List of music considered the worst

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The list of music considered the worst consists of albums or songs that have been considered the worst music ever made by various combinations of music critics, television broadcasters (such as MTV), radio stations, composers and public polls. A piece of music needs to have been notable, popular, or memorable to be deemed the "worst ever", or it would be unlikely to top all-time public polls a few years after it was released. As such, 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. 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]

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 and have serious flaws. Therefore, "worst-ever" lists usually contain poorly recorded 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.

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."[3] Debra Rae Cohen, also writing for Rolling Stone, was so enthralled by the album's poor quality that she referred to it as "the sickest, most stunningly awful wonderful record I've heard in ages".[4]
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.[5] 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".[6]
Having Fun with Elvis on Stage, Elvis Presley (1974) 
The album was a recording of an Elvis Presley concert that contained almost no actual music, and instead consisted mainly of banter and jokes from between numbers, compiled in a seemingly incomprehensible manner. It ranked No. 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.[7]
Metal Machine Music, Lou Reed (1975) 
A reputedly "unlistenable" album, consisting entirely of guitar feedback loops, ranked No. 2 in the 1991 book The Worst Rock 'n' Roll Records of All Time by Jimmy Guterman and Owen O'Donnell.[8] In 2005, Q magazine included the album in a list of "Ten Terrible Records by Great Artists", and it ranked #4 in Q's 50 worst albums of all-time list.
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) 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)". 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 rereleased in any form.[9]
Soundtrack to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, various artists (1978)
A glam rock and disco Beatles cover album, the release was named "worst ever" by Maxim in April 2000— in a top 30 list which mostly contained pop albums from the '70s to '90s.[10][11] The soundtrack proved a disaster in the career of the Bee Gees and the other artists involved in the soundtrack, except for Earth, Wind & Fire, whose well regarded cover of "Got to Get You Into My Life" sold one million copies and reached the Top 10 in the United States when issued as a single.[12] It was the first album in history to "return platinum" as stores took over four million copies of it off their shelves to ship back to their distributors. The RSO Records organization destroyed hundreds of thousands of copies, providing the company with a huge financial hole from the soundtrack's failure.[13]
Elvis' Greatest Shit, Elvis Presley (1982)
A posthumous bootleg compilation album, consisting largely of outtakes and a selection of Elvis' movie soundtrack songs of the 1960s, was deliberately made to highlight the worst of his career. Critics largely agreed that the pseudonymous compiler of the record succeeded in picking Presley's worst work.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23]
Thank You, Duran Duran (1995) 
A cover album, named the worst ever album by Q magazine in March 2006.[24][25]
Playing with Fire, Kevin Federline (2006) 
The only album recorded by Kevin Federline, the ex-husband of Britney Spears. The record holds the distinction of being the lowest-scoring on review aggregator Metacritic, with a rating of just 15.[26] It was also a commercial failure, with second-week sales of only 1,500.[27]
Chinese Democracy, Guns N' Roses (2008)
Popular music historian Stephen Davis named it "the worst album ever".[28] Ayre Dworken, former music editor of the now-defunct Heeb magazine,[29] wrote: "Chinese Democracy is the worst album I have heard in years, if not, in all my life of listening to music."[30] The "terrible" record was included in Wired magazine's unranked list of the "5 Audio Atrocities to Throw Down a Sonic Black Hole",[31] and placed first in Guitar Player's "10 Awful Albums by 10 Amazing Bands".[32] In Time Out New York, both music editor Steve Smith and columnist Jay Ruttenberg named Chinese Democracy as the worst record of 2008.[33]
Eoghan Quigg, Eoghan Quigg (2009) 
Quigg's only album met with universal derision, and has been described by numerous reviewers as the worst record ever made.[34] One such writer was Peter Robinson of The Guardian, who called it an "album so bad that it would count as a new low for popular culture were it possible to class as either culture... or popular".[35] Contemplating the worst record of all time, a Popjustice critic said that "decades into the future, Eoghan Quigg's album Eoghan Quigg will be the one that scoops the accolade".[36]
JLS, JLS (2009) 
The lowest-rated album of all time at review aggregator site AnyDecentMusic?[37]
Lulu, Lou Reed and Metallica (2011) 
Stuart Berma in Pitchfork Media awarded the album 1/10, and, in pondering its "Worst Album of All Time" status on the internet, wrote: "Even in that regard, Lulu disappoints. For all the hilarity that ought to ensue here, Lulu is a frustratingly noble failure."[38] In response to massive backlash from previous Metallica fans, Lou Reed stated: "I don't have any fans left. After Metal Machine Music (1975), they all fled. Who cares? I'm in this for the fun of it."[39]
Streets in the Sky, The Enemy (2012) 
Daily Record writer Rick Fulton reported that several of his readers considered Streets in the Sky to be "among the very worst releases of the year [2012], and indeed, all time".[40] Critics were similarly harsh: the album is the second-lowest rated in history at review aggregator site AnyDecentMusic?,[37] and is the worst-reviewed of 2012 at fellow aggregator Album of the Year.[41] John Calvert of Drowned in Sound awarded the record an unprecedented 0/10 and described it as "the un-music";[42] Neil Kulkarni in The Quietus agreed that the album is not "actually music", and is akin to "shite, in the noonday sun, attracting flies".[43] Both critics wished for no further recordings from the band.[42][43]

