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The Worst Songs By Otherwise Great Artists

Updated September 23, 2021 3.3k votes 816 voters 104.3k views15 items

List RulesVote up the disappointing songs by otherwise great artists.

Not every song can be a hit. These bad songs by good artists prove that not even the best musicians get it right every time. 

David Bowie, Prince, and Bob Dylan are three of the most successful and talented artists in music history; however, Bowie's "The Laughing Gnome," Prince's "Jughead," and Dylan's "Wiggle Wiggle" make it hard to believe those are the same acclaimed artists who brought us "Space Oddity," "Purple Rain," and "Blowin' in the Wind." Of course, someone, somewhere, may actually be able to get through more than five minutes of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, but the rest of us will choose to play the nearly flawless "Perfect Day" instead.  

Which bad songs by great music artists do you think are the most egregious? 

  • Photo: Chris Hakkens / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Bob Dylan invited a slew of acclaimed musicians to perform on his 1990 album Under the Red Sky. The list includes Elton John, David Crosby, George Harrison, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Bruce Hornsby. The "Mr. Tambourine Man" singer also had Slash from Guns N' Roses come into the studio to shred to the first track off the album called "Wiggle Wiggle."

    It's a silly song, and the word "wiggle" is repeated dozens of times. One verse reads:

    Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle like a bowl of soup
    Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle like a rolling hoop
    Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle like a ton of lead
    Wiggle, you can raise the dead

    The song is often cited as one of the Nobel Prize in Literature recipient's worst tracks. Perhaps it could have been elevated just a little if Dylan had decided to leave in Slash's guitar parts. The guitarist was instead surprised to find out that his solos were cut from the album. Slash explained: 

    I put what I thought was one of my better one-off solos on there. Then I took off home, and I said: "Send me a rough mix, whenever you get one." So, Don had the tape messengered over a couple days later, and I’m listening to it. It’s the song "Wiggle Wiggle," and it’s a very sort of innocuous song in the first place [chuckles], and so here comes the solo section - and it’s just acoustic. There’s a pointless acoustic section, then the song kicked back in.

    Slash asked producer Don Was about why his guitar parts were cut from the song. Was told him that Dylan felt "it sounded too much like Guns N' Roses."

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  • Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1988-0719-38/Uhlemann, Thomas / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

    Vulture music critic Caryn Rose had the difficult task of ranking every Bruce Springsteen song ever recorded - all 327 tunes. No. 327 on Rose's list was "Mr. Outside." The Boss released the track in 2015 on his compilation album called The Ties That Bind: The River Collection. The box set celebrates the 35th anniversary of Springsteen's fifth studio album The River. Two of the CDs feature remastered tracks from The River. One of the CDs contains previously unreleased works, like "Mr. Outside."

    Rose wonders why Springsteen would even release "Mr. Outside." The critic wrote, "Two minutes and sixteen seconds of a half-formed thought that was probably recorded in the corner of Springsteen’s Telegraph Hill bedroom. I say 'probably' because there were no notes provided or context given. Why was this throwaway included in a deluxe box set? Why was this even released?"

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  • Photo: Parlophone Music Sweden / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    In 1968, The Beatles released their ninth studio album. The White Album was the only double album that the band ever produced. There are 30 tracks on the LP, which features timeless hits like "Blackbird" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Along with those Beatles classics, there are a few White Album duds, the biggest being the 53-second ditty "Wild Honey Pie."

    The track is all Paul McCartney, who wrote and performed the vocals and all of the instruments on the song. McCartney was not planning to include "Wild Honey Pie" on The While Album, but George Harrison's wife Pattie liked it. 

    Today, the song is considered "filler" on the otherwise classic album. The lyrics "honey pie" simply repeat over and over again:

    Honey pie!
    Honey pie!

    Honey pie!
    Honey pie!

    Honey pie!
    Honey pie!
    Honey pie!
    Honey pie!

    I love you, honey pie!

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  • Photo: Mermin Sven / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Guns N' Roses burst onto the rock scene in the late 1980s with their debut album Appetite for Destruction, which went on to sell over 30 million copies worldwide. They simultaneously released two albums in 1991, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. The LPs include the hit songs "November Rain" and "Don't Cry." 

    "My World" runs a quick 84 seconds, and it doesn't sound like anything else that the band had produced up to that point. It has an experimental electronic music sound. Axl Rose's vocals are more like a pouting punky teenager rather than the lead singer of one of the biggest rock bands in the world. 

    Rose decided to use the deep cut "My World" as the final track on Use Your Illusion II. It turns out the band was on mushrooms when they recorded it. Rose opened up about how "My World" came about:

    "My World" happened when we were sitting around being a bit bored. We had been working on "Live and Let Die" all night and it was early morning. I'd been listening to a lot of industrial music and all of a sudden I said, "Hey man, let's do something. Let's see what happens. Let's just make it short and sweet and see what we come up with." In three hours we wrote and recorded the song.

    I'll expose a little more of myself - we were also on 'shrooms. A friend of mine had stuck some mushrooms in my tea and I didn't know it. All of a sudden we were being really mellow. So it was kind of a socio-psychotic state of bliss.

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