The 50 Worst Albums Ever

Well, well, well. The blogging this week has been mostly serious and dense, with discussions of Hitler’s mother’s breast cancer and two rather long posts about medicine and evolution. I don’t know why, but I got a little carried away. In any case, it’s Friday, and it’s time for lighter fare. And, given my huge CD collection and love of music, what better topic than music?

Q Magazine has released a list of the 50 Worst Albums Ever. Naturally, I had to see if any albums I own are on the list, which is as follows (found via D-Listed):

1. Duran Duran – Thank You
2. Spice Girls – All Their Solo Albums!
3. Various – Urban Renewal: The Songs Of Phil Collins
4. Lou Reed – Metal Machine Music
5. Billy Idol – Cyberpunk
6. Naomi Campbell – Babywoman
7. Kevin Rowland – My Beauty
8. Mick Jagger – Primitive Cool
9. Westlife – Allow Us To Be Frank
10. Tim Machine – Tin Machine Ii
11. Limp Bizkit – Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water
12. Tom Jones – Mr Jones
13. Bruce Willis – The Return Of Bruno
14. Terence Trent Diabolical – Neither Fish Nor Flesh
15. Various – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band – OST
16. Spice Girls – Forever
17. Bob Dylan & The Grateful Dead – Dylan And The Dead
18. Crazy Frog – Crazy Hits
19. Goldie – Saturnz Return
20. Mariah Cary – Glitter OST
21. The Clash – Cut The Crap
22. Robson & Jerome – Robson & Jerome
23. Alanis Morissette – Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
24. Lauryn Hill – MTV Unpugged 2.0
25. The Cranberries – To The Faithful Departed
26. Vanilla Ice – Hard To Swallow
27. Destiny’s Child – Destiny Fulfilled
28. The Rolling Stones – Dirty Work
29. Various – Christmas In The Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album
30. Michael Jackson – Invincible
31. Stevie Wonder – Woman In Red
32. Ace Of Bass – The Sign
33. Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All
34. Fishspooner – #1
35. Puff Daddy – Forever
36. Kula Shaker – Peanuts, Pigs & Astronauts
37. Shania Twain – Come On Over
38. Chris Rea – The Road To Hell Pt2
39. Big Country – Undercover
40. The Others – The Others
41. Paul Simon – Songs From The Capeman OST
42. Babylon Zoo – The Boy With The X-Ray Eyes
43. The Travelling Wilburys – Vol 3
44. Kiss – Music From The Elder
45. William Shatner – The Transformed Man
46. Oasis – Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants
47. Ozzy Osbourne – Under Cover
48. Milli Vanilli – All Or Nothing
49. Neil Young And The Shocking Pinks – Everybody’s Rocking
50. Beck – Midnight Vultures

Wait a minute. The Clash? OK, I’ll grant Q Magazine that Cut the Crap was undoubtedly The Clash’s worst album. They released it as the band was falling apart and after Mick Jones had been kicked out and had moved on to form Big Audio Dynamite. The band then completely broke up shortly after it was released. Certainly it was nowhere near as good as masterpieces such as London Calling, The Clash, or Combat Rock. But one of the 50 worst? What are these guys smoking? The Clash’s worst is better than a lot of bands’ best, and even this album produced one song that rates up there with their heydey, namely This Is England. True, Cut the Crap was a mediocre effort and a rather sad end to the greatest punk band ever, but it is certainly not deserving of being among the 50 worst albums of all time. (Yes, I have this album–on vinyl.)

Another album on this list that I have is Tin Machine II, which is also not deserving of such an “honor.” Again, this album is merely mediocre, a misfire in David Bowie’s attempt to be downplay his stardom by being just part of a stripped down band whose music bordered on metal. (Under the God from the first Tin Machine album almost borders on thrash.) Like The Clash, David Bowie’s misfires are better than many bands’ best stuff. (As an aside, this album demonstrates the sometimes perverse prudishness in the U.S. The cover of the U.S. release of this record featured male Kouros statues on the front with their genitalia apparently broken off. European releases showed the statues anatomically intact.)

The last album on the list that I own is Beck’s Midnite Vultures. This is a very strange album, but I kind of like it. It’s basically Beck trying to do soul, R&B, and hip-hop, but mainly it sounds like 1980’s Prince. Surprisingly Beck does a pretty good job, and some of the tunes are quite catchy and even danceable. Maybe Q Magazine was irritated by a suspicion that this album was all just a hipster prank. Certainly I wondered. Even if it is, it’s so quirky, catchy, and entertaining that I didn’t really much care if Beck was serious or not or if he was being hipster ironic about it.

