And we’re at the final leg of disco’s reign in 1979. At this point, the genre was so overexposed that a backlash was inevitable (possibly fueled by the rage of rock purists). The climax of it all was in July 12 when during a baseball game, Disco Demolition Night was held where people blew up disco records and a riot ensued. While disco records would still chart a few years afterwards, the genre clearly hit its peak. When the disco hype died down, other genres got a chance to shine. The year as a whole was solid, but it has its share of mediocrity. And we’re gonna count them down today.
The funny thing about Alice Cooper is that in spite of being known for his over-the top theatrics and style, he’s put out a good number of ballads and a lot of them were not good. We’re going to look at one of those ballads now in How You Gonna See Me Now. The Godfather of Shock Rock gave us a boring love song that’s so schmaltzy that it’s kind of sickening. Cooper’s distinct personality is pretty much nonexistent in this song and the music isn’t doing him any favors either. Come on. This kind of music does not fit the man. When you think Alice Cooper, you think No More Mr. Nice Guy or School’s Out, not this low-rate Wings crap.
For some reason, when I looked at the title to this song, my dumbass thought it was about Chuck E. Cheese falling in love. But it turns out that when Rickie Lee Jones wrote this song, it was inspired by a guy named Chuck E. Weiss who fell in love with… his cousin. Eww. Just… eww. Not what anyone meant when they say “keep it in the family.” Also, the instrumentation is the most boring folky type music ever crafted. This sounds like the music you hear while at the doctor’s waiting room. And is it me or does Rickie Lee sound drunk? I swear, she must have taken a couple of shots before recording this. Either that or her singing is just weak. Yeah, weak is the perfect description for this song.
If this song had a face, I would punch it. The guy you see above is Roger Voudouris, a singer-songwriter who became a one-hit wonder with Get Used To It. You have instrumentation that’s rooted in piano and buzzing synths. It doesn’t even sound that bad. But then you get to the writing and it stinks of pompous arrogance from Roger, who’s metaphorically waving his dick around when tells some chick to get used to him. The way he’s framing the situation makes him sound like one of those entitled douchebags who thinks he should be getting the pussy 24/7. Seems like the public didn’t want to get used to him because this is his only hit song. *shrugs*
Now for some whitewashed pseudo-R&B soft rock, courtesy of Gino Vanelli. I Just Wanna Stop is his biggest hit so far and was a number one hit in his home country Canada. It pretty much fills the checklist of soft rock cliches. Slow instrumentation with electric piano, soft guitar, and some synths? It’s there. A cheesy sax solo? You know it. A charisma and personality-lacking performance from the artist themselves? Most definitely. Saccharine “girl, I love you” lyrics? It wouldn’t be a soft rock song otherwise. It’s nice to know that playing it safe could result in forgettable mediocrity. Just as bad as weak ass soft rock is weak ass R&B, which brings us to the next song.
I just realized something: Ghostbusters will forever be the best thing Ray Parker Jr. has ever done. His other songs, both solo and with Raydio have not been impressive. Take a look at a song like You Can’t Change That. There’s nothing wrong with the instrumentation. It sounds great. That’s the thing with Ray Parker Jr., his biggest strength is production and instrumentation. The problem, however, lies within his writing. Once again, Ray Parker Jr portrays a guy who doesn’t know about boundaries. He says he’s gonna love this girl no matter what and there’s nothing she could do to change that.
There’s nothing you can do or say
I thought about this for many a day
And my mind’s made up to feel this way
And you can’t change that
You can change your telephone number
And you can change your address too
But you can’t stop me from loving you
No, you can’t change that, no, no
You can change the color of your hair
And you can change the clothes you wear
But you’ll never change the way I care
No, you can’t change that
Yyyyyyyeah. How did anyone not look at these lines and realize that they sound way too clingy and stalker-ish. If you’re going by his songs alone, Ray Parker Jr. seems to have a problem communicating with women in general. Then again, a lot of guys are like that.
Andy Gibb is the youngest brother of the Bee Gees. You might remember that he topped 1978’s YE list with Shadow Dancing. Now, he’s on this list for (Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away. This was a song that the Bee Gees originally recorded for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, but it didn’t make the cut. So they gave the song to Andy and here we are. This is basically a Bee Gees song, but with all the good parts removed. Andy just doesn’t measure up to his older brothers in the vocal department. Hell, Barry Gibb contributes backing vocals and I would rather listen to him than Andy. The music isn’t exactly doing him any favors as it’s just murky electric keys and strings. The writing is also kinda dumb as it’s another one of those “I can’t live without you” love songs. I know: hyperbole and exaggeration, but it’s still dumb no matter how you frame it. I’ll just stick to the Bee Gees, thank you very much.
