It’s difficult to list the ten worst songs of the 1990s.
From ‘Up On the Roof’ and ‘Walking on Air’ to ‘I’ve Got a Little Puppy’ and ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, the 1990s produced some real stinkers. But some songs sunk to depths that even the likes of ‘Summer Girls’ and ‘To Be with You‘ couldn’t even reach.
That’s why it was disappointing to read NME journalist Priya Elan’s “10 Worst Songs Of The 90s”.
Out of the sheer number of bad recordings they could have chosen, Elan picked songs that did not deserve to be there.
I’m not thinking about songs, including ‘Christmas in Blobbyland’, that didn’t attempt to hide their awfulness, but the songs which aspired for greatness or longevity and failed miserably; there’s something more tragic associated with the latter set of songs.
For me, the following songs are indefensible in every way.
10. ‘True to Us’ by Vanilla (1998)
Forget ‘No Way, No Way’ – this was the point when things went wrong for Vanilla. Unlike their début single, which had a ‘we’re crap and from Barnet so take it or leave it’ attitude, they started to take their music rather seriously.
Produced by a pre-fame Xenomania, it’s limply performed and mind-numbingly predictable.
‘True to Us’ would have been forgivable if it just lacked substance, but this sorry number has nothing going for it at all.
9. ‘Today’s the Day’ by Sean Maguire (1997)
I’m almost convinced that this plagiarised Blur’s ‘Sunday Sunday’. You knew that the Britpop bandwagon was running out of stream when the likes of Sean Maguire tried (and failed) to jump on it.
Think of ‘Wake Up Boo’ without the exposure – and with the extra smugness and shiteness – and that is ‘Today’s the Day’ in a nutshell.
8. ‘Big Time’ by Whigfield (1995)
Allmusic once stated that the “faux-reggae of ‘Big Time’ makes Ace of Base sound like Bob Marley”. And it’s easy to see why – seeing that it pretty much cashes in on every big musical trend of the 1990s.
From the repetitive beats and windpipes to the “[h]i dee hi” cries and obligatory rap slot (which doesn’t come close to reaching the standards set by Jazzie P’s rap on Kylie Minogue’s ‘Shocked’), it tries to pull every cheap trick out of the book without succeeding.
‘Big Time’ is cynically produced pop music at its very worst.
7. ‘What’s Up?’ by 4 Non Blondes (1992)
‘What’s Up?’, without a shadow of a doubt, is the most cringe-worthy, screechy and pompous middle-of-the-road rock song from the 1990s.
6. ‘Bingo’ by Catch (1997)
If there’s one thing that Britpop should be derided for, it should be for allowing this brattish trio to infect our ears.
‘Bingo’ should rightly be slammed for being a lazy and shameless Pulp knock-off without showing any signs of talent or imagination.
As one YouTube user states:
“A song made famous by one of the greatest tragedies of the nineties [for those who aren’t in the know, Catch’s appearance on the late night repeat of ‘The Chart Show’ was interrupted by the announcement of Princess Diana’s death]. Ironically enough, the song itself seems to be one of the greatest tragedies of the nineties…”
Never has a truer word been written.
5. ‘Somethin’ Stupid’ by Ali and Kibibi Campbell (1995)
If you thought that the session musicians on Robson & Jerome’s ‘Unchained Melody’ got repetitive strain injuries, please spare a thought for those who helped to record this song.
Overly twee and sentimental, arrogant, complacent, painful, boring, unstructured and incoherent are all words that can describe this ghastly version of ‘Somethin’ Stupid’. And that’s before mentioning Kibibi’s contributions.
Whoever thought of this idea deserves to be banned from the music industry for life.
4. ‘Wear My Hat’ by Phil Collins (1996)
Billboard once said that this track “bears such an uncanny resemblance to Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al”.
That may be true but surely, with its Latino pop and jazzy beats, it’s also a tribute to Saturday Superstore’s favourite guest Matt Bianco?
And you’ve guessed right; it does everything Matt Bianco did, only a million times worse.
If there’s any justice, then this self-indulgent mess will be erased from musical records with immediate effect.
3. ‘Chapel of Love’ by London Boys (1990)
If this is what love is meant to sound like, then I want nothing to do with it.
2. ‘Surfin USA’ by Aaron Carter (1998)
While Rebecca Black was wearing nappies and Justin Bieber was attending kindergarten, Aaron Carter recorded this song.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the collapse of Western civilisation was blamed on this monstrosity. ‘Nuff said.
1. ’911 is a Joke’ by Duran Duran (1995)
Something special was required to topple Master Carter from the top spot and Simon Le Bon et al pulled out all the stops.
Yep, that’s right, they once recorded a distorted version of a Public Enemy song, which sounds like a pitiful Beck tribute act.
This song HAS to violate at least one taste and decency law.
911 is a joke? No, Duran Duran, you are a joke.