Worst Songs List

Top 10 List: Worst Songs of 1989

So I was warned by a friend about 1989. Boy, were they not kidding. Allow me to say something that a lot of other people have said: 1989 was an awful year for pop music. Hell, it might be one of the worst years for pop music period. The ballads were lamer and a lot of pop songs sound more and more manufactured. 1989 was so bad that I had to do something I hadn’t done in a while: expand the dishonorable mentions to 15. I hope you’re comfortable, ladies and gentlemen, because this is about to get really shitty.

1989

10.

We start the list with Richard Marx and his biggest hit Right Here Waiting. Seems about right. This isn’t even the worst song he’s ever made, but I still don’t like it. The instrumentation is easily the best part of the song, even if it is a typical ballad of the 80s with those synths and piano. It sounds nice, at least. My big issue with this song is everything else. Like I said in the last, I’m not a fan of Richard Marx vocally. He’s that combination of bland and raspiness that makes it sound like he’s in pain. And this could work with this writing, where Marx is patiently waiting on his girl even after they broke up. But because of how bland Marx is, I’m not invested. Plus, not to be Mr Buzzkill here, but at some point, you got to let shit go. Some things just aren’t meant to be. Just saying. This won’t be the last time you’ll see Richard Marx on the charts as you look into the 90s.

9.

Before American Idol, Paula Abdul was a cheerleader for the Lakers and then went into choreographing music videos. And for some reason, she had a music career. Why, I’m not sure. Straight Up annoys me, starting with the production. The stiff percussion, the blaring synths pretending to be the horns, and weak guitars. This is late 80s pop at its most pathetic with no presence. Speaking of no presence, Paula Abdul has no business being a singer. It’s clear that she’s trying way too hard to be Janet Jackson. Writing-wise, it’s a typical love song that we’ve seen a million times before. The most notable thing about this song is that 23 years later, it was interpolated in a mediocre J Cole song. Not exactly a good first impression for him.

8.

Time to talk about another weak-ass R&B ballad of the 80s, Shower Me With Your Love by Surface. Sweet buttery Jesus, this song is unbelievably corny. The instrumentation makes me want to barf. Those damn sugarcoated keys. And of course, there’s a saxophone solo. Why do a lot of corny 80s songs have sax solos? None of the guys are impressive vocally and the writing? Shower me with your love. That is preposterously lame. Good thing this wasn’t an R. Kelly song because that title would have a radically different meaning.

7.

This might be one of the most unintentionally hilarious artworks ever.

Just what I wanted to hear: mom music. Bette Midler is basically in the same boat as Barbara Streisand, a good singer whose music I do not care for at all. The instrumentation is typical of a boring adult contemporary song with those disgusting keys and strings. It’s a snoozefest. Bette Midler sounds fine, but that’s not enough to make a good song as the writing is revolved around cliches, the biggest one being “you are the wind beneath my wings.” How many times have you heard that phrase being used? It’s what desperate romantics say to their significant other when they want to be poetic, but don’t have any creative juices. Well, I hope you like the turbulence because there’s a lot of that coming into your future.

6.

Are you hearing this, you guys? New Kids On The Block are hangin’ tough. Bruh, I can’t stop laughing at the thought alone. What brain-dead moron concocted this unbelievable nonsense? So, yeah. Hangin’ Tough. Not a convincing song. I don’t feel any sense of intimidation or force from this song that makes it tough. This is a boy band who regularly sings love songs and you expect me to buy that they have street cred? You’d have a better time making pigs fly. Add in some sloppy, messy production, some really bad attempts at rapping, and this…

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh 
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

… and we have what’s basically the song version of Scrappy Doo. Memory foam mattresses are tougher than these guys.

5.

Ladies and gentlemen, the number one song of 1989. That’s how bad the year is when fucking Chicago is number one. This isn’t my first time talking about Look Away as I’ve reviewed it in a Target Practice long ago. And now I’m talking about it again. Look Away is another Chicago ballad with instrumentation rooted on synths and throwing away the horns. The writing depicts a guy who gets a call from his ex who starts a conversation about her new relationship. He claims to be happy for her, when in reality, he’s fighting back tears. Either their relationship ended on good terms or this woman is just being an asshole and trolling this dude about her own life to make him miserable. That’s what I got out of this song. Chicago, wasted potential.

4.

