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The Worst Song Lyrics Ever Written

Who wrote the worst song lyrics of all time? I'm a "lyric man." I love good music, but bad lyrics set my teeth on edge. These are, in my opinion, the worst song lyrics of all time ...

The Top Ten Worst Song Lyrics of All Time (with number one being the worst of all)

(#10) Any song sung (or, more correctly, not sung) by Milli Vanilli; they get one-sixteenth of a gold star for being the only act listed here wise enough to not actually sing their disasters!
(#9) Any numbingly monotonous and repetitious song by K. C. and the Sunshine Band (which means take your pick from their entire catalog).
(#8) "Ben" by the Jackson Five has perhaps the most ludicrous theme of all time, since it's a poignant love song to a rat. Eeek!
(#7) "Ice, Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice and "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis (tie); is your tiebreaker a grotesquely inflated ego or ghastly lyrics?
(#6) "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" by Heart; all we wanna do is not hear another freakin' cliché! 
(#5) "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" by Hank Williams Jr.; male chauvinism hit its absolute peak here ... or at least until Donald Trump decided to run for head alpha male
(#4) "Having My Baby" by Paul Anka; innocent babies deserve much better than mothers who show their "love" by providing eggs to be gratuitously fertilized!
(#3) "My Way" as performed by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and other bad lounge and karaoke acts around the globe; "The record shows that WE took the blows when you sang it your egomaniacal way!"
(#2) "McArthur Park" as performed melodramatically, pretentiously and bombastically by Richard Harris. Someone left your brain out in the rain and it got all soggy.
(#1) Paula Cole's stunningly terrible "I Don't Want to Wait" with the worst song lyric ever penned: "Say a little prayer for I" ... and she sings it over and over and over like a broken record! Shades of Marco Roboto!

Dis-honorable mention: "Teddy Bear" by Elvis Presley, "Go Away Little Girl" by the Osmonds, "Sussudio" by Phil Collins, "American Life" by Madonna, "Jump" by Van Halen, "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard, "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi, "Ego" by Beyoncé, "Believe" by Cher, "The Joker" by Steve Miller, "Cherry Pie" by Warrant, "Shiny Happy People" by REM, "Jack and Diane" by John Mellencamp, "The Beat Goes On" by Sonny & Cher, "How Deep Is Your Love" by the Bee Gees, "Soul Sister" by Train, "Love Is Real" by John Lennon, "Sex On Fire" by Kings of Leon, "Drips" by Eminem, "Horse With No Name" by America, "We Built This City" by Starship, "Rockstar" by Nickelback, "Miracles" by Insane Clown Posse, "Fanny Be Tender With Your Love" by the Bee Gees, "Like A Rock" by Bob Seeger, "Ballad Of A Thin Man" by Bob Dylan, "Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen, "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon, "Bright Eyes" by Art Garfunkel, "I Love New York" by Madonna, "Your Body is a Wonderland" by John Mayer

Most Annoying Songs of All Time

Anything sung by a chipmunk or hamster
Anything sung by Barry Manilow, but especially "I Write the Songs" (which he didn't even write, sheesh!)
Anything Miley Cyrus sings in her undies in order to distract us from the insipid lyrics

Worst Line in a Great Song

This award goes to Simon and Garfunkel's classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water" for the line:

Sail on silver girl, sail on by ...

Paul Simon allowed Art Garfunkel to contribute the line above. But Simon didn't care for it, and neither do I. It doesn't completely ruin the song, but it seems cutesy and out of place in a dark masterpiece, as if ET suddenly showed up peddling a bicycle across the moon during a performance of "Hamlet."

Close runners-up include "Let It Be" by the Beatles and "Roxanne" by the Police for excessive repetition. Too much of a good thing can become a very bad thing: if Shakespeare had repeated his best refrain too many times, he could have crossed over into K. C. and the Sunshine Band territory.

Most Blatantly Chauvinistic Song Lyrics of All Time

The clear winner in this category is a hard-drinking hillbilly, Hank Williams Jr., who brags in "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight":

I got girls that can cook,
I got girls that can clean,
I got girls that can do anything in between ...

What Junior means seems obvious: as long as he provides the machismo, testosterone, fame, booze and drugs, he can depend on "girls" to cook for him, clean for him, and "take care of him." Paul Anka runs a close second with:

Having my baby;
what a lovely way of saying
that you're thinking of me ...

