If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ve probably noticed that I gravitate to songs with melodic depth and interesting rhythms. There’s also an elusive X-factor that can take a good, well-written song and really push it over the top. “I Got You” by Split Enz has a really catchy melody and new-wave rhythms, but there’s a kind of magic that’s sprinkled into the mix that makes it a truly great song. Maybe it’s the way the sparse verses turn on a dime and transition into the supernova-bright choruses. Whatever the X-factor is, Neil Finn seems to have an endless supply of it stashed away in his basement.
Meanwhile, there are a lot of songs that just do not make an emotional connection with me. It’s not that they are ‘bad’ songs, they just don’t evoke any kind of human response from me. So I can’t hate them – they’re just too easy to ignore.
Yet there are some songs that are undeniably catchy and gain a certain level of popularity, but they grate on my soul and fill me with the urge to kill. They form an emotional connection with me, but the connection isn’t a communal sense of joy or sorrow or serenity. The connection is equal measures of blind rage, irritation, annoyance, exasperation and aggravation. These bad feelings are exacerbated by repeated radio play, over and over and over and over again, on ultra-formulaic terrestrial rock radio. It gets to the point where just hearing the first four bars of these songs is enough to make you want to dropkick a puppy or punch a little old lady in the face – and then the damn song is just memorable enough to get stuck in your head all day! Arrrrggggh!!!
These are the songs I truly hate.
I somehow default to ‘modern rock’ radio, because in my town the other choices are even more hideous. I can’t stand most of what they play on the ‘hard rock’ station (Nickelback and clones on endless loop), the ‘classic rock’ station (same five Zeppelin songs on endless loop), the top-40 stations (disposable overproduced drek), or any of the various ‘mix’ stations (playing the lowest-common-denominator ‘hits’ of the last 20 years, trying to capture as many listeners as possible with inoffensive Maroon 5 boilerplate crapola without alienating anyone enough to make them switch stations).
But even the ‘modern rock’ station has a formula, and that formula is to play something hard rocking, but not TOO hard rocking. Make it edgy, but not TOO edgy. The singer should yell, a LITTLE BIT, but not scream the whole time. The choruses should be big and loud and shouty. And since I live in Canada, it would be helpful if these bands were also Canadian so that relentless overplaying of their songs actually helps to meet the station’s Can-Con obligations. The bands that best fit the formula are almost always the ones that drive me nuts.
So, for a song from a band I hate, pick a Billy Talent song. Doesn’t matter which song. Every single one of them makes me want to push sharpened pencils into my ears.