Here’s what I’d like to call the Peter Cetera effect: when an artist is so bad that they drag other artists down to their level, even the good ones. One high-profile victim of this is Cher, who did a duet with Cetera called After All. This song fits perfectly with Cetera’s catalog of suckage. The instrumentation sounds like boring wedding music. The writing of this song requires a powerful emotional duet performance to work, but with this? Cetera’s singing is still unbearable like always. He does not fit with Cher, who’s also bad here. No chemistry whatsoever. They’ve always performed this song separately and never together. That’s pathetic. Not surprised what Peter Cetera brought to the table, but Cher, …

You broke my heart

3.

With how ugly the political climate is, you’d think this would be ripe material for protest music. A message to any artist now doing a protest song: don’t do what White Lion did and make something like When The Children Cry. This is protest music gone wrong. First off, the song is BORING. It’s an acoustic guitar ballad in the spirit of those 60s protests songs, but snooze-inducing. The lead singer’s voice is all levels of cringe. It’s a really bad rock singer’s voice that you’d see from amateur bands. And we haven’t even got into the worst part of this song: the writing. Basically, the narrator sees a kid crying because of the chaos going on around the world and he doesn’t know what to do. So the narrator suggests that the kid go be a leader who’ll create a utopia. How?

No more presidents
And all the wars will end
One united world under God

One, no sane person wants to live in a theocracy where God’s word is the law. We tried that before in the past and it ended horribly. Very horribly. Two, no more presidents and all the wars will end? So getting rid of world leaders will end every major conflict in the world and stop the military-industrial complex that’s feeding said wars? Get this Alex Jones bullshit out of here. NEXT!!

2.

When I first heard this song, I didn’t know how to feel about it. Should I be pissed or pity? I’m still struggling with those feelings now. This is Miami group Will To Power, who scored a number one hit with a song that fused two classic rock staples together Human Centipede-style: Peter Frampton’s Baby I Love Your Way and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird. Dear Christ, they fucked up horribly. These covers don’t do the original song justice and putting them together along with some really cheesy synth production just makes them worse. Suzi Carr sounds fine, but Bob Rosenberg cannot sing to save his life. What was the point of this song? What were they trying to do with covering two classic songs besides make more late-80s soft rock crap? Who knows? This came so close to topping the list, but they got beat out. By who, you ask? You probably already know by now.

And now, here are some dishonorable mentions.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS

  • Debbie Gibson-Lost In Your Eyes
  • Simply Red-If You Don’t Know Me By Now
  • New Kids On The Block-I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)
  • Breathe-How Can I Fall
  • Bad English-When I See You Smile
  • Sheriff-When I’m With You
  • Sheena Easton-The Lover In Me
  • Bobby Brown-Every Little Step
  • Donny Osmond-Soldier Of Love
  • Tone-Loc-Funky Cold Medina
  • Karyn White-Secret Rendezvous
  • Samantha Fox-I Wanna Have Some Fun
  • Tiffany-All This Time
  • Sa-Fire-Thinking Of You
  • Expose-What You Don’t Know

And finally, the worst song of 1989 IS…………

drum roll

1.

What I’m doing is kind of a copout, but I can’t tell these 4 songs apart, so I’m putting them all in one spot. No matter how our opinions differ, I think we can all agree that Milli Vanilli was a mistake. Basically, some hack music producer found a French guy and a German guy and had them be the face of a group that he created, showcasing music from studio musicians. In other words, the faces of Milli Vanilli you saw up there didn’t do any singing, writing, or producing. And for a while, they were ridiculously successful: Girl I’m Gonna Miss You, Blame It On The Rain, and Baby Don’t Forget My Number topped the charts while Girl You Know It’s True peaked at #2 AND they won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. And that was before the lip-syncing controversy reached its peak. Even then, the songs are garbage, representing the worst elements of the late 80s: some terribly cheap production, bad rapping, below-mediocre singing, and some really, REALLY bad, cliche-filled writing.

Girl, You Know It’s True-Milli Vanilli

Girl, you know it’s true
Ooh, ooh, ooh, I love you
Yes, you know it’s true
Ooh, ooh, ooh I love you
Girl, you know it’s true
My love is for you
Girl, you know it’s true
My love is for you

Girl, I’m Gonna Miss You-Milli Vanilli

All the love I feel for you
Nothing could make me change my point of view
Oh girl
I’m gonna miss you, baby

Blame It On The Rain-Milli Vanilli

And you feel like such a fool…
You let her walk away…
Now it just don’t feel the same…
Gotta blame it on something… (gotta blame it on something)
Gotta blame it on something…

(Blame it on the rain) that was fallin’ fallin’…
(Blame it on the stars) that did shine at night…
Whatever you do don’t put the blame on you…
Blame it on the rain… (yeah yeah)
You can blame it on the rain…

