Songs with the Most Clichés
Songs with the Worst Clichés
Which songs have the most clichés? Which album had the most clichés? Which
best-selling artists and acts had hits with clichéd lyrics? Would it surprise
you to learn that some of the best-selling songs of all time are essentially
non-stop streams of clichés? When I started working on this page, I was
surprised to discover that some of my favorite songs incorporated clichés that I
had never noticed while enjoying them. It seems all clichés are not created
equal. Some stick out like sore thumbs (pardon the cliché!), while others are
unobtrusive or somehow managed to please.
I'm a "lyric man." I love good
music, but bad lyrics set my teeth on edge. However, I must admit that clichés
don't always ruin songs. If you bear with me, I will attempt
to identify when clichés result in musical horrors, and when they
The Most Overrated Songs of All Time,
The Worst Song Lyrics Ever Written
The Top Ten Worst Song Lyrics of All Time (with number one being the worst of all)
Any song sung (or, more correctly, not sung) by Milli Vanilli; however, they do get one-sixteenth of a
gold star for not actually singing
Can we accuse people who don't really sing of indulging in clichés? If their
songs are so forgettable that we can't remember a word, do the clichés count?
Isn't it like a tree falling in forest when no one hears it? After careful
consideration, I decided to give Milli Vanilli a teeny-tiny bit of credit for
not actually singing their clichés!
Any numbingly monotonous and endlessly repetitious song by K. C. and the Sunshine Band (which
means take your pick from their entire catalog).
I believe there are different kinds of clichés. There are some that arrive stale:
for instance, "under a silver moon." But there are clichés songwriters create by
repeating lifeless, ineffectual lines over and over again, until our brains turn
to mush. For example: "Shake shake shake / Shake shake shake / Shake your
(#8) "Ben" by the Jackson Five has the most ludicrous theme of all time,
since it's a wildly melodramatic, cliché-ridden love song to a rat. Eeek!
In some cases we hardly notice the clichés because everything else is so awful.
This song is essentially one uninterrupted cliché, but the theme distracts us
from the staleness of its lyrics.
"Ice, Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice and "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis
... is your tiebreaker a super-inflated ego or
supremely grandiloquent lyrics?
Terrible clichés are bad enough, but they can be aggravated by the artists'
"All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" by Heart; all we wanna do is not
hear another freakin' cliché!
This is the first song in my list that can be condemned entirely on the basis of
its clichés. I have provided a snippet of the song as evidence, in the following
(#5) "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" by Hank Williams Jr. was
male chauvinism's absolute nadir ... until Donald Trump oinked.
Hank Williams Jr. seems intent on becoming a walking, talking, singing cliché.
And a sexist cliché at that.
"Having My Baby" by Paul Anka raises the question: Should men expect
women to demonstrate their "love" by providing their eggs to be
Paul Anka raises the sexist ante to an even higher (or much lower) level. His
clichés are compounded by the production of babies for nonsensical reasons.
Surely they deserve better parents!
"My Way" as performed by bad lounge and
karaoke acts around the globe: "The record shows that WE
took the blows when you sang it your egomaniacal way."
"My Way" is the ultimate cliché. It's possible that someone with actual
accomplishments might pull it off — Frank Sinatra or Elvis
Presley, perhaps. Although I don't find them convincing myself. But in the hands
of lounge and karaoke singers, this song is a train certain to fly off the
"McArthur Park" as performed melodramatically, pretentiously and
by Richard Harris. Someone left your brain out in the rain and it got all soggy.
Sometimes something stunningly original can immediately become a cliché. This
may be the most original extended metaphor ever created. But it is also an
infinitely terrible extended metaphor. It was a cliché the instant it was
drafted, and no performance can possibly improve on it.
Paula Cole's stunningly terrible "I Don't Want to Wait" has the single worst
song lyric ever penned: "Say a little prayer for I" ... and she sings it
and over and
over like a broken record! Shades of Marco Roboto!
Someone please inform Ms. PC that grammar checkers are free! We don't want to
wait for your song to be over. Now please repeat after me,
ten thousand times: "Say a little prayer for me,
that I will not make such a fool of myself in public, ever again!" This is
another song where the clichés virtually don't matter. The chorus is enough to
fry our brains.
Katy Perry's Prism wins the album category for most clichés, with a
stunning 226 enumerated by Rich Juzwiak. And it's not just the volume; Perry
actually recycles all-time taters like "the eye of the tiger," "under a silver
moon," "fresh as a daisy," "running on empty," "walking on air," "the truth will
set you free," etc.
Heart's "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You"
Heart's "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" is constructed from a series
of miserably bad clichés, and even worse, it makes no sense. Why borrow other
people's words only to mangle them?
