Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Question of the Week: What’s your favorite song by a musical act you don’t really like that much?

I assume we all have examples of this: you hear a song and really dig it, but when you hear other songs by the same artist or band, you just don’t like them. It’s a weird phenomenon, but it happens. So that’s the Question: What’s your favorite song by one of these acts?

To be clear, I don’t mean a one-hit wonder where you’ve never heard any of the band’s other songs. I love “Safety Dance,” but I’ve literally never heard any other songs by Men Without Hats, so I don’t know if I like them or not. I mean acts whose other songs you’ve actually heard, just so you know.

Some examples from me: I have never been a fan of Madonna – when I was young, I didn’t dig that kind of music, and now that I’m older and have no problem with dance-y pop, I still don’t really like her that much. But damn if “Borderline” isn’t amazing, and I love it. Of slightly more recent vintage: Some years back, some bloggers and I used to exchange CDs of songs that we liked and wanted to share, and Roger sent me one with “Oh Virginia” by Blessid Union of Souls on it. I liked it so much I bought Home, the album on which it appears, and … well, the rest of the album is kind of blah. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great. Just mediocre. Oh well. Of even more recent vintage: I’m not sure where I first heard Pepper’s “Fuck Around (All Night),” but I fell in love with the song and bought the album on which it appears, Pepper, which is … again, just kind of there. Some good songs, most forgettable, and nothing as good as “Fuck Around.”

My favorite song by a band I don’t really like, though, is … well, it’s a Springsteen song. I grew up in suburban Pennsylvania in the 1980s, and not liking Springsteen was almost an insult to the people who did, but I have never liked the Boss. He sounds (and looks) like he’s constipated when he’s singing, and I just never bought his whole “everyman” schtick. It doesn’t help that the first Springsteen song I ever heard was “Dancing in the Dark,” which is definitely not one of his highlights. But! I had friends who were into Springsteen, and in the mid-1980s he really hit it big, so I’ve heard a lot of Springsteen songs over the years, and I actually liked one! Yes, my favorite Springsteen song, and the only one I really like, is “She’s the One.” Dang, it’s awesome:

There’s nothing not great about this song, from the quiet keyboard at the beginning to the break after the first verse to the rolling bridge into the thunderous saxophone solo to the superb lyrics that, for once, Bruce doesn’t butcher with his mumbling … man, it’s awesome. Why can’t all Springsteen songs be like this? (Yes, I know Springsteen fans will tell me they are like this, but, you know, they’re wrong.)

That’s my choice for favorite song by an act I don’t really like. What’s yours, good readers?


  1. My BIL said that Blessed Union of Souls album was “transformative.” I bought it on his recommendation but didn’t love it either. But I liked the cut I used.

    I don’t HATE Barry Manilow. But I LOVE Could It Be Magic, specifically the intro and the outro, which he unconsciously copped from a Chopin etude.

    I’m sure there are LPs I bought in the day and found most of the songs lackluster. But it’s been so long. Maybe The Knack besides My Sharona…

  2. tomfitz1

    Burgas: One of my favorite song(s) from a movie that is more or less a musical is:

    Special to Me from Phantom of the Paradise.

    I have two others from the same film, but that one I often sing (to myself, of course. I am a bad singer).

    Does that count, Sir?!

  3. Eric van Schaik

    I’ve got 2 :
    Funny Bird by Mercury Rev from the album Deserter’s Song.
    After hearing this I checked the album. If an album has 3 good songs I’ll buy it. It was a complete mystery for me how it got on it because the rest is was garbage imo.

    Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd from the debut album.
    In Holland at the end of the year on a national broadcast station we’ve got the Top 2000 with songs voted by listeners. This year at # 283. I tried other songs but they just don’t click with me (even Sweet Home Alabama).
    Oh well.

  4. Edo Bosnar

    “Roll with the Changes” by REO Speedwagon. I actively loathe pretty much every other thing they’ve done, but that’s one of my favorite songs in general.

  5. conrad1970

    I would have to go with Massachusetts by the Bee Gee’s and Sloop John B by the Beach Boys.
    I really do dislike The Beach Boys so I have no idea why I like this particular song.

  6. mike loughlin

    I don’t like Stevie Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac, and their whole ‘70s soft-rock sound. I actively loathe most of their output. “The Chain,” however, is a great song. It’s dark, with the simple but driving bass and lower-pitched harmonies. I like “Gold Dust Woman” well enough for similar reasons, but actually prefer the Hole cover.

  7. Darthratzinger

    “Breaking the Habit” by Linkin Park. I don´t really hate Linkin Park but they were such a bland and boring “Let´s make the most inoffensive, polished by-the-numbers Nu Metal band ever” that nothing ever stuck with me except for that one early song without guitars that kinda sounds like an 80ies Postpunk-song. Not that I liked Nu-Metal in general.
    “Sympathy For The Devil” by that most boring and annoying Rock Band EVER.

  8. John King

    “Walk this way” by Run DMC
    I’ve never been particularly into rap so I dislike their other “songs” but I enjoyed that one…
    probably because of Aerosmith (though I was not familiar with their music before this as they weren’t well known in the UK)

  9. Jeff Nettleton

    Listen to “Pop Goes the World,” to hear some other Men Without Hats. They were actually pretty good; just not widely played, except MTV.

    I’ve always been more about the song than an album, so I don’t know that I really have an entry for this. The closest I can say is “Ride Like the Wind,” from Christopher Cross. I don’t hate him or his songs, but they mostly sounded the same to me and were kind of soft and whiney and that was never a big appeal to me. I liked more energetic stuff. That one has more energy to it, but I think I came to enjoy it more, thanks to SCTV. In their third season, they had a sketch with Rick Moranis, where he was doing his character Jerry Todd, Vudeo (always pronounced Vudeo, not video)DJ. It was a parody of DJ sctick in the video age and had some video gags, including the Vapors “Turning Japanese,” done in a lounge style, by a singer who is a sort of satire of singers like Matt Monro. The sketch ends with “Ride Like the Wind,” as you see Moranis, in a dark beard, driving rapidly in a convertible, listening to the song and frantically looking at his watch. He pulls up to a building and runs inside, to a studio and grabs headphones just in time to sing Michael McDonald’s backing vocal, on the refrain. McDonald only sings one lyric, at a few points in the song. so, Moranis, as McDonald, goes out of the studio to talk to everyone, until the song comes back around to the refrain, then he runs back in to do his one line, again and again.

    The only other one I could cite would be the Beastie Boys. Everything I have ever heard from them, I hated, except “Fight For Your Right to Party.”

    Count me among those who don’t get the appeal of Springsteen. Heck, I even prefer Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s cover of “Born to Run.”

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