1982 was the moment when the 80s that we know and love officially begun. Thanks to MTV, the sound of popular music saw a drastic change. The trends of the 70s were mostly gone and in its place is the eventual dominance of new wave acts, rock, pop, and country. It was a fantastic year compared to the previous two years as the hits got better and better. But that doesn’t mean that the bad songs went way. This is exactly what this list is about, exposing the worst of a particular year. So let’s get started.
Every generation is nostalgic about the past decades. Today’s generation is obsessed with the 90s and the 80s generation is obsessed with the 60s. Prime example being 65 Love Affair by Paul Davis, a song about falling in love in the 60s with doo-wop influences and sounding like a rejected Hall & Oates song. And it’s clear that this is a calculated product meant to cash in on 60s nostalgia. You got instrumentation that consists of organs, synths, and machine drums that all smells of 80s cheese. You got the use of 60s slang that I’m sure even people back then didn’t use. And you also have the most basic, barebones use of doo-wop vocals that have become cliched by this point. I can see where Meghan Trainor got her influence from with her music.
Time for me to shit on Barbara Streisand again. I hate doing so because she’s not a bad artist, but I have to call out bad music when I hear it. This brings us to Comin’ In And Out Of Your Life. It’s a love ballad about missing the person that you’re in love with and it’s just as dull as her other songs. That’s thanks to instrumentation that’s rooted in strings and keys and it is a snoozer. Not only that, but it drags for a 4-minute long song. Is Barbara Streisand a good singer? Yes, but it doesn’t mean anything when the music being given doesn’t compliment that talent. This is the music that would get played in an older movie that I would have no interest in watching. So, yeah. Not feeling this.
As you all know, the “white guy with acoustic guitar” genre, coined by Todd In The Shadows, has become one of the most despised genres on the Internet. But this wasn’t a new phenomenon, this shit has existed for decades since the invention of the acoustic guitar. Let’s look at one of those songs, Leader Of The Band by Dan Fogelberg. This song was written as a tribute to Fogelberg’s own father, who clearly deserved better than this. It has the same problem as With Arms Wide Open, being that it’s depressing as hell like it was written for a funeral. Like a lot of WGWAG songs, it is boring as tar thanks to its interchangeable guitar work. There are ways to make these acoustic guitar songs work and this ain’t one of them. As a singer, Dan Fogelberg is a really bland non-presence. He just doesn’t move me. If I was a father and my kid made this song for me, I’d be disappointed in them for making this dull, sleepy dreck.
Oh, look. Another snoozer. This one comes from Michael Martin Murphy and it’s called What’s Forever For. It’s written in the perspective of an old geezer watching other peoples’ relationships go down the drain and wondering why nobody stays in love forever. Hey, asshole. You do know there’s several reasons why relationships don’t last, right? There’s infidelity, drama, finances, or even that the love is gone. Shit happens. What isn’t helping this song is the instrumentation. Dreary electric piano accented with strings and acoustic guitars make a boring pop country ballad that you’ll hear at your local bar at 1AM in the morning. Makes sense since this song makes you want to drink until your liver gives in.
Before Ghostbusters, Ray Parker Jr. was part of the funk group Raydio. They had a handful of hits in the late 70s and early 80s including Jack And Jill and A Woman Needs Love. They broke up in 1981 and Ray Parker Jr pursued a solo career. It wasn’t off to a great start as you can see with The Other Woman. The instrumentation is fine, especially Ray’s guitar work. But what makes this song bad is the content of the lyrics. The Other Woman is the infidelity anthem of 1982 where Ray is cheating on his girlfriend with another woman and he loves it so much. The fact that he’s so proud of meeting this chick and doesn’t give a flying shit about the feelings of his own girlfriend paints him as a giant douchehole. The song portrays cheating as something great when in reality, it isn’t. I hope by the end of the song, his girl finds out about his cheating and dumps his ass. Well, Ray. At least you and the other woman will have plenty of fun together now that you’re single.
Now, I actually like The Steve Miller Band. Fly Like An Eagle and The Joker are untouchable classics. Abracadabra, on the other hand? Not so much. The instrumentation to this song is weak, especially compared to their other songs. It just doesn’t have the punch or the tight grooves. It must be those synths weighing this song down. Writing-wise, it’s Steve Miller being aroused. Seriously.
Every time you call my name
I heat up like a burnin’ flame
Burnin’ flame full of desire
Kiss me baby, let the fire get higher
I feel the magic in your caress
I feel magic when I touch your dress
Silk and satin, leather and lace
Black panties with an angel’s face
He might as well pop a boner while singing these lines. It is way too descriptive for my taste, plus, some of the lines are…
I want to reach out and grab ya
… yikes. Did I ever mentioned that this song was rumored to be inspired by Diana Ross? I can’t imagine Diana listening to this song and being flattered by it. Steve Miller Band, you’re so much better than this.
