Today I want to talk about Bad Songs. I mostly do this because it’s cathartic. You know what I mean—you hear some grating, brain-injuring song on the radio, which gets trapped in there until you must release it by either singing loudly in the shower or by writing angsty blog posts about it. Since I don’t listen to much popular radio anymore, the only songs left to become lodged in my subconscious are praise and worship songs.
First, let me explain my obsession with bad songs. Some ten years ago, my husband and I picked up a copy of Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs (trust me, it’s worth the read, even if there have been plenty of bad songs since). We talked about our most despised songs, which had somehow not managed to find a place in the book. (Mine: Got My Mind Set on You; his: Send in the Clowns.) Whenever we hear a song we think is worthy, we add it to our own list of Hated Songs. I didn’t actually know some of the songs in the book. I had never heard of MacArthur Park, for example, although I was familiar with the Weird Al version.
Dave Barry’s criterion for a good song is that it be a son he “personally likes.” This makes sense, given the fact that a lot of songs are both popular and bad. In other words, while we may have impeccable taste in music, someone else (fine, a lot of someone elses) actually likes those songs. The problem is, that may eliminate a whole category of music based on my own preference. I don’t care for rap. However, I don’t see it as “bad” just because it isn’t on my play list. Also, just because I happen to like a song doesn’t make it good. My daughter’s dance teacher made her a CD which included a couple of Hanna Montana songs. I like them (I know!), but I admit they aren’t actually truly “good.”
Some song badness can be forgiven. While Rebecca Black’s Friday is not a good song, in any sense, it can be excused because she’s young and wrote it herself. She may not be a fabulous singer, but with some vocal training, she could be. With maturity (or a good ghostwriter, like other youthful pop stars) her lyrics and music will improve. Willow Smith can be forgiven for a similar reason, as well as the fact that adults are not her target audience. Tom Jones, on the other hand, should not be forgiven for any of his songs.
Anyway, enter the New Era of my personal Bad Song List. I’ve posted on bad worship songs before, but with a more serious tone. This time, I’m just talking about songs I specifically don’t like. The tune annoys me, it’s hard to sing, or the lyrics are flaky. This includes things in the category that one of my dear friends refers to as “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs, which sound so much like what’s on the radio that if you replace the words “God” and “Jesus” with “baby” you get something entirely different. So here’s a list of my 5 least favorite praise songs:
1. Our God (Chris Tomlin): The tune is meandering and the lyrics…arrgh. I find myself wishing he would just finish a thought. “Our God is stronger”…than what? “Who can stand against”…what? Finish the sentence!
2. How He Loves (John Mark McMillan): Meaningless metaphors.
3. I Know Who I Am (Israel Houghton): I can’t think of anything that isn’t wrong with this one. It’s self-centered, repetitive, and worries me because we tend to sing it on autopilot.
4. All Who Are Thirsty (Misty Edwards): Another song full of meaningless metaphors. This is a problem in traditional hymns, too, but this song comes with a difficult-to-sing tune.
5. Blessed Assurance (Fanny Crosby): Yes, I know this is a hymn, not a praise song. I hate it anyway. So sue me. The tune is irritating and the words aren’t very clever.
What’s on your Bad Song List?
For more on Bad Praise Songs, check out: