PRATIE PLACE

Friday, June 10, 2005

Worst Songs of the 70s

Why are boomers so angry, still, about the awful songs we were subjected to way back when? It was more than thirty years ago, how can I still be so furious at Tony Orlando?

Well, young people, it will be hard for you to understand, but back then, we listened to the radio. No remote controls so you'd have to go over and turn the knob manually. "They" chose the songs. We couldn't choose our own playlist unless we were willing to hover over the record player, which required constant attention. So we listened to the radio and heard awful songs, every hour of every day.

Why didn't we turn off the radios? I can't remember.

OK, the history lesson is over. All persons who do not remember the 70s might as well move along right now. You wouldn't be interested, anyway.

Are they gone?


Rhino Records chose some favorite horrible songs for their cd ’70s Party Killer Classics:

"It's way past your bedtime, and you gotta break this sucker up FAST. You grab that new Rhino CD off your shelf, and voila -- problem solved. '70s Party Killers, our new collection of the all-time "classic" pop singles that inexplicably were huge Top 5 hits. Eight of them got to #1! These cheesy standards by the Superstars of Schlock are guaranteed to clear the room in a hurry."
  • Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree - Tony Orlando & Dawn
  • The Night Chicago Died - Paper Lace
  • Billy, Don’t Be A Hero - Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods
  • (You’re) Having My Baby - Paul Anka with Odia Coates
  • Playground In My Mind - Clint Holmes
  • Feelings - Morris Albert
  • Sometimes When We Touch - Dan Hill
  • The Candy Man - Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • Afternoon Delight - Starland Vocal Band
  • Torn Between Two Lovers - Mary MacGregor
  • Escape (The Pina Colada Song) - Rupert Holmes
  • Muskrat Love - Captain & Tennille

Huh? I actually never heard of a bunch of those songs (or at least, I don't remember them, which means they couldn't have been the ABSOLUTE WORST.

Seeing that list made me want to excoriate the songs which I truly detested back in the good old days.

Here is a list of some songs which can STILL make me shudder just hearing their names.

If I have chosen some you actually liked, I'm sorry. I bet you hated some I liked, too...


American Pie - Don McLean
Angel of the Morning - Merrilee Rush
Brand New Key - Melanie
Cherish - David Cassidy
Close To You - The Carpenters
Georgie Girl - The Seekers
Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon - Neil Diamond
Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion - Donovan
Have You Never Been Mellow - Olivia Newton-John
Hooked on a Feeling - B.J. Thomas
Hopelessly Devoted to You - Olivia Newton-John
Hurdy Gurdy Man - Donovan
I Am I Said - Neil Diamond
I Honestly Love You - Olivia Newton-John
In the Ghetto - Mac Davis
Jennifer Juniper - Donovan
Knock Three Times - Tony Orlando & Dawn
Lay Lady Lay - Bob Dylan
MacArthur Park - Richard Harris (Jimmy Webb)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da - The Beatles
Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head - BJ Thomas
Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town - Kenny Rogers
Sing A Song - The Carpenters
Song Sung Blue - Neil Diamond
Take a Letter Maria - R.B. Greaves
Three Times a Lady - the Commodores
Tom Jones - She's a Lady
Up, Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon - The 5th Dimension
Watching Scotty Grow - Mac Davis
We've Only Just Begun - The Carpenters

So now do you have a horrible song to leave for me in the comments sections? Please?

Then you can go visit Dave Barry's worst song essay:
Honorable mention goes to Bobby Goldsboro, who got many votes for various songs, especially "Honey." One voter wrote: "Why does everybody hate Bobby Goldsboro's 'Honey'? I hate it too, but I want to know WHY."

Why? Consider this verse: "She wrecked the car and she was sad; And so afraid that I'd be mad, but what the heck; Tho' I pretended hard to be; Guess you could say she saw through me; And hugged my neck."

OK, have you thought of one yet?

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66 Comments:

At 6:31 AM, Blogger The Torch Singer said...

hi, michele kind of sent me!!!!

great site..going to look around.

N:)

 
At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't think of any off hand, but thanks the trip down memory lane!

 
At 6:34 AM, Anonymous chatty said...

I can't think of any off hand, but thank you for the trip down memory lane!!

Michele sent me~

 
At 6:35 AM, Anonymous chatty said...

