Mark Hasty has a pretty good list, although I actually like a couple songs on it. And, honestly, any such list that excludes Madonna’s remake of “American Pie” is suspect. Dylan Wilbanks has a competing list that misses that obvious choice, but includes “Achy Breaky Heart.”

So, let’s start a new OTB non-Caption Contest. In the comments section, write your own list of 10 worst songs and why.


    1. No songs on either Mark’s or Dylan’s list or the Madonna song are eligible.
    2. To avoid sniping, you may include no more than two songs mentioned by any of the previous posters.
    3. The judge’s decisions are final.
    4. Some restrictions apply.
    5. Void where prohibited.
    6. Entries must be postmarked by 3 PM, Eastern Daylight Time, August 1, 2003.
FILED UNDER: Popular Culture,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Scipio says:

    Billy Ray Cyrus- Achy Breaky Heart
    Starland Vocal Band- Afternoon Delight
    (Everybody Do) The Dinosaur
    Hall & Oates- Maneater
    Vanilla Ice- Ice Ice Baby
    Alan Jackson- Chattahoochie
    Brooks & Dunn- Boot Scootin’ Boogie
    Britney Spears- Oops I Did It Again
    Starship- We Built This City
    Whitney Houston- I Will Always Love You

  2. John Lemon says:

    Can employees of Michael Jackson take part, or is that a conflict of interest?

  3. mmunich says:

    10. Party All the Time – Eddie Murphy -my “actor” vote since Swayze was already taken
    9. Muskrat Love – Captain and Tennille – The name alone gets it in here
    8. Music Box Dancer – an instramental song that got a lot of play about 15(?) years ago
    7. Candle in the Wind – Elton John – Remake of another song I don’t like
    6. You Light Up My Life – Debby Boone – Just Eeewwww
    5. Seasons In The Sun – Terry Jacks (had to look up the name) A song about suicide that gets stuck in your head?
    4. I Got My Mind Set On You – George Harrison – The ENTIRE chorus is these six words repeated over and over and over and…
    3. The ORIGINAL “American Pie” by Don McLean (was it in the last 25 years?). This song is WAY overrated, is not about Buddy Holly and is simply irritating
    2. Levon – Elton John – I DO like some songs from Sir John, but this one just sucks (Levon wears his war wound like a crown/He calls his child Jesus? Who writes this #$(%? )
    1. *ALL* Rap. I would also put “Most Disco”, but I don’t want two disqualifications

  4. Just for the record, I did consider Madonna’s “we’ll sing verses 1 and 5” version of American Pie, but I had a hard time convincing myself it was worse than any of the 10 songs I listed. I mean, it’s completely unlistenable, but I don’t feel instantly nauseous at the sound of the song (like I do with God Bless The USA or Songbird or Achy Breaky Heart).

    I DID out-and-out forget about Starship, and I’m kicking myself over that.

  5. James Joyner says:

    There are a lot of bad ones, to be sure. And I’m with you on Greenwood. I heard that one so many times while in the Army that I’m sick of it.

  6. O. F. Jay says:

    10. cher – believe
    9. anything brian mcknight. sorry, your counting skills don’t count.
    8. lionel richie – all night long
    7. bon jovi – livin on a prayer
    6. bonnie tyler – holding out for a hero
    5. P. Diddy, etc – *that sting sampler song*
    4. Mariah – Can’t take that away
    3. Britney – Oops I did it again [first snipe]
    2. lolly – Viva la radio
    1. Styx – The best of times

  7. “All Night Long” is Richie’s best song. At least it isn’t “Dancing on the Ceiling.” Strange song, stranger video.

  8. In reverse order:
    10.) “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty
    9.) “Waterfalls” by TLC
    8.) “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo
    7.) “Nothing’s gonna stop us now” by Starship
    5.) “Please Forgive Me” by Bryan Adams
    4.) “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” by the Crash Test Dummies
    3.) “Just a Gigolo” by David Lee Roth
    2.) “Broken Arrow” by Rod Stewart
    1.) “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

  9. Paul says:

    mmunich you are getting old fast 😉 The Music Box Dancer was a hit in 1979. (Frank Mills, reached 2 or 3 I forget)

    And my top 10 list is all pressed into one and it is THE worst song ever made….

    “People Who Need People” by Barbara “I can’t spel Gephart” Streisand.

  10. JW says:

    10: “Big Pimpin'”by Jay Z
    9: remake of “Angel in the Morning” by Shaggy and sidekick Bombastic
    8: “tubthumping”(?) by a band with a crazy name
    7: “ray of Light” by Madonna
    6: “Rico Suave”
    5: anything by Corn
    4: anything by Marilyn Manson
    3: “vacation” by the Go-Gos
    2: “Silent Night” duet by David Bowie and Bing Crosby
    1: “scream” by Janet and Micheal Jackson

  11. I think I’m going to win this contest because everyone (except, I think, OF Jay) has violated one rule or another. Madonna songs, copies, and pre-1978 songs are all invalid.

    BTW, “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba was, like, #11 on my list.

  12. James Joyner says:


    Heh. Good point on the pre-1978 songs. Madonna songs other than the American Pie remake are eligible, however.

  13. mmunich says:

    From Paul:

    > mmunich you are getting old fast 😉 The Music
    > Box Dancer was a hit in 1979

    (In best Homer voice): Doooh! I just hated that song running in my head. If anyone here is a Star Trek TNG fan, there was this episode where Dianna was almost driven crazy with a song running through her head…oh, never mind.

    Hey, I LIKE the entry of Rico Suave by JW. And a few others would have made my list if I thought about them. The thing about bad songs is that you don’t WANT to remember them, so you do forget some that might make the list.

    I would suggest a competition for Worst Music Video ever (Rico Suave made me think of it), but I haven’t watched MTV in probably a decade or more so would be out of date.

  14. Timmer says:

    Day 2 of the contest and NO ONE has entered the Spice Girls yet? Baillif! …

  15. Steven says:

    I can proudly say I don’t know any Spice Girls songs!

  16. Paul says:

    I sorta wear that as a badge of honor too. 😉


  17. What were Bowie and Bing trying to pull off? What’s worse every Christmas the music channels play it to fulfill their seasonal music quota.

  18. The Spice Girls’ first hit (with the “Zig-a-zig ah” in it) was ok. Thankfully I can’t remember any other song by them.

  19. O. F. Jay says:

    Eric. Once James listens to lolly’s viva la radio i think the choice will be clinched.

  20. John Lemon says:

    Any and all songs by my basement band, of which I still have the cassette tapes we made. If I remember correctly some of the song titles were:

    Ducks in the Pond
    Margaret Thatcher’s Hands
    I’m Not Donald Sutherland’s Wife
    Barfy the Dog

    This should be an automatic win since all of these songs were sooooooo bad that they never were published. QED.

    P.S. The Lemonhead was the drummer, duh.

  21. Cindi says:

    Disco Duck! Does anyone else remember that one? late 70’s

  22. James Joyner says:

    “People Who Need People” is from 1964!