Weekly Playlist #10: When Good Bands Write Bad Songs

January 30, 2013 by AltPress

Weekly Playlist #10: When Good Bands Write Bad Songs

Some of us go to the ends of the earth to defend the artists we love, but even we have to step back sometimes to acknowledge that telltale grimace stank-face we make when certain songs begin to play. So, for once, we actually don’t recommend the songs on the playlist below, but we do solidly endorse the artists who created them. Don’t agree? Defend the songs in the comments. What are your least favorite songs by your favorite artists?

(Don’t) subscribe to this playlist on Rdio.

Scott Heisel [SH]
Brian Kraus [BK]
Brittany Moseley [BM]
Jason Pettigrew [JP]
Cassie Whitt [CW]

THE ACADEMY IS… - “Bulls In Brooklyn”

Oh, Santi. If you were a Harry Potter character, you’d be “the album that must not be named.” On their sophomore effort, The Academy Is… ditched everything that was great about their music and decided to try their hand at creating stadium-ready rock. Spoiler alert: It didn’t work. Several songs from Santi could find a place on this list, but “Bulls In Brooklyn” is an obvious offender. You’ve got William Beckett pretending to talk a big game and give off an “I don’t care” attitude (“Don't say you're more than this, or above all this/With your ‘blah blah blah’ and all your friends”) and some weird, out-of-place backing vocals of “whoa oh whoa oh oh oh.” It’s like the band were too tired to write actual lyrics so they just threw in some syllables they could stretch out for a line or two. [BM]

ALKALINE TRIO – “The American Scream”

For the potential I see in this song that isn’t realized, I regret that I have to name it my least favorite Alkaline Trio song. Though “The American Scream” directs necessary attention to the far-reaching pain of war and its subject is inherently powerful, the title pun and its “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree” throwback is not up to usual Trio cleverness standards, thus it doesn’t leave me weak and sobbing the way I know they can. From their catalog of slick, eye-opening and gripping lyrics (I acknowledge there are very silly ones in there, too) that both simplify and articulate life’s woes, I know the ‘Trio have some empathy-inducing voodoo up their sleeves (see: “Over And Out” from 2008’s Agony And Irony) that could have made this song a heart shredder. [CW]

JAGUAR LOVE – “Up All Night”

Yes, a part of my heart turned gangrenous all those years ago when Seattle maniacs the Blood Brothers broke up into two units, Past Lives and Jaguar Love. Being the diehard fan that I am, I refused to participate in the debate over which band was better. But when singer Johnny Whitney and guitarist Cody Votolato decided to have a dance fest and fired up a drum machine for their second album, 2009’s Hologram Jams, I left the party waaaaay early. It isn’t that Jams is a hideous album; it’s that the annoying-as-hell dance-pop of the first single, “Up All Night” (from the late-’80s drum programming to Whitney’s annoying chanting of the title) is the audio equivalent of sleeping naked with a teddy bear made out of home-insulation-grade fiberglass. Painfully dig the shards out of your body with tweezers or jam a hole in your cochlea so you won’t ever have to hear it again. Either way, this song will only bring you pain. [JP]


JIMMY EAT WORLD - "My Best Theory"

Jimmy Eat World are ready to release their eighth album, which hopefully washes away the sour taste from Invented's misstep of a lead single, "My Best Theory," where singer Jim Adkins strains himself over an uppity dance-beat for the duration. If you can make it past the piercing vocal distortion, congrats, you have ears of steel. The failed attempt at an alt-funk chorus sounds like something Maroon 5 disposed of in a hazardous waste bin. It's just oil and water. [BK]



MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE – “Bulletproof Heart”

Yes, we all know how My Chemical Romance turned into the best band of 1976, reimaging classic rock tropes with aplomb on The Black Parade. That album’s follow-up, Danger Days, was a complete 180-turn into the future, embracing synthesizers and other digital electronics (as well as Meat Loaf’s drummer). But “Bulletproof Heart” isn’t conning anyone: Gerard Way sings “These pigs are after me/after you” like a prancing fop on a Broadway stage, when he should be eluding law enforcement in a hail of gunfire. The band shore him up with a bouncy ’70s radio vibe somewhere between Styx, an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and incidental music from That ’70s Show, which dilutes the futurist outlaw theme of the album to an extent. MCR should’ve pulled this, slapped it on a Conventional Weapons single and replaced it with the far more urgent and pulsing “Zero Percent.” Maybe it’s a Jersey thing, I simply don’t understand. Naaah—it’s crap. [JP]