(too quick on the send button, sorry~!)

 
At 7:45 AM, Blogger kenju said...

I can't think of anything either, but there are some on the list I sort of liked, such as "afternoon Delight" and "Brand new key". They had infectious rhythms.

 
At 9:11 AM, Blogger Trudging said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane

 
At 9:19 AM, Blogger Cheryl said...

Yes we were subjected to some seriously sexist rubbish in those days, but when I was a kid Honey was the ultimate tearjerker! That or Leader of the Pack (I know, cringe.)
And I confess I still like one or two of the songs on both lists.... so.... err....I'm just going to tiptoe off and hide back under my rock.........

 
At 10:10 AM, Blogger jo(e) said...

What a great post! You know what is sad though? Because I was a teenager in the 70s, all that bad music brings back great memories ... so that means I sort of like it ....

 
At 5:31 PM, Blogger Mirty said...

There was an awful song with the chorus, "Ain't no woman like the one I got." Lyrics included such fine sentiments as - "It's my word, my WORD, she'll obey." (Listed in my diary as "songs that make me want to kick in the radio and destroy the car's dashboard.")

 
At 6:50 AM, Blogger Isabella said...

Oh my, some of those are truly awful (I don't know some of them, but I'll trust your judgment). Thanks to you, I'm going to have Tie a Yellow Ribbon swirling about my head all day. Or maybe Up, Up and Away...

I was just a little kid in the 70s; the music wasn't an obvious presence in my life, just background. I think it was in grade 2 that after the morning announcements they would play The Popcorn Song and we had to do jumping jacks for the duration. I kind of like the song actually, but I hate it for its infectiousness — it gets stuck in my head for weeks at a time.

 
At 8:56 PM, Blogger coturnix said...

I was also a kid in the 70s and my English was rudimentary at the time so I could not understand most of the lyrics (I discovered in horror later how sexist some of them were - try "In the summertime" by CSC!). But I am sooo sentimental - I love all these songs....especially Honey! ;-)

 
At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Dave said...

How about, "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, I got Love in my Tummy?

 
At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

None of those hold a candle to the sheer awfulness of "Run Joey Run"

 
At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No discussion about bad songs can be complete without mentioning "Timothy"! Not only am I mystifed as to why a record company thought that cannibalism was a good song topic, but can anyone tell me HOW it became popular?

Also on my personal list of bad songs is "Wildfire". Why did the horse go crazy just because of a "killer frost"? (Especially since the "killer" in killer frost refers to killing flowers you planted too early in the spring!) Why did she wait until the blizzard to go looking for him? Every time I heard that song, I thought, "She must have hated that horse."

 
At 12:12 PM, Blogger hazela said...

Love the list, they were all so awful and yet I still know some of those words to this day...and I always thought Girl you'll be a woman tonight was kinda creepy..and for years thought he was talking about her menustrating...mum must have taught us that part early!

 
At 2:09 AM, Anonymous Lronrico said...

Alone Again, Naturally.

 
At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Jerry said...

Melinama,
I just found your blog as I was going to create a post about bad 70s music. I see you've already done it with quite an impressive list! I was a teenager in the 70s and remember every one of those awful songs.

I just began blogging last month. I live in the country too and know about unwanted critters. Glad I ran into your blog. Keep up the good work!

 
At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Mr. Bee said...

I don't know what year this came out but it was so bad, the stink could carry it through a couple of decades:
Hello Mudder...Hello Fodder
The Camp Granada song.
And to think that it has been resurrected for a dog flea treatment commercial.

 
At 2:31 AM, Blogger Horatio said...

The Marching Band came down along Main Street
The Soldier Blues fell in behind
I looked across and there I saw Billy
Waiting to go and join the line
And with her head upon his shoulder
His young and lovely fiancée
From where I stood I saw she was crying
And through her tears I heard her say

Billy don't be a hero
Don't be a fool with your life
Billy don't be a hero
Come back and make me your wife
And as he started to go
She said, "Billy keep your head low,"
Billy don't be a hero, come back to me

The Soldier Blues were trapped on a hillside
The battle raging all around
The Sergeant cried, "We got to hang on boys,
We got to hold this piece of ground,
I need a volunteer to ride up,
And bring us back some extra men."
And Billy's hand was up in a moment
Forgetting all the words she said
She said,

Billy don't be a hero
Don't be a fool with your life
Billy don't be a hero
Come back and make me your wife
And as he started to go
She said, "Billy keep your head low,"
Billy don't be a hero, come back to me

I heard his fiancée got a letter
That told how Billy died that day
The letter said that he was a hero
She should be proud he died that way
I heard she threw the letter away...

