Picking the worst pop songs of the 70s: Where do I begin!?

When I was younger and went to loud parties more often, one of my frequent contributions to the festivities would be to croon bad songs from the Seventies. Although I’m not a drinker, I managed to fit in well with those who were en route to inebriation (or already there), and we would regale torture fellow partiers with our own versions of some of the worst pop tunes imaginable.

Of course, this may explain why I don’t get many party invitations anymore. Whatever.

Anyway, here’s the dilemma: How does one choose from the Bad Seventies Songbook??? It’s sort of the opposite of trying to pick the best of Sinatra or the Beatles. The choices are endless, in the worst ways.

Now, before anyone gets too cross with me, let me acknowledge that a ton of great groups and performers were part of that decade: Bands like Aerosmith and Queen. Singer-songwriters like Carole King and Billy Joel. It’s a long list.

But for some reason, the 70s also bore witness to some of the most horrible pop music in the history of humanity. For what it’s worth, here are some of my obvious choices, in no particular order, though concededly heavy on treacle:

  • Anything by the Captain & Tennille
  • Paper Lace, “The Night Chicago Died”
  • Starlight Vocal Band, “Afternoon Delight”
  • Paul Anka, “You’re Having My Baby” (perhaps the sequel to above)
  • Anything by the Bay City Rollers
  • Bo Donaldson, “Billy Don’t Be A Hero”
  • Terry Jacks, “Seasons in the Sun”
  • Michael Jackson, “Ben” (I mean c’mon, he’s singing to a rat)
  • Morris Albert, “Feelings” (featured above, if you’re in a masochistic mood)
  • A lot of stuff by Barry Manilow
  • The Carpenters, “Merry Christmas, Darling” (though Karen Carpenter’s voice was a gift)
  • Debby Boone, “You Light Up My Life”

For maximum pain infliction, you’ll find renditions of most of this stuff on YouTube.

And if you want more, Google around to find assorted lists attempting to select the worst of the worst, such as this one by Rolling Stone magazine or this one by RateYourMusic.com. I realize there’s room for disagreement here. For example, the RateYourMusic.com list includes some tunes I actually like, such as “Don’t Pull Your Love” by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds. (Also, I just can’t bring myself to put anything by Her Lusciousness Olivia Newton-John on my list.)

You may also disagree with the choices. Hey, maybe you’ve got Billy Joel on your “worst of” list! Indeed, if you’re a music company repackaging 70s songs into albums, you can use the same numbers for the “best of” and “worst of” collections! In fact, a couple of my NYU law school classmates had something of that idea in mind when they formed the “Seventies Preservation Society,” which they grew into a major label, Razor & Tie. Apparently there’s still money to be made off of these terrible tunes.


One response

  1. When I saw your title, the words, “You’re having my baby” popped into my mind immediately! The. Stupidest. Song. Ever. And, even though you put Captain and Tennille’s entire oeuvre on your list, I think “Muskrat Love” deserves special mention.

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