So we found this hotel;
it was a place I knew well.
We made magic that night.
Oh, he did everything right!
He brought the woman out of me,
so many times, easily.
And in the morning when he woke
all I left him was a note:
I told him, "I am the flower;
you are the seed.
We walked in the garden;
we planted a tree.
Don’t try to find me,
please don’t you dare.
Just live in my memory,
you’ll always be there."
I believe that what the female speaker means to say is that she wrote her
one-night stand a note, then left before he woke up and read it. And how on earth
can a flower and a seed walk together in a garden and plant a tree? What she
probably means to say is that she was the flower and her lover supplied the
"pollen," which then resulted in a seed, which later grew into a new flowering tree
(i.e., a child) somewhere in an Edenic garden. But the lyrics are so godawfully bad, stilted and prosaic,
who can muster the patience to decipher them?
Famous and Best-Selling Artists Are
Some of these hit songs succeed despite being stitched together largely or
partially out of clichés. I have given each song my own personal rating, from A+
to F-, for whatever that opinion's worth.
"Bohemian Rhapsody" by
"Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers (A+)
"What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye (A+)
"Blowin' in the
Wind" by Bob Dylan (A+)
"Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel (A+)
"Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac (A)
Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses (A)
"Daniel" by Elton John (A)
"Desperado" by the Eagles (A)
"Dream On" by
"Like a Virgin" by Madonna (A-)
"Candle in the Wind" by Elton John (A-)
by the Beatles (B+, silly but infectious)
"Changes" by Tupac Shakur (B+)
by Kenny Rogers (B+)
"Start Me Up" by the Rolling
"My Name Is" by Eminem (B+)
"Money" by Pink Floyd (B)
"Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey (B)
Like a Knife" by Bryan Adams (B)
"Back in Black" by
"Different Drum" by Linda Ronstadt and the
Stone Poneys (B)
"The Greatest Love of All" by Whitney Houston (A+ for singing, B- for
"Hero" by Mariah Carey (A for singing, B- for lyrics)
"Fade to Black" by Metallica (B-)
Santana (A for musicality, B- for lyrics)
"Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi (B-)
My Breath Away" by Berlin (A for singing, B- for lyrics)
"Make Me Smile" by
"Crash Into Me" by the Dave Matthews Band (B-)
"My Life" by Billy Joel (B-)
"Please Please Me" by the Beatles (C)
"Love Me Do" by the Beatles (C)
"You're Still the One" by Shania Twain (C)
"Like a Rock" by Bob Seger (C)
"Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen (C)
"Cold as Ice" by Foreigner (C)
"Thank You" by Led Zeppelin (C)
"Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw (C)
"Evergreen" by Barbara Streisand (A+ for singing, C for lyrics)
Prayers" by Garth Brooks (C-)
"Toxic" by Britney Spears (C-)
"Feels So Right" by Alabama (C-)
"Beautiful Day" by U2 (C-)
"Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton (C-)
"Down on My Knees" by Trisha
"Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor (C-)
"Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler (C-)
"Roar" by Katy Perry (D)
"(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" by Elvis Presley (A for cuteness, B+ for
singing, D for lyrics)
"Forever Young" by Rod Stewart (D)
"Love Bites" by Def Leppard (D)
"My Heart Will Go
On" by Celine Dion (A+ for singing, D for lyrics)
"I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys (D)
Chair" by George Strait (D)
"Livin' on Love" by Alan Jackson (D)
"Freedom" by Reba McEntire (D)
"I Love" by Tom T. Hall (D-)
"Everything is Beautiful" by Ray Price (D-)
"Easy Lover" by Phil Collins (D-)
"Whip It" by Devo (F)
"Forever in Blue Jeans" by Neil
Diamond (F-, although I'm a Neil Diamond fan)
"Jump" by Van Halen (F-, with this song Van Halen and David Lee Roth
"Ben" by Michael Jackson (F-, although I'm an MJ fan)
The All-Time Worst Lines in Popular Songs
" [We] were pressed / in love's hot, fevered iron / like a striped pair of
pants." (Richard Harris emoting on "MacArthur Park" is like Trump modeling
"Caught beneath the landslide in a champagne supernova in the sky." (Oasis
delivers the most overblown lyrics since "McArthur Park.")
"I love you red solo cup, / I lift you up." (Yet another country song inspired by a
severe drinking problem, Toby Keith?)
Get you love-drunk off my hump / my hump, my hump, my hump ... my lovely little
lumps." (Someone please give the Black Eyed Peas a lumpectomy, stat!)
"T to the A to the S T E Y, / girl you tasty." (Fergie and Will.i.am should
obviously avoid spelling bees. And writing songs.)