 
At 12:30 AM, Blogger Firefly104 said...

Don't know if it was from the 70s or 60s....but Everyday Housewife by Glen Campbell

 
At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Sam said...

How about the song,"You're so Vain" I'm not sure if it was late 70's or early 80's but the lyrics absoultely drove me crazy! "You think this song is about you, syou're so vain!" Ugh. WHo is this song about anyway?

 
At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there anybody out there who remembers a song from the 70's called "D.O.A."? It was about an accident victim's ride in an ambulance. "Blood's rushing out of my body...God in Heaven, teach me how to die." Truly awful. Can't remember who sings it.

 
At 9:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never mind. I found the lyrics to DOA. It's off the Bloodrock 2 album. Thanks anyway!

 
At 12:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who sang the song that went something like this....

It was late Friday night... we walked down to the gate and I was dreamin' of the night, would it turn out right? I want to tell you girl.... I want to wrap my arms around you girl....

It is driving me crazy.... anyone know?

 
At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is "Reminiscing" by the Little River Band.

 
At 9:52 PM, Blogger Wendy said...

The MOST HIDEOUS award should go to Mimi Ripperton's "Loving You."

 
At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Lucia said...

Gary Puckett & The Union Gap offended all manner of taste and musical integrity with "Young Girl"

 
At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I LOVE most of these songs. I was in grade school and junior high and High School when most of these songs were popular. They represent a time of my life of no worries, no responsibilities, no thinking of future joys, sorrows, enlightment. Living in the moment. I have been trying to find a clip of Billy, Don't be a Hero since I don't remember if the version I loved was Paper Lace or Donaldson. No luck. My best friend when this song was popular was named Billy Streeter so I always think of him. We were friends for years. He got married and I got married and moved out of state and lost touch with him.

Another song that I associate with 6th grade and Billy is "Playground in my Mind" which I'm sure has sickened quite a few. I still love it!

You're so Vain is by Carly Simon. It's one song that when I hear on the radio I still shout/sing along with it. Carly never told who the song was about. It was rumored that it was Mitch Jagger but she may have written it about someone else.

 
At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Umikun 13 said...

Melissa Manchester's "Don't Cry Out Loud" - ought to be banned by the Geneva Convention!

P.S.: I'm listening to Korn at high volume while reading this page to keep these horrible songs I'm reading about from playing in my head.

 
At 5:46 AM, Blogger K said...

"everybody was kung fu fighting" just makes me want to pull my own teeth out ;-) ... thanks for the walk down BAD music history lane. glad that i'm not the only one to switch channels when a seals and croft or america tunes comes on!

 
At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know who sang this one, but it was abominable: a female version of the classic King of the Road, called Queen of the House! Don't remember all the words, but a couple of lines remain: "Four kids from one to four/Pretty soon there's gonna be one more." This is why the women's movement needed to happen.

 
At 9:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I have two more that aren't on your list--

-That's the night that the lights went out in Georgia (Vicki Lawrence)

and my #1 worst song of the 70's (maybe of all time--have you listened to the lyrics???) is

-I've been to paradise but I've never been to me (Charlene). Here's a link it you want to check out the lyrics--http://www.ladyjayes.com/neverbeentome.html

 
At 6:27 PM, Blogger Karen in FL said...

Born in 1960, I was exposed to some of the most memorable music in history! These years were full of many emotions and music has always filled an important element of calm in my growing up life. I treasure the fact that I can hear and even though some songs were really strange lyric-wise, it doesn't negatively compare to the degradations I hear in the present decade lyrics. I am looking for a couple of songs that my cousin would play for me on his old 45 player. One was called "What A Lovely party" and those were the only lyrics. There was a background sound of a party going on and everyone who spoke had a distinctive sound, including Dracula. The other song was (I think) called "The Invasion" and it had some popular songs from the late 60's early 70's in it (one I remember specifically was Beachwood 4-5789). It was an announcer interrupting a song to tell about an invasion. Does any one remmeber it? I'd love to have these two around as I am a sick puppy when it comes to Weird Al style songs!!!

