The Worst Classic Rock Songs
No one is immune. Grammy awards, platinum certifications and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions won't keep anyone off this list.
As we looked back at the Worst Song From Every Classic Rock Band, we stayed away from all of the extras that now accompany these albums upon reissue. So, no demos, early mixes or b-sides were considered – just songs from their main discography.
The focus was meant to be on an act's best-known era, in order to level the playing field. Otherwise, this would just be a countdown of least-favorite songs from someone's deeply questionable '90s-era industrial phase or a boring contemporary hookup with the producer du jour.
That said, some songs are so bad – looking at you, "How Many Say I," "Queen of the Supermarket," "Sam I Am," "All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You" and "Brandon" – that they simply fall to the bottom of any era.
Here's our look at the Worst Song From Every Classic Rock Band:
AC/DC, "Night of the Long Knives"
From: For Those About to Rock (1981)
Aerosmith, "My Fist, Your Face"
From: Done With Mirrors (1985)
It's difficult to determine what, if anything, this song is actually about. But by the end, the title sentiment is certainly shared.
Alice Cooper, "Ghouls Gone Wild"
From: Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)
A song this cartoonish should have really ended with the Mystery Machine kids pulling up to unmask Alice Cooper.
Allman Brothers Band, "Maybe We Can Go Back to Yesterday"
From: Brothers of the Road (1981)
Preferably, even further back.
The Band, "Last of the Blacksmiths"
From: Cahoots (1971)
Richard Manuel employs a brilliantly anguished vocal that almost obscures the fact that it's all gibberish.
Beach Boys, "Busy Doin' Nothin'"
From: Friends (1968)
The second verse of this very appropriately named cut is nothing more than the directions to Brian Wilson's house. No kidding.
Beatles, "Wild Honey Pie"
From: The Beatles (1968)
You might have expected "Revolution 9," but is that really even a song?
Billy Joel, "The Ballad of Billy the Kid"
From: Piano Man (1973)
Billy the Kid was an actual person. Basically, none of this happened to him.
Black Sabbath, "It's Alright"
From: Technical Ecstasy (1976)
Not generally a good idea to have Bill Ward sing.
Bob Dylan, "All the Tired Horses"
From: Self Portrait (1970)
After listening to this, it isn't hard to understand why Griel Marcus opened his original review of Self Portrait with these immortal words: “What is this shit?”
Bon Jovi, "Social Disease"
From: Slippery When Wet (1986)
It begins rather unpleasantly, and it doesn't get any better.
Bruce Springsteen, "Queen of the Supermarket"
From: Working on a Dream (2009)
What is this shit?
The Byrds, "Mind Gardens"
From: Younger Than Yesterday (1967)
Composer David Crosby once happily described "Mind Gardens" as a song with "no time, no meter, no rhymes ... and it's sung freestyle over a lot of backwards guitar." That's the problem.
Cheap Trick, "High Priest of Rhythmic Noise"
From: All Shook Up (1980)
The vocoder is a useful tool for voice encryption, speech synthesis, and dance songs. Unfortunately, none of those things apply here.
Chicago, "Window Dreamin'"
From: Chicago 13 (1979)
Yes, that's Peter Cetera. No idea why he's using this voice, which he even named: "P.C. Moblee."
The Clash, "We Are the Clash"
From: Cut the Crap (1985)
Well, you certainly used to be.
Crosby Stills and Nash, "Cathedral"
From: CSN (1977)
For those who always wondered what a meandering, jarringly mawkish exploration of a bad LSD trip would sound like in Graham Nash's hands.
David Bowie, "Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family"
From: Diamond Dogs (1974)
David Bowie was considering a musical adaptation of George Orwell's 1984. Here's a really good argument against that.
Deep Purple, "Love Conquers All"
From: Slaves and Masters (1990)
Def Leppard, "Don't Shoot Shotgun"
From: Hysteria (1987)
It was surprising when they later said this was an attempt to sound like the Rolling Stones. Especially, you'd imagine, to the Rolling Stones.
Dire Straits, "Les Boys"
From: Making Movies (1980)
Flirting with homophobia is one of the lesser-advised ways to end a platinum-selling album.
Don Henley, "Johnny Can't Read"
From: I Can't Stand Still (1982)
In which kids — not teachers, parents or the system – are cynically blamed for illiteracy.
Doobie Brothers, "Thank You Love"
From: One Step Closer (1980):
This guy is so excited by his new love that a vibraphone solo breaks out.
The Doors, "Indian Summer"
From: Morrison Hotel (1970)
Imagine if the Doors recorded an incredibly boring version of "The End."
Eagles, "The Disco Strangler"
From: The Long Run (1979)
Electric Light Orchestra, "Sweet Is the Night"
From: Out of the Blue (1977)
Elton John, "Indian Sunset"
From: Madman Across the Water (1971)
This kind of Old West pastiche was better done on Tumbleweed Connection, and had the added benefit of not being utterly wrong on the facts.
