I’m gonna go ahead and say it: 1966 is the best year for 60s pop music, better than 1965. All of the trends of the previous years still went on strong: the British Invasion, Motown, soul, folk, surf rock, etc. This was also a great time for rock music thanks to the rise of garage rock and we even saw some early psychedelia which would be the soundtrack to America’s growing counterculture. If there’s any doubt we were in the 60s at this time, those doubts are long gone. Let’s now dig into the worst that the year had to offer.
Oh, boy. I’m getting into some hot water with this choice. Look, I’m a Beatles fan, but I’m not a fanatic who thinks everything they released was greatness. They had a couple of stinkers in their discography like Yellow Submarine. This was when the Fab Four decided…
… and they did that in making what’s basically a shitty children’s song. Basically, it’s a world where everyone lives in a yellow submarine. Either the population is really small or that’s a big ass submarine. Musically, it’s far from the Beatles’ best work as the acoustic guitars and drums are overshadowed by sound effects you would hear at sea. The song is complete nonsense despite the fact that it’s been the subject of many different interpretations. Even the legends have their misfires and Yellow Submarine is one for the Beatles.
Here’s a song that I would consider to be a complete waste of time, Slim Harpo’s Baby Scratch My Back. Most of the song is a harmonica-driven blues instrumental with a tremolo guitar and instead of singing, Slim Harpo is mostly monologuing about getting his back scratched by his girl. And that’s about it. There’s no conclusion to this story, it just ends half-way. If you wanted me to enjoy the music, you could’ve presented this song just as an instrumental, then I wouldn’t have mind. But the monologue brings it down and I can’t bring myself to enjoy it. Next.
Next up is The Lovin’ Spoonful. This New York band has a couple of cool songs that I like, but Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind isn’t one of them. It’s musically weak, thanks to those keys and guitars not having much punch to them. It damn near sounds like background music that you wouldn’t pay much attention to. The writing is based on a guy who’s having a hard time choosing between two girls. I have an idea: date one of them and see how it goes. If it doesn’t work out, then go for the other one. Or you could move to a place where polygamy is legal and try to date both of them. As for Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind, it’s still an underwhelming song.
Oh, great. We’re talking about Lou Christie again after Two Faces Have I. Well, here he is with his number one hit Lightnin’ Strikes. For the most part, it seems like another generic by-the-numbers love song, but then you get to the chorus and Lou Christie is using that screeching falsetto again. And it sounds awful. Seriously, that shit should be a crime. On a less serious note, that chorus does sound like Lou Christie was getting struck by lightning, like God was listening to this dude sing and went, “SHUT THAT NOISE DOWN!!” This is not a good song overall and you won’t get anything out of it besides pure annoyance.
Hey. Did you ever want to hear a fusion of Down In The Boondocks and Treat You Better? No? Well, too bad because that’s what we got with this number one hit from Johnny Rivers. This is Poor Side Of Town. In this song, Rivers is trying to convince a girl to date his poor ass when she broke up with her rich boyfriend. I’ll give it this: it has better singing than Treat You Better, so there’s no “BED OR DANNY CAN” moments. Still, it has the same obnoxious entitlement and reeks of an opportunist dickhole taking advantage of someone who’s at their lowest point emotionally. Get this bullshit out of here.
Really, general public of 1966? Y’all let a song with this title hit number one? Hanky Panky. That sounds like the name of a weird sexual act and considering the song itself, I wouldn’t be surprised. Originally a song by the Raindrops, Hanky Panky is best known for by the cover from Tommy James And The Shondells, which is on this list. The music is cheap garage rock instrumentation and most of the song is the chorus repeating the phrase “my baby does the hanky panky,” making it another song that sparks a dance craze. Because we don’t have enough of those through history and they’re not the easiest way to make a quick buck. Next.
Time to talk about Herman’s Hermits again. This time, the band did a cover to the Kinks’ Dandy, which isn’t one of my favorite Kinks songs, but it’s fine enough. Well, leave it up to Herman’s Hermits to fuck that up and make it worse. Their cover sounds like a cheap Kids Bop version with inferior music and an even inferior vocal performance. Peter Noone’s nasal singing is a pain to listen to and he sounds like a dork jealous of Dandy’s escapades. Skip this crap and listen to the original Kinks’ version instead.