 
At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Blaze96 said...

I wasn't born until 1991 but my mother remembers one song that drove her to near insanity. It was Disco Duck and she actually told me a story of how she gave it as a joke gift and was returned to her within 30 seconds.

 
At 3:54 AM, Anonymous Ugoober said...

you goober, you don't hate on tom jones she's a lady, and you don't hate on Donovan.. (in general)

 
At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there was this horrible song by a group i think they were called the demarco fanmily and they had this song that went like this'a heartbeat is a lovebeat listen to my love song.just a lot of drums and wurlitzers...anybody remember it,

 
At 4:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post and comments! I'd like to respond to a few of the comments.

Yes, that Timothy song was awful. It freaked me out when it came out. I couldn't understand why it was being played at all.

I'm glad I never heard that DOA song. That sounds really disgusting.

Heartbeat (It's a Lovebeat) was by the DeFranco family (not DeMarco, but that was close). I still have the album somewhere in my basement. There were actually some good songs on that album, but I can't think of the names of them right now.

 
At 7:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that "Queen of the Hut" (I think it was hut, not house) song was sung by someone called Jodi Miller. I don't know if she was related to Roger Miller, who did "King of the Road" or not. I remember she also did an awful version of "He's So Fine". For some reason in the mid-60's my parents went though a period of listening to this one country station a lot.

 
At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald" was a strange song also

 
At 10:58 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

S-A-TUR-DAY...NIGHT! Bay City Rollers

 
At 6:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Junior High - so innocent! slumber parties and we would play DOA - Creepy was right. Went with the scary stories we were telling. We would play the Partridge Family when things got too scary.

Anyone else used to think Afternoon Delight was about going camping? And yes now I know what midnight at the oasis really means. Who would sing a camel to sleep?

 
At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chevy Van
Me And You And A Dog Named Boo
It Never Rains In Southern California
MacArthur Park

 
At 2:12 PM, Blogger Rich said...

You totally forgot "Pilot of the Airwaves" by Charley Dore. Pure seventies fluff, in the "Afternoon Delight" vein.

 
At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Run Joey Run is the all-time champion of horrible songs, no question about it, with that chorus from Hell, "Daddy please don't, it wasn't his fault, he means so much to me, Daddy please don't, we're gonna get married, just you wait and see!" AAAAAGGGHH!

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger tara said...

The song 'You're So Vain" is about Warren Beatty.

 
At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only have one thing to say. Big Old Ruby Red Dress

 
At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, many of the songs in your list are classics! Rhino got the worst of the worst.

I'd also suggest One Tin Soldier, Young Girl, The Morning After, Knock Three Times, Beach Baby, and of course Nick Gilder's mega-miss - Hot Child in the City.

 
At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rhino Volume 2...Angie Baby by Helen Reddy, Bette Davis Eyes, and the absolute worst in cheesy music, Don't It Make Me Quiver, by ??

 
At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, could you repost a link to the free wedding mp3s

Trying to explain the horror of 70's music to my daughter. She beat me - try this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaiXywN-Ils

 
At 11:57 AM, Blogger Mary Witzl said...

Whoa. That anonymous commenter has GOT to be my husband.

I vote for Tie a Yellow Ribbon or Love Will Keep us Together, but let's not forget Helen Reddy's 'I am Woman'.

 
At 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this song is from the 60s, but how about "Go to pieces" by Peter and Gordon? The thing is, I was a kid in the 70s (born in 65). For some reason, I first heard this song in the 70s and I made fun of it by changing the lyrics to "I go to pieces when I eat a pie. Because a pie is in pieces."

 
At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Delta Dawn"

 
At 3:21 PM, Blogger Northern Bohemian said...

Oh yeah - real pukers. I was spinning records in the late 70s and early 80s and they all are there. Add those awful Kenny Rodgers and Dionne Warwick "comeback" songs and the list is complete. The only real pop music in those days was funk.

 
At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't put a lot of thought into this ... yet. But some of the rock bottom stuff that I see no mention of is Barry Manilow, Leo sayer, Neil Sedaka. Agreed the 70s was the worst. Now that was my happy teen years but my innocent ears knew a bad song when they heard one.

