The sense of relief I felt when I finally clicked 'send' was overwhelming. It was all, finally, over!
In recent weeks I'd spent more time being fixated by the music I loathe than by the music I love. It burrowed deep into me and I'd even taken to growling the bass riff of one of the songs listed below as I pottered around the house, much to everyone elses alarm.
In order to validate my feelings, I listened back to much of this hideous toss again, so much so that Spotify and YouTube have now started suggesting that I might also enjoy (spoiler alert), some Mike and the Mechanics or maybe even some Phil Collins.
There's nothing from this century in my list. Sure, there's never been as much music available as there is now and, by default, a huge chunk of is appalling! But now it's so much easier to avoid and trot along to another channel/station/playlist that is more appealing. You no longer need to either burn down the disco or even hang the blessed DJ. Which is a relief. Just move on...
And finally, to be truly worthy of inclusion in this list, the music must have got under my skin years ago and continued to fester. So even though a band like Slaves are irritating, they have only irritated me for a few years and, very likely, that feeling will pass. The music that I have listed below has appalled me for as long as I can remember. Here's why...
5. Loaded - Primal Scream
Hate is a strong word. It’s should be used sparingly. It’s unwise (after a certain age), to use it in relation to anything as seemingly trivial as popular music. There are more important things in life to feel aggrieved by, we all know that, but, for Primal Scream, I'm willing to make an exception.
Primal Scream are a rock 'n' roll cartoon, they are musical magpies, stealing from more gifted writers and musicians, it's no coincidence that in many of the clubs I visited in the early 90's, the DJ would put on the Stones 'Sympathy for the Devil' after playing 'Loaded'.
Having failed to rouse much interest in their first two albums, Primal Scream hopped abroad Andrew Weatherall's bandwagon, gave him an old song (I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have) to work with, and waited for him to do his magic. Weatherall stripped it bare, glued a sample of Peter Fonda in the Wild Angels onto it and transformed into something I'm reliably informed is a 'dancefloor anthem'. There's so little of the original song in the mix that when a sliver of it does appear, it's like encountering a ghost.
That's not to say that the Scream are absent from 'Loaded'. Bobby Gillespie offers a few 'whoo's and 'yeah's and 'I wanna get deep down's to make sure that we don't forget that he's there.
When former NME scribe James Brown was looking for a title for his risible new magazine, he didn't look to Creation labelmates Teenage Fanclub, My Bloody Valentine or Momus for a title. Instead he looked to 'Loaded' and consequently opened the floodgates to a plethora of excruciating lads mags. Nineties laddism was born.
Indie label wannabes morphed into tabloid rock and roll clichés, Oasis were somehow taken seriously, a deluge of mediocre britpop bands emerged, 'Cool Britannia' was an actual thing and then the blood chilling moment that Noel Gallagher and Creation boss Alan McGee shook hands with Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street.
That's the legacy of 'Loaded' and I hate it.
4. Peaches - The Stranglers
There were plenty of bands that swung on the coat-tails of the punk movement, but it's always befuddled me how such a grim looking bunch as The Stranglers managed to sneak in under the radar. They tried hard to look intimidating but you were always left with the impression that somewhere there were a couple of nightclubs (probably in their hometown of Guildford), missing their bouncers.
Whilst the Pistols et al were spewing out their nihilistic agenda and The Clash were aiming at something more inclusive, The Stranglers had a song called 'Bring on the Nubiles' which sounded like it had been written by someone with a sideline in penning letters to Penthouse. Elsewhere 'I feel like a wog', was as odious as the title suggests. There have been arguments that these songs are satirical, I'd love to believe it, but I find it impossible to believe.
Understandably these songs don't make their way onto radio or 'great punk anthem' streamable playlists, however their early hit 'Peaches' does.
The slimy seaside story has voyeuristic Hugh Cornwell gawping at the 'skirt', 'firm bodies', 'peaches' (and other unsettling objectifying terms). The leery line 'you and me woman, we gotta lot of things on our mind, you know what I mean?' still sends shivers of disgust through me. 'No WE haven't' she must have thought, alongside anyone else on the beach or, indeed, anyone who's ever heard this sexist bilge since.
