Bad Songs: Please Let Them Die

Pop_music_concertThis past Fourth of July my lovely wife and I had occasion to join the sweaty masses for an evening of music and fireworks. Unfortunately, it was not at all what I anticipated. We were allegedly to be treated to a concert by the “world’s greatest party band”, at least according to the promotion company that gives voice to this melodious version of waterboarding.

To say this band was the world’s worst party band would be a disservice to the Beastie Boys and the Village People. But they did come in a close third. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard vocal machinations quite like that before — even among the hungry swine at feeding time. But I digress.

As I sat listlessly enduring what was being passed off as music, but which was really an attempt to create the soundtrack for Friday the 13th XCIV live and in real time, I was reminded of one of my favorite pieces of literary genius: Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs (© 2000 by Dave Barry; published 1997 by Anders McNeel Publishing). Then it dawned on me: there are a ton of bad songs that remain in play only because certain bands with no talent won’t let them die.

For example, do you remember that remarkable hit, “Candida”, by the legendary Tony Orlando and Dawn? I’m sorry for bringing it up. It’s just that this piece of musical history is perfect for illustrating my point. It has left an indelible mark in the minds of people who are convinced Freddie Prince and Tony Orlando are one in the same. They’re not. Freddie Prince lived in the back of a van in Los Angeles; Tony Orlando parked his Buick in Motown.

Anyway, the first half of the chorus goes as follows:

Oh my Candida
We could make it together
The further from here girl the better
Where the air is fresh and clean

I’m no expert, so please clue me in as to what clean and fresh air have to do with a lasting and meaningful relationship. If Candida and her suitor are suffering respiratory distress perhaps they need a doctor, not a wedding license. Trying to cover up breathing problems with a lovely day of postcard-perfect nuptials is not recommended by the FDA. Unless, of course, you’ve already met your recommended daily allowance of sugary sweetness.

Indeed, the list of bad songs is so long not even Dave Barry could cover them all in a single book. Just for the record, there are plenty of bad songs that have been written since Barry’s 1997 offering. A case in point is one of the incredibly stimulating numbers we were treated to on July 4: “Human” from none other than the Killers, a Las Vegas rock band with obvious identity issues.

How do I know they had identity issues? Because the “money line” of this song asks a question I’m sure plagues the average American 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Or at least on nights and weekends when there’s nothing on TV. The question is, and I quote:

“Are we human, or are we dancer?”

Again, I’m no expert, but it seems if the Killers don’t know the difference between humanity and dance-anity, perhaps they need some fresh, clean air along with Tony Orlando and Dawn. Or maybe they just need the same respiratory therapist. A little fresh air might go a long way to clearing one’s head, wouldn’t you agree?

No, dear readers, there is no end to the number of bad songs I could list in this space. But my point is this: Respiratory Therapist Killers would make an excellent name for a band. Team them up with the Village People and the Beastie Boys and you would give new meaning to a Battle of the Bands contest. With any luck one of the Village People would come dressed as a respiratory therapist.

But let me get back to my main point, which is to say, that local bands like the one we saw on July 4 are only contributing to air pollution by not letting these horrible songs die the agonizing deaths they deserve. I mean seriously, do we really need to rehash the Macarena or Y.M.C.A? Is there any real purpose in constantly revisiting Sweet Caroline?

As far as I’m concerned, if someone doesn’t put his or her foot down the insanity will never stop. We’ll end up at concerts where the band will unashamedly serenade us with such memorable hits like The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA, Baby I’m-a Want You, and Cotton-Eyed Joe.

So please, party bands everywhere listen to me. Please, please let these songs die. For the sake of all that’s good and holy stop torturing us with musical acts not fit for the Island of Misfit Toys. Otherwise we’ll be forced to let the Killers do exploratory surgery to find out if you’re human, or if you’re dancer.

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