I present to you now the second of my articles regarding the songs I consider to be among the worst of the 1960’s and ’70’s. There was a lot of great music during those decades, but also a number of offerings that were less than stellar.
To qualify for inclusion on this list, a song has to meet the criteria of : being a song which may be okay, melody-wise, but is lyrically ridiculous; being a song that is sappy and insipid; being a song that is rendered “bad” by virtue of a poor performance by the singer or singers of it.
Again, there are far too many of these little gems for me to name here, but the ten songs selected here are some of those I find to be the most representative.
“Da Doo Ron Ron” (1977)
The “artist” of this mindlessly dreadful song was Shaun Cassidy.
In a sense, you have to have a little empathy for poor Shaun, constantly living in the shadows of his movie and television actress/singer mom Shirley Jones and his older and more successful half-sibling David Cassidy-you know, the ’70’s teen idol and star of “The Partridge Family,” in which Shirley was also cast.
“Da Doo Ron Ron” was Shaun Cassidy’s attempt to make his own dent in the music industry with this tormenting tune, in which the title phrase, “Da Doo Ron Ron” is repeated way, way too many times.
Fortunately for his career and our sanity, he eventually dispensed with the singing and went on to do a decent job with acting, producing and writing.
“He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)” (1962)
Hey. nothing like domestic abuse for the subject of a song!
The Crystals sang this absolutely clueless song from the standpoint of a woman who thinks being pummeled around by her significant other is proof of his “love” for her.
Understandably, “He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)” was a huge flop.
Surprisingly, the composers were Gerry Goffin and Carole King, who otherwise wrote some of the best classic rock ‘n’ roll songs of the 60’s and 70’s. Can’t figure what kind of mind-set they were in, at the time, to have dreamed up these lyrics.
Why any record company decided to ever release such an irresponsible song is astounding.
Really, really bad idea!
“Knock Three Times” (1971)
Here’s another little “golden nugget” by Tony Orlando and Dawn. “Knock Three Times” is a rather disturbing little ditty, once you read the lyrics.
Apparently, this is about some creepy guy who spends his time watching and listening to a girl in a neighboring apartment. He evidently has no life, because he spends his existence listening to see if she will knock on a ceiling or pipe, to let him know whether or not she wants to be with him.
Sounds like a pretty scary person to me and I’d suggest that the object of his affections gets a big dog and some pepper spray, ’cause this fella has got some serious mental issues.
MacArthur Park (1968 and 1978)
I will confess that I actually liked this song at one point, both the Richard Harris and Donna Summer versions
Then I grew up and actually listened to the lyrics.
Just how does leaving a cake out in the rain and losing the recipe for it get somebody in such an emotional funk? Why is a girl sitting down with birds in her hand and bothering some poor old guys trying to play checkers, in peace, by a tree? Most of all, what has any of it got to do with being in this stupid park??
Yes, I realize that there was probably some deeper, metaphoric meaning to it all, that the cake thing is symbolic of a disintegrating relationship, but who wants to figure all that all when you’re listening to a song? Call me a low maintenance!
Of course, “MacArthur Park” ended on an overdramatic plaintive, “Oh, nooooo!” and I can’t figure out whether Richard Harris even actually hit that high note.
Then, like a bad penny, it came back as a remake by disco queen Donna Summer.
The tune actually was not that bad, but the inane lyrics is why it is listed here.
“Me and You and a Dog Named Boo”( 1971)
Can you hear my teeth grinding?
“Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” was a country rock song with totally mindless lyrics, thrust upon an unsuspecting public by musician Roland Kent Lavoie (stage name “Lobo”).
The lyrics describe his desire for him and his sweetie to drive around the country with his dog in a beat-up old car,as they get caught stealing eggs from a farm and work just long enough to get gas money to keep driving on the road to nowhere.
Let’s see. This guy has no gainful employment, a crappy car and he wants his girlfriend to be content accompanying him on his “carefree” journey.
Can you say ..LOSER?
“One Bad Apple” (1970)
Back in the day, the Osmonds were supposed to be the white counterparts of The Jackson 5. (For those of you younger than 30-years-old, The Jackson 5 was the group Michael Jackson was in with his brothers before he grew up and got bizarre.)
What I remember most is that, between them all, the Osmonds had a lot of teeth and Donny sang in a very high-pitched voice.
“One Bad Apple” was a hit for them, mostly because of all the silly, pubescent girls who had posters of the Osmonds-Donny, in particular- taped on their bedroom wall.
I always felt that they were trying way too hard to be hip, putting them completely out of their element. These were kids who were singing barbershop quartet tunes on “The Andy Williams Show” just a few years earlier, not exactly a qualification for being “cool.”
Sure, “One Bad Apple” sold records, but it also was one of those songs that helped give birth to the awful “bubblegum pop” genre that went on to plague us for years to come.
“Patches” was a hit, if you can believe it. Guess some people enjoy listening to something depressing.
Clarence Carter recorded this gloomy tune about an impoverished brother from Alabama who works his fingers to the bone as a sharecropper, to help feed his mama and younger siblings, prodded on by a promise he made to his dying daddy, who evidently felt the need to throw in a guilt trip before expiring.
He gets teased and called “Patches” because of the holes in his clothes, loses his childhood working the fields- only to have the crops wash away, then watches as his mother eventually dies and his brothers and sisters grow up and move on, leaving him alone, stuck in guilt and as poor as ever.
There’s a “feel good” song for you!
A hokey, hokey song by, of all things, a fake music group called The Archies.
The “group” was made up of- are you ready?- Archie, Jughead, Reggie, Betty and Veronica, with Hot Dog, the dog, as their mascot. They were, of course, characters from those comic books some of us tried to sneak into our classroom to hide from the teacher in elementary school.
In the late 60’s, there was a Saturday morning cartoon show comprised of these same characters and, at some point, their quasi-rock, garage band was formed and we were rewarded, near the end of most of their shows, with a special song by the fictional group. Actually, these were studio musicians singing and “Sugar, Sugar” was actually a hit, as a lot of jaded young record buyers really thought they were listening to their comic book heroes.
I think the reason the real singers remained anonymous was to avoid the backlash, years later, when their throngs of listeners ended up in therapy.
“Watchin’ Scott Grow” (1974)
As far as I’m concerned, Bobby Goldsboro was the Mac Daddy of bad songs during the 60’s and 70’s. I mentioned this
song in my previous list, but I think “Watchin’ Scott Grow” deserves its own individual spot.
It’s supposed to be a touching song about a man’s love for his little boy, which is certainly a good motive for a song. The problem here is just …well …the man himself, Bobby Goldsboro, who gives a colorless, bland performance of an aleady mediocre song.
I still clench my teeth when I remember of the times I was forced to listen to this song as a kid on the way to being driven to school.
Try taking a spelling test with “Watchin’ Scotty Grow” still playing in your head.
“You’re Havin’ My Baby” (1974)
This was composed and sung by prolific songwriter/singer Paul Anka.
The lyrics don’t indicate whether this guy plans on marrying this woman who’s carrying his kid, but just goes on and on like some man with a puffed-up, macho ego.
Wonder if Paulie would have been so happy if he’d had to go through labor and breast feed? What an outrageously arrogant song by a man with a Neanderthal mentality!
Just keep ’em barefoot and pregnant, right, Paul?
You May Agree or Not …
I am perfectly aware that all of us are individual creatures and what is deplorable music to my ears may be the greatest thing this side of Beethoven to you.
After visiting other sites and forums on this subject, however, as well as speaking to friends on this topic, enough people agree with me about the songs included here to make me feel confident in my decision to list them.