My local radio station plays some absolute rubbish, it has to be said, as most of them probably do when they’re obliged to mix the hits of today with those from yesteryear. I swear mine only has about two-dozen songs to choose from that they squeeze between loud advertisements and loud, inane chatter. But the traffic reports are helpful and I like to know when to expect the next high tide, so I tolerate the endless repetition and just keep complaining about the song selection to whoever will agree that it’s appalling in this day an age. It doesn’t take much to turn the radio off and back on a little later, after all, by which time something more to my liking might be playing. And if you do switch stations, you might be pleasantly surprised to hear something you’ve not heard in years, and you wouldn’t have heard it at all if you hadn’t felt forced to change in the first place.
However, first thing in the morning, you don’t want to be switching stations. This requires thought and focus and some decision-making. That limited song selection becomes that much more severe.
These songs might very well irritate in the afternoon and evening, too, but those who don’t consider themselves to be a “morning person” will appreciate most that they become much, much more annoying in the morning. They’re either too loud, too long, too happy, too sad, too silly, too soppy, too strange, too slow or too fast.
Some of them have too many words and you know not nearly enough commas, like ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ by Savage Garden. This borders on cruelty when your mind’s at its most vulnerable.
There are others that make no sense, such as ‘Unskinny Bop’ by Poison. What exactly does that mean? I can’t try to make sense of it when I’ve just woken up.
Perhaps the singer’s too theatrical for your liking (‘Music’ by John Miles; thank you for that, Alan Parsons) or too confident and generally obnoxious (ever heard ‘That’s Not My Name’ by The Ting Tings and felt that’s precisely what’s wrong with children today and why we should bring back national service?), or just not much of a singer (go on, play ‘Come Up and See Me (Make Me Smile)’, by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, or Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Sexy Thing’, and tell me I’m being unkind). These aren’t voices for first thing in the morning.
There are those that go on far longer than need be (Chumbawamba’s ‘Tubthumping’), especially those which contain an annoying, dull, slightly sickly chorus (yes, I’m thinking of you, James Blunt).
I don’t want to hear Tina Charles going on – and, God, she really does keep on – about how she loves to love but her baby loves to dance. What exactly does she mean by that? I shouldn’t be considering her love-life at silly o’clock in the morning, sighing about how the meaning of the word “love” has been so violently twisted over the last forty years (dirty beggars that we are), wondering if her “baby” might actually be gay, if he’d rather be dancing, and hoping he’d found a way to tell her and is by now living happily with another man. And what if she was singing about a baby all along? Did anybody stop to consider this? (Maybe it’s made clear in the lyrics, but all I remember is her loving to love and her baby loving to dance. Funny, that.)
There are those you might switch off on principle (‘Blurred Lines’, on account of it being vulgar; anything by Justin Bieber or One Direction, on account of them being everywhere; simply because so-and-so is a pervert or a Tory or a tax-dodger or a prat). Getting yourself all in a panic before you’ve properly come to can be hazardous. Did you have a glass of water or book beside the radio? Your smartphone?
Then there are those that invite an impatient, indignant ‘Don’t tell me what to bloody-well do or how I’m supposed to feel!’, such as Lily Allen’s ‘Smile’, a song that most definitely does not make me smile. It actually makes me thankful that I don’t possess a gun.
There’s Abba. Oh Lord, every day there’s Abba…
Michael Bublé seems like a nice man but my local radio station, I can only guess, strongly believes that the world might abruptly end if they don’t play him thrice daily. And not his agreeable Big Band covers, which I wouldn’t mind so much, but his hits. I don’t even know if they were hits, I’m guessing that they were. I don’t care, I only wanted to know which roads to avoid if I’m going to be on them later.
I like cheery, even silly in moderation, just not first thing. I like
‘Blackberry Way’, a lot, just not first thing. Words dragged out, trembling as they tail off, are torture when you’re not yet awake – as I discovered to my annoyance this morning.
And with some songs – we all know this – if you let them inside your head, they’ll be there all day long and you won’t be able to get them out. Some say that the only hope of ridding yourself of an earworm, and it’s a miserable course of action to have to take, is to play the blasted song that’s tormenting you so, which can be embarrassing and potentially harmful to those near you.
(Or you could try solving some anagrams, say the scientists helpfully, but they would, wouldn’t they?)
Whilst I mostly agree with the Rolling Stone list of 20 Most Annoying Songs (is ‘Photograph’ really so bad?), there are 20 worse than these, I’m sure. Where’s ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’? I doubt anything in the jungle could sleep through that frightful din. Where’s ‘Achey Breaky Heart’? There are so many more.
‘Seasons In the Sun’, ‘Islands In the Stream’. Alarm clock in the bin.
Accepting, obviously, that anybody could come to despise any song if used as an alarm for long enough (really, who honestly wants to wake up to the “Oh, Mamma Mia, Mamma Mia” bit in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’?), and that classical music might be a wiser choice than anything from the pop-rock genres; for all those whose alarm is the radio rather than beeping and vibrating stupidly, which is a horrible way to wake up, and for still having a clock-radio in 2014, this one’s for you. Chances are you will wake up to at least one of these wretched songs one of these days and now you might just be able to laugh about it knowing that other people share your pre-breakfast irritation, rather than risking damage to yourself and your property.
20 better – that’s 20 worse – than Rolling Stone managed, please.