Every single week I find a handful new pop songs that both excite and delight my ears. But for every new song I like, there’s unfortunately at least three that I don’t, and some of those stinkers become quite popular and really very annoying over time. Here’s my list of the forty worst offenders of the decade. So as not to drive myself too crazy, I restricted the list to songs that made the top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 (which is not the same as the airplay chart, but which is easier to find by lazily browsing Wikipedia.) I also limited the list to one song per artist, because really, is there any point in weighing the cons and cons of each 3 Doors Down hit? No.
So, without further ado, part 3B of the list. For readability I’m breaking this quarter of this list into two. The higher up we’re getting, the more we’re getting to the songs I really truly despise, and when talking about some of them it’s hard to keep the word count down.
15. Clay Aiken, Invisible (2003, #37)
You know what’s a great song? Celine Dion’s cover of I Drove All Night. No, really. Roy Orbison wrote it, which is a plus, but when he (and later Cyndi Lauper) sang it, you could tell in their performances that deep down they knew there was something creepy about driving all night and climbing through a loved one’s window and creeping into their bed without bothering to call first to check if it was okay. But with Celine’s unironic version, part of a Chrysler campaign, there’s no such awareness. And it’s really, really unsettling.
Clay Aiken’s Invisible, a song about wanting to be a fly on the wall watching someone while they slept, is similar in subject matter and just as creepy, though it’s not nearly as good. Aiken’s sad-sack lament has almost no tune, for one thing, and what melody it has vaguely resembles a more downtrodden version of the theme from Just The Ten Of Us.
And while America did vote Aiken was the second-best singer of 2002, the man’s first post-Idol single gave him nothing him to work with vocally. To make matters worse, the song’s subject matter made Aiken’s gayness (unacknowledged by him, though assumed by the world at large) seem creepy, adding to the stalkerish sense that this song was about a passive-aggressive and sexually-repressed psycho. But, you know, not in a good way.
14. Plain White T’s, Hey There Delilah (2005/2007, #1)
Dumpy band of lugs has their biggest hit with a syrupy acoustic ballad? It’s not the first time it’s happened, but it’s the first time it’s happened with a song as dumb as this one: “A thousand miles seems pretty far/But they’ve got planes and trains and cars?” Come on now, child. Are you even old enough to drive?
Determined to make this overly long song a hit, the band’s label put it on two consecutive albums; it was over two years old by the time it finally caught on, much to the chagrin of people with ears everywhere. (Also: It was almost three years old when it stupidly got nominated for a Song of the Year Grammy.) Lately, the group have been trying—and, sadly, succeeding—to recapture the hearts of sugar-starved tween girls with the equally moronic retread 1, 2, 3, 4.
13. Aerosmith, Jaded (2000, #7)
Not every Aerosmith song is terrible. Love In An Elevator is kind of funny, and Janie’s Got A Gun is actually pretty good if you’re in the mood for it. If you catch me on the right day I might even admit to liking Dream On. Plus, part of me is grateful to the band for the Crazy video; because even though that song is really boring, thirteen-year old me really appreciated the presence of Naked Dude Whose Clothes Got Stolen While Skinny-Dipping With Alicia Silverstone And Liv Tyler.
However, some Aerosmith songs are unforgivably terrible. I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing is one. Also there’s Pink, their other grody hit from the late nineties. And Dude Looks Like A Lady is really stupid, too. But is any other Aerosmmith song as bad as Jaded? I’m not sure. Because while the dictionary says that jade can be used as a transitive verb, I have never once in my life heard that usage outside of this song. And the way Steven Tyler sings it, I’m pretty sure he thinks he’s being very witty and clever. When really he’ sounds like an old creep and I just want to punch him for being a smarmy dickhead.
This was, thankfully, their final appearance on the Top 40.
12. DJ Sammy & Yanou featuring Do, Heaven (2002, #8)
Spend enough time in gay bars, or better yet gay strip clubs, and you’ll realize that any song—literally, any song—can and will be turned into a crappy club track with some anonymous lady singer. So while I can’t particularly blame this cover of Bryan Adams’ crappy ode to love despite vaguely articulated odds, I can express my continued dismay that this tedious song somehow made the rare leap across to pop radio.
Also, did it really require three people to make this song? OK, so presumably DJ Sammy had to actually turn his equipment on before pushed the Generic Club Song button, and presumably he’s the one responsible for hiring a woman named Do to sing generically and clubbily over it. But what does that leave Yanou to do?
Oh well. At least it wasn’t this song, I guess.
11. Creed, With Arms Wide Open (2000, #1)
Creed had twelve mainstream rock hits between 1999 and 2004, eleven of which were also modern rock hits, because at some point modern rock decided to stop being different from mainstream rock. Scott Stapp and his then-cronies also had four entries on the Top 40, all of which are identically bad, though of those four this was the lone number one.
By the way, in the year 2000, if you came back from the future and told me that these Floridian Jesus monsters would be responsible for only the eleventh worst pop hit of the decade, I think I probably would have just killed myself.