Well, we’re finally here. The first good year of the 60s. The British Invasion has finally taken over the US charts with acts like the Animals, Dave Clark Five, and others injecting some new life into the music scene. And a little British group called the Beatles became the biggest band of all time, scoring nonstop hits throughout the rest of the decade. Not only did they have the number one song of 1964, but they notched a total of eight songs on that Year End list. Don’t count the U.S. out, though, because there was also surf rock, folk, and R&B/soul (especially from Motown). I enjoyed 1964 as a whole, but as much as I want to talk about the good stuff, that’s not the topic of this post. So let’s look at the worst that 1964 had to offer.
Because it’s still the 60s, we start off with some boring shit courtesy of Gerry & The Pacemakers with Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Cryin’. This song needed a pacemaker because the whole thing sounds dead on arrival. The instrumentation is the only somewhat interesting thing about it, but even then, it’s nothing to write home about. Now let’s talk about the writing, the worst part of the song. It’s a post-break-up song that tries to be more optimistic about the days ahead, which in itself is not a bad message, but it assumes too much about the person at hand. People deal with heartbreak in different ways, some just need more time. It’s not like they’ll get over it in the next day. This is a really sub-par song overall. Let’s move on.
Here’s where it all started for ol’ Barbra Streisand. People is a song that was written for the Broadway musical Funny Girl, which Streisand also starred in. I know very little about the musical itself, so I’m going to comment on this song in its own. Barbra Streisand is a good singer, but it’s not enough to make me like this song since it’s a bore. It utilizes lightweight orchestral instrumentation that a lot of boring oldies used back then, with more emphasis on the strings and flutes. The writing gives us a vague love song about people who need people. How profound. And this would be the start of a long, but mostly-underwhelming career for Streisand.
From a song made for a musical to a song made for a film, Today was made for the film Advance To The Rear-*snickers* I apologize. That name is just funny to me. Anyways, this song comes from The New Christy Minstrels, who named themselves after an actual minstrel group. Seriously, you guys couldn’t come up with a better name? I apologize again for getting distracted. The song itself sounds like the 50s refusing to die. The acoustic guitar-led instrumentation and the harmonies all scream “I want the 50s back.” As for the writing?
Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joy that is mine today
A fucking joke. Get this crap out of here.
Something else you might notice during this time period is the popularity of girl groups. They weren’t just exclusive to the 90s. They’ve always been there since the beginning of popular music, but they became very prominent in the 60s to mixed results. What I mean is that for every Supremes, there’s a Shangri-Las, who makes this list for their number one hit Leader Of The Pack. It’s a teen tragedy song about a girl named Betty who falls in love with a guy named Jimmy, who’s the leader of a motorcycle gang, much to her parents’ disapproval. Betty’s parents tell her to break up with him, which she does and Jimmy sadly drives away on a rainy night and he dies in an accident. I’m reminded a bit of Patches; I still find it hard to believe that she didn’t rebel against her parents like most teenagers would, which takes away any tension in the song. Outside of that, the singing in this song is not that good, the instrumentation has aged badly, and most of the song is mushy crap. It’s not worth listening to. Next.
Oh, goody. Another teen tragedy song. Just what I needed. So this is Dead Man’s Curve from the duo Jan & Dean. It’s not just another teen tragedy song, but it’s one of many car songs that blew up in the same time as surf rock. This was all before rappers started doing songs about cars. Back to Dead Man’s Curve. It’s about a guy who’s driving his Corvette one night when another guy in a Jaguar challenges him to a street race. They’re racing throughout the city when all of a sudden, the dude crashes at what’s called Dead Man’s Curve. Basically, this song is just dumb teenagers doing dumb teenager shit and getting their comeuppances and it has the same issue as every teen tragedy song, it’s too depressing to listen to. Musically, it sounds no different from other songs like it and the harmonizing is inferior to what we expect from the Beach Boys. Let this song rust like a hooptie.
If there’s any song on this list that epitomizes pathetic, it’s Gene Pitney’s It’s Hard To Be In Love. Originally, this was written for Neil Sedaka to sing, but Sedaka’s label got in the way and the song was given to Gene Piney. This feels like a song Neil Sedaka would do. The song is a guy who’s depressed because he’s in love with a woman who doesn’t love him back. It is relatable, but still pathetic because he reacts like a melodramatic crybaby who got friendzoned. Dude, get over yourself. Maybe she’s not the one. There’s plenty of fishes in the sea, you’ll find that person who’ll love you back. You just gotta keep looking.