Baby Don’t Forget My Number-Milli Vanilli

Ba-ba-ba-ba, ba-ba-ba-ba-baby
Don’t forget my number
Ba-ba-ba-ba, ba-ba-ba-ba-baby
Love is stronger than thunder
Ba-ba-ba-ba, ba-ba-ba-ba-baby
Don’t forget my number
Love will see you through

Never has there been an obvious example of the music industry cynically manufacturing their own pop stars to create generic pop songs. This is a low even for them and the fact that people bought into it for a while is telling. Congratulations to Girl You Know It’s True, Girl I’m Gonna Miss You, Blame It On The Rain, and Baby Don’t Forget My Number for being the worst songs of 1989.

So those were the songs of 1989. BACK TO THE 80s will conclude next month with the 100 Best Songs of the 80s. There’s one more announcement that I was originally going to save for that upcoming list, but I might as well get it out the way now: BACK TO THE 70s will not start in November. Instead, the first post of the series, the Worst Songs of 1970, will begin next year on January 12. Remember this date: January 12. Also, keep an eye on the UPDATES page for more upcoming posts.

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 7.25.28 PM.png

Peace!!

SONGS OF THE WEEK

Baby, I Love Your Way-Peter Frampton

Free Bird-Lynyrd Skynyrd

Alice Merton-No Roots

Just Can’t Get Enough-Depeche Mode

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6 thoughts on “Top 10 List: Worst Songs of 1989

  1. I was about to ask why “Head Like a Hole” by Nine Inch Nails was not on the “Best of” or even “Honorable Mentions” list, as for me, it and the entire Pretty Hate Machine album has always owned 1989. Then I remembered that you’re only talking about stuff that charted on the Billboard Hot 100, and NIN has always fared better on the alternative charts, so yeah.

    Funny, I’m usually used to seeing major disagreements in the Dishonorable Mentions or Best of lists, but nah, I agree with you on every one under “Best of” and haven’t heard any of the ones under “Dishonorable Mentions” or even on this list. Guess my local radio stations have a brain and have spared me from hearing that, LOL.

    IMO, though, “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode would have to go somewhere under the latter lists. Just my opinion, though. 😉

    Great list as usual, and I can’t wait for your “Best of the 1980s” lists!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really good list. My only disagreements are Straight Up which I think is a pretty fun song, and Lost in Your Eyes which I also kind of like. Like everyone else I’m really looking forward to your best of the 80s list, those are always interesting. I’ll try and come up with more than 5 for my personal favorites this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not joking here, the cover to Wind Beneath My Wings made me chuckle a bit, mainly because Bette Midler looks like she’s taking a dump that’s halfway stuck. And about the New Kids On The Block song… can you do a Random WTF Lyrics on the line “Don’t cross our path or you’re gonna get stomped!” It’s hilarious that these guys think they’re gangstas from Compton or whatever.

    Milli Vanilli’s music was nothing special to me, but after the lip-syncing incident, this is where they went downhill. I didn’t even know about one half of the duo’s suicide until Leo mentioned it in his post. That’s how much I know about them aside from that scandal, which is not a lot.

    Like A Prayer being #1 on your Best List pleases me greatly though, since it’s still one of my favourite Madonna songs in spite of the controversial music video. And there’s also Smooth Criminal, Guns N’ Roses, Toy Soldiers (Eminem sampled this song for Like Toy Soldiers and TBH, it’s one of the better songs from Encore, but not by much) and If I Could Turn Back Time.

