The worst thing about annoying pop songs is that they usually catch on because of their inane accessibility, which means you have to hear them at least three times a day through eternity. Here are the 12 most irritating of the bunch.
“ABRACADABRA,” THE STEVE MILLER BAND (1982)
This one caused brain rot with every spin, from the moronic chorus (“Abra-abracadabra, I wanna reach out and grab ya”) to the immortal lyric, “You make me hot/ You make me sigh/ You make me laugh/ You make me cry.” The shockingly lame video (full of second-rate circus acts) was the perfect accompaniment to the song.
“(SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE) SHAKE YOUR BOOTY,” KC AND THE SUNSHINE BAND (1976)
This unrepentant disco ditty hit No. 1 with its undeniably catchy hooks and its throbbing backup parts for horns, but it’s really as dumb as a Bible-toting reality star. And KC’s vocals were layered on top of one another, leading one to suspect he wasn’t exactly Pavarotti. If you ever find me dancing to this one — and you might — please do something.
“CENTERFOLD,” J. GEILS BAND (1981)
In this constantly played hit, the singer learns that his sweet, pure high-school crush is now spreading it in a men’s mag, and he’s filled with rage over this development, with a definite underlay of sheer lust. Scrawny Peter Wolf whinily sings, “My angel is the centerfold,” and from the Scottish bagpipe sounding opening to the whistling ending, all I can say is “my blood runs cold.”
“LAFFY TAFFY,” D4L (2006)
This was a minimal, almost hypnotic No. 1 song, but so repetitive and endless, with raunchy references to sweet treats that made “Milkshake” look like “Masterpiece Theatre.” “Girl, shake that laffy taffy” is not exactly worthy of Oscar Wilde, nor is, “I’m looking for Mrs. Bubble Gum/ I’m Mr. Chick-o-Stick/ I wanna (dun dun dunt) (oh)/ ’Cause you so thick.” Oy.
(three-way tie) “YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL,” JAMES BLUNT (2004)
“BEAUTIFUL,” CHRISTINA AGUILERA (2002)
“YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL,” JOE COCKER (1975)
These songs have nice, positive messages, especially Christina’s pro-gay one, which I’m not criticizing at all. But the combined preciousness could make your teeth hurt, and eventually you want to tell all three singers to plug up the praise. “Weird Al” Yankovic parodied the James Blunt song as “You’re Pitiful.”
“FROM A DISTANCE,” BETTE MIDLER (1990)
This smash served up the campy Midler at her most mawkish, fluttering her arms around in the video and adopting a beatific glow as she sang about how God is looming somewhere nearer than you think, watching us through magical goggles. But I bet he took a break the day he recorded this song! It followed the also-sappy “Wind Beneath My Wings,” threatening to scuttle our diva’s hard-earned street cred, though she recovered soon enough.
“2 LEGIT 2 QUIT,” HAMMER (1991)
This is an angsty, indulgent song with relentless chants and spurts of female vocal wailing, and by the end of it, it’s really hard to care whether he quits or not.
“HELLO,” LIONEL RICHIE (1984)
Nicole’s father could send you into sugar shock with this icky-sweet song, even more so than “Ballerina Girl.” In the video, he played a music teacher who’s secretly crazy for a blind female student. The shocking inappropriateness of that plot line is the only interesting thing about the whole thing. Plus it shows that to love Lionel Richie, it helps to be blind. Kidding! Anyway, Luther Vandross brought some soul to the song with his cover version, but it’s still something you generally want to say “Goodbye” to.
“I WANNA SEX YOU UP,” COLOR ME BADD (1991)
This Oklahoma City-formed boy band always bothered me because I’m totally looksist, and they just didn’t rock my world that way. The group consists of a slightly off-looking falsetto guy, a George Michael wannabe, a Kenny G lookalike and a black guy. Musically, they strove for edgy soul/pop, but again, I just didn’t feel it. Alas, the world disagreed, and I had to hear this thing over and over until it made me vow to never be sexed up again.
“E-MAIL MY HEART,” BRITNEY SPEARS (1999)
One of Britney’s worst is this early-career mid-tempo ballad with sappy lyrics and vocals that come off like someone’s trying to sound like Britney. Thankfully she never did a followup called “Text My Heart.”
“RUDE BOY,” RIHANNA (2010)
Want some wit, Rihanna style? Well, this hit song asked the musical question, “Can you get it up? … Is you big enough?” and offered statements on the order of, “What I want want want is what you want want want right now.” And let’s not forget the brilliant backup part: “Take it, take it, baby, baby, take it, take it, love me, love me.” But you can’t go broke underestimating the public. The video has more than 321 million-plus views on YouTube.
“FRIDAY,” REBECCA BLACK (2011)
Is this classic travesty of a song really annoying without the incredibly rotten video that made it an instant legend? Yes, it is. It truly sucks all on its own. Black’s nasal voice and flat diction, abetted by cheesy autotune, make this virtually unlistenable, especially since she’s dealing in idiotic lyrics like, “Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal” and weirdly accented phrases like, “Fun, fun, fun, fun/ looking forward to the WEEK-end” and, “Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes after-WARDS.” The result comes off like a “Sesame Street” song that’s somehow been dumbed down and made more annoying! And the obligatory rap halfway through makes the whole thing even more clichéd. Instead of “TGIF,” this song prompted a wave of “ONIF” (“Oh, no, it’s ‘Friday’!”).
Michael Musto is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.