As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m a huge fan of the summer. If the summer was a band I’d have all the albums, be constantly following their tour and have slept with all the members.
But even the most perfect summers day can be rendered utterly redundant by the slightest hint of a terrible summer track – an ear achingly bad tune especially released in the summer that, instead of becoming the soundtrack to wonderfully warm days of doing very little, threaten to dampen every summer for ever more. Such tracks are an almost unwashable stain on the memory.
And so under the guise of being protectively informative while actually forcing you to re-remember the cloying awfulness of bygone songs, here’s my pick for the top 10 worst summer songs of the last 60 years.
10) The Decemberists – July, July (2002)
Okay. This is actually a pretty good song. The reason I’ve included it here is because it’s such a downer!
Don’t believe me? Verse 1: Uncle gets shot in stomach. Verse 2: There’s a haunting afoot and it’s a bunch of spectral chickens taking on the task.
And the general gist of the song is a lament to the inexorable passing of time, the fact that bad things happen and we die, and hey, all that in July! Happy summer everyone!
9) Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe (2012)
There are two reasons this song is on this list. Well two and a half.
The first is because it seems specifically designed to initiate a caffeine overdose type response in under-12’s. Perhaps this was a global kid's response to attempts to introduce speakers in shopping malls that only people under a certain age could hear and that sounded so awful they felt compelled to move on. If so, well done kids. It worked.
The second is that the hook is so infectious it’s like a syncopated chronic tinnitus that no surgery but fatal surgery can cure.
And the half? The video. Just think, cheap home-made version of Lady Chatterly’s Lover but with a lawn mower.
8) Color Me Badd – I Wanna Sex You Up (1991)
Up there with King’s of Leon’s ‘Sex on Fire’ as having one of the worst sex related lyrics of all time but lacking a classic and memorably positive structure that allows forgiveness of the King’s little slip.
Add to this the infuriatingly catchy 'tip top, get up, stop stop, to the hop' backing and this has ear worm written all over it. And my 5 year old nephew genuinely thought you pronounced their name with a stutter.
7) LFO – Summer Girls (1999)
Take 3 wanna be ‘Vanilla Ice’ types, turn down the IQ, throw in an ‘uh!’ and ‘yeah!’, stir in the following lines, ‘New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits, Chinese food makes me sick, And I think it’s fly when girls stop by for the summer, for the summer, I like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch, I’d take her if I had one wish’ and send for immediate help to prevent you either killing yourself, or tracking down the progenitors of this turgid idiocy and murdering them.
6) Whigfield – Saturday Night (1993)
This song got to number one in the UK charts. Granted the UK charts isn’t exactly the place to go as a barometer of good taste but I still cried.
“Dee, dee, na, na, na Saturday night, I feel the air Is getting hot, like you baby” So you weren’t hot before but now the drink, drugs and dehydration have kicked in the target of Whigfield’s affections is starting to get there.
This song is the aural equivalent of a trick my friend played on me when he put nine Canderell sweeteners in my tea and I took a big gulp.
Eurodance should only ever be endured when very drunk and watching ‘Eurotrash’ or very drunk watching the Eurovision song contest. Either way, the prefix ‘very drunk’ is necessary both as a way to stop damage to your brain and as an EU health directive.
5) Brian Hyland—Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (1960)
You know this song. You also can’t help but shout ‘Ah yeah!’ when you hear the Timmy Mallett’s ‘dance’ version played at the weddings of distant relatives. And the fact the entire lyrics of the song are pretty much covered in the title add an element of indecently sexualised pathos to the whole sorry affair.
Plus, it reminds me of ‘Carry On’ movies.
4) Oliva Newton-John – Magic (1980)
It should be enough that this song featured in the film ‘Xanadu’. The problem is that as part of researching this article I actually went and listened to this little ditty. Don’t get me wrong, Xanadu and everything to do with it is truly atrocious but now I’ve experienced this piece of offensive nothingness I feel compelled to warn the world.
If you’ve studied world politics you’ll know the early eighties were a pretty bad time. Forget what you’ve been taught. This song is the reason the world was in such a torrid state.
If I’d heard this song when it was released I would have become so nihilistic I too would have voted for Thatcher.
3) Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting (1989)
Just watching Richards hair in the video gave me fur balls.
I’m all up for a pleasant piano riff but Jesus Christos a little self-awareness wouldn’t go amiss.
And if it’s supposed to be a break-up song it’s kinda scary he’s just ‘waiting’ for her, in the dark, with a glass of whiskey in one hand, a head full of angry thoughts and probably a shotgun in the other.
If it’s not actually a break up song I apologise. I just couldn’t put myself through the torture of listening to the whole thing.
This song smells like really, really old stilton.
2) Fiddlers Dram - Day Trip To Bangor (1979)
“Didn’t we have a luverly time, the day we went to Bangor?” asks this weirdly synthesised piece of oompah faux folk.
The answer is of course no we bloody didn’t! Cue mockney accent, jellied eels, lots of knees being up (I presume) and hankies strategically placed atop pasty heads.
The combination of cheaply synthesised keyboards, earnestly indulgent folk leanings and a patronisingly middle class affectation of an east London accent make for what could be the greatest shore based defence of this nation. No one would approach the coast if their understanding of beach culture in Britain derived from this tune.
1) Cliff Richard – Summer Holiday (1963)
I was actually only going to include songs from the last fifty years but then that would have meant not being able to include this little piece of mutton dressed as mutton.
Quite possibly the least offensive song ever written while still managing to offend on almost every level. It’s as if Cliff is telling us that if we’ve ever had a problem, any problem, then we’re wrong because everything is about going on a summer holiday for… Oh maybe a week, maybe two because he’s so carefree and nice and clean shaven and inoffensive and squeaky clean and Richy Cunningham and… And… AAAAARRRRRGH!!! STOP THE BUS!
Okay I said ten, but here's an extra one. A song so bad I couldn't bring myself to put it on any sort of chart. My least favourite summer song of all time:
Los Del Rio—Macarena (1996)
“Eh Macarena! (Ah Yeah!)” Aye! Silencio por favour!
Like a cross between a bad Bollywood soundtrack, a US border guards understanding of Latin American culture and a barn dance organised by a sexually repressed octogenarian with a fondness for David Ike this song should never, ever be played again.
It’s one of the few songs it is impossible to play, rewrite, remix or re-anything ironically. This song is both the utter negation of irony and a potential threat to the human race.
So there you have it. Of course if you disagree with what I’ve put here you’re obviously wrong. That said there are so many bad summer songs out there that I’m itching to hear your thoughts.
WORDS BY JOHN DAVIS