"Should've known you was trouble / from the first kiss. / Had your eyes wide
open. / Why were they open? (Hypocrite! Why were your eyes open, Bruno
"I ain't the worst that you've seen, / oh, can't you see what I mean? / Might as
well jump! (Au contraire, David Lee Roth, you are the worst we've seen.
"Come on baby don't be afraid, / if it wasn't for date rape I'd never get laid.
(Sublime should change its name to Slime.)
"I'm a joker, / I'm a smoker, / I'm a midnight toker." (Steve Miller sure knows
how to impress the ladies!)
"Some people call me Maurice / 'Cause I speak of the pompitous of love." (Steve
Miller's "The Joker" is a cosmic joke ... on us.)
"Now you get to watch her leave out the window / Guess that's why they call it
window pane." (Eminem, the real pain is your abysmal pun!)
"I've got soul, but I’m not a soldier." (At least Eminem has company, thanks to
"I don't like cities but I like New York; / other places make me feel like a
dork." (Madonna outs her inner nerd in "I Love New York.")
"She'll think I'm Superman / not super minivan. / How could you leave on Yom
Kippur?" (Not even a gratuitous holy day reference can save this Train-wreck!)
"Your lipstick stains / on the front lobe of my left-side brains." (Train's lead
singer has multiple expose brains. Or his lover is a brain surgeon.)
"Only time will tell if we stand the test of time." (Only fools rush into such
redundant lyrics, Van Halen!)
"I'm living right next door to an angel / and she only lives a house away." (Et
tu, Neil Sedaka?)
"Empty spaces fill me up with holes." (Is this a love song or a recipe for
making Swiss cheese, Backstreet Boys?)
"Zip your lips like a padlock." (Ke$ha obviously has no idea what a padlock is,
or how it operates.)
"When it Waynes, it pours." (It does indeed, Lil Wayne, it does indeed! Like a
very stinky golden shower.)
"Oh babe, I wanna put my log in your fireplace." (Kiss is so incredibly
romantic in the sweetly titled "Burn Bitch Burn.")
"Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones." (Coldplay, aiming lasers at
your lover is no way to "fix" her.)
"Young, black and famous / with money hangin' out the anus." (Puff Daddy should
consult a proctologist, pronto!)
"Mix that Goose and Malibu / I call it 'Malibooyah.'" (Kanye West, please stick to
what you're really good at―bullying Taylor Swift!)
"Bonafide ride, step aside my johnson. / Yes I could in the woods of Wisconsin.”
(Another gratuitous rhyme from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.)
"What else could I say? / Everyone is gay." (Nirvana fails to consider the
births of billions of babies in "All Apologies.")
"Swag, swag, swag on you. / Chillin' by the fire while we eatin' fondue."
(Justin Bieber, swag and fondue do not mix!)
"She's got everything / like a moving mouth, body control and everything."
("Highway Star" by Deep Purple keeps us informed about the really important
things in life.)
"Lucky that my breasts are small and humble, / so you don’t confuse them with
mountains." (Shakira, was this before the boob job?)
"The club isn't the best place to find a lover / so the bar is where I go." (Ed
Sheeran makes his mother so very proud in "Shape of You.")
"I'm down on my knees, searching for the answer: / Are we human or are we dancer?"
(The Killers tell us it's impossible to be human and
"Am I asleep? No, I'm alive." (According to Jessie J, we die when we fall
"I'm serious as cancer when I say rhythm is a dancer!" (SNAP's "Rhythm Is A
Dancer" is as serious as terminal brain cancer.)
"Sometimes we swim around like two dolphins / in the oceans of our hearts." (If your
hearts are "oceans" what the hell are the dolphins in your insipid metaphor,
LFO? Stroke-inducing blood clots?)
"Keep the blood flowing down to your feet, / Brother Lois will be around in a
minute, with a bucket filled with squirreled meat. (Prince should consider
becoming a vegan.)
"Say a little prayer for I." (Paula Cole, there's no need for prayer because
even God Almighty can't save that atrocious line!)
So there you have it: the worst song lyrics of all time, according to me. Of
course records are meant to be broken (please pardon the pun), so stay tuned for more
abysmally bad lyrics, which surely lie in waiting around the next bend ...
The Best Singers of All Time,
The Best Singer-Songwriters,
The Best Female Singer/Songwriters,
The Best Songs of All Time,
The Best Sad Songs,
The Best Protest Songs and Poems,
The Best Love Songs,
Rock Jukebox: the Poetry of Rock,
The Best Vocal Performances of All Time,
The Worst Song Lyrics Ever,
The Most Overrated Songs of All Time,
The Best Rock Lyrics,
The Best Female Poets,
The Best Sappho Translations,
The Best Metaphors and Similes,
The Best Lines from Songs and Poems