Emerson Lake and Palmer, "Love Beach"
From: Love Beach (1978)
Eric Clapton, "Don't Blame Me"
From: There's One in Every Crowd (1975)
Some actually designate Eric Clapton's cover of "I Shot the Sheriff" as his worst song. They must not have heard this wrong-headed sequel.
Faces, "Around the Plynth"
From: First Step (1970)
A shambolic song from the bottom of a brown bottle, released as the second single from the Faces' debut. Didn't chart, for some reason.
Fleetwood Mac, "Danny's Chant"
From: Bare Trees (1972)
Directionless, noodle-y solos and — to no one's surprise, really, just their endless annoyance — these oceanic chaaaaaaaaants.
Foreigner, "Rev on the Red Line"
From: Head Games (1979)
Genesis, "Illegal Alien"
From: Genesis (1983)
Not generally a good idea to star as sombrero-wearing, jarringly racist caricatures of Latinos. Then there’s a singalong!
George Harrison, "This Guitar Can't Keep From Crying"
From: Extra Texture (1975)
This wasn't the first of his misguided Beatles sequel songs, just the worst.
Glenn Frey, "I've Got Mine"
From: Strange Weather (1992)
There wasn't much beyond a whorehouse sax to recommend about Frey's biggest solo singles, but at least he'd avoided Don Henley's preachy schoolmarm-isms. Until now.
Grateful Dead, "France"
From: Shakedown Street (1978)
Bob Weir once said, quite correctly, that this song "just sort of happened. But it sure as hell didn't happen right."
Guns N' Roses, "My World"
From: Use Your Illusion (1991)
In retrospect, the freeze-dried missteps of Chinese Democracy were easy to predict.
Heart, "All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You"
From: Brigade (1990)
This was a stunning repudiation of everything Heart had once stood for, and also way too long.
Iron Maiden, "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter"
From: A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
Iron Maiden took the assignment a little too literally when asked to contribute a song to the soundtrack for a gruesome, prosaically dumb horror movie.
Jeff Beck, "Plynth (Water Down the Drain)"
From: Beck-Ola (1969)
Jefferson Airplane, "Eskimo Blue Day"
From: Volunteers (1969)
There's a lot of banging around as Grace Slick furtively sings about how this and that "doesn't mean shit to a tree." Smart tree.
Jefferson Starship, "Skateboard"
From: Earth (1978)
Next thing you know, Grace Slick and Marty Balin leave the band. Coincidence?
Jethro Tull, "Automotive Engineering"
From: Under Wraps (1984)
"When big was better" ... and Jethro Tull was way better, too.
Jimi Hendrix, "Little Miss Strange"
From: Electric Ladyland (1968)
Noel Redding didn't have many songs on Jimi Hendrix's albums. There was at least one too many.
Joe Walsh, "I.L.B.T.'s"
From: You Bought It – You Name It (1983)
Maybe it seemed funny at the time? Or maybe it was always idiotic.
Joni Mitchell, "Dancin' Clown"
From: Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm (1988)
Wait, is that Billy Idol?
John Lennon, "John Sinclair"
From: Some Time in New York City (1972)
You got-ta, got-ta, got-ta, got-ta, got-ta, got-ta, got-ta, got-ta, got-ta, got-ta, got-ta, got-ta, got-ta, got-ta, got-ta skip this one.
John Mellencamp, "Rooty Toot Toot"
From: The Lonesome Jubilee (1987)
The moment when John Mellencamp's inviting way with Americana sounds and heartland concerns devolved into caricature.
Journey, "Back Talk"
From: Frontiers (1983)
Judas Priest, "Parental Guidance"
From: Turbo (1986)
If your mother tells you to turn "Parental Guidance" down, please do as she asks.
Kansas, "It Takes a Woman's Love (To Make a Man)"
From: Masque (1975)
In the years before Kansas finally had a hit, they tried to do some things to get a hit. This was one of them.
The Kinks, "The Video Shop"
From: Think Visual (1986)
They'd remade themselves as arena rockers, then MTV stars. Time to throw it all away with a terrible concept album set in a Blockbuster! "The Video Shop" was one of the scraps of that idea that eventually emerged.
Kiss, "Kissin' Time"
From: Kiss (1974)
Led Zeppelin, "Boogie with Stu"
From: Physical Graffiti (1975)
Originally, and apparently more precisely titled, "Sloppy Drunk."
Lynyrd Skynyrd, "I'm a Country Boy"
From: Nuthin' Fancy (1975)
At his best, Ronnie Van Zant had a way of untangling complex ideas about the South, its history and its culture. This wasn't one of those times.
Metallica, "My World"
From: St. Anger (2003)
Hey, let's try rap-metal. Or nu-metal. Or both!
The Monkees, "Gonna Buy Me a Dog"
From: The Monkees (1966)
Basically just Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz screwing around.
Motley Crue, "Brandon"
From: Generation Swine (1997)
What is this shit?
