Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey Shoot - The Top 10 Most Disappointing Songs

I missed posting on Thanksgiving, had a delicious dinner at my parents place. So my Thanksgiving post is a day late, with Turkey's being the key symbol of this Holiday I thought it would be a good time to do a Top 10 Turkey Songs. These aren't songs about...haven't you heard? I said HAVEN'T YOU HEARD? About the Bird? Bird Bird Bird, Bird is a Word...

Anyway, these are the 10 most disappointingly bad songs I've heard. They feature a lot of my favorite artists because it's harder to be disappointed in a musical act you don't have much of an interest in anyway. So here it is, the Ten most disappointing songs I've heard...Ten Turkeys- songs that should have been left overs. Pulled from the refrigerator, unwrapped from its protective foil and thrown out in the street. Somebody get the gravy!

10. Night Ranger - The Secret of My Success (1987)

The Bay Area rockers were on a roll with Top 10 hits and Platinum albums by the mid 80's. What could be better? How about a movie soundtrack theme for the latest Michael J Fox movie, co written and Produced by the inimitable David Foster? This is a plan that can't go wrong. The power of Night Ranger, the super slick sonics of David Foster and the likability of Michael J Fox all rolled into one. A Perfect Storm of marketing synergy. Depressingly, that's exactly what it sounds like- a marketing plan brought to life. Foster's Chicagoisms of synth horns, mannered guitar work and busy instrumentation didn't mesh well with Night Ranger's free wheeling high speed rawk. Unsurprisingly, Night Ranger saw their commercial fortunes slide after this song.

9. Cheap Trick - Woke Up With A Monster (1993)

By the late 80's / early 90's the Tricksters had been all over the map stylistically. When they got to "Woke Up With A Monster", the group seemed tired. It was like they were trying to work up some whimsy but only had enough juice to sound mean. Thankfully, shortly after Alternative Rock bands began citing Cheap Trick as an influence-buying them some much needed credibility.

8. Styx - Music Time (1984)

Styx was near the end of their initial run and to cap it they released a double live album, Caught in the Act. The record came with one new studio track, "Music Time". I was so excited, I was getting a live record by one of my favorite groups plus a new song. Then I actually heard the record. "Music Time" took all of the annoying excesses that ringleader Dennis DeYoung could muster and slammed it into a four minute tune. All the dorky Broadway jazz hands crap that DeYoung had in him to a cheap synth riff unchecked by anything. Seee it. Liiikke it. Loooovve it. DoitDoitDoitDoit. Waannt it. Neeedd it. Can't get enough of it! All the wayyyy!

7. Steve Perry - I Am (1994)

Can "The Voice" really do wrong? After hearing this track, the answer is Yes. The song is supposed to convey a sense of hard won maturity but instead it comes off as turgid and self indulgent. A torpid pace sinks any chance "I Am" has of winning me over, one of the few songs to be graced by Perry's voice that I just can't stand. It's like watching a bad episode of Dr Phil where a guy can't stop bleeding his heart out.

6. Boston - Corporate America (2004)

I like everything Boston, even this song I like in a so-bad-it-becomes-kinda-good way. Many an Arena Rock band has made the mistake of thinking a cheap, anxious synth line sounds good. Although this was recorded in the 21st Century, the overworked keyboards immediately dates the track as early 80's to the point that the rampaging guitars in the chorus isn't enough to ramp up interest. To top it off, Boston leader Tom Scholz stacks the deck with awful lyrics decrying the evils of large corporations. Look Out! Look Out!

5. Chicago - Bigger Than Elvis (1993/2008)

When Jason Scheff replaced Peter Cetera in 1985, Scheff was recognizably different in his approach though many did not notice. Jason Scheff had a more winsome style that could get more than a little sentimental. But until the recently released Stone of Sisyphus disc I had no idea how sentimental. On "Elvis", Scheff writes a heartfelt ode to lovin' his Dad ( not that way, get your mind out of the gutter sicko). Scheff's father was the bass player for Elvis Presley, the song chronicles how Scheff loves his Pop to the point that his Father is "Bigger Than Elvis". A beautiful arrangement can't mask the saccharine, be careful when listening to this or you may go into a diabetic coma.

