[We edge closer to the top. I meant to finish this godforsaken list tonight, but I’m leaving for New York Thursday morning and do not have a single clean garment in the house. So, laundry night with no wireless it is…]
10. Puddle of Mudd, Blurry (2001, #5)
Has a band’s name ever described its sound so accurately? These Kansas City toads sound as muddy as whatever swamp they crawled out of. They’ve had five number one singles on the mainstream rock chart, because the mainstream rock chart is awful, but thankfully they’ve only hit the pop chart twice, with this and then with the more misogynistic but slightly less sludgy She Hates Me.
This song is horrific, but what sets it apart from the similarly dreary works of Staind or Trapt or Hoobastank (and, amazingly, Creed) is Wes Scantlin’s appalling vocals. No human voice has ever managed to simultaneously sound that nasal, that phlegmy, that bored, and that completely full of self-pity. And the song’s chorus, which roughly goes “whine whine something something take the pain away, yell yell oh the angst something something in my face,” would make Silverchair blush, that is how tuneless and dumb it is. Fred Durst, the auteur, directed the video.
9. Bowling For Soup, 1985 (2004, #23)
Is there anything worse than the new millennium’s endless profession of love for the vague, annoying, and historically dodgy thing called “the eighties?” No, no there is not. And this song is the best example of why the eighties are the worst part of the oughties. In 2004 the moronically named Bowling For Soup had a massive hit with a song about one specific year, yet didn’t even aim for anything resembling historical accuracy. (Dudes? Blondie broke up in ’82. Nirvana’s first single came out in ’88. Shut your traps.)
Shockingly, though, while doing some background research on this crime against humanity I learned something really crazy that would have knocked me down if I weren’t already sitting: 1985 is a cover. No, really. It was originally done in more or less exactly the same style by SR-71, the briefly popular punk-pop group whose lone hit was that one about fake plastic submarines. Bowling For Soup heard that version and decided that this song really needed to be covered. Why? Why?!
[OK, so Richard Thompson, who isn’t terrible, covered it too, but that was only after it was famous. Also, he’s very old and presumably had some kind of vision when he recorded it that wasn’t just “Yeah, the 80’s! Yeah!”]
8. Jason Mraz, The Remedy (I Won’t Worry) (2003, #15)
When Jason Mraz says that the remedy is the experience, and then says that this is a dangerous liaison, do you think he’s trying to be deep? When he says that the comedy is that it’s serious, is he trying to be funny? What about when he says to shine the light on all of your friends when it all amounts to nothing in the end? Do you think he’s high? Or is he just trying to be cute?
See, I’m not sure. I think he’s trying to be funny and cute, but I’m not sure. In that sense Mraz reminds me a lot of Jeffy from Family Circus. Because this particular form of wordplay (or alleged wordplay, anyway) could only appeal to a two-year old, or possibly the two-year old’s hard-of-hearing-and-maybe-dead grandparent. Who likes this crap? Ida Know, that’s who. The Remedy has all the edge of a church youth service, but it’s only about half as fun.
7. Train, Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me) (2001, #5)
This atrocious song rhymes “fried chicken” with “stickin’ up for you.” And that is really all you need to know about this song, which plagued the top 40 for thirty-eight damn weeks in 2001 and stayed on the adult contemporary chart for over two years. Oh, and songwriter Pat Monahan says he doesn’t know what the hell the title means, either.
6. Avril Lavigne, I’m With You (2002, #4)
Choosing a least favorite Avril Lavigne song is not unlike choosing a least favorite venereal disease. Complicated, for example, is a lot like chlamydia, woefully common and likely to cause uncomfortable burning sensations. Sk8er Boi is more like scabies, in that listeners might break out in a painful rash when exposed to it. (Friends will also likely laugh uncontrollably when you mention it.) My Happy Ending most closely resembles Donovanosis, a pile of hideous ulcers that will slowly and miserablyy destroy your reproductive system. And Lavigne’s catchiest song, Girlfriend, is curable and relatively benign, though still to be avoided, much like crabs.
But like Kaposi’s sarcoma, which mainly affects AIDS patients, I’m With You is frequently overlooked, though it is a torturous plague in and of itself. And like those incurable lesions, I’m With You is a very, very nasty song, and that’s why it’s my least favorite. It was the third single off her dreadful debut album, Let Go. Determined to pass herself off as punk, the bratty Canadian yowler fooled no one, following up the pandering Sk8er Boi with the decade’s whiniest ballad. Mysteriously nominated for a Song of the Year Grammy, this song has dated even more poorly than Sk8er Boi, which just sounds kind of laughable when it’s not actually on the radio ten times a day.