The NOT-WORST Popular Songs

OK, you've driven me to this. I've had to put together a separate page explaining why some of your most-hated songs didn't make my "Worst Popular Songs" list. I understand that you're sick of hearing certain songs played endlessly on AOR radio stations, or that you think that a particular song is hopelessly sappy. I even understand why you hate bubble gum hits like "Sugar, Sugar"...BUT these reasons are not sufficient to put them on the list.

Remember, this is my website and I get to make the rules. You may think that "Honey" is a schmaltzy piece of crap with absurd lyrics, but it DOES have a recognizable melody. Anyway, here's my list of "rejects" that simply don't have what it takes to make it to my list. They have been officially disqualified. (They are also in alphabetical order.)

The NOT-WORST Popular Songs

Song Title




Reason for Disqualification

"99 Luftballoons"


J. Fahrenkrog-
C. Karges


This is a story song, even if you need to speak German to get it. (Here's a link to the lyrics in both German and English.) There is also some evidence of a melody, though of the warped, European sort.

"Achy Breaky Heart"

Billy Ray Cyrus

D. Von Tress


Has a catchy melody, if stupid lyrics. Having a free dance come with it almost makes it a novelty song.

"Afternoon Delight"

Starland Vocal Band

B. Danoff


Silly and sappy, but melodic. It's almost a novelty song. They were the first act signed to John Denver's Windsong label and were expected to be the American ABBA.

"American Pie"

Don McLean

D. McLean


A good song with a solid melody and strong chorus. It just got too much play and PR. The lyrics actually show some thought. Here's a FAQ on the song.

"Brand New Key"

Melanie (Safka)

M. Safka


Cute little novelty song with a nice hook. It's supposed to be silly, Dumbass!.

"Call Me"


D. Harry/
G. Moroder


What a waste of Blondie! Still, there's a melody and some real lyrics there.

"The Candy Man"

Sammy Davis Jr.

L. Bricusse/
A. Newley


Another great reason to hate Anthony Newley. When I hear this, I want to grab the nearest kid and JAM BABY RUTH BARS DOWN HIS THROAT UNTIL HE....oh, did I say that out loud? Catchy melody, though.

"Close To You"

The Carpenters

B. Bacharach


A pretty melody beautifully sung. It's harmless.

"Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast"

Wayne Newton

P. Callandar/
G. Stephens


As the song says, "I couldn't bear to hear those words again." BUT, it has a recognizable tune and a catchy chorus.


Morris Albert

M. Albert


Hmmm...I'm still thinking about this. Is it fair game if EVERYONE thinks it's awful?


Bobby Goldsboro

B. Russell


Meets minimal melody requirement (if you're sucking on a lemon.)

"I Am Woman"

Helen Reddy

H. Reddy/
P. Burton


Strong melody. That's all I have to say.

"I Honestly Love You"

Olivia Newton-John

P. Allen/
J. Barry


Sappy, but melodic.


Iron Butterfly

D. Ingle


This is one of the most straightforward songs ever written or recorded. No pretense here. (Honestly!) You get what you pay for...and I own three different versions of the album on CD alone.

"In the Year 2525"

Zagar and Evans

R. Evans


Novelty song, though it meets all other requirements. A guy on my high school football team used to sing this in the showers all the time. Drove me up the wall.

"MacArthur Park"

Richard Harris

J. Webb


You either hate it or love it. I personally like this song, though virtually everyone I know hates it. I have to give it novelty song status, though. And it shows "balls"....(If you didn't already know, Webb composed this as the coda to a 22-minute cantata when he was working on The 5th Dimension's The Magic Garden album. The cantata was (supposedly) quite good and Webb pitched it to The Association for inclusion on their new album, but they were reluctant to use it because it would take one whole album side. Webb finally produced the 7-minute coda by itself for his friend, Richard Harris, though Harris was obviously not his first choice to record it. Webb completed the instrumental recording in Los Angeles and then Harris recorded the vocals in Dublin, which explains some errors and anomalies in the recording. I'm not aware that the entire cantata has ever been recorded.}


Tony Basil

M. Chapman/
N. Chinn


A bit of a novelty song, with an unmistakable hook and melody. Lighten up! (A lot of people "hate" this song because of the video. Doesn't count.)

