10 Awful Songs That Went to No. 1 Anyway

LMFAO has cranked out some very bad, and very popular, music.
LMFAO has cranked out some very bad, and very popular, music.
Eric Sauseda
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Rick Astley is an English singer-songwriter who had a really good run of hit singles in the late '80s and early 90s. He will perform a number of those hits – along with cuts from his new album, 50 – when he plays Warehouse Live on Tuesday. Astley is most famous for his debut single, “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which rocketed to No. 1 in pretty much every country upon its release in 1987. The single spurred Astley’s first album, Whenever You Need Somebody, to multi-platinum status and paved the way for numerous hit singles to follow, namely "Together Forever."

So, yeah, “Never Gonna Give You Up” was a really popular song. It’s also a terrible song, which puts it in good company alongside other No. 1 singles from the past 30 years that had no business occupying that spot. Like these.

10. THE BLACK EYED PEAS, "I Gotta Feeling"
So many No. 1 singles from this group, so many terrible ones from which to choose. Let’s settle on this one – “Boom Boom Pow” just missed it, if only for its title – which hit the top of the charts in pretty much every country where it was released. The song is catchy enough, particularly the chorus, but the verses literally read like they were put together in a junior-high music class: “I know that we'll have a ball/If we get down/And go out/And just lose it all.” Pure poetry.

9. MILLI VANILLI, "Blame It On the Rain"
The song itself is bad enough, but at least the other artists on this list had the decency to sing their own songs. Not Milli Vanilli, who famously got busted for lip-syncing. The fallout so depressed co-front man Rob Pilatus that he struggled with substance abuse in subsequent years and eventually committed suicide at age 32.

8. WILL SMITH, "Wild Wild West"
Well, if there’s anything nice to say about this song, it's that “Wild Wild West” is far superior to the movie that shares its name (that, and the Kool Moe Dee cameo was pretty cool). Granted, that’s faint praise, considering Wild Wild West the movie ranks among the worst summer blockbusters of all time. Both song and movie were released in 1999, when Will Smith was in his “Will Smith can do no wrong” phase. Both proved that phase was rapidly nearing its end.

7. VANILLA ICE, "Ice Ice Baby"
For starters, this song blatantly ripped off the bass line of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” but the parties later settled out of court. Second, it’s a terrible song that comically depicts Vanilla Ice — a Dallas-born dude named Robert Van Winkle — spending a day on the mean streets of Miami. If you were a child in the early '90s and this was your introduction to “hip-hop,” our apologies.

6. CRAZY TOWN, "Butterfly"
Give Crazy Town credit. They were just another crappy rap-rock band looking to score a hit, so they did what bands did in the year 2000 when they wanted a hit: softened things up a bit, borrowed a riff from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, rapped a romantic ode and put out a weird little music video that aspired to art but mostly just didn’t make any sense at all. The joke was on those who bought Crazy Town’s debut album, The Gift of Game expecting the whole album to sound like "Butterfly," when it mostly consisted of B-level attempts at Linkin Park-like rap-rock.

5. D4L, "Laffy Taffy"
Repeat “Laffy Taffy” over and over again, throw in a few shoutouts to candy legends like Jolly Rancher and Chick-o-Stick, back it up with a cute novelty beat, and voilà, you get this, which somehow rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Fortunately, it resided there for only a week. Not so surprisingly, D4L never again came close to approaching such commercial heights with subsequent singles.

4. LMFAO, "Sexy and I Know It"
Just because a track makes for a nice drunken club banger at 2 a.m. doesn’t make it good; “Sexy and I Know It” is the Patient Zero of this hypothesis. Yep, it’s catchy. It’s also a silly song that had no business as the most-played song in America. Fortunately, LMFAO hasn’t done much in the way of party-rocking since this song mercifully left the Billboard charts.

3. RIGHT SAID FRED, "I'm Too Sexy"
Hey, more sexy! Right Said Fred actually put together a pretty decent career in its native London, but here in the States, it's the textbook definition of a one-hit wonder. This novelty track is pretty much the reason why.

2. SNOW, "Informer"
Honestly, I can’t understand a damn word this guy is saying.

1. LOS DEL RIO, "Macarena"
This (this!!!) was the No. 1 song in America in 1996. Good God, the mid-'90s was a weird time in mainstream music.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.