4. Asia - Countdown To Zero (1985)

During the Cold War, the Arms race and possibility of Nuclear War was on everyone's minds. It was on John Wetton's mind, resulting in one of the worst anti-war anthems you could imagine. "Countdown to Zero" has more corn than, well, a corn field as Wetton builds the anxiety about irreconcilable international tensions. What really caps it is the ending, where Wetton reels off a list of Countries names and then pleads for Peace. In a large, booming echoey voice, Wetton slowly intones "Don't Do It. Don't Press the Button. No. Don't Start. Don't Start the Countdown to Zero. We Want To Live. We Will Live. Don't Press the Button." and goes on like this for a while. It's hilariously bad, in College I had a running joke with a roommate who also liked Asia where we would talk just like this.

3. Van Halen - How Many Say I (1998)

With Van Halen 3, Eddie Van Halen had finally gotten rid of all the lead singers that had stood in his way of total domination of the band. And now EVH could do what he really wanted to do...sing! With a weathered voice that made Roger Waters sound like Christina Aguilera, Eddie Van Halen ended Van Halen 3 with this piano based ballad containing an almost childlike circular melody. Raw ego never sounded so wrong.

2. GTR - The Hunter (1986)

Debuting with the outstanding "When The Heart Rules the Mind", GTR hit the scene as a team up of prog guitar legends Steve Howe (Yes, Asia) and Steve Hackett (Genesis). After taking in "Mind", I anxiously waited for the follow up single. What I got was this, the ridiculous "The Hunter". Musically, it's a very nice song featuring Howe and Hackett's fine acoustic guitars. What stops the fun is a sing songy melody with lyrics like "He's a fighter, he's a swan, he's the one I'm counting on. Steal the glory, take the prize - only the Hunter, only the Hunter...Survives!" El lamo.

1. Rod Stewart - Love Touch (1985)

For two decades this song has represented to me all that can be crappy in music. Taken from the soundtrack for the Robert Redford / Debra Winger rom com Legal Eagles, Stewart doesn't just go Pop but ingests it whole like a Sarlacc pit. It should be a slight, innocuous pop piece of fluff. But something in this song offends me on a deep deep level. Nothing here works for me, its not just the sound of someone selling out that gets me. It's the sound of a talented performer phoning in a performance to a song devoid any real feeling done in a style that's supposed to seem adventurous and fun. And then I had to watch this hunk of junk become a Top 10 hit. Oh the pain, the pain. I can't even bring myself to provide a link to this.

That wraps up my Top 10 musical turkeys, as I mentioned at the start these are some of my favorite groups so why carp on just one song versus the hundreds that I enjoy from these people? Simple, because it's fun. No one can be perfect all the time and these artists are no exception. Though that doesn't mean I can't have a little fun at their expense. And it's perfectly possible that other people may love these songs. So have you heard? Have you heard about the Bird? Bird Bird Bird, Bird is a Word...


Frontrow said...

"Just give me a chance.....I wanna give you my love touch"....Oh, come on Mr. Mike, that song was solid!

Mr. Mike said...

Nooo!!! Or as Arnold Schwartzenegger says in many of his films, Noooo!!!

Actually, it's funny because my wife is a bigger Rod Stewart fan than I am and likes this song too. I think generally people like the song, just something about it for me inspires pain. Couldn't Stewart have done something pleasantly mediocre like his cover of "Twistin the Night Away" for the movie Innerspace? Or steal "When The Going Gets Tough" from Billy Ocean when he isn't looking? I think Ron Wood and Jeff Beck should have been called in for a musical intervention to stop this. Rod, this is a safe place, no one here wants to hurt you...

Some Kinda Wonderful said...

Agreed Mr. Mike. Can't fault your list one bit. And speaking as a huge, life long Rod Stewart fan... I can't stand that song. Pain, yeah, that just about sums it up.

Mr. Mike said...

Can't take Love Touch, but I will say I enjoyed "My Heart Can't Tell You No" even had the cassingle back in the day.