Fun fact: I’ve Never Been To Me by Charlene was originally released in 1977. Five years later, it was re-released and instantly became popular. How and why, I don’t know and I don’t care. All I know is that it’s terrible. Instrumental-wise, it’s another by-the-numbers piano ballad, but what makes this song stand out in terms of shitty music is the writing. The premise is set up around a wife who’s bored with her life and yearns for some excitement. She’s then approached by a woman who lived the lifestyle that she dreams of and she let her know that it’s not worth doing so when you’re not fully happy on the inside. This could’ve been a great song, but the writing let it down big time.
Took the hand of a preacher man and we made love in the sun
But I ran out of places and friendly faces because I had to be free
I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me
I’ve been undressed by kings and I’ve seen some things
That a woman ain’t s’posed to see
I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me
Sometimes I’ve been to cryin’ for unborn children
That might have made me complete
But I, I took the sweet life and never knew I’d be bitter from the sweet
I spent my life exploring the subtle whoring that cost too much to be free
Hey lady, I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me
I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me. I get what you’re trying to say, but that is so lame. Along with that, the song feels like a preachy after-school special ruining your cartoons. I don’t have a reason to care about someone in their midlife crisis.
Allow me to introduce you to a Scottish singer named Sheena Easton. She made her first public appearance on an episode of The Big Time, an old British TV show that focused on people working on their big break in a particular field. She was looking for a record deal and got one with EMI Records. She recorded the singles Modern Girl and Morning Train (Nine To Five) and they were big hits on the UK charts. Now I always found Sheena Easton to be mediocre and I have yet to like any songs from her. Let’s look at one of her songs, You Could Have Been With Me. The instrumentation is adult contemporary garbage, those keys and guitars are REALLY thin and weak. As a vocalist, Sheena is not that good. It’s more obvious in the chorus when she attempts to belt and she’s just not hitting those notes right. And then there’s the writing, where Sheena is pressuring a guy to be in a relationship with her. This wouldn’t be bad if it wasn’t condescending as hell. She spends less time giving a reason why he should be dating her and more time talking crap about him. There’s actually a hint of sexism within this song. Ladies and gentlemen, if you want someone to go out with you, it’s best if you gave them a reason why you’re worth their time. And you wonder why you can’t get a date.
Yeah, I’m not exactly an Olivia Newton-John fan. I thought Grease sucked and I didn’t care about her own music. One of her worst songs is Physical. The instrumentation is blech. Imagine the worst aspects of new wave watered-down along with the cheapest preset synths and a lame guitar solo. That’s what you get musically. Writing-wise, Olivia Newton-John wants to gets physical, which in the context of this song is basically sex. One, this song is not sexy at all. Listen to this crap and tell me if you get a sexy vibe out of it. And no. Saying something suggestive doesn’t count as sexy. Fuck what Billboard says. Two, the phrase “let’s get physical” could have another meaning like fighting or exercise, in which the music video exploited the latter using aerobics visuals. This song is super overrated and doesn’t deserve any praise nor does it deserved to be the number one song of 1982. Yet it’s not the worst song of that year.
And now, here are some dishonorable mentions.
- Olivia Newton-John-Make A Move On Me
- Bertie Higgins-Key Largo
- Air Supply-Even The Nights Are Better/Here I Am
- Lindsey Buckingham-Trouble
- Alabama-Love In The First Degree
- Royal Philharmonic Orchestra-Hooked On Classics
- America-You Can Do Magic
- Commodores-Oh No
- Deniece Williams-It’s Gonna Take A Miracle
- Neil Diamond-Yesterday’s Songs
And finally, the worst song of 1982 IS…………
Ah, here’s a band I’m sure will never make another appearance on one of these lists again, Chicago. The band named after the Windy City has a notorious reputation among music fans because of their musical output in the 80s. That musical output being filled with ballad after ballad. Hard To Say I’m Sorry is one of those ballads. It marked a musical departure for the band where they swapped out the horns for synthesizers and strings on top of piano notes and it’s slow, dreary, and schmaltzy as all hell. Every Chicago song after this would have this exact sound or elements of it. Peter goddamn Cetera. He was usually the worst part of Chicago mainly because his falsetto voice is so freaking insufferable. It’s the type of falsetto that makes you question if he was bludgeoned in the testicles with a sledgehammer at birth. And we haven’t even gotten to the writing, which is the worst part of this song.
Hold me now
It’s hard for me to say I’m sorry
I just want you to stay
After all that we’ve been through
I will make it up to you
I promise to
So you want your girl to stay with you even though you can’t muster up the good will to apologize. Are you fucking serious? You’re just gonna pretend everything is okay and make empty promises instead of owning up to your mistakes like an adult would do? Dude, fuck you. You don’t even deserve any pity for being a selfish prick. If this woman decides to dump you, which would be the smartest thing to do, then she made the right choice. If not, then we get more Chicago ballads, which unfortunately, this isn’t the last of. Congratulations to Hard To Say I’m Sorry for being the worst song of 1982.
And those were the ten worst songs of 1982. In two weeks, BACK TO THE 80s continues with the Worst Songs of 1983.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
On My Block-Scarface