They suck, they’re terrible, they’re incompetent, and they’re so catchy that once they enter your brain they will never, ever, ever escape. We listened to all the godawful inescapable hits to find the few that we genuinely think need a rest. And in some cases to be buried with radioactive waste.
10. “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus
Let’s kick this off with one of the more obvious nominees. How impossible was this early ’90s country crossover turd to escape? Weird Al composed this parody, which was literally just a litany of every band that Weird Al hated:
And it was so full of bile, he actually apologized to Billy Ray Cyrus.
9. “1999” by Prince
OK, let’s be fair to Prince here: this song getting overplayed was decidedly not his fault. He composed it in 1982, released it, it was a big hit along with everything released by Prince (“My Farts After a Visit to Taco Bell” charted at #30 in 1983, and it wasn’t even officially released). But he didn’t count on one thing: radio DJs getting exponentially dumber over time.
As a result, around the turn of the century…this suddenly got massive airplay, as every DJ in every market said “DERP! IT’S 1999!” Only Conan O’Brien saw the coming terror for what it was, and he only barely forestalled this being the only song on radio for about an hour in January 2000.
8. “The Macarena” by Los Del Rio
Yeah, if you were born before 1990, you know how utterly inescapable this crap was, and how it somehow lasted, like, a year. They still play this at weddings, which to us raises the question of whether or not they ever listened to the lyrics. “Oh, I love this dance.” “You know it’s a song about a girl who bangs everything with a projecting item, right?”
7. “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” by Bryan Adams
If you need proof that once, tying yourself to a marketing plan that involved Kevin Costner not bothering with an English accent and showing your mom his ass was a great idea, look no further than the fact that this song has been played four million times on the radio.
No, seriously. Four million. That means this song has been broadcast back to back for nearly twenty-two years. The power of Costner’s ass, people.
6. “One Night in Bangkok” by Murray Head
Fun fact: remember Giles, the British guy from “Buffy”? The dude singing this is his brother. No, seriously!
Also, this was composed by a member of Abba for a musical called “Chess”. Perhaps it’s not shocking that one of the most annoying bands in history is behind one of the most annoying songs of the ’80s, but still.
5. “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles
Most of the Buggles disappeared into Yes and this song would be a footnote. In fact, for a long time, it WAS pretty much a footnote. But one thing somehow made it iconic of the ’80s despite the fact that it never ever cracked the top twenty in the US: it was the first video to play on MTV, ever.
So, it basically became one of the theme songs of the ’80s. Along with our next entrant.
4. “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung
One catchy song, and a video ripping off Peter Gabriel, and you might as well just retire, at least if you were a band in the ’80s. Go ahead, name another song Wang Chung did: they had four other hits.
3. TIE: “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys and “I Would Do Anything For Love” by Meat Loaf
Why are these tied?
Because they both make us ask the same question…what the hell are these jerkstores even talking about in the first place?
Teenage girls were falling all over the Backstreet Boys, thus laying the groundwork for every douchebag chinstrap beard and way too many guys in shiny vinyl pants, while their moms were going ape for the return of the only successful singer to be named after something invented to cover for not knowing how to make burgers.
But the lyrics never bother to make clear one rather crucial point: what the hell they were talking about. That’s what makes these songs maddening: a basic failure in writing turns them from disposable garbage to annoyingly inscrutable. Although we’re guessing in Meat Loaf’s case it involved the pooper. That’s just a guess.
2. “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion
Oh, you knew this one was coming.
Although, put the video on mute, and just watch this thing. Seriously. It is the single creepiest thing Celine Dion has ever been associated with, and keep in mind this song was tied to a movie with the moral of “your boyfriend should freeze to death because your entitled ass won’t move over and let him climb onto the board with you.”
Although it’s nice to see the Joker was getting small roles before his big break.
1. “Yesterday” by the Beatles
We know, we know, how dare we criticize the Beatles, who are the greatest band of all time. Yes, yes, they’re great, and “Yesterday” is a great song. We just, for the love of God, want to stop hearing it. And yet it’s inescapable.
Why? Because there are 1600 covers of it, that’s why. And the song itself, which is pretty much Paul at his cutest, gets unbearable once the rest of the record industry gets its mitts on it. And the song itself is brutally overplayed: it’s been played on the radio SEVEN MILLION TIMES, and that’s just the Beatles version. That means if you listened to it back-to-back for all the times it’s been played, you’d spend forty-five years listening to this song.
So, congratulations, Paul McCartney. You make number one on this list, proving that even a great song can be intolerable if you listen to it long enough.
By Dan Seitz