This entry was curated by faculty members of the University of St. Thomas’ Music Department. The contributors wish to remain unnamed, lest they offend any ears and be struck in the heart by arrows of the non-Cupid variety. There’s nothing sentimental about their sentiments of these tunes. All deemed equally abominable, the songs are listed in a random jumble, like a sack of broken hearts.
“Oh No!” (1970) by Frank Zappa
American composer and guitarist Frank Zappa hated love songs. “Oh No!” (from Weasels Ripped My Flesh) mocks the 1960s hippie culture belief that love could change the world. Zappa suggests that anyone believing this is “probably out to lunch.” The tune mimics the Vox combo organ and Jim Morrison’s voice of The Doors hit “Light My Fire” (1966). Zappa believed the music industry churned out love songs to squelch social revolution, and denounced hippies and flower children as industry pawns. Love, to Zappa, was too complex to address in formulaic pop tunes.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (1944) from the film “Neptune’s Daughter”
This Christmas love song has been sung by various artists including the recent Tony Bennett/Lady Gaga collaboration for a Barnes & Noble commercial. The lyrics feature an interchange between a celebrating couple (“Say what’s in this drink?”) in which the man pressures the woman to stay inside … and perhaps more … while she protests (“I simply must go”). The overtones of date rape make this one of the 10 worst love songs and prompted this remake.
“Muskrat Love” (1976) by Captain and Tennille
This offensive ballad chronicles the romance between two anthropomorphic bacon-eating muskrats. Not only does this shudder-inducing ditty glorify the inaccurate rendering of muskrat mating calls on an analog 1970s Moog synthesizer, it insensitively discriminates against other diverse rodent groups. Further, while it seems reasonable that two vermin might indeed whirl, twirl and/or tango, listeners have yet to discern what exactly it means to be “singin’ and jingin’ a jango.”
“Feelings” (1974) by Morris Albert
I wish I never met this song … whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s face it: Any love song that comes from a genre called “Soft Rock” should be an automatic candidate for the list! Whoa, whoa, whoa. Can there be a worse love song? This one even got spoofed on “The Gong Show”! Whoa, whoa, whoa. A further sign that this song belongs on the list: The B side to this one was a song called “The World Today Is a Mess.” Still trying to forget my feelings about this one … whoa, whoa, whoa.
“Elvira” (1981) by Dallas Frazier (Oak Ridge Boys)
With its catchy refrains of “Giddy Up, Oom Poppa Mow Mow/Heigh-Ho Silver Away,” this Oak Ridge Boys song is a spiritual battle between divine and earthly. Elvira’s loving eyes “look like heaven” but her cherry-wine lips belong to the Hungry House Cafe. Elvira’s lover senses an inner divine “little light” but cannot pursue it for a funny feeling in his spine. In his earthly state, he gives Elvira “all the love I can” from the bar. She jumps and hollers that he saved his “last two dollars” to get a “preacher man.” Honky-tonk bar patrons immortalize these rituals by bellowing Elvira’s name, proclaiming their hearts are on fire for her.
“Sign Your Name” (1987) by Terence Trent D’Arby
So … if a good friend of yours wanted to get a permanent tattoo of the name of their current significant other on their forehead, how would you advise them? I thought so … now imagine the indelible nature of writing one’s name across one’s heart! And for what? Certainly, there are less extreme ways to make someone your “baby.” One way would be to write a better song than the unremarkable, one-dimensional, sonically and harmonically fatiguing “Sign Your Name.” Terence Trent D’Arby, the artist who made the song famous, has since changed his name to Sananda Maitreya! The artist formerly known as D’Arby is quoted as saying about the legal name change, “Terence Trent D’Arby was dead. He watched his suffering as he died a noble death. After intense pain I meditated for a new spirit, a new will, a new identity.” Perhaps he just wanted to get as far away from that awful song as he possibly could!
“Lady In Red” (1986) by Chris de Burgh
If there was ever a time to reject the idea of a woman’s worth being equated with the color and fit of her dress (red, of course), it is now (and all of the other seconds, minutes and years of ever). The song seems to enjoy making a weak man feel better because of the number of other fellas checking out his lady. I’m sure she enjoyed being ogled by the other attendees and being on a date with this loser. When he grows up enough to value her for who she is, rather than based on the reactions of other salivating folks, maybe the song will be worth a listen!
“I Honestly Love You” (1974) by Jeff Barry and Peter Allen, sung by Olivia Newton-John
If there was ever an indictment against an adverb, surely the title of this deplorable love song wins the prize. I “honestly” love you? Really? Not only is the poetry of this adverb in question (as in who thought it would be a good idea to insert a three-syllable word in the middle of a three-syllable phrase?), but the absurdity of its meaning makes me question the veracity of the speaker. Have you ever looked deeply into your beloved’s eyes and said, “I dishonestly love you?” Oh, and if the sung phrase isn’t enough to prompt you to cover your ears, just wait until Olivia whispers it.
“Achy Breaky Heart” (1991) by Don Von Tress, sung by Billy Ray Cyrus
This song has everything a maudlin country sob-fest could possibly need: bad grammar, three guitar chords and personified organs, all united by a hefty dose of misty-eyed victimization. In this musical travesty, the singer implores his estranged lover to tell everyone (including her ma, her brother Cliff and her Aunt Louise), that she never was his girl. She is advised, however, not to tell his heart, his achy breaky heart, because the singer “don’t think he’d understand.” Somewhat encouraging is the stern warning that the singer’s heart might, in fact, “blow up.” Only Alvin and the Chipmunks could salvage this gem, covering it on their 1992 album, Chipmunks in Low Places.
“My Heart Will Go On” (1997) by James Horner, sung by Céline Dion
Few things in life really “go on,” with the exception of time, fate and this musical rendition of a room-temperature Pop-Tart. To be fair, this song is more than just sugar-coated breathy vocals. On occasion, it is enhanced by mystical leprechaun flute riffs, meaningful phrases such as “Love was when I loved you,” and enough E major chords to attract fruit flies. Near, far, wherever you are, you should send this song to the bottom of the icy Atlantic, along with Jack and that giant plastic necklace.