Oh, boy. So this is Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs, who had the number one song of 1965 with Wooly Bully, one of three songs in history to achieve this while never hitting number one on the Hot 100 (the other two are Faith Hill’s Breathe in 2000 and Lifehouse’s Hanging By A Moment in 2001). A year later, they scored another big hit with Li’l Red Riding Hood, which is based on the famous fairy tale of the same name, but they do something different with it. Instead of wanting to eat Little Red Riding Hood, the Big Bad Wolf falls in love with her. I swear I’m not making this up. This sounds like some teenage girl’s fanfiction, equipped with bestiality. I was going to pull a “still a better love story than Twilight,” but that joke has been beaten to the ground for years. Even if you look at it metaphorically, it’s still awful. A predator following a girl walking in the woods alone. Might as well bring a rape whistle because you’re gonna need it. Seriously, what the hell?
Another one of those songs that generated one question from me: why? Fucking why? This is Sandy Posey, a pop country singer who was popular in the 60s. She has three singles that peaked at number 12 on the Hot 100, one of them is Born A Woman. Aside from it being a boring pop country song, the writing of it is wrong on so many levels. It’s an anti-women empowerment song in the way that Sandy presents a lot of the negative shit that women go through and in the end, is proud of it and wouldn’t change a thing. Yeah, women’s liberation, giving them the choice to pursue whatever life and career they want without restricting them, being seen as more than just second-class citizens? Meaningless to Sandy Posey, as long as she can satisfy her hubby. Gag me with a wooden spoon. Even for the times, this is ass-backwards thinking. This writing is Target Practice-worthy, like it’s begging me to tear it apart.
And now, here are some dishonorable mentions.
- Tommy Roe-Hooray For Hazel
- B.J. Thomas-I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
- Peter And Gordon-Lady Godiva
- Bob Lind-Elusive Butterfly
- Robert Parker-Barefootin’
- Crispian St. Peters-The Pied Piper
- Paul Revere & The Raiders-Just Like Me
- The Ray Conniff Singers-Somewhere, My Love
- David Houston-Almost Persuaded
- Gary Lewis & The Playboys-She’s Just My Style
Let’s just get to it. The number one worst song of 1966 is Ballad Of The Green Berets.
This really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. There was no way anything else was going to top this list. Ladies and gentlemen, the number one song of 1966. Ballad Of The Green Berets is a song written and performed by SSgt. Barry Sadler and it’s all about the Green Berets, a military task force that Sadler was a part of. This song is incredibly weak all around. There’s some weak ass folk music along with military drums to stroke the patriotic wang. Barry Sadler is a weak ass singer delivering his monotoned performance with the same enthusiasm as watching paint dry. Hell, even the backing vocals don’t sound interested in what they’re singing about. And… okay, I’m going into a potential hot-button topic for this one, so bear with me. This isn’t just a low-rate campfire song, this is war propaganda. And the timing of its release couldn’t be worse. It was the middle of the Vietnam War, which was a very unpopular conflict among Americans and further divided the country culturally. The fact that this song not only became a number one hit, but became the biggest song of the year during that time when the counterculture was growing and that same counterculture are against war did not help matters. It portrays a romanticized view of the military in contrast to reality where the media showed what was really going on and soldiers are coming back home either maimed or dead and many massive protests broke out throughout the country. We got into a pointless war with no clear strategy or end game besides destroy communism where we got our asses handed to us by a militia of farmers who knew the land better than us. Vietnam will forever be one of the U.S.’s many low points through history and our current occupation in the Middle East is also there. And that’s why this song is at the top of this list because aside from being boring, it’s a blatant advertisement for the military-industrial complex, intentional or not. Pardon the long rant, but it had to be said. Congratulations to Ballad Of The Green Berets for being the worst song of 1966.
So those were the worst songs of 1966. In two weeks, BACK TO THE 60s continues with the Worst Songs of 1967.
SONG OF THE WEEK
Live And Learn-Joe Public