It would be much better for the world (and especially unborn children) if people explained how they felt, used birth control, and didn't have babies for preposterous reasons!

Other prime contenders include "Under My Thumb" by the Rolling Stones, "Centerfold" by the J. Geils Band, "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" by the Georgia Satellites, "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot, "Got to Give It Up" by Marvin Gaye, "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke, "Young Girl" by Gay Puckett and the Union Gap, "Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon" by Neil Diamond, "She's a Lady" by Tom Jones, "Brown Sugar" by the Rolling Stones, "It Must Be Him (or I Shall Die)" by Vikki Carr, "Wishin' and Hopin'" by Dusty Springfield, "Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield, "Rag Doll" by Frank Valli and the Four Seasons, "Cuddly Toy" by the Monkees, "Stand By Your Man" by Tammy Wynette, "Hard to Handle" by the Black Crowes, "Lightnin' Strikes" by Lou Christie, "Hotline Bling" by Drake

Worst Wedding Songs

This is a truly weird category, because people actually get married to these stalker "love" songs. The most famous stalker wedding song is "Every Breath You Take" by Sting and the Police. Brides should blush (as should grooms) if they get married to the Big Brother-ish strains of:

Every breath you take,
every move you make ...
I'll be watching you. 

Heart's "Alone" runs a close second, with these disturbing stalker lines:

And now it chills me to the bone:
how do I get you alone?

Ironically, the rock song with perhaps the best lyrics of all time almost falls into this category, as couples sometimes get married to U2's magnificent "One." While "One" is not a stalker song, it still defies logic that couples can walk down the aisle to lyrics like:

Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you come here to play Jesus
to the lepers in your head?

"One" is a song about a relationship on very dire rocks. The disgruntled speaker points out that he shouldn't be expected to go without sex with other people, just because his lover has given up on their love life:

Did I disappoint you,
or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act as if you never had love
and you want me to go without?

"One" isn't about couples walking down the aisle arm-in-arm, but one partner crawling abjectly to the other:

You say love is a temple;
love, a higher law ...
you ask me to enter,
but then you make me crawl ...

Worst Imitation of the Marquis de Sade:

This highly dubious award goes to "Your Body is a Wonderland"  by John Mayer:

You tell me where to go and
Though I might leave to find it
I'll never let your head hit the bed
Without my hand behind it

Worst Use of Mindless, Mind-Numbing Repetition

This is by far the easiest category to judge. Any song by K. C. and the Sunshine Band wins, hands down. Some rock bands have been accused of playing the same three chords over and over again. K. C. and the Sunshine Band upped the ante by also droning the same three words over and over again, ad infinitum:

I'm your boogie-man ... I'm your boogie-man ... I'm your boogie-man ... I'm your boogie-man ... I'm your boogie-man ...
Get down tonight ... Get down tonight ... Get down tonight ... Get down tonight ... Get down tonight ... Get down tonight ...
Shake-shake-shake, shake-shake-shake, shake your booty ... Shake-shake-shake, shake-shake-shake, shake your booty ...

Justin Bieber is a close runner-up and gets a special dishonorable mention for his song "Baby," which repeats the word "baby" over and over like a broken record.

Paul McCartney also seems to be channeling a broken record in "Live and Let Die":

You know you did you know you did you know you did ...
Live and let die (live and let die) live and let die (live and let die) ...

James Blunt gets an unhonorable mention for:

You're beautiful ... you're beautiful ... you're beautiful ... it's true ...

After you've told us something repeatedly, is it necessary to insist that what you told us is true?

Nicki Minaj gets a special dishonorable mention for tasteless and classless repetition in "Stupid Hoe":

You a stupid hoe / You a / You a stupid hoe / (stupid, stupid)

The Black Eyed Peas are also contenders in this dismal category with "My Humps":

My hump, my hump, my hump (ha!), my lovely lady lumps (check it out!)

Ha! indeed, I think we'll pass on checking out those humps and lumps!

And then of course there is "Who Let the Dogs Out" by Baha Men.

Most Hideous Mangling of Grammar and/or Logic

This award goes to Paula Cole's stunningly terrible "I Don't Want to Wait." The song opens with lines so excruciatingly bad they are painful to remember, much less (pause to vomit) sing:

So open up your morning light
And say a little prayer for I.
You know that if we are to stay alive
And see the peace in every eye ...
She had two babies
One was six months, one was three
In the war of '44 ...

