Did you know that the Ohio Express released their ground-breaking, “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy (I’ve Got Love in My Tummy)” exactly forty-eight years, one month and five days ago to the day? To commemorate this historic occasion, we ask our readers:
What is the most painful, clunky, forced rhyme in rock and roll history? This is a difficult problem to mystery.
While some bad songs of yesteryear, such as, “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks, have faded from our collective loathing, others have found their rightful place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Garbage. Who can predict which of today’s bad songs will still be hated a generation from now? As Van Halen sang so insightfully:
Only time will tell
If we will stand the test of time
Yet this is the question that we hope, with the help of you our readers, to answer.
Certainly, when it comes to universally despised lyrics, no artist has endured in our hearts so well as Neil Diamond. Who cannot feel something churn uneasily inside during, “I am I Said”, when Neil cries out:
“I am,” I said!
To no one there!
And no one heard at all
Not even a chair
Not even a chair? Wow! I mean…chairs are known for their keen sense of hearing, after all. My question, Neil, is how many choices did you go through before you settled on a chair”? Why not, “And no one heard at all / Not even a bear?” At least bears have ears. At least they are theoretically capable of hearing. Or, if you wanted an inanimate object, what about a pear? A hair? “Not even my underwear?”
Remarkably, that same Golden Era of Forced Rhyme, the late 60s and early 70s, also produced the immortal, “Happy Together,” by The Turtles.
Me and you, and you and me
No matter how they tossed the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy to-gether
So happy to-gether
How is the wea-ther?
Really, Turtles? “How is the weather?” Is that the best you terrapins have to offer? Did you just get bored in the middle of your love song and decide to change the subject?
This song is actually catchy and fun to sing along to, until you hit THE LINE. Then you have to mumble, or pretend you don’t remember it, because it is way too dumb to actually sing.
Before we leave the rhymin’ 70s, we mustn’t forget Bob Seger’s powerful anthem, “Turn The Page”
Here I am, on a road again
There I am, up on the stage
Here I go, playing the star again
There I go, turn the page
I love how dramatically he sings that last part. Really. I mean it. Although I do have one, very small question: Is “turn the page” an instruction to the guy holding the sheet music? Because if it isn’t, what the hell is he talking about? (This song is officially the most annoyingly overplayed song on my radio station, with the Sleepy’s Mattress jingle coming in a distant second).
The 90s will always be remembered fondly as a time of nostalgia for the 80s. But it will also be remembered for its important musical trends, such as Power Pop, Crappy Ballads, Rap, Lame-ass, Grunge and Mange. And of course, for the stirring poetry of, “She’s Electric” by Oasis:
She’s got a sister
And God only knows how I’ve missed her
On the palm of her hand is a blister
And I need more time
So….just so I understand…when you say you need more time…is that to think of a better line than “On the palm of her hand is a blister”? How about, “She really likes to play Twister”? “Her faucet is a Price Pfister”? Because…I don’t know if the blister is hurting that girl who, so we are told, has a sister, but it is burning the rest of us pretty badly…mister. Oh, and here’s a little question for you Oasis people: HOW IS THE WEA-THERRRRR? There. See how you like that? Now you know what it feels like. One more rhyme of out you – just one – and we’re turning up the volume!
The nineties also brought us the much-despised, “Life” by Des’ree:
I’m afraid of the dark,
Especially when I’m in a park…
I don’t want to see a ghost
That’s a sight that I fear the most
I’d rather have a piece of toast
Okay, maybe this song is no, “I am I Said” But keep your chair’s eyes on Des’ree. This is an up-and-coming contender in the prestigious Most Painful Rhyme category.
And what of today’s artists, you ask? Well, look no farther than Ariana Grande’s soaring, “Break Free”:
I only want to die alive
Never by the hands of a broken heart
I don’t wanna hear you lie tonight
Now that I’ve become who I really are
Here is what is really impressive: She started with a line that makes no sense. Then she needed something to rhyme with it and forced in something ungrammatical. And it still doesn’t rhyme. Who, you ask, is going to defend this nonsense? I are. That’s who!
Will Grande’s “Break Free” win future generations’ rage? It’s hard to gauge. Can you guess my mother’s age? (Fun fact: Ariana Grande is the first major recording artist to be named for a Starbucks coffee size.)
The point is, if you think we’ll never again experience the magic of another line like the Bee Gee’s, “Well you can tell by the way I use my walk / I’m a woman’s man; no time to talk”…well, think again! Even as you read this, some poet is up late having a piece of toast, dreaming big, basting a roast, and readying to shoot a crap barrage straight into your ears, to pollute the airwaves for generations to come.
Finally, I can think of no better way to end this tribute than to echo the eloquent lines from, “Good Morning Starshine,” which I are always so moved by:
Sabba sibby sabba
Nooby abba dabba
Le le lo lo
Dooby ooby walla
Dooby abba dabba
Early morning singing song
So what is your vote on most painful rhyme? Any other songs that belong in the list? By all means please share.
Readers looking to learn more about Bad Rock and Roll Music should use their walk to go buy a copy of, “The Book of Bad Songs” by Dave Barry (to whom I am indebted, both for the laughs and the inspiration).
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