Songs[edit]

The following songs have been named by critics, broadcasters, composers and listeners as the "worst ever". Examples of sources include VH1's "50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever" and Blender'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 the novelty song as the absolute worst of a bottom thirty song listing done after a public vote. The single was a moderate commercial success but killed the singing career of its vocalist, Jimmy Cross, who failed to achieve any kind of traction with serious work afterward. A parody of the teenage tragedy song trend, the lyrics of the song feature a male protagonist lamenting the death of his girlfriend before, finally, joining her in her coffin. In the book The World's Worst Records: Volume One, music critic Darryl W. Bullock wrote that the track is "[r]outinely considered the worst record of all time".[44]
"MacArthur Park", Richard Harris (1968) 
The Jimmy Webb-penned "MacArthur Park" is popularly held as the worst song ever written.[45] In 1992, Miami Herald journalist Dave Barry conducted a poll among his readers who selected the Harris original as the worst track ever recorded, both in terms of "Worst Lyrics" and "Worst Overall Song". Barry commented: "[I]t's hard to argue with survey respondents who chose it as the worst."[46]
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", The Beatles (1968) 
"Loathed" by band member John Lennon,[47] this track was voted the worst ever recorded in a listener poll organised by Mars.[48] It also appeared in Blender's "50 Worst Songs Ever".[49]
"(You're) Having My Baby", Paul Anka (1974) 
No. 1 worst song as voted on by CNN.com users in 2006; even at the time of the song's release, it received extensive backlash from feminists for its traditional portrayal of pregnancy.[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.[50]
"The Birdie Song", The Tweets (1981) 
Voted the most annoying track of all time in a 2000 Dotmusic poll.[51] The Clash guitarist Mick Jones also named it the worst song ever written (along with "Billy Don't Be a Hero" by Paper Lace),[52] as did Simon Burnton in The Guardian.[53]
"True", Spandau Ballet (1983) 
"True" was named the single worst song in history by Guardian journalist Luke Williams[53] and St. Petersburg Times music columnist Sean Daly.[54] Williams had particular derision for Gary Kemp's lyrics, saying: "I mean, 'Why do I find it hard to write the next line?'. It's because you're a crap songwriter, idiot."[53] Seattle Post-Intelligencer critic Robert Jamieson called it the worst love song of all time.[55] The track has also appeared in unranked lists such as the Houston Press' "10 Songs We Never, Ever Want to Hear Again, Ever",[56] and NME's "50 Worst Pop Lyrics of All Time".[57]
"Agadoo", Black Lace (1984) 
Many newspaper and internet music critics 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".[58] It was ranked the worst song in pop history in a Guardian newspaper article in 2009. It was banned from being played on BBC Radio 1 for a period because it was not "credible".[59] It was also rated the worst song ever in a 2003 Q magazine poll.[60]
"Sussudio", Phil Collins (1985) 
Critic Michael Saunders in the Sun-Sentinel named "Sussudio" as the worst song of the rock era, describing it as "insipid" and "indefensibly stupid".[61] Guardian journalist Tom Service wrote: "'Sussudio' brings me out in a cold sweat... there's no colder or more superficial sound in popular music."[62] In listing the track as the second-worst ever, Michael Musto in The Village Voice said that it "could have been the theme song for the Third Reich, it was that insidious and evil".[63] Creative Loafing Charlotte writer Matt Brunson called it "the worst song of the [1980s], no question".[64] The track has also been criticised for sounding too similar to Prince's "1999";[65] Mark Caro in the Chicago Tribune labelled it a "ripoff".[66]
"We Built This City", Starship (1985) 
Despite this single off the group's album Knee Deep in the Hoopla being a No. 1 hit, it ranked No. 1 in "Run for Your Life! It's the 50 Worst Songs Ever!" list in Blender,[67] and "The 10 Worst Songs of the 1980s" in Rolling Stone.[68] Penned by songwriters outside of the band, the track has been disowned by the group's lead singer, Grace Slick.[67]
"Don't Worry, Be Happy", Bobby McFerrin (1988) 
This song was named by Village Voice critic Michael Musto as the worst of all time,[63] and it topped Q100 DJ Bert Weiss's list of tracks he would forever ban from radio.[69] In the "50 Worst Songs Ever", Blender said that "it's difficult to think of a song more likely to plunge you into suicidal despondency than this", and also lambasted its "appalling" lyrics.[67]