First, how the hell does one "open up" a light? Second, it would be "say a little prayer for me." The improper use of "I" is incredibly grating, the single worst lyric I have ever experienced. Third, lines three and four make absolutely no sense: if we are to stay alive and see the peace in every eye, what must we think or do? Fourth, the song is about World War II, in which millions of people were fighting and killing each other, so to "see the peace in every eye" seems like wild overstatement. Fifth, how can a mother have one baby that is six months old and another that is only three months old? Swine have a gestation period of three months; is the mother dropping human babies, or piglets? I suppose Cole may mean that one baby is six months old and the other is three years old, but at this early point in the song I'm so out of sorts that I have lost confidence in her ability to say what she means in decent English. Sixth, what is "the war of '44"? World War II began in 1939 and ended in 1945, so to call it the war of a particular year seems very odd. But then the whole song is a logical and grammatical trainwreck.

John Cougar Mellencamp comes in second with this line from "Jack and Diane":

Suckin' on a chili dog outside the Tasty Freeze ...

Who the hell "sucks" on a chili dog?

Bob Seger gets an ungolden star for comparing himself to a rock "chargin' from the gate" in "Like a Rock." All the rocks I have ever encountered were inanimate objects.

Other candidates:

"I'm down on my knees, searching for the answer… Are we human or are we dancer?" (The Killers, "Human")
"I'm serious as cancer when I say rhythm is a dancer!" (SNAP, "Rhythm Is A Dancer")
"In the desert you can remember your name, for there ain't no-one for to give you no pain." (America, "Horse With No Name") 
"Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones." (Coldplay, "Fix You")
"I bought a ticket to the world but now I've come back again." (Spandau Ballet, "True")
"Keep the blood flowing down to your feet, Brother Lois will be around in a minute, with a bucket filled with squirreled meat." (Prince, "Superfunkycalifragisexy")

Most Cliché-Ridden Monstrosity

Heart's "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" makes me want to hurl because it's constructed out of a relentless 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?

Worst Mangling of Image, Metaphor, Facts and/or Logic

While I like the song "Strawberry Wine," I grimace every time I hear the lines:

... green on the vine,
like strawberry wine.

Obviously, it is the strawberries that grow green on the vine, not the "wine." Sade runs a close second and is hardly a "smooth operator" with:

... coast to coast,
L.A. to Chicago ...

There are many cities on the East Coast, so why name a city that lies several hundred miles inland?

Other candidates:

"Caught beneath the landslide in a champagne supernova in the sky." (Oasis, "Champagne Supernova") 
"I know a mouse and he hasn't got a house. I don't know why, I call him Gerald." (Pink Floyd, "Bike")

Most Ostentatiously Overblown Lyrics Imaginable

"My Way" would be a good candidate, except that "McArthur Park" is so overblown that no other song can possibly rival it:

Spring was never waiting for us, girl;
it ran one step ahead
as we followed in the dance
between the parted pages and were pressed,
in love's hot, fevered iron
like a striped pair of pants ...
MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark,
all the sweet, green icing flowing down ...
Someone left the cake out in the rain.
I don't think that I can take it
'cause it took so long to bake it
and I'll never have that recipe again ...
Oh, no!

Oh, no, indeed! If anyone thinks these are good lyrics, I have some stinky swampland to sell at grossly inflated prices. Barry Manilow's pompous "I Write The Songs" is another ridiculously overblown song, as are Neal Diamond's "Longfellow Serenade" and "Forever in Blue Jeans," but they all pale in comparison to "McArthur Park." However, Manilow rates a special dishonorable mention because he didn't write "I Write the Songs" despite singing so bombastically that he did. The song was written by a former Beach Boy, Bruce Johnston.

Most Ego-Saturated Song Lyrics Ever Written

While I would again like to consider the haplessly and hopelessly egocentric "My Way" for some highly dubious honor, I'm afraid this one will have to be a tie between "Rico Suave" and "Ice, Ice Baby." But since the peculiarly pallid rapper known as "Vanilla Ice" plagiarized David Bowie's and Queen's "Under Pressure," let's make that the tiebreaker. And how can we possibly disagree with someone who confesses:

I'm killing your brain like a poisonous mushroom?

Indeed, he is! At least Sinatra and Elvis had talent to back up their outbursts of verbal bombast. Vanilla Ice managed to turn sheer hubris into fifteen seconds of fame, to our eternal shame. I vote we all tell "Ice" to take a chill pill. Other candidates for this award include "Let's Wang Chung Tonight" and "I'm Too Sexy for My Shirt." (The video proves you're not.)

