“My Heart Will Go On” 1998
And on and on and on…Lop off all but the first 20 seconds of this monster ballad, and it still merits a slot on this list for the unconscionable crime of adding pan-flute solos to the pop lexicon. But it doesn’t stop there: With a voice full of ornamental quivers and trembles, Canadian dynamo Céline Dion pushes arena-size schmaltz into the red, first cutting her syllables preciously short, then strangling each one out. Never has a song about all-consuming love sounded so trivial and been so inescapable — it powered the Titanic soundtrack to a year-topping 10 million copies sold, and made millions more pray that an iceberg would somehow hit Dion.
Worst Moment The third chorus, where she goes from soft to eye-bleedingly loud.
“She Bangs” 2000
La vida proves not to be so loca after allThe arrangers of Ricky Martin’s follow-up to “La Vida Loca” worked with the fevered desperation of men who had been driven to the desert and made to dig their own graves at gunpoint: first with the hooting 180-piece horn section, then the percussion played by a crateful of ADD-afflicted chimpanzees, and — finally, in a last-ditch effort at the fade — a male chorus as numerous and frenzied as the Red Army Choir let loose in a Cuban whorehouse. The ingredients of its epic predecessor are all here — but it’s all wrong, and worse still, unintentionally hilarious.
Worst Moment “She looks like a flower but she stings like a bee/Like every girl in his-to-ry!”
“Barbie Girl” 1997
Scandi-wegian pedo-pop alert! Erk! Brilliant idea: Take a child’s toy, turn it into a twisted sexual fantasy (“Kiss me here, touch me there”), set it to teeth-rotting synth-pop like a robot pony kicking children to death and hawk it like Happy Meals to the under-13s. Perhaps the gambit sounded acceptable in helium-huffing singer Lene Nystrøm’s native Norwegian, but in English it’s just plain wrong. Barbie manufacturer Mattel sued, but that didn’t stop “Barbie Girl” from casting a blight on 1997. One question sprang to mind if you were unlucky enough to catch the video: Weren’t they a little old to be doing this?
Worst Moment “Rapper” René Dif’s basso profundo “Come on, Barbie, let’s go party.”
“Your Body is a Wonderland” 2001
Get this man a cold shower “Ohhh,” the women of the world sigh, “why can’t I just find a nice guy — you know, someone who’ll compare my breasts to a theme park?” Yearn no more, ladies! Drool never sounded as sweet as it does on this slow-stirred ode to daytime sex — but even from the otherwise charming Mayer, it’s still drool. What’s more, sunny acoustic guitars belie some creepy undertones: When Mayer rasps “Discover me discovering you” and “I’ll use my hands,” it sounds as though he’s sitting in a dark room, playing pocket pool to a camera he planted in the women’s lavatory.
Worst Moment Mayer describes the “deep sea of blankets” on his bed. Ewww!
“From a Distance” 1990
Satanic ballad depicts the Lord as neglectful oaf. Ignoring an entire century of existentialism and science that declared God dead, bawdy bathhouse babe Bette Midler keeps a straight face throughout liberal homilies, stiff rhymes and more sound F/X than a Mel Gibson movie. Sure, war and famine suck, but Midler assures us that “God is watching us, from a distance.” In other words, the Almighty is some kind of heavenly grandfather, loving and caring, but too doddering and distracted to really get involved. Thanks, God!
Worst Moment The drum machine. If God exists, He probably hates drum machines
BILLY RAY CYRUS
“Achy Breaky Heart” 1992
At least the haircut never caught on. Oh, wait…Country, but not as we know it. Written by Vietnam vet Don “Pickle Puss” Von Tress in the style of a brain-dead “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Achy Breaky Heart” represented every prejudice non-believers have about country: It was trite, it was inane, it was big in trailer parks and it was thoroughly enjoyed by the obese. Strangely, it was covered by Bruce Springsteen, with slightly less irony than you might imagine; still, this does not make it good.
Worst Moment An instrumental break that single-handedly rejuvenated the line-dancing fad.
Think you know a song more puke-inducing than the above mentioned? email me at email@example.com or post a comment. Whatever. Mwah.