
Metal Machine Music, Lou Reed (1975) 
Comprised entirely of guitar feedback loops, the record has been described by some critics as the "worst album of all time".[12] Roger Catlin of the Hartford Courant wrote in a 2000 article: "Twenty-five years after its release, Lou Reed's notorious Metal Machine Music still holds its reputation: worst album ever."[13] In 2006, BBC disk jockey Mark Radcliffe named the LP as such.[14] It was ranked #2 in the 1991 book The Worst Rock 'n' Roll Records of All Time by Jimmy Guterman and Owen O'Donnell.[15]
Two the Hard Way, Allman and Woman (1977)
This was the only significant collaboration between the husband-and-wife team of Cher (who had recently divorced from Sonny Bono; Sonny and Cher had been a popular music and comedy act for nearly a decade before the divorce) and Gregg Allman, the surviving namesake of the recently broken-up Allman Brothers Band. Reviews of the album, the genre of which is difficult to define, were resoundingly negative, with a review in the Rolling Stone Record Guide labeling the album "worthless," "bottom of the barrel" and the most "inappropriate combination (imaginable)." Allmusic gave the album one star out of five, its lowest rating. The unsuccessful Two the Hard Way Tour, marred by financial losses and the return of Allman's alcoholism, led to the couple's breakup; Cher, who acquired the rights to the album, has refused to allow it to be re-released in any form.[16]
Soundtrack to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Bee Gees with Peter Frampton and others (1978)
A glam rock and disco Beatles cover album, named "worst ever" by Maxim in April 2000 – a top 30 list which mostly contained pop albums from the 1970s to '90s.[17][18]
Thank You, Duran Duran (1995) 
A cover album, named the worst record ever by Q magazine in March 2006.[19][20] In 2014, Brian Boyd of The Irish Times said that it is "accurately known as 'the single worst album in the history of recorded music'."[21]
White on Blonde, Texas (1997) 
Voted the worst Scottish album ever made in a 2007 online poll of music fans.[22][23]
Crazy Hits, Crazy Frog (2005)
Ranked at number one in rateyourmusic's bottom albums of all time list.[24]
Playing with Fire, Kevin Federline (2006) 
The only album recorded by the ex-husband of Britney Spears, Kevin Federline, this album also holds the distinction of being the lowest-scoring album on Metacritic, with a score of just 15.[25] It was also a commercial failure, with second-week sales of only 1,500.[26]
Chinese Democracy, Guns N' Roses (2008)
Rock music historian Stephen Davis named Chinese Democracy as "the worst album ever".[27] Heeb and Self-titled editor Arye Dworken wrote: "Chinese Democracy is the worst album I have heard in years, if not, in all my life of listening to music."[28] Wired magazine critic Scott Thill placed the album in an unranked list of the "5 Audio Atrocities to Throw Down a Sonic Black Hole", describing it as "terrible" and "one of the most overhyped, expensive and underperforming albums ever".[29]
Scream, Chris Cornell (2009) 
The third solo album from the Soundgarden frontman featured a drastic change of sound for the musician, going from his previous Rock sounds and instead featuring more Pop and Electronic sounds courtesy of Timbaland. The album received negative reaction from Rolling Stone[30] and Allmusic[31] who both heavily criticized Cornell's choice of direction for the album. Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor called the album "embarrassing" on his Twitter account.[32] It also failed to make commercial impact, shown by dropping 55 positions on the Billboard 200 on its second week,[33] spending only 10 weeks on the chart,[34] and only selling approximately 26,000 copies.[35]
Eoghan Quigg, Eoghan Quigg (2009) 
Quigg's début album has been subject to a universal denunciation from music critics; Belfast Telegraph journalist Gail Walker noted that, "Indeed, it is widely described as the worst album ever".[36] Peter Robinson in The Guardian called it "the worst album in the history of recorded sound."[37] A Popjustice reviewer, contemplating the single worst album of all time, wrote: "[D]ecades into the future, Eoghan Quigg's album Eoghan Quigg will be the one that scoops the accolade."[38] Gigwise ranked the album as the worst of 2009. In doing so, the publication reprinted the opinion of Peter Robinson, and labelled the album a "rotten turd".[39]
JLS, JLS (2009) 
The worst-rated album of all time at review aggregator website AnyDecentMusic?[40]
Streets in the Sky, The Enemy (2012) 
John Calvert of Drowned in Sound labelled this release as "the un-music", a record that marks "some of the worst songwriting in major label history". He implored The Enemy to retire, "for the sake of future generations".[41] Neil Kulkarni in The Quietus argued that the album is not "actually music", and is akin to "shite, in the noonday sun, attracting flies". He "fervently" hoped the band would release no further recordings.[42] Streets in the Sky is the joint second lowest-rated LP of all time at review aggregator website AnyDecentMusic?[40]