Most Blatantly Untrue Lyrics Ever Performed

On the subject of "things vanilla," as in white-washed over, how about "Girl, You Know It's True" by Milli Vanilli, the group that didn't really sing its own songs? While other groups have been accused of lip-synching, Milli Vanilli took not singing to extraordinary new heights (or depths). The lyrics should have been:

Girl, you know it's true
that when we "sing," we're lying through
our Ultra-Bright teeth to you!

Most Nonsensical and Incomprehensible Lyrics of All Time

Here, the hands-down winner is the famously incomprehensible "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen. This is a song with lyrics so obscure the FBI tried to prosecute the group for obscenity, but after two years simply had to admit defeat. Why? Because to this day, no one has a clue what the song actually says, much less means. Who can properly interpret its half-mumbled, half-sung lyrics? The most comprehensible part of this alleged "song" remains its guitar solo. It might be an innocent song about "having to go" to Jamaica, or it might be an demonic call to destroy all that is innocent and holy. If anyone knows, they are obviously not telling.

"In A Gadda Di Vida" by Iron Butterfly runs a close second in this category. As the story goes, the original lyric was "In the Garden of Eden," but lead singer Doug Ingle became so intoxicated that he slurred the words. The rest, as they say, is history. Steve Miller's "The Joker" comes in a strong third, with the supremely incomprehensible lines:

Some people call me the space cowboy, yeah
Some call me the gangster of love
Some people call me Maurice
'Cause I speak of the pompitous of love

"Some people call me 'moron' because I sing gibberish" would be much more believable!

Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" was originally about the joys of sodomy, but once the lyrics had been changed to pass muster with the Pat Boone crowd, it failed to make any sense whatsoever.
"Sussudio" by Phil Collins is simply ghastly; it's probably better for us not to know what the unuttered "word" is.
"Whiter Shade of Pale" has famously obscure lyrics, but seems to be about a woman turning pale when she is propositioned in a bar, with allusions to Geoffrey Chaucer and his "Miller's Tale."
"Who Let the Dogs Out?" by Baha Men begs the question: "Why would anyone care? Just let them back in, if they promise not to pee or poop in the house!"
"My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas seems to be about trading one's "humps" and "lady lumps" for merchandise, by getting men drunk. What's not to understand, except bragging about it in bad English?
"Gangnam Style" by PSL has been viewed more than a billion times and still no one knows what the hell it means, except that terrible lyrics performed by people with no talent can somehow "go viral."
"I Am the Walrus" makes sense compared to some of the other songs in this category!

Most Absurdly Sentimental Song Lyric

Poets and songwriters try to make us "tear up" over all sorts of things, but when the Beatles wept over an unswept floor, they lost all credibility. How can we do anything but laugh over:

I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping.
Still my guitar gently weeps.

But perhaps the lyric can make us cry, after all ... if only because it's so wrenchingly bad. "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon and Garfunkel runs a close second, with the sickly-sweet lines:

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you,
woo woo woo ...

Woo woo woo, indeed! The Yankee Clipper himself complained about the absurdity of the song, pointing out that he hadn't "gone" anywhere at the time.

Third place goes to Neal Diamond for:

I am, I said
to no one there,
and no one heard at all,
not even the chair ...

Let's not get all weepy about chairs not hearing our complaints!

Or how about "Ben," a heartfelt love song to a rat, sweetly crooned by Michael Jackson? Or, better yet, "Shannon," a tribute to a dog that is "drifting out to sea," sung by the appropriately named Henry Gross? If the dog is still drifting out to sea, why not launch a rescue rather than just singing sadly about the tragedy?

Close and definitely no cigar:

"Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler
"Can You Feel the Love Tonight" by Elton John
"My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion (Kate Winslett said the Titanic theme song made her "want to throw up" and Dion didn't want to record it)
"Every Thing I Do (I Do it for You)" by Bryan Adams
"I Just Called to Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder ("No chocolate-covered candy hearts to give away"? Oh, really! Et tu, Stevie? Cheapskate, with all your millions!) 

Truly Cheesy Love Songs

There is no clear winner in this category because there are so many worthy (which means unworthy) candidates. So I'll pick one at random ... "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt. "My life is brilliant," Blunt declares. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about such lyrics! Was he named after a you-know-what? Did it go to his head and impair his powers of perception? Well yes, the CD version says that he was "fucking high," so the mystery is now officially solved!