Oh, Linda Ronstadt. What are you doing, sweetie? This is not a good look. So Linda Ronstadt decided to do a cover of Ooh Baby Baby by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. As you can imagine, trying to cover a song like this is not gonna be easy and Ronstadt clearly wasn’t up for the challenge. She took this great soulful song from the 60s and in an attempt to modernize it (for the time), turned it into this lame smooth jazz record with all the soul sucked out of it like the basketball players from Space Jam who had their talent stolen by the aliens. Seriously, this is the shit you would hear on a smooth jazz station. It’s way too obvious to point out, but Ronstadt is no Smokey Robinson. I buy into him talking about fixing a relationship than her. Not being sexist, just speaking the truth. And I now sound sexist just saying that. Dammit.
With disco being as big as it was, artists from other genres decided to hop on the bandwagon and make a disco song. Even rock artists joined in and the results weren’t great. Mixing 4-on-the-floor beats with rocking guitars should have been easy, but somehow, most of these rock artists can’t get it right. Just look at Rod Stewart and his hit Da Ya Think I’m Sexy. This is more of a disco song than a rock song as nothing about this instrumentation rocks. It’s not even good disco either. The story of the song is a guy meets a girl at a club and they have sex afterwards. Seriously. This feels like Rod Stewart was just keeping up with the times. And to answer his question of “do you think I’m sexy,” well, if I wasn’t a straight male, I would say he’s a 6 at best. Just my opinion. Oh, and Rod Stewart kinda plagiarized parts of this song from Taj Mahal from Brazilian musician Jorge Ben AND he did a remix to this song last year featuring DNCE. I wish I was kidding. Look it up.
Next up is Robert John, the guy who once did a cover to The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Well, here he is with Sad Eyes. On the surface, it seems like your run-of-the-mill pop ballad that could’ve only existed in the 70s with horribly dated instrumentation and a singer who sounds like he received an hour of kicks to the testicles. But what puts this song on the list is the writing. It all starts with the first verse.
Looks like it’s over, you knew I couldn’t stay
She’s comin’ home today
We had a good thing, I’ll miss your sweet love
Why must you look at me that way?
Going by these lines, the implication here is that Robert John is cheating on his girlfriend or wife and since the girlfriend/wife is coming home, he decides to break off his relationship with his side chick. Dude. Fuck you. Fuck your unfaithfulness, fuck your manipulative ways and fuck your fake concerns. You know exactly what you were doing. The fact that you feel more guilt from breaking up with the side chick than cheating on your wife gives me no reason to side with you. I hope your girlfriend/wife finds out what you were doing and leaves your ass. She deserves better.
And now, here are some dishonorable mentions
- Dr. Hook-When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman
- Olivia Newton-John-A Little More Love
- Neil Diamond & Barbara Streisand-You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
- Melissa Manchester-Don’t Cry Out Loud
- Randy VanWarmer-Just When I Needed You The Most
- Little River Band-Lady
- Anne Murray-I Just Fall In Love Again
- KISS-I Was Made For Lovin’ You
- Al Stewart-Time Passages
- Rex Smith-You Take My Breath Away
- Nigel Olsson-Dancin’ Shoes
And finally, the worst song of 1979 IS……….
This can’t be real. It can’t. You mean to tell me that someone made actual ice cream truck music, released it in public, and it reached the Top 3? I’m truly convinced that something was in the water during that time. So what is this song that tops this list? Well, it’s Music Box Dancer and it’s from Frank Mills. This instrumental is just this piano loop repeated throughout the whole song. It’s boring, even when accompanied by strings, bass, and drums, and the fact that it doesn’t change all that much makes for a repetitive piece of background music. This is the sound that’s blared out of every ice cream truck in the neighborhood. Thinking about it, this song would fit perfectly in a horror movie. More specifically, one where there’s a serial killer clown operating an ice cream truck.
Great. Now I can’t hear this song without thinking of ice cream and killer clowns. I’m still flabbergasted that the music buying public made actual music box audio a hit. People really enjoy the sounds of lullabies, don’t they? Congratulations to Music Box Dancer for being the worst song of 1979.
So those were the worst songs of 1979. Next month, we conclude BACK TO THE 70s with the 100 Best Songs of the 70s. You don’t wanna miss out.
SONG OF THE WEEK
Do You Love Me Like You Used To?-Best Coast