In spite of the Summer of Love and the historical open-mindedness of musicians, music culture is a culture largely dominated by hatred and opposition. The most famous music star today is also the most universally reviled (Justin Bieber). As has always been the case, the latest popular genre of music (dubstep) is the target of vehement disdain from many. Even artists who are generally recognized as possessing some kind of talent (Kanye West) are more hated than admired. So in the spirit of enmity and general hostility towards one’s fellow man, let’s rip on some songs we don’t like.
Today’s Topic: What Song Do You Hate?
There’s a lot of really awful music out there, and it’s tough to single out one song amidst the dentist-office production of adult contemporary, the noisy excretions of mindless thrash metal, the flag-waving, truck-having, and stereotype-reinforcing of modern country, and Nickelback. So I’m going to pick on a band that ostensibly sensible people seem to idolize, but who have always struck me as the antithesis of everything good about music.
My pick is R.E.M.’s “Stand.”
There is nothing good about this song. From the vapid faux-etry of the lyrics to the insistent blandness of the melody to Michael Stipe’s computer-programmer vocals to that awful chord change at the end to its inexplicable ubiquity at food joints. I’m not a fan of stereotyping my own race (or anyone else’s), but this is possibly the whitest music ever made, in the worst possible sense.
R.E.M. apologists have told me that the mind-numbing stupidity of this song was, in fact, intentional: Stipe and the gang apparently wrote the song in response to pop conventions, with tongue firmly in cheek. (Which explains the music video–then again, so does “It was the 80’s.”) That does not make it better. That, in fact, makes it much worse. It’s one thing to be Tommy Wiseau and try really hard at making an artistic masterpiece, and yet ending up with The Room. That’s almost endearing. It’s another thing altogether to make something intentionally awful, then watch, possibly while cackling with glee, as the gullible plebeians eat it up. That’s not being an artist. That’s just being a colossal douche.
We don’t have to stand for “Stand.” Let’s aim higher.
Your Turn: What Song Do You Hate? Why?