As for the rest of the list, it’s hard to argue with including a William Shatner album or Spice Girls albums, but I find it hard to believe that Kevin Rowland (of Dexy’s Midnight Runners fame), Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, the Rolling Stones, or Neil Young deserve to be included on this list (I’m not even sure I agree that Dirty Work is the Stones’ worst album). I find it especially hard to believe that Paul Simon belongs on that list. I grew up listening to Paul Simon, and I’ve never heard him put out a truly bad album. Although I own several of his works, I don’t own the one on this list; nonetheless, I find it hard to believe it’s bad enough to be on the list. I may have to find out for myself.

Now, a more interesting question is: What albums you would include on this list? I can think of a few (in no particular order):

Anything by David Hasselhoff. Why he’s so popular in Germany, I have no idea.

Almost anything by Journey or Steve Perry. ‘Nuff said.

Almost anything by Kenny G, Yanni, The Backstreet Boys, or ‘N Sync. If I have to explain why, there’s no hope for you.

Whatever album in the late 1970’s contained a disco version of Stairway to Heaven. Yes, such a horrific atrocity existed. I remember cringing like a whipped dog when I heard it on the radio, whining, “Make it go away!”. My friends who were with me at the time started whimpering in pain in unison. However, we couldn’t help but listen to almost the entire tune out of sheer stunned disbelief. Fortunately, our driver was made of sterner stuff; otherwise, I might have ended life as an automobile crash statistic before I even graduated from high school. Now, nearly 30 years later, I just can’t remember the name of the band. Perhaps it’s better this way. Actually, there’s no “perhaps” about it.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Clubs Band (Soundtrack, 1978). It was a bad movie, combining Beatles songs with a late 1970’s disco sensibility, and the soundtrack matched.

Wedding Album (John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1969). Ugh. That’s all I can say. Endless minutes of John and Yoko repeating each other’s name. Goody.

Permission to Land (The Darkness, 2005). I made the mistake of purchasing this because I thought that I Believe in a Thing Called Love was catchy. Big mistake. Not only did that song soon grate on me–ack, it’s in my head now!–but the rest of the album sounds like an unholy fusion of Queen and Spinal Tap. Actually, come to think of it, an unholy fusion of Queen and Spinal Tap would probably result in far more entertaining and enjoyable music than these guys make. I’d probably buy an album that’s an unholy fusion of Queen and Spinal Tap. In any case, I wanted to strangle the singer by the end of the CD, as his voice is so high that sometimes only dogs can hear it.

Scream Dream (Ted Nugent, 1980). You may find it hard to believe, given all my other seemingly more diverse musical tastes, but normally I like the Nuge. I really do (although I will never forgive him for Damn Yankees). I grew up in Detroit in the 1970’s, and learned to appreciate the Motor City Madman’s all-out, take-no-prisoners sonic assault. In fact, I own several of his albums from his 1970’s heydey and, even at my advanced age, still pull them out from time to time to rock out, much to my wife’s consternation. But this particular album is just plain bad. Wango Tango is just the same riff repeated over and over and over again over adolescent one-joke lyrics likening a sex act to looking for a garage while using words such as “salivilate” for “salivate.” (Actually, on second thought, this album wouldn’t be too bad if it werent for Wango Tango. Terminus Eldorado is fairly catchy, for example.)

Kilroy Was Here (Styx, 1983). Two words: Mr. Roboto. Need I say more? <shudder>

Hi Infidelity (REO Speedwagon, 1980). If I ever hear Keep On Loving You again, I may pull a Vincent van Gogh on my ears. Hopefully I will have the presence of mind to turn off the radio before I hurt myself.

In fact, contemplating those last two entries made me feel a bit ill. I think I have to stop now, even though I’m sure I could flesh out a full list of 50, given enough time and sonic punishment. I’m going to fire up my iPod now and purge the thought of these musical atrocities by listening to some Sufjan Stevens (if you don’t have his latest album Illinois, buy it now), The Arcade Fire (if you don’t have Funeral, buy it now too), and then perhaps throw in a little classic Bowie and Stones to completely banish the aural horrors that I’ve just contemplated.

In the meantime, perhaps you could let me know what albums you consider “worthy” of this “honor” and why. I can only comment on albums that I’ve heard or made the mistake of purchasing. I’m sure I’ve missed lots of truly awful music.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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