 
At 4:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RontheCanuk


I am surprised that no one mentioned

The Sloop John B... by the Beach Boyz
It is sort of a precursor to
"Last Friday Night" by Katy Perry
all about getting drunk and having an Epic Fail
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdov2UIjUpY

Then there was...
"Seasons In The Sun"
by the Kingston Trio...
which can happen after far too many Friday Nights.

 
At 3:18 PM, Blogger Aquaria said...

The original list is the worst songs list. Not every song on your list is the worst. If you haven't heard the first list's songs, then it's because your brain did you a favor and made you forget them.

Trust me, if you remembered them, you'd be glad of the songs in your list.

Really.

 
At 3:57 PM, Blogger Aquaria said...

And another thing:

A lot of the songs on your list aren't from the 70s at all, but from the 60s, and a couple of them are misattributed.

Here's the list of your mistakes:

Good grief, you;re really saying that Georgy (NOT GeorgIE) Girl) is from the 70s? Seriously? It's from 1966, and there is no way it could be confused with a 70s song, in production quality, in hooks, in motifs--nothing!

Up, Up and Away is almost as horrible a mistake, since it's from 1967. Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon is also from 1967.

The Donovan songs are from the 60s, most definitely. Hurdy Gurdy Man and Jennifer Juniper are both from 1968. Happiness Runs is from the album Barbajagal, and the only hit from it was the eponymous song--and that was all from 1969.

It was shocking to see Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da on this list, especially since it's from the White Album! You know--1968? Just because it was later released as a single doesn't make it a bad song of the 70s. It's still a 1968 song, and lumping it with the 70s is not very honest.

Hooked on a Feeling by BJ Thomas is from 1968. So is Angel in the Morning.

The original version of 1969's Take a Letter Maria was never even on the charts in the 70s. Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town likewise from 1969 and peaked on the charts in the same year. Lay Lady Lay is another 1969 song, and was either at the bottom or off Top 100 charts by the end of the year.

In the Ghetto was written by Mac Davis, but the single that everyone knows was by Elvis Presley. In 1969. Watching Scotty Grow was likewise written by Mac Davis, but the single that was a hit was Bobby Goldsboro's version, in 1970. Mac Davis's version was an afterthought on his 1971 album, "I Believe in Music." The only song from that album to chart was the title song.

One mistake would be understandable. This many isn't.

 
At 11:02 PM, Blogger Chapel Hill Fiddler said...

Well, Aquaria, you certainly win the award for grumpiest comment. Feel free to leave whatever list you think is canonical.

 
At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to have left out one of the god awfullest songs ever to have been recorded "Ariel". Don't remember the artist. THAT one deserves the CHEESEBALL award!

 
At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's actually about David Geffen.

 
At 3:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa, you forgot Mockingbird by Carly Simon and James Taylor. Also, Close To You, while not necessarily good, isn't one of the worst songs of the 70s. There are far worse should go on this list before that song.

 
At 2:11 PM, Blogger Aquaria said...

That's not grumpiness, it's CARING ABOUT ACCURACY. Are you capable of understanding the difference?

As for my canon, it doesn't matter. There is no canon, really. It's all personal preference. Because the one thing you can say about all the songs on those lists: SOMEBODY BOUGHT ENOUGH OF THEM for those songs to chart. They wouldn't have been on the charts and ergo on the radio long enough for us to hate them, otherwise.

 
At 2:13 PM, Blogger Aquaria said...

Oh--and Timothy was by The Buoys.

 
At 11:31 PM, Blogger zzyzxx13 said...

Here's my Worst Of The 70's:

The Night Chicago Died (Paper Lace)
Jackie Blue (Ozark Mountain Daredevils)
Stuck In The Middle With You (Stealers Wheel)
Spiders And Snakes (Jim Stafford)
Smokin' In The Boys Room (Brownsville Station)
Lovin' You (Minnie Ripperton)
I Can See Clearly Now (Johnny Nash?)
The Lion Sleeps Tonight (The Tokens?)
Afternoon Delight (Something or other Vocal Band
Anything by The Captain & Tenille (barf)
Anything by Olivia Newton-John (barf)

 
At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're So Vain was supposedly written by Carly Simon about David Geffen.

 
At 7:46 AM, Blogger Slartibartfast said...

Where are The Mixtures in this list? They never produced anything that wasn't chunderworthy.

 

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