Songs[edit]

The following songs have appeared in media polls and critical lists as the "worst ever". Examples of such sources include VH1's "50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever" and Blender Magazine's "Run for Your Life! It’s the 50 Worst Songs Ever!".

Because of the nature of the pop single that developed in the 20th century, most of these entries are five minutes long or less.

"I Want My Baby Back", Jimmy Cross (1965) 
In 1977, British DJ Kenny Everett named it no. 1 in the Bottom 30 after a public vote.[43]
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", The Beatles (1968) 
Voted worst song of all time in a 2004 online poll organized by Mars.[44]
"(You're) Having My Baby", Paul Anka (1974) 
Voted the No. 1 worst song ever in the results of a 2006 CNN.com user poll.[1]
"Dance with Me", Reginald Bosanquet (1980) 
A disco song with lyrics narrated in the style of a British newscast (Bosanquet was a news anchor for Independent Television News at the time), was voted number one 1 in the Bottom 30 by listeners of British DJ Kenny Everett in 1980.[45]
"The Birdie Song", The Tweets (1981) 
Voted the most annoying track of all time in a 2000 Dotmusic poll.[46] Mick Jones of The Clash also named it the worst song ever, along with "Billy Don't Be a Hero" by Paper Lace.[47]
"Agadoo", Black Lace (1984
Many forums, newspaper articles and music experts on the Internet agree that this song is one of the worst ever. When it was re-released in 2009, many newspapers began with the headline 'worst song ever'.[48] It was ranked the worst song in pop history in a The Guardian newspaper article in 2009. It was banned from being played on BBC Radio 1 for a period because 'it was not credible'.[49] It was also rated the worst song ever in a Q Magazine poll in 2003.[50]
"Sussudio", Phil Collins (1985
Tom Service of The Guardian argued that "there's no colder or more superficial sound in popular music" than this single.[51] Creative Loafing Charlotte writer Matt Brunson called it "the worst song of the [1980s], no question".[52] In naming "Sussudio" the second-worst track ever written, Michael Musto of The Village Voice wrote that it "could have been the theme song for the Third Reich, it was that insidious and evil".[53]
"We Built This City", Starship (1985
Despite this single off the group's album Knee Deep in the Hoopla being a #1 hit, it ranked #1 in "Run for Your Life! It's the 50 Worst Songs Ever!" list in Blender Magazine,[54] and "The 10 Worst Songs of the 1980s" by Rolling Stone.[55]
"Could It Be Magic", Take That (1992) 
This cover of the 1975 Barry Manilow track was voted the worst song in history in a 2004 public poll organised by Diesel.[56] NME reviews editor Anthony Thornton agreed with the result, calling it "the worst song in the world" and "the kind of track that makes you wake up screaming."[56]
"Mr Blobby", Mr Blobby (1993) 
An MTV critic said that Blobby "tried to kill music...with what might be the worst song of all time".[57] Rupert Hawksley of The Telegraph ranked the track as the worst Christmas number one in history, arguing that Blobby "set the bar so low with this bizarre single, it's hard to imagine that it could ever be usurped".[58] Daily Record writer Euan McColm named it the third-worst Top 10 single of all time,[59] while Gemma Wheatley of the Daily Star called it the third most-annoying track ever written.[60] It placed first in an HMV public poll of the worst-ever festive songs,[61] and second in a VH1 viewer survey of the worst number one singles of all time.[62]
"The Millennium Prayer", Cliff Richard (1999) 
VH1 labelled this the worst number one record of all time after a poll.[62]
"The Christmas Shoes", NewSong (2000) 
The song has appeared on various "worst Christmas song" lists.[63][64][65][66][67] In 2011, the song was named "The Worst Christmas Song Ever" by Gawker.com, following a weeks-long survey of commenter votes.[68]
"Who Let the Dogs Out?", Baha Men (2000) 
Number one on Spinner's "Top 20 Worst Songs Ever".[69]
"The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)", The Cheeky Girls (2002) 
Voted the no. 1 "worst pop record" by Channel 4 viewers in a poll broadcast in January 2004.[70]
"You're Beautiful", James Blunt (2005) 