"The Morning After"

Maureen McGovern

A. Kasha/
J. Hirschorn


Real melody. (Sorry! I tried to think of some way around this.)

"Muskrat Love"

The Captain and Tenille

W. Ramsey


This is a novelty song, people! The squishy synthesizer sounds should have given it away. (Contrary to popular belief, The Captain and Tenille did not write this song. They adapted it for use in their club act because they thought it would be "a hoot" go gripe to Ramsey! It's not THEIR fault that people started buying the records.)

"The Night Chicago Died"

Paper Lace

P. Callandar/
L. Stitcher


Now, really, when was the last time you heard this? This is disqualified on two counts: novelty and melody.

"Nights in White Satin"

The Moody Blues

J. Hayward


Good song that's overplayed. It's a bit bombastic and melodramatic, but then how can you yell for "Free Bird" and hate THIS song?

"One Tin Soldier"


D. Lambert/
B. Potter


I hate this song, too, but it has melody and story. What can you do? (Also recorded in 1969 by The Original Caste, but this is the version most frequently played.)

"Putting On The Ritz"


I. Berlin


You may hate this recording, but the song is actually a catchy (and popular) tune penned by Irving Berlin. You can vote for Taco as "Worst Performer", but the song gets disqualified.



D. Paich


Real melody (with irritating vocals.)

"Seasons In The Sun"

Terry Jacks

J. Brel/
R. McKuen


Another sloppy, sentimental song with a melody and chorus. (Notice who wrote the damn thing: French musician/composer Jacques Brel wrote the music and Rod McKuen put lyrics to it.)

"Sometimes When We Touch"

Dan Hill

D. Hill/B. Mann


Real melody. It's actually a pretty song that is sung in a funny strained voice.

"Stairway to Heaven"

Led Zeppelin

J. Page/
R. Plant


Whether you like it or not, this is an inspired work of art. Few songs achieve this status.

"Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree"

Dawn (with Tony Orlando)

I. Levine/
R. Brown


Fails on all three counts. It has comprehensible (if sappy) lyrics that tell a story, there's a real melody, and it's a novelty song. (And now that I've written this, I won't get the chorus out of my head for another two days.)

"Torn Between Two Lovers"

Mary MacGregor

P. Yarrow/
P. Jarrel


Real melody. It's a shame it made it to the pop radio stations. (And it was co-written by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary.)

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"


P. McCartney/
L. McCartney


Novelty song, even though I truly despise this song and most of Paul McCartney's post-Beatles work. It has a catchy chorus, which also spares it.

"Video Killed The Radio Star"

The Buggles

G. Downes/T. Horn/B. Wooley


Disqualified because of novelty and the actual, though irritating, melody.



B. Andersson/
B. Ulvaeus


Catchy beat and real melody (at least in the chorus).

"We Built This City"


D. Lambert/M. Page/B. Taupin/P. Wolf


A guilty pleasure. Unbelievably, it took FOUR people to write this song, including Dennis Lambert ("One Tin Soldier" and "Don't Pull Your Love"), Bernie Taupin (Elton John's collaborator), and Peter Wolf (The J. Geils Band). I'll have to give this one some more thought. There's GOT to be a reason to disqualify it.

"Wonderful Tonight"

Eric Clapton

E. Clapton


Real melody. I have a theory about musicians and groups: They say what they have to say in their first few albums, then they churn out some experimental stuff, and finally they go soft in the head. Guess where this song falls?

"You Light Up My Life"

Debby Boone

K. Cisyk
(not Debby!)


Love it or hate has a melody. (And why do so many people think Debby wrote it?)

"Yummy, Yummy, Yummy"

The Ohio Express

A. Resnick/
J. Levine


It's a NOVELTY song, for God's sake! Calm down! And when was the last time they played it on your radio station? Huh? So kwicherbeefin!

You're probably still angry about your song. Too bad! If you want to correspond with me about these songs, I'd be happy to discuss my reasoning. Just send mail to me.

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