PARAMORE - "Fences"

Paramore's breakout sophomore album, Riot!, went platinum for good reason—songs like "Misery Business," "That's What You Get" and "Hallelujah" are incredible examples of stunning pop-rock. But Riot! also has a bonafide dud in "Fences," a deep cut that's driven by a cheesy swung beat more appropriate for the Stray Cats (or MxPx's "Chick Magnet") and forgettable, generic lyrics about the price of fame. Trust us: Just skip track 10 every time you put Riot! in your car stereo and you'll be a better person for it. [SH]

SENSES FAIL - “Let It Enfold You”

Senses Fail’s 2004 album, Let It Enfold You, is a near-perfect collection of songs in my eyes, so it’s a bummer the title track isn’t its best. The first two minutes and 30 seconds of “Let It Enfold You” are a misleading, poorly enunciated representation of what the song blossoms into at the end, where it winds down and the lyrics and music come together to form something altogether more interesting and touching. I find myself fast-forwarding through the first half the song every time it comes on just to get to that part. Perhaps that’s why I like “Fireworks At Dawn” from 2008’s Life Is Not A Waiting Room. It’s concise, clear and moving—what “Let It Enfold You” could have been if you chopped off the beginning. Maybe Let It Enfold You should have been titled Bite To Break Skin. [CW]


TAKING BACK SUNDAY - "Divine Intervention"

Ever notice how people didn't talk about a lot of the songs on Louder Now, particularly the second half of the album? It's for a reason—they're some of Taking Back Sunday's weakest output. Case in point: "Divine Intervention," a dreary and monotone acoustic strum-along with offensively lazy lyrics like "You're vicious and romantic/These are a few of my favorite things." You'd be lucky to still be awake by the end of the track. "Your Own Disaster," this is not. [BK]

WEEZER - "Where's My Sex?"

Weezer have delivered two of alt-rock's all-time classic records—1994's Blue Album and 1996's Pinkerton—but they've also written some terrible songs in their 20-year career (many of which can be found on 2009's low-water mark Raditude). But I'd argue their absolute worst song came on 2010's otherwise pretty great Hurley. What makes "Where's My Sex?" worse than, say, "Love Is The Answer" or "Possibilities" or "Crab" is the sheer amount of effort that went into making this truly awful song. It's one of the few tracks on Hurley that feel fully fleshed out musically, with time changes, backing vocals and well-thought-out lead guitar parts. Too bad it sounds like a community college knockoff of Bad Religion's "Infected," complete with Rivers Cuomo howling, "Where's my sex? I thought it was here/Under the bench, but it isn't there... I can't go out without my sex/It's cold outside and my toes get wet." Get it? He's saying "sex" when he actually means "socks." Ugh. [SH]


YELLOWCARD – “Dear Bobbie”

On the surface, this seems like a sweet song that traces the progression of a now-elderly couple’s relationship—from their younger days to their golden years. It should be sweet. But no matter how many times I listen to it, all I hear is that old man’s creepy-as-fuck voice. I’m not even sure if it’s an actual old dude. It just sounds like some warbled, computer-generated version of what technology thinks senior citizens are supposed to sound like. I understand what Yellowcard were trying to do with this song, but the spoken-word bits mixed with Ryan Key’s vocals make for a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect. Plus, the song just seems trite. The guys in Yellowcard aren’t exactly in line for AARP memberships, so can we lose the nostalgic BS about the 1940s and doing the Jitterbug? It’s like a bad musical rip-off of The Notebook, without the added benefit of Ryan Gosling. [BM]


We always like a challenge. So, submit your ideas for future playlists in the comments. Bring it!


my chemical romance paramore taking back sunday senses fail yellowcard weezer jimmy eat world weekly playlist playlist jaguar love