5 Worst Ballads Ever Written

Ranked in ascending order of awfulness, and all inexplicably popular:

  • MacArthur’s Park — Richard Harris (most obscure and meaningless lyrics ever)
  • All Out Of Love — Air Supply (actually, any AS ballad could be inserted here)
  • Halleluya — Leonard Cohen (maudlin cheesy tearjerker)
  • It Don’t Matter To Me — Bread (beta-male whining)
  • Diary — Bread (the ultimate cuckold song)

No links; I refuse to be party to mass vomiting.

Your suggestions on the topic in Comments.


  1. The Maynard Ferguson version of MacArthur Park almost makes me forget the ones with words.


  2. The Donna Summers version of Mac Aurthur Park was so pervasive in terms of (incessant) airplay, that it’s seared, seared! into my memory.

    Absolutely, the lyrics are dreck. But in the Summers version, the instrumentals are the stuff of speeding tickets. And my, how that lady could sing!

    Such a sad era; disco made her career and destroyed it, both. She’s one of the rare ones who I would’ve gladly paid good money to hear her sing even just the alphabet.

    As for Bread. Concur. First time in recorded history that it was proven that estrogen could be transmitted directly over the FM spectrum.

    But, you indeed, have left out the worst of all: ANY thing by Bobby Goldboro. Including the tuning of the guitar prior to the erstwhile “performance”. Everything he ever recorded falls into the genre: “Music to eat a gun to.”

    And those were his “hits”. The rest was worse, and was featured on his misbegotten TV show of the late ’60s or early ’70s, appx. NOT going to look it up, because, pukeage.

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

  3. I have to nominate the drek by the group KISS called Beth. A strange mix of nonsense and bad music. I actually guess that could describe most of their music. Of course, it would be unfair to nominate any of todays singers like Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, or the like. I mean, that would be like making a high school baseball team put their players up against a professional MLB team. The singers of today are for the most part, talentless, save a few, and those few are so much head and shoulders above the rest it is like a different category.

    1. Schofield’s law of popular culture; we remember the popular culture of eras past so fondly because, mercifully, we don’t remember that much of them.

      Yes, singers of today are mostly talentless little twits. Everything I know indicates that the same could be said, with total justification, of the singers of the 1970’s, the 1940’s, and (probably, because we don’t have recordings) of the 1700’s. Remember Boy George? I wish I didn’t. And then there are the talent-PROOF. Dean Martin had a terrific voice and great presence….and spend most of his career singing crap. Elvis was a terrific singer, and spent HOW MUCH of his life making some of the dumbest films ever committed to celluloid (which are still better than the films committed by rock stars of later eras, Bowie always excepted)?

      Give the current crop a decade. We ‘ll forget the truly dreadful, and start feeling all nostalgic about the rest because they aren’t the NEW ones who will be trying our patience.

  4. I rather like Air Supply, but I’m a child of the 70’s and 80’s, so there’s my excuse.

    Your list reminded me of a particularly interesting dissection of the Top 40 Hit genre by Axis of Awesome. There are a few f-bombs, but otherwise it’s pretty safe for work.

  5. I never got Hotel California and the big to do about it. Strained, almost nonsensical lyrics, squeezed into an almost melody that doesn’t fit the cadence of the words, often with multiple words crammed into one note.
    I know it won awards, but I always thought it was B-grade bullshit under the influence of drugs.

  6. Honey by Bobby Goldsboro. One of the times I wanted to do violence to a car radio.
    Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. I liked his song about the banana truck wreck in Scranton PA – I drove that route more than a few times in the days of drum brakes
    And let’s try our best to forget the whole late 50’s “tear jerker” genre. No car in those days could make it across a railroad track without stalling out IF the car contained high school sweethearts and a class ring and IF a 100 car freight train was coming.

  7. “Every Rose Has Its’ Thorn” by Brett Michaels and Poison.

    Then there’s my choice for the worst rock song every written, “Dream On a Stairway to Free Bird”

  8. “Ben” by Michael Jackson.
    “You are so beautiful” Joe Cocker
    “Can you feel the love tonight” Elton John
    “My heart will go on” Celine Dion, which wins also for most horrible ballad by a hatchet faced harpy
    “You’re beautiful” James Blunt which is second place for creepiest ballad, first place of course is
    “Butterfly of love” by Bob Lind.

  9. Heart has several songs from the female point of view that jump right over ‘lovestruck’ and smack into ‘pack your bags, skip town, and change your name, because you stuck it in the crazy’. OTOH, there are several guy POV songs along the lines of “Freebird”; the ‘this was sweet but for unspecified reasons I gotta leave you (because I’m a philandering asshole)’ genera.

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