Lists

The 16 Worst Songs To Reach Number One

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8. "You Light Up My Life" — Debbie Boone (1979)
Number one for 10 weeks


Back when Top 40 was king, a number-one song was as inescapable as oxygen. You felt each and every day that a terrible number-one song played on the hour and relished its inevitable slide down the charts. But 10 weeks? That was more than everyone who didn't make this biggest-selling single of the '70s could bear.

Written for the movie of the same name by composer Joe Brooks, people wondered if there was, I dunno, SEX firing up Pat Boone's daughter's loins, with lascivious come-ons like "It can't be wrong when it feels right." Boone assured listeners no, she was thinking about God when sang this anthem. Really? With lines like "finally, a chance to say hey, I love you"? Surely, no one says "hey" to the Almighty?

Boone, unable to repeat the mind-numbing success of this song, turned to country music and later Christian music, while composer Brooks gained more notoriety as a casting-couch Lothario. In 2009, the state Supreme Court for Manhattan indicted him on 91 counts of rape, sexual abuse, criminal sexual acts, assault, and many, many more. Rather than face trial, he killed himself. If that doesn't give you hope to carry on, nothing else will.



7. "Ebony & Ivory" — Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder (1982)
Number one for seven weeks

On McCartney's recent archival reissue of Tug of War, the demo of this song, just Paul on a Fender Rhodes, was rather touching. This demo didn't feature the verses with their ham-fisted "people are all the same wherever you go" moral and production so schmaltzy one wonders if Sir George Martin may have lost his hearing sooner than reported. When Stevie lowers his voice with grave importance to tell us "there is good and bad" and Paul hums in agreement — well, it's just about the stupidest moment in either man's until-that-point-spotless careers. There is good and bad in everyone — and in every discography. On that we can all come together and agree.
6. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" — Bonnie Tyler (1983)
Number one for four weeks

How many people shred their larynxes at karaoke bars every night singing this Jim Steinman aria, only to realize this song just doesn't work without the ninjas from the video? And the footballers. And the altar boys with actual "bright eyes."
5. "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" — Meatloaf (1993)
Number one for five weeks

I'd almost forgotten this one until Meat Loaf collapsed from "severe dehydration" on a concert stage in Edmonton last month, performing what is in essence an elongated meditation on the "What would you for a Klondike bar?" theme.
4. "Macarena" (Bayside Boys Mix)" — Los Del Rio (1996)
Number one for 14 weeks!!!!
We all know this is just a dance remix of "The Lone Ranger Theme."

3. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter (2006)
Number one for five weeks

The five most annoying notes in succession are the five that Powter picked for this song. Coincidence? The fact that it makes every day I hear it bad is compounded by the fact that it makes Daniel Powter richer, even if now he counts his money in obscurity.


2. "We Built This City" — Starship (1985)
Number one for four weeks

Bernie Taupin, how could you? Okay, so Starship isn't to blame for the lousy lyrics, but a corporate rock band singing "Someone's always playing corporation games" just makes Mickey Thomas seem like an easily duped patsy and Grace Slick seem like a bitter hippie-turned-yuppie in one big moolah grab. To her credit, in later years she disavows this career move. Anyone who willingly sang "Marconi plays the mamba" should.


1. "We are the World" — USA For Africa (1985) 
Number one for four weeks

The charity record gave us many horrific pair-ups (Northern Lights' "Tears are Not Enough," anyone?). But the most successful American effort, instigated by Pepsi vendors Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson, supposedly asked all participants to check their egos at the door. But in truth, everyone spent the rest of the session trying to figure out how to make their one line stand out above everyone else's. And if egos were indeed being checked at the door, why are there veritable stars like Smokey Robinson, Lindsey Buckingham, Harry Belafonte, the Pointer Sisters, and Waylon Jennings forced to sing background like Dan Aykroyd? Did they arrive too late and miss out on the pizza, too?
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Serene Dominic
Contact: Serene Dominic