3. Don't Stand So Close To Me - The Police
In recent years, we've become too familiar with news stories of people in positions of authority over children taking sexual advantage of those placed in their care. However, with some of the horrifying stories, there's a chorus of voices, usually on social media, proclaiming that the minor led the adult on, one of the most blinkered lines I heard (used to describe a local teenager who was raped by a priest), was that 'she was thirteen, going on thirty."...
I think of this appalling remark every time I hear the opening line of 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' ('Young teacher, the subject of schoolgirl fantasy....' ). As the tale unfolds, the schoolgirl is referred to as an 'open page', the teacher is full of 'temptation, frustration.' As a former teacher himself, Sting in an interview admitted '... how I kept my hands off (the teenage girls) I don’t know… ".
If only Sting had stopped there. But no, he wanted to write a story that incorporated the pupil being raped in the teacher's car and then the teacher's sacking. Not only is this a dreadful idea for a pop song, but his handling of it so vague ('his car is warm and dry'), and then the irritating psuedo - intellectual line about '...the old man in that book by Nabakov'. The ever pretentious Sting fails again here as Humbert Humbert in 'Lolita' is 37, hardly an old man!
There are many, many reasons for despising Sting and the peroxide policemen, but this warped tale of inappropriate sexual behaviour is by far their greatest crime.
2. I Can't Dance - Genesis
I never thought that I would have to refer to a serial killer for the definitive answer to a question that has bugged me for a long time, but in the novel 'American Psycho', the murderous Patrick Bateman has the answer to one question that has divided music fans, namely: Just when did Genesis get to be shit!
Brett Easton Ellis's mass murderer has a fondness for the MOR blandness of Huey Lewis and the News and Whitney Houston. Bateman extols their virtues to several of his victims before separating them from their lives. When it comes to Genesis, he dismisses anything that they did before 'Turn it on Again' as 'too arty and intellectual'. I feel personally relieved that Bateman probably wouldn't want to chop some one into little pieces after listening to 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway'or even 'Wind and Wuthering'. I'll keep on to those then!
'I Can't Dance' is, without doubt, the band's most repulsive creation. Men who can't dance is one thing, and it's something that you should keep secret. Dancing is sexy and fun and men who brag about how they can't dance are quite the opposite. Collins and co. therefore sound like Jeremy Clarkson wannabes , full of contempt as younger and (in their eyes), probably more effeminate men, dance with beautiful women in front of them whilst they seeth in the corner.
Maybe Genesis will one day reform and delight us with some other bitter odes such as I. Can't Cook, I Can't Operate the Dishwasher and I Can't Stop Writing Sneery Songs About My Ex-Wives. Oh, hang on, they've already written that last one...many, many times.
1. My Way - Frank Sinatra
'My Way' is the most wretched, obnoxious and downright moat fucking awful song ever written. A song that is so pleased with itself I'm certain that one day Kanye will record a version of it.
It’s the delusion of the song that appals me the most. Yes, I know that the narrator has had regrets and his ‘share of losing’ but it’s the sheer arrogance of finding it ‘oh...so amusing’ – and the pompous swagger of the ‘I did it my way’ in the chorus that chills me.
I’m not saying that every songwriter should bemoan their existence because they were 'born with a plastic spoon in (their) mouth', or were ‘raised on a diet of broken biscuits.' It's OK sing of finding love, happiness or peace of mind, just don't tell me that you 'planned each charted course/each careful step along the byway' because it sounds more like a business strategy than a way to reflect on one's life.
The fact that My Way is one of the most covered songs of all time shows how many narcissists have seen themselves in the words and I’m still aghast to find that people actually see their own lives in it so much that it still gets played at funerals (note to my loved ones, I want Avec Le Temps Leo Ferre at mine). Whilst on the subject of narcissists, it's no surprise that the song was sung to current President of the USA at his inauguration ball, final proof of how hollow and preposterous the song is.
Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.
January-ish or so releases including Loyle Carner, Eno, Gillian Welch and more...