An NPR writer broke the rules recently by writing something with a pulse. By that, I mean an opinion. (I saw the print edition, but if he read his piece on air, I’m sure he did so in a hushed voice, like he didn’t want to set off a nearby time bomb.)
The writer’s name is Bob Boilen. He said he was sick of certain songs and thought they should be permanently retired, which immediately got my attention, because as “The Person Who Should Be in Charge of Everything,” I have often thought that some songs should be banned for life. Boilen’s pick was “Cats in the Cradle,” by Harry Chapin, with which I completely agree. That song has tortured fathers for decades. “Ohmygod. I played softball with the guys for two hours instead of playing catch with my son. Now he’s going to hate me forever. Son! Son! I didn’t mean it! Here. Here’s twenty dollars.”
Enough. Ban it.
And while we’re at it, we should also ban:
Every Christmas song ever made with the possible exception of Bing Crosby’s version of “White Christmas.” No one did it like Bing.
Anything by Kiss. Except for “Beth,” which was their only ballad. For some reason, I like that one. Guess I’m a softie.
Every rap song ever made. Hey, I’m old, OK? Gimme a break. “Muskrat Love” by the Captain & Tenille. If you’re too young to remember this one, by all means, go listen to it. But be warned, it’ll make you want to literally strangle a muskrat.
“Umbrella” by Rihanna. Why? Here are some of the actual lyrics: “You can stand under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh. Under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh. Under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh. Under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh.” Understand now?
“Escape” (“The Pina Colada song”) by Rupert Holmes. Not because it’s a terrible tune. It’s not. It’s actually kinda okay the first two times you hear it. After that, you start analyzing the lyrics, especially the part when the woman he’s meeting to go “make love in the dunes of the Cape” turns out to be his current girlfriend. And she’s not mad at all. Instead, she laughs and says, “Oh, it’s you” instead of “You bastard!” before punching him.
“You’re 16 (You’re Beautiful, and You’re Mine)” by Ringo Starr. This is one of those songs that was perfectly acceptable for some reason back in 1973 when Ringo was, um, 33. These days when I hear it, I think, you put that song out today, dude, and you’re gonna get slapped with a molestation charge.
“Pinball Wizard” by The Who. It’s just a dumb song, OK?
“Elvira” by The Oak Ridge Boys. The actual lyrics, which are somehow much worse when you hear them sung: “My heart’s on fire, for Elvira. Giddy up oom poppa omm poppa mow mow. Giddy up oom poppa omm poppa mow mow. Heigh-ho silver! Away!”
Anything by Nickelback or Nickelback Jr., aka Daughtry. If you’re not aware, Nickelback is a heavy-metal poser band. Daughtry is a heavy metal poser individual. The lead singer of Nickelback sings as if someone has his giblets in a vice. (I always imagine him ordering a cheeseburger: “Noooooo onions, pleeeeease.”) The lyrics are pure pap. And the combination makes me want to kick three-legged puppies. They are so bad and so phony and so calculated, there’s even been a scientific study done on why people hate them so much. Really. You can look it up.
“We Built This City” by Starship. Built this city? The sheer arrogance! Plus, how did Grace Slick ever end up playing second vocal fiddle to Mickey Thomas? He’s a good singer, but c’mon – it’s Grace Slick.
“Piano Man” by Billy Joel. Great tune. But I’ve now heard it 7,679 times. Plus, there’s that lyric, “Man, what are YOU doing here?” Ego much, Bill?
I welcome the list of songs you’d retire or ban. Send them to AndrewHellerColumn@gmail.com.
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