If there was a contest for dumbest song title ever, Major Lance would probably be a major contestant thanks to Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um. A word of advice to songwriters: sometimes, the first idea that comes out of your head is not the best idea. Also, don’t name your song after what you say when you can’t come up with any words to say. In the song, Major Lance sees a guy sitting on a bench just muttering to himself and wonders what he was saying. After his girl left him, he understood the guy. About what, we don’t know because half of the song is just him repeating “um, um, um” over and over and the writing is so vague, we don’t even know why the other guy was saying this for. This is laziness plain and simple.
If you want to express frustration in your music, being pissy for the wrong reasons is not a good way to go. Somebody obviously didn’t tell that to whoever wrote There! I’ve Said It Again. Originally a hit from Vaughn Monroe in 1945, the song became an even bigger hit when it was covered by Bobby Vinton in 1963. In the song, we have a guy saying to his girl, “I love you!! There, I said it!! You happy now?!” in the most annoyed, frustrated tone ever. Ladies, if your dude says this to you, does that sound like someone who genuinely loves you or someone who’s so distracted by the game they’re watching that you’re no concern to them? This is how arguments begins and relationships go down the toilet. Aside from that, the music is boring and so is the singing. This is just a lame song. Keep it.
Fuck this song. Seriously, fuck this song and fuck Family Guy for inflicting this noise upon the new generation. For those of you who don’t know, this is Surfin’ Bird by the appropriately-titled one-hit wonders The Trashmen. This is actually a combination of two songs by the Rivingtons: Bird’s The Word and Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow. Well, I hope you like those two phrases because they’re repeated ad-nauseum throughout the entirety of the goddamn song. It’s repetitive nonsense made to annoy people to the point where they want to shoot any bird that they see. Also, there’s a part in the middle that sounds like the singer had a seizure and a stroke at the same time. I felt bad for any person next to Peter Griffin when he played this shit. I want Brian and Stewie to find every single copy of this record in existence and do this.
I know it’s impossible since we’re in the digital age, but that clip above is more satisfying than an orgasm.
And now, here are some dishonorable mentions.
- The Dixie Cups-Chapel Of Love
- Terry Stafford-Suspicion
- The Newbeats-Bread And Butter
- Betty Everett & Jerry Butler-Let It Be Me
- Millie Small-My Boy Lollipop
- Bobby Freeman-C’Mon And Swim
- Diane Renay-Navy Blue
- Roger Miller-Chug-A-Lug
- Bobby Goldsboro-See The Funny Little Clown
- Al Martino-I Love You More And More
And finally, the worst song of 1964 IS…………
You know? A couple of weeks ago, the Catholic Church was back in the news thanks to more allegations of child molestation and how they were covering it up. I bring it up because this song reminds me of that. Boy, is this song infamous. This is Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas with Little Children. That title does not give me a good feeling. The music feels off and the singing is really creepy, especially when you get into the lyrics.
Little children, you better not tell on me
I’m tellin’ you, little children, you better not tell what you see
And if you’re good, I’ll give you candy and a quarter
If you’re quiet like you oughta be
And keep a secret with me
Sorry, nearly threw up for a second. This is child molester talk right here. I can see one of those Catholic priests saying this to one of their victims. “If you don’t say anything about what happened, I’ll give you a treat.” Fucking yikes. But one could point to a line like this…
You saw me kissin’ your sister, you saw me holdin’ her hand
But if you snitch to your mother, your father won’t understand
… and say that I’m reaching. Then again, we don’t know how old the older sister is. For all we know, the older sister could be underage and Billy J. Kramer was 20 when the song was released. This entire song is just unsettling. Take away the stuff with the older sister and you got a song that even Hebert The Pervert would object to. Congratulations to Little Children for being the worst song of 1964.
And those were the worst songs of 1964. In two weeks, BACK TO THE 60s continues with the Worst Songs of 1965.
SONG OF THE WEEK
S.D.S.-Mac Miller (R.I.P.)