Sunday, 9 October 2011

Are Rolling Stone’s readers copying Blender?

A few years ago, the now-defunct magazine Blender made a list of the fifty worst songs of all time. The number 1 choice was Starship’s “We Built This City”, a song that was the 66th top single of the 1980s in Melbourne and a staple of my travels in an old XC Ford Falcon to Currajong Special School on the modern 624 bus route.

Now, Rolling Stone, which has probably absorbed a lot of Blender’s readership since the latter magazine ceased publication, has asked its readers to vote for the worst songs of the 1980s. Although as a child I listened consistently to the commercial music of the eighties, since reading Joe S. Harrington I have been completely turned away from it. The list voted for was:
  1. Starship - “We Built This City” (On Rock and Roll)
  2. Europe - “The Final Countdown”
  3. Chris de Burgh - “The Lady in Red”
  4. Wham! — “Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go)”
  5. Men Without Hats — “The Safety Dance”
  6. Falco — “Rock Me Amadeus”
  7. Bobby McFerrin — “Don’t Worry Be Happy”
  8. Toni Basil — “Mickey”
  9. Taco — “Putting On the Ritz”
  10. Rick Astley — “Never Gonna Give You Up”
The strange thing is that according to those who reported on the list, “We Built This City” was nominated as the worst song by a huge margin, and that the reason it was so hated was not the song itself, but the fact that so many fans of Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick’s former band of the 1960s, did not want her singing stadium rock which was designed only for commercial success.

in fact, I have never found “We Built This City” anything like so bad as Jefferson Starship’s other songs of the 1980s like “Jane” or “No Way Out” which were less successful but far worse examples of “We Built This City”. All the other songs on the list, however, really are very bad, and most are staples of these lists with at least three being repeats from the 2005 Blender list. The similarity with “We Built This City” and the more-deserving “Mickey”, “Don}t Worry Be Happy” and “The Final Countdown” is so striking I really wonder if the readers took their cues from it.

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