Other contenders to take the cheese ...

Any Elvis Presley love song performed bombastically during his lounge singer days, when he looked like a bloated Evel Knievel
Any Michael Bolton love song
Any Lionel Ritchie love song
Any Barry Manilow love song
Any Kenny Rogers love song from his "Silver Fox" period
Any David Lee Roth gigolo love song, and any similar love songs sung by his imitators (anyone who imitates DLR should immediately commit Hari Kari!)
Any other love song that involves jumping and kicking!
Any boy band love song
Any country music song about childhood lovers who meet in heaven
Any country music song about childhood lovers watching their daughter prepare to marry
Any country music song about a father watching his daughter get ready to go on a first date while reminiscing about his first date with her mother
Any country music song that involves a man feeling sentimental about his car or truck, usually after a hard bout of drinking
Any Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp song in which they reminisce about baseball, steel mills, motorbikes, pink houses, sucking on chili dogs, etc.
"You Are So Beautiful" by Joe Cocker
"I Swear" by All-4-One
"Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley
"I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred

Beyond Silly Love Songs

"Groovy Kind of Love" by Phil Collins
"Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies ("You are my candy girl, and you got me wantin' you!")

Most Pointlessly Obvious and Redundant Song Lyric

Van Halen wins this hotly-contested category for "Why Can't This Be Love," which breathlessly informs us that:

Only time will tell
if we stand the test of time.

Or how about this gem by Thin Lizzy:

"Tonight there's going to be a jailbreak, somewhere in this town."

Somewhere? Or would a jailbreak occur at a known location … the local jail, perhaps? 

Worst Tribute Song

My vote for the worst tribute song goes to "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi, with the horrific line "Like Frankie said, I did it my way." First, who the hell calls Frank Sinatra "Frankie"? Second, why quote one of the most overblown, ego-saturated songs ever written? Third, if it's your life, not Frankie's, why not say something "your way" and be much more original?

A close runner-up is "Rock and Roll Heaven" by the Righteous Brothers.

Lies, Fabrications and Wild Overstatement

"What else could I say? Everyone is gay." (Nirvana's "All Apologies"). If this were true, none of us would be here.

Things No One Wants to See, Hear, Smell or Otherwise Experience

"Take my thong off and my ass go boom!" (Missy Elliott, "Work It")
"Young, black and famous, with money hanging out the anus." (Puff Daddy featuring Mase, "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down")
"I'll show you I'm every inch the man – measure all that you think you can." (Extreme, "Naked")
"I'll slink in when you boys are in a French knot." (Peaches, "Two Guys For Every Girl")
"Let me put my love into you babe, let me cut my cake with your knife." (AC/DC, "Let Me Put My Love Into You") 
"I love your pants around your feet … You're like my favourite damn disease." (Nickelback, "Figure You Out")
"Oh babe, I wanna put my log in your fireplace." (Kiss, "Burn Bitch Burn") 
"Bonafide ride, step aside my johnson. Yes I could in the woods of Wisconsin." (Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Around The World")

Things Not to Brag About

"I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, I'm a midnight toker." (Steve Miller Band, "The Joker")

Songs with No Redeeming Value Whatsoever

Some of the songs on this page do have moments of lucidity, emotional connections, perhaps even greatness or at least goodness. But these songs have no redeeming value whatsoever and are just excruciatingly bad from beginning to end:

"Whip My Hair" by Willow Smith
"Friday" by Rebecca Black
"I’m a Gummy Bear" (The Gummy Bear Song) by Gummibar
"That’s Not My Name" by The Ting Tings
"Beverly Hills" by Weezer
"Bugs" by Pearl Jam
"Queen of the Supermarket" by Bruce Springsteen
"Get on Your Boots" by U2
"My World" by Guns 'n' Roses
"Ben" by the Jackson 5
"You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon
"Gangnam Style" by Psy
"Rock and Roll Heaven" by the Righteous Brothers
"Jump" by Van Halen
"Longfellow Serenade" by Neil Diamond
"I Write the Songs" as performed by Barry Manilow
"All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" by Heart
"Having My Baby" by Paul Anka
"McArthur Park" as performed by Richard Harris
"I Don't Want to Wait" by Paula Cole

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 HyperTexts