    Looking forward to your Best Of The 80s list as usual, plus the 70s lists coming up in January, and the Worst and Best of 2017 lists!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. While it’s kind of a stretch to say 1989 was one of the worst music years of all-time, it’s certainly the worst year of the 80’s, next to 1987. I think I understand now why people never talk about this year in terms of 80’s music and why 80’s stations hardly play any songs from 1989. And very rarely does some of the worst songs, as well as some of the worst #1 hits of all-time are all hits in the same year. A lot of teen pop and music by artists you’d on a cover of Teen Bop magazine were prevalent this year, and they all SUCKED. Add to that, a lot of boring adult contemporary music, and yeah, this wasn’t a good year for music on the charts. My only disagreements are Every Little Step ( a song I really love), Lost In Your Eyes (which is the only Debbie Gibson song I kind of like) and Right Here Waiting (the only Richard Marx song I would say is good in my opinion). I also don’t find Funky Cold Medina to be that bad of a song, but Tone Loc’s voice isn’t for everybody, and that song gets tiring pretty quick. In terms of the dishonorable mentions, I agree with everything else. Even with Thinking Of You, a song done by a female puertorrican singer (and being from Puerto Rico, I normally support artists from my island, especially if they cross over, but not here), is just a bland and not very well-sung ballad. Paula Abdul was basically just the 80’s and early 90’s version of Jennifer Lopez, a dancer who really has limited singing ability because that’s not what her primary skill is. Straight Up isn’t half bad in my opinion, it has some grit, but the song is very easy to get tired of and Paula’s limited vocal range doesn’t help. And yes, she was kind of a rival to Janet at that point, considering they had similiar voices, videos and music. Only difference was that Janet was FAR better in all of those areas. As a judge on American Idol, I gave her a pass because she did have the industry connections, knowledge and was a great dancer, but she had no place to be judging singing. And of course, she inspired a copycats of her style during these next 3 years, and were just as bad, as seen in the year end lists from ’89 through ’91. I’m on the same boat with Bette Middler as I am with Barbra Streisand: good singer, boring music and should probably stick to musicals and not really have a career on top 40 pop radio. I actually enjoy Surface’s biggest hit, First Time a lot (I’m more tolerant of love ballads than you are), but this song is pretty boring. Hangin’ Tough is embarrassingly bad, but The Right Stuff and I’ll Be Loving You Forever (which Jordan Knight’s annoying whiny voice taking up that whole song) are much worse in my opinion. I’ll say that I kind of liked the production on Hangin; Tough for me. Look Away for me, is one of the most forgettable and blandest year end #1 songs of all-time. I don’t dislike this as much as most other Chicago songs from the 80’s, but yeah, this is still pretty crappy. At least the hits pretty much dried up after that, and even the band themselves admitted that they don’t like most of those songs. They were pretty much the 80’s version of what Maroon 5 are today, a once respectable band that sold out simply to stay relevant and chart success, instead of any artistic merit. After All is just another boring Peter Cetera ballad that dragged Cher down with him. I didn’t really hate When The Children Cry, but now the more I think about, it’s pretty lame. The Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird medley is one of the worst covers of all-time as well as one of the worst songs to ever hit #1 of all-time. Were the public in 1989 really this desperate for dull easy listening ballads, that they wanted to hear a lame soft ballad version of two great songs on the radio and make it a #1 hit? Say what you want about the Big Mountain cover, even that packs more of a punch than this lame cover. It also really does a HUGE disservice to both original, which I’d rather listen to than this crap. I knew you were going to put all of Milli Vanilli’s hits simultaniously at #1, and they deserve it. They were the first real example of everything wrong with mainstream music, and putting image over talent. And their music was just manufactured crap. Regardless of who or who wasn’t singing them, it was still audio garbage. I will say that Blame It On The Rain was the least bad out of all of them since it was the most musically competent, but it still wasn’t good. And unfortunately, decades later, these issues with the industry is still prevalent, even more so now. The sad thing is that there’s actually still some nostalgia-blind idiots out there that would defend them and actually say that they’re still better than anything being released today. These people are morons. None of this is any better than what’s being released today, if anything, it’s on par with some of the worst music being released today, if not worse. However, I do feel really bad for the guy from Milli Vanilli that took his own life a few years after the scandal. Sad story. But still, that doesn’t take away, that they released some of the worst music of the 80’s and signify everything wrong with the music industry. So yeah, this was a very below average year overall. And all of the songs on your best list as great as usual. In fact, they were all the best songs to have been a hit in those . Looking forward to your top 100 best list next month.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Disagreements for me are Straight Up (hey, just be glad it didn’t have her rapping like she does in her other hit from that year), Hangin’ Tough (massive guilty pleasure), Look Away (eh, it’s a grower for me), The Lover In Me, and What You Don’t Know. Apart from those, great list as usual.I’m also not really that big a fan of The Living Years. I actually find it really boring. Also, something I noticed about Girl I’m Gonna Miss You: although it predates the song I’m about to mention, it sounds incredibly similar to One More Try by Timmy T with there being only very minimal differences. And now for your thoughts on:

    Worst:

    Janet Jackson – Miss You Much (I love Janet Jackson, but fuck this song)
    Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance
    Michael Damian – Rock On
    New Kids On The Block – Cover Girl

    Best:

    Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn
    Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love
    Roxette – The Look
    The Bangles – Eternal Flame
    Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne – Close My Eyes Forever

    Oh, one more thing: I sent you a DM about this, and I don’t know if you’ll have seen it by the time you read this comment, but uh, you know you put I’ll Be There For You for the Fine Young Cannibals spot in the HMs of your best list, right?

    Like

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