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20 Songs to Play in a Quiet Office to Annoy Your Coworkers

If you’ve ever worked in an office where workers can play music lightly at their desks, there has been a time when you’ve looked over at a nearby coworker and thought: If you play that Shaggy album one more time, two minutes from now I’m going to be standing over your corpse, holding a bloody staple-remover. But sheer violence isn’t the only way to get your revenge. You too can annoy your coworkers with just a simple playlist. The trick is to keep it subtle. You can’t just start blasting Rammstein/ 2 Live Crew mash-ups at maximum volume. Somebody will justifiably complain to your boss quicker than you can say “Du hast deez nuts.” You need office-appropriate music that seems gentle and harmless, yet subtly inflicts unbearable pain upon those around you. If you need some help picking out songs, here’s a little guide to get you started.

20. LFO — “Summer Girls” One of the most cringe-inducing songs of all time, it’s hard to find any work of art in the history of mankind that did more to pander to teenage girls. The stupefying lyrics contain more ’80s references than a full season of Family Guy, and the guys in the band sound wimpier than Belle and Sebastian as guests on Sesame Street. You may have to put earplugs in while you play this one, because it may be to much for you to take.

19. Harry Belafonte — “The Banana Boat Song” It’s really just those opening seconds that can truly get on someone’s nerves. Just imagine, you’re busy, stressed out, and having an all around grumpy, miserable day, and suddenly, out of the silence, you hear “DAAAAAYO!” Then more silence. Maybe it was just something you imag—“DAAAAAAYO! Me say DAAAAAAAYO!” And, best of all, the song actually is about working hard all day.

18. KT Tunstall — “Suddenly I See” This tune may cause some of your fellow workers to have acid flashbacks to the Lilith Fair. It was actually used as the opening song for The Devil Wears Prada, which you could play in its entirety as a substitute for this list.

17. Chumbawamba –- "Tubthumping" Chumbawamba is not from Australia, but if they were, you could say it’s too bad their song didn’t make like a boomerang and return to where it came from. But you can say that this song is the soundtrack to what people without friends think it feels like to be popular. A common misconception about “Tubthumping” is that it’s a drinking song, although hearing it may drive you to drink heavily.

16. Better Than Ezra -– “Good” This is the kind of feel-good nonsense you used to hear on TV before The OC came along and turned every show into promotional vehicles for indie bands. Did Better Than Ezra ever play The Peach Pit on 90210? Because it isn’t hard to picture David Silver and Donna smiling like idiots, awkwardly dancing along to this. It’s just so happy and doofy and full of that fake triumphant, “I DID IT!” vibe. Painful indeed.

15. New Radicals -– “You Get What You Give” Is anyone 100 percent positive that the New Radicals are not also Better Than Ezra? Have you ever seen them in the same room together?

14. All holiday songs, but mainly, Paul McCartney — “Wonderful Christmastime” Holiday songs can get really irritating to most people, and Sir Paul’s "Christmastime" is especially grating. It’s so twinkly and corny, even for a Christmas song. Even Santa hates it.

13. Edwin McCain — “I’ll Be” This song is the musical equivalent of a Precious Moments figurine. It’s just drenched in overwhelming pap and nauseating fake emotion. It’s the song American Idol dreams of creating for one of its “winners.”

12. Scatman John — “Scatman (Ski Ba Bop Ba Dop Bop)” Well, we all know what Scatman is capable of. Listening to his gibberish is like having the worst leprechaun ever sitting on your shoulder. The really evil thing about this tune is that it’s just catchy enough to embed itself in your head for the next hour after just one chorus. If someone tells you to turn this song off, you can play the guilt card on them by saying that the Scatman died after a long fight with lung cancer (true story), and you play his song every day to give you inspiration.

11. REM – “Shiny Happy People” Remember when you were in school and there were those kids who really seemed to enjoy learning and studying? The kids who would run up to the front of the classroom just for an opportunity to erase the blackboard? The kids who would complain in that “Aw, gee whiz, gosh darn it” way because they got a 97 on the test and if they just got that one last question right they would have got a 100? That’s what this song is.

10. Lou Bega — “Mambo No. 5” This song is the sound of 50 Care Bears running their nails across a chalkboard.

9. Crash Test Dummies – “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” Doesn’t it sound like a horse sings this song? This guy definitely sounds like a cross between Mr. Ed and the horse from Ren & Stimpy. Horse or not, it’s hard to say what’s more painful about this song — the bad after-school special plots from the verses or the humming drone of the chorus.

8. The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” It was really easy and obvious to put this song on this list. It really has become a cliché to hate this song. But hey, it really is incredibly annoying and deserving of its reputation. One nice thing about this song is that if you hate it so much that you can’t bear to inflict it even upon your worst enemy, you can just substitute the Spin Doctor’s “Two Princes” for a similar, yet less lethal effect.

7. Anything by Andrew W.K. When someone is really stressed out at work, nothing can push them to their limit faster than a song that includes the word “party” at least 200 times.

6. Daniel Powter –- “Bad Day” If you want to know what’s wrong with the U.S. these days, look no further than the popularity of this song. The fact that there are millions of people in America who can hear this song and take it seriously is a much more immediate threat to our future than global warming. And now imagine being at work and actually having a bad day and then hearing this song and having it make your day even worse. It’s like rain on your wedding day.

5. George Harrison – “Got My Mind Set On You” Even Ringo probably made fun of this song. “And they made fun of me for ‘Octopus’ Garden’!” Actually, Ringo played on this album, so maybe he’s the real culprit. Either way, even Smurfs find this track annoying.

4. Barenaked Ladies — “One Week” This is why black people make fun of white people.

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3. Shawn Brown — “Rappin Duke” Surely this song was intended to be funny and it kind of still is. For who can’t laugh at someone imitating John Wayne rapping old school, 80s style? Or at least, who can’t laugh at the idea of it. Because when you’re hit with the reality, you may — no, you will — be overpowered by a tidal wave of corniness. Every moment makes you wince, especially the “Da-ha, da-ha” chorus. Warning: this may backfire and actually excite hip-hop aficionados, who will begin lecturing you on what it was like “back in the day.”

2. Crystal Waters — “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” If you can’t recognize this song by its title, this should refresh your memory: La-da-di la-di-da! This load of droning, flat, repetitive, sing-song tripe is not only incredibly annoying, but it’s also about a homeless person. So it makes you feel irritated and guilty.

1. Eiffel 65 — “I’m Blue” This is the last resort — the song you need to play if “Gypsy Woman” doesn’t send your coworkers over the edge. Because if La-da-di la-di-da doesn’t get them, perhaps Blue-da-ba-dee-da-ba-die will. It has been scientifically proven that just walking up to someone and saying “Blue-da-ba-dee” is enough to get you shanked, so playing the full song in all its garish glory may actually cause a riot.

This article originally published on January 4, 2008, and was updated for publication on October 24, 2016.

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