Voted the most annoying track of all time in a 2007 listener survey organised by OnePoll.[71] It was ranked first in Spike's 2008 list, "Top 10 Worst Songs to Hit #1", where it was described as "the worst song in the history of mankind".[72] The track was named by Gigwise as the worst love song ever written,[73] and by heavy.com as the single worst composition of the 2000s.[74]
"My Humps", The Black Eyed Peas (2005) 
This track, which addresses the female figure, gained an "overwhelming" first-place vote in a 2007 Rolling Stone reader poll of the most annoying songs of all time.[75] It is regarded by many critics as one of, if not the, worst track in history.[76] In 2010, A.V. Club journalist Nathan Rabin described it as an "unimaginable horror" that is "inarguably the worst song ever written".[77] Guardian critic Laura Barton,[78] Joseph Kugelmass of PopMatters[79] and Stranger writer Shaun Bruce also named the track as the worst of all time, with Bruce stating that it "may actually represent the nadir of human achievement".[80]
"Rockstar", Nickelback (2006) 
Some critics have given it the distinction of the worst song of all time.[81][82] The song was listed at number 2 in Buzzfeed's list of the 30 worst songs ever written. They said: "If aliens came to earth and asked why everyone hates Nickelback so much, this song would be a perfect explanation.[83] A 2008 Popjustice poll, voted "Rockstar" as the worst single of the year.[84]
"Baby", Justin Bieber (2010)
Voted by Time Out Sydney readers as the single worst song ever written.[85] It was named in the San Francisco Chronicle as the worst track of the year.[86]
"Friday", Rebecca Black (2011)
BBC Newsbeat and E! Online[87] state that "Friday" is among the worst songs ever created. It became an Internet sensation, making it the subject of multiple parodies and ridicule.[88]
"Surrounded by Silence", Design the Skyline (2011)
Released on March 13, 2011 onto YouTube by the band and critically panned after the group was signed to Victory Records. Many social sources and magazines credited the band as "the worst band ever" and the song as "the worst song ever", putting emphasis on the band's musical structure, lack of sensible rhythm within their playing and physical appearances.[89][90][91] It was also voted the second worst song of 2011 behind Rebecca Black's "Friday" on AbsolutePunk's "Worst Song of 2011 (so far)" poll.[92]
"Blurred Lines", Robin Thicke (2013)
Rolling Stone contributing editor Rob Sheffield described this track as "the worst song of this or any other year", adding: "I can't remember the last time there was a hit song this ghastly".[93] Time Out Sydney readers voted it the second-worst track ever written.[85]
"Chinese Food", Alison Gold (2013)
An independent song produced by Patrice Wilson, who also produced for Rebecca Black's "Friday". "Chinese Food" has been criticized as the worst song ever[94][95][96][97][98][99][100][101] created and the worst song of the year by Time magazine.[102] The song has also been criticised for being racist and offensive.[97][101][103]

Others[edit]

In 1997, artists Komar and Melamid and composer Dave Soldier released The Most Unwanted Song, designed after surveying 500 people to determine the lyrical and musical elements that were the most annoying. These elements included bagpipes, cowboy music, an opera singer rapping, and a children's choir that urged listeners to go shopping at Wal-Mart. "The most unwanted music is over 25 minutes long, veers wildly between loud and quiet sections, between fast and slow tempos...with each dichotomy presented in abrupt transition." [104]

Classical music media have run fewer "worst-ever" lists than pop, either for composers or individual pieces. There have been articles on the worst recorded versions[105] and the worst classical album covers.[106]

In film music in the United States, the worst song of the year is given the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song. This "award" was given from the ceremony's inception in 1980 until 1999 and resurfaced in 2002. It parodies the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Some publications have compiled lists of the "worst" music videos ever.[107][108][109] Album cover artwork has also been subject to "all-time worst" lists.[110][111][112][113]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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