A list.

The WashPost linked to this, the results of a Q magazine poll of Uncool Songs It’s OK to Like. No. 1 on the list: “Livin’ Thing,” by Electric Light Orchestra.

No one asked me, but if they had, I’d say that’s definitely uncool, top to bottom, and not OK to like.

But of course I started thinking about my own list. It’s all on my iPod, and I share it with you now:

Very Uncool Songs I Secretly Adore

“Midnight Blue,” Lou Graham He’s the lead singer of Foreigner, and this sounds like Foreigner, but it’s somehow even worse. I treasure it for the lyrics: I remember what my father said/He said, “Son, life is simple. It’s either cherry red or midnight blue.” Dude, quit bogarting that roach.

“Magnet and Steel,” Walter Egan I guess if you’re looking for a metaphor for attraction, this is as simple as it gets, eh? I like the chick singers oooooing in the background, the memories of my life when this was on the radio, all of it. Uncoolness factor somewhat mitigated by its inclusion on the “Boogie Nights” soundtrack, later restored by the claims of WalterEgan.net, which identifies him as “renowned and enduring singer and songwriter of the million-seller rock classic ‘Magnet and Steel’.”

“Float On,” the Floaters A guy I used to work with remarked, “That’s pretty much says one-hit wonder, doesn’t it? When the name of the band is incorporated in the name of the first single?” Ayup. And never mind the many unpleasant images associated with the word “floater,” from police slang for corpses discovered in water to what we deposit in the toilet every day. Still, how can you not love a song in which the members of the band each take a verse, identifying themselves by name and zodiac sign, and then tell us what kind of woman they love? Libra, and my name is Charles/Now I like a woman that’s quiet/A woman who carries herself/Like Miss Universe Bonus uncoolness points: They may have been the only soul group from Detroit that couldn’t make a second hit record.

“30 Days in the Hole,” Humble Pie A fine example of false-start recording, where before the music actually begins we get 30 seconds or so of studio dreck — coughing, chairs scraping, or, in this case, the band’s singers trying to harmonize, a capella, on the title phrase. It’s so Spinal Tap. You know, like they’re really Robert Johnson, and someday music scholars will want to hear every peep they ever made in an attempt to divine their true greatness.

“Indian Giver,” 1910 Fruitgum Company Bubblegum was teenybopper music, something for 12-year-olds to squeal over while their older sisters sneered and went back to the liner notes on their Doors records. But a lot of it was plenty catchy, and this one is my favorite with its tom-toms-around-the-signal-fire chorus, and– Oh, hell, it’s simpler than that: When I hear it, I think of the pool and summer. I can practically smell the chlorine.

“The Yellow Rose of Texas,” Mitch Miller Yes, I said Mitch Miller. Follow the bouncing ball, and all that. On the uncoolness scale, he’s in league with Lawrence Welk. And yet. This song always comes on the iPod when I’m laboring up a hill on my bike, and it gives me the strength to go on. It’s a march — how can you not fall in step? The last time I heard it, I finally noticed the “yellow rose” part, which I only recently learned was southern slang for a pretty mulatto girl. I went a-Googling, and became perhaps the last American to learn the story of Emily West, the original yellow rose. I noted with pleasure that Miller utterly bowdlerized the lyrics — how uncool!

“Gimme Dat Ding,” The Pipkins A source and I once bonded over our shared secret love for this silly novelty hit, a ragtime piano number with what sounds like Tiny Tim at the mic with Wolfman Jack singing descant. And they knew exactly how much a person could tolerate of this: It clocks in at 2:14 seconds.

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Diana Ross Sure, it was a No. 1 hit, but I think it rates major uncoolness points because it captured Diana Ross at her most awful — in her Miss Ross/Miss Thing diva-be-too-cool-for-the-room period (which, yes, she never left). And yet, I love it for one reason: I saw Miss Ross sing this in concert, in Dayton, Ohio. She spent most of the show swanning around the stage, talking to the audience and only intermittently bothering to break into song. When she sensed interest flagging, she’d fling her arms upward and her hair back, and everyone would scream. It was ghastly. Some years later, I saw a drag queen do the same song, in a crummy gay bar, and she put so much goddamn mustard on it that I was nearly in tears — that was a performance. Every time I hear the song now, I think of the night a man named Eric outworked a woman named Diana.

“Dreams of the Everyday Housewife,” Glen Campbell OK, this one I don’t have on my iPod; it really is wreck-on-the-freeway awful, and my fondness for it is rooted in the numb horror it inspires. People forget not everyone was young and getting laid in the ’60s, and lots of them listened to top-40 radio, too. I’d put this on a CD called Traditional Womanhood, along with Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” “Wives and Lovers” by Jack Jones and the collected works of Bobby Goldsboro.

“Real Live Girl,” Robert Goulet I link this one with the Campbell tune. It really hasn’t aged well, has it? Not in a world with $6,000 sex toys and “Silence of the Lambs.” What lyrics: Pardon me miss, but I’ve never done this with a real live girl/Dreams in your bunk don’t compare with a hunk of a real live girl… Ewwwww. And yet, it’s Robert Goulet — how can you not love it?

“She’s Gone,” Hall