Neil Young, "We R in Control"
From: Trans (1983)
Ground control to Neil Young.
Nirvana, "Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through the Strip"
From: In Utero (1993)
First, the beauty and intellect of "No Apologies." And then, the opposite.
Ozzy Osbourne, "No Bone Movies"
From: Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
Randy Rhoads was only around for two albums, and that makes wasting him on throwaway material sadder still.
Paul McCartney, "Temporary Secretary"
From: McCartney II (1980)
Subtitle: Boomer Discovers Synthesizers.
Paul Simon, "Cars Are Cars"
From: Hearts and Bones (1983)
You can't argue with the logic. Just the song.
Pearl Jam, "Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me"
From: Vitalogy (1994)
The former drummer from the Red Hot Chili Peppers joins, and all of a sudden we have tracks titled like this. So they also called it "Stupidmop"?
Peter Frampton, "Where I Should Be (Monkey's Song)"
From: Where I Should Be (1979)
Peter Frampton's career momentum was quickly slowing as the '70s ended, and this generic rock star's letter from home didn't help. Also, it never mentions a monkey.
Pink Floyd, "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast"
From: Atom Heart Mother (1970)
He's literally making breakfast.
The Police, "Mother"
From: Synchronicity (1983)
Andy Summers didn't have many songs on the Police's albums. There was at least one too many.
Queen, "Cool Cat"
From: Hot Space (1982)
This might actually be about his cat.
R.E.M., "Underneath the Bunker"
From: Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)
It took decades and a global pandemic for this song to make any sense at all.
REO Speedwagon, "Drop It (An Old Disguise)"
From: Nine Lives (1979)
Ringo Starr, "Las Brisas"
From: Ringo's Rotogravure (2008)
Wait, is that a mariachi band?
Robert Plant, "Tall Cool One"
From: Now and Zen (1988)
A robotic, airless track with references to Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog," "Dazed and Confused," "Whole Lotta Love" and "The Ocean," but none of their passion or danger.
Rod Stewart, "Ghetto Blaster"
From: Body Wishes (1983)
Who else to help us sort out the intractable, labyrinthine societal ills of war, hunger and greed that the "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" dude?
Rolling Stones, "Indian Girl"
From: Emotional Rescue (1980)
Who else to help us sort out the tangled political and economic realities of Central America that the "Star Star" dude?
Rush, "Tai Shan"
From: Hold Your Fire (1987)
Sammy Hagar, "Sam I Am"
From: Livin' It Up! (2006)
Having long since set a lyrical bar with "only time will tell if we stand the test of time," Sammy Hagar clearly felt he could coast on home.
Scorpions, "Media Overkill"
From: Savage Amusement (1988)
Yeah, you really had to be there back in the '80s when surveillance, the media and the threat of war were so bad.
Steely Dan, "Change of the Guard"
From: Can't Buy a Thrill (1972)
It helps if you just focus on Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. He almost – but not quite – salvages the song.
Steve Miller Band, "Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma"
From: The Joker (1973)
Almost all of this lyric sheet are the words (sounds?), "Shu ba da du ma ma ma ma." All of sudden, "Take the Money and Run" reads like Shakespeare.
Stevie Nicks, "Jane"
From: Street Angel (1994)
So sickly sweet that a trip to the dentist is probably in order.
From: Cornerstone (1979)
James "J.Y." Young makes use of a time-honored debate tradition of guitar-synthesizer in an attempt ... to convince Edward M. Kennedy not to run for president?
Supertramp, "Rosie Had Everything Planned"
From: Indelibly Stamped (1971)
Rosie is very sad. Listen to this and you will be, too.
Traffic, "Roamin' Thru' the Gloamin' with 40,000 Headmen"
From: Traffic (1968)
So there's a profane protagonist, some kind of treasure, a shootout with those headmen, and also a reggae version out there by Jim Capaldi.
Tom Petty, "Zombie Zoo"
From: Full Moon Fever (1989)
Thin Lizzy, "Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed"
From: Johnny the Fox (1976)
The album's title character in this one-off, very strange attempt at funk is described as "sly, slick and subtle." The song, not so much.
Van Hagar, "Up for Breakfast"
From: Best of Both Worlds (2004)
Ironic title. They never sounded more flaccid.
Van Halen, "How Many Say I"
From: Van Halen III (1998)
The Who, "Did You Steal My Money"
From: Face Dances (1978)
Anyone unsure about contemporary reports that Pete Townshend was dealing with a staggering coke addiction need only listen to "Did You Steal My Money."
The Yardbirds, "Hot House of Omagararshid"
From: Roger the Engineer (1966)
Before Roger the Engineer, the Yardbirds often included covers from the likes of Bo Diddley and Howlin' Wolf. They would have a fine replacement for this psychedelic piffle.
Yes, "Don't Go"
From: Magnification (2001)
It was already bad. Then, came the car horn.
ZZ Top, "Woke Up with Wood"
From: Afterburner (1985)
Inspiration can arrive from the most surprising places. Or not.
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