Worst Music Ever

Last week’s Friday Five was once again mine.

One of my fondest memories from high school was going over to the home of this idiot we knew named Chris. We used to go to his house, which was on an acreage outside of the city, mostly to poke fun at him, do nasty things to his house while his mother wasn’t home, and watch the stars flat on our backs on his driveway. Chris lived with his mother and between them they shared the most godawful music collection that I’ve ever had the misfortune of looking at. I’m talking Milli Vanilli, Ray Lynch, Andreas Vollenweider bad. (Okay, I liked Vollenweider at the time. But anyway…) One fine afternoon, we ended up out on the driveway using his Milli Vanilli CD as a frisbee, and by the end of the game it was absolutely unplayable, which we regarded as mission accomplished.

But none of us is free from at least a little awful music in our collections. What are the five worst CDs, tapes, or minidiscs (or whatever) in your collection, the ones most deserving of being conficated by your friends and thereafter flung like a frisbee, scattered in shattered pieces on your driveway, strung over a power-line, or being hidden in the toilet tank of your upstairs bathroom?

Actually, I kind of went through my CDs a while backand got rid of some really bad ones. But there are still some stinkers which, for perverse (or other) reasons, I enjoy having or at least owning.

The worst CD is some kind of poetry/spoken word thing by this guy from California—either San Francisco or Los Angeles, I can’t remember. The thing is horrible. It looked so promising, seeing as he was older, very into jazz, and so on. But it’s horrible, horrible, horrible. There’s actually a song about Coltrane where he’s punning on C# and B-natural, saying, “See sharp! Be natural! Be sharp! C natural!” (Which is an even worse pun since B# is a C-natural.) I loaned this to my friend John and I haven’t seen it in a couple of years now, but I will claim it back someday. I get a strange joy out of owning something so very despicable.

Another CD I own which is just ridiculous is the techno CD that Traci Lords put out in the mid-90s. I was working at a muzak store at the time and got it for free. The techno bits are actually not bad, for techno, but she goes and ruins it by trying to capitalize on her notorious past as a teenaged porn star. If I recall correctly, there is a song where a Lords narrates a story about a young girl minding her own business in a field of flowers, but gets attacked, and while she is being raped, finds she enjoys it. It’s just yucky. That’s a track to skip. Actually, it’s a whole CD to skip.

Tuck & Patti’s Learning How to Fly ranks pretty highly on my pretty bad albums. I don’t know why I don’t like them so much, but I think it’s probably that they way they straddles genres rubs me the wrong way. I love artists who straddle genres, or ignore them completely; but these two seem to take the least appealing bits and pieces from each genre they draw upon. I put the CD on just now to see what I don’t like about it, but I can’t even put myfinger on it. All I know is that I don’t like it, and it’s an increasingly strong opinion with each passing track, even though some of the songs are actually quite nice.

Or maybe it’s the niceness that turns me off.

There’s also a CD my mom copied for me, which is, she reported once, one of her favorites, because it shows that “anyone can do anything if she puts her mind to it.” Well, I don’t take the CD as evidence of that at all; I think it’s more of a sign that the richer you are, the more ridiculously you can behave without being put away. Florence Foster Jenkins was a rich lady who performed opera very, very badly, but funded her own performances using inherited money. She had many fans, but those fans loved her “antics”, not her singing. (For the longer version of the story, check out the link above, which leads to the Wikipedia entry on the woman.) The CD is painful, though in an amusing way. Once in a very long while, anyway…

Black Syndrome is a Korean rock/pop band. I didn’t buy their CD, I found it kicking around the old Dabang practice studio and took it home to find out what it was. Looking at the cover, and judging from the name of the band, I expected some kind of blippy, happy metal band, but actually, it’s just mainstream Korean rock, with a bit of the ballad/pop genre thrown in, and even a touch of psychedelic, though nothing too out there. Ugh. It’s not even really worth a listen all the way through, in my opinion.

A runner up is this CD called 33 Revolutions per Minute by Marxman. David Sprague’s review at TrouserPress.com pretty much hits the nail on the head:

Politics, like most perishables, doesn’t travel particularly well. By the time it crosses an ocean, practically all its flavor disappears, a difficulty that better agit-poppers ameliorate by simply, well, kicking out the jams. This strident UK-based Anglo-Irish-Caribbean hip-hop quartet, however, can muster neither the requisite energy nor the slightest innovation needed to get its arduously wordy missives into gear-a decided detriment when it comes to reaching listeners who could give a toss about the monarchy.

Since we live in an age of diminished expectations, it’s not too surprising Marxman lowers the titular ante from spiritual forefathers Stiff Little Fingers’ mandate for “78 Revolutions a Minute.” Still, the heavy-handedness with which the foursome addresses issues like Northern Irish home rule (“Sad Affair”) and colonialism in general (“Ship Ahoy,” with a cameo by Sin?d O’Connor) negates the moderately interesting trad-folk flourishes that accompany the de rigueur funky drummer beats. And while it’s certainly encouraging to hear rappers actively decry misogyny-as Marxman do on the seething “All About Eve”-it would be even more tenable if the screed were invested with even a whit of that old Hyde Park Speakers Corner soapbox passion. As it stands, The Communist Manifesto offers more succinct ideas, even if you can’t dance to it. (The UK and US editions differ only in the completely redone artwork.)

And yet, for some strange reason that may be called sympathy, I actually enjoy this album when I hear it. So, this is only a runner-up because I think that everyone else I know would say the disc should be a frisbee, I would fight them off to protect it. I just like it somehow, and that’s that.

If you want to hear about the crap in other F5ers collections, check out the links under Friday Five in the right sidebar.

4 thoughts on “Worst Music Ever

  1. I have a friend who once explained that to be with a woman means “listening to her shitty music a LOT,” and though my own girlfriend hasn’t imposed much on me, I can see where he was coming from.

    But surely there must be something shameful in your own collection, man.

  2. Nope, I love my collection. It ranges from Classical ( Mozart and Debussy being two faves) through Jazz( Gene Krupra, Billy Holliday, Sarah Vaughn and Dave Brubeck never long off the hi-fi) Folk ( all shades of Irish, Scots and English Trad) decent rock ( Iggy and the Stooges, PWEI, CCR, New Model Army, Kinks) New Stuff ( White Stripes, Badly drawn Boy, The Coral, oh just heaps of stuff) some pretty decent techno, Blues ( You name ‘ em I’ve probably got something by them), Ska ( I love Ska, it was my youth music) and country ( Travis Tritt, Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks, Hank Williams Sr. to name a few). And heaps of stuff that I wouldn’t even like to start talking about as it would use up too much bandwith here! What can I say I love music and there’s always new stuff that I’m discovering. To be quite honest I do have some really bad stuff, but it’s not really mine and confined to a couple of compilation CDs that I’ve made and those are songs that I use in the classroom, most of that I hate, but the students want to hear them ,or they’re popular and useful for one thing or another. But I tend to know what I like, and usually when I experiment with unknown artists I normally do OK. If I really pick a duff one, straight into the bin.

  3. Into the bin? I can’t usually convince myself to do that, for several reasons: mostly, because I may grow to like it. My normal reaction to unfamiliar music is slightly negative at first, then sometimes far more favorable a month or two later.

    Perhaps that goes with the into-atonal-jazz bit; you end up with more things that you’re not sure about but kind-of-dislike, and they end up in the collection, because once you’ve had a couple of experiences where something turns out to be really good, after you once hated it, you dread missing the same thing in other CDs.

    Or in any case I do.

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