"Ice Ice Baby", Vanilla Ice (1990) 
This track has garnered the label of the "worst song of all time".[70] Spinner editors ranked it the second-worst track in history,[71] while Blender staff placed it fifth.[67] A Houston Press critic named it as the worst song ever to emanate from the state of Texas, and said it "set back the cause of white people in hip-hop a decade".[72] The track was also said to have "ripped off" the 1981 Queen and David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure",[73] which Ice initially denied but later admitted to.
"Achy Breaky Heart", Billy Ray Cyrus (1992) 
"Achy Breaky Heart" regularly appears at the top of "worst songs ever" lists.[74] The track was named the worst of all time in The Independent on Saturday,[75] and was ranked second in Blender's "50 Worst Songs Ever".[67] It also placed first in a Sydney Morning Herald reader poll to determine the worst track of the 1990s,[76] and was voted by Chicago Tribune readers as the worst song of 1992.[77]
"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.[78] NME reviews editor Anthony Thornton called it "the worst song in the world".[78]
"What's Up?", 4 Non Blondes (1993) 
In an Independent interview, composer Stuart Braithwaite named this track the worst ever written,[79] while peer Dean Ween told The A.V. Club: "Everything about the song is so awful that if I sat down and tried to write the worst song ever, I couldn't even make it 10 percent of the reality of how awful that song is."[80] Tara Dublin in The Huffington Post wrote that is it, "without question, the worst song of the 1990s".[81] Gawker journalist Brian Moylan included the track in an unranked list of the "10 Party Songs We Never Ever Want to Hear Again".[82]
"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";[83] the track is regularly voted as such.[84] 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".[85] Daily Record writer Euan McColm named it the third-worst Top 10 single of all time,[86] while Gemma Wheatley of the Daily Star called it the third most-annoying track ever written.[87] It placed first in an HMV public poll of the worst-ever festive songs,[88] and second in a VH1 viewer survey of the worst number one singles of all time.[89]
"Life", Des'ree (1998)
Although "Life" was Des'ree's biggest hit in Europe ("You Gotta Be" was a bigger hit in North America), the song was widely mocked for its lyrics. The song, and in particular the verse "I don't want to see a ghost/It's the sight that I fear most/I'd rather have a piece of toast/Watch the evening news", has been voted as having the worst lyrics ever in polls by the BBC,[90] The Independent,[91] and the Herald Sun.[92]
"Thong Song", Sisqó (1999) 
Placed first in a Pioneer Press reader poll to determine the worst song in history.[93] The track has also been labeled as sexist.[94]
"The Millennium Prayer", Cliff Richard (1999) 
VH1 labeled this the worst number one record of all time after a poll.[89]
"The Christmas Shoes", NewSong (2000) 
The song has appeared on various "worst Christmas song" lists.[95][96][97][98][99] In 2011, the song was named "The Worst Christmas Song Ever" by Gawker.com, following a weeks-long survey of commenter votes.[100]
"Who Let the Dogs Out?", Baha Men (2000) 
Number one on Spinner's "Top 20 Worst Songs Ever".[101]
"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.[102]
"You're Beautiful", James Blunt (2005) 
Voted by music fans as the most irritating track ever recorded in a OnePoll survey.[103] Spike writer D. Sussman called it "the worst song in the history of mankind",[104] and Gigwise editors placed it first in "The 20 Worst Love Songs Of All Time".[105] It was also ranked first in Heavy.com's recounting of the worst tracks of the 2000s.[106]
"My Humps", The Black Eyed Peas (2005) 
Oakland Tribune music columnist Oliver Wang reported that the track is "considered by most critics as either the worst song of this decade or in all of recorded music history".[107] Writers who named it as the worst track ever include Nathan Rabin in The A.V. Club,[108] Laura Barton in The Guardian,[109] Joseph Kugelmass in PopMatters[110] and Shaun Bruce in The Stranger;[111] Bruce stated that it "may actually represent the nadir of human achievement".[111] The track gained an "overwhelming" first place vote in a Rolling Stone reader poll of the all-time "20 Most Annoying Songs",[112] and its lyrics were voted the worst in the history of dance music in a Global Gathering survey.[113]
"Laffy Taffy", D4L (2005)
Despite the song's success, many have considered "Laffy Taffy" to be among the worst songs of all time. HipHop365.com rated the song as the worst hip hop song of all time.[114] In 2013, Bennett the Sage of Channel Awesome rated it the worst song to chart No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, criticizing the beat, flow and confusing title metaphor.[115]
"Rockstar", Nickelback (2006)
Some critics have given it the distinction of the worst song of all time.[116][117] 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."[118] A 2008 Popjustice poll voted "Rockstar" as the worst single of the year.[119]
"Baby", Justin Bieber (2010)
Voted worst song ever in a Time Out poll.[120]
"Miracles", Insane Clown Posse (2010)
CraveOnline deemed it the worst rap song of all time, and the most embarrassing rap moment of all time.[121] The Phoenix deemed it the worst song ever recorded.[122] The lyrics, most notably "Fucking magnets, how do they work? And I don't wanna talk to a scientist / Y'all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed" have been noted as the worst lyrics of all time.[122][123][124][125]
"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", pointing out the song has no musical structure, is badly out of sync, has a lack of any sensible rhythm within their playing, has near-unintelligible vocals consisting of screaming, and the members' physical appearances.[126][127][128] 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.[129]
"Friday", Rebecca Black (2011)
"Friday" has been widely described as the worst song ever recorded, attracting derision for its weak lyrical content and excessively auto-tuned vocals.[130] It became an internet sensation, making it the subject of multiple parodies and ridicule.[131]
"Swagger Jagger", Cher Lloyd (2011)
Critic Jan Moir described the track as "dire" and "the worst song in the history of pop".[132] Missing Andy singer Alex Greaves also named it the worst track ever, saying: "Just awful. I hope most people bought it for a joke otherwise there's something really wrong."[133] The song appeared in NME's unranked list, "32 of the Very Worst UK Number One Singles of All Time".[134]
"Hot Problems", Double Take (2012)
Uploaded to YouTube by Drew Garrett and Lauren Willey who make up the group known as Double Take, the song and accompanying music video received highly negative reviews.[135][136] Many have called it "the worst song ever",[137] with some YouTubers proclaiming it to be worse than Rebecca Black's "Friday".
"Blurred Lines", Robin Thicke (2013)
Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone wrote an article titled "'Blurred Lines': The Worst Song of This or Any Other Year".[138] Music fans voted it second in a Time Out poll of the worst songs ever.[120] Aside from its poor reception, "Blurred Lines" was also the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit in which the estate of Marvin Gaye claimed that the song had plagiarized Gaye's "Got to Give It Up."
"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[139][140][141][142][143][144][145][146] created and the worst song of the year by Time magazine.[147] The song has also been criticised for being racist and offensive.[142][146][148]
"Spoons", Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (2016)
Tom Breihan in Stereogum named "Spoons" as "the worst song ever recorded", as well as "the blandest, safest, most self-consciously twee piece of rap music I have ever heard in my 36 years on this planet".[149]

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. As described by the online service UbuWeb, "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." The conceptual artists also had project known as "The Most Wanted Song", organized similarly. Both tracks include, as an in-joke, references to famous philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.[150]

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[151] and the worst classical album covers.[152]

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.[153][154][155] Album cover artwork has also been subject to "all-time worst" lists.[156][157][158][159]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Bullock, Darryl W. "The World's Worst Records". ISBN 148262446X. 
  3. ^ Connelly, Chris (December 11, 1980). "Is Rock Ready for the Shaggs?". Rolling Stone (Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc.) (332): 19. 
  4. ^ Cohen, Debra Rae (October 30, 1980). "Philosophy of the World". Rolling Stone (Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc.) (329): 56. 
  5. ^ The Top 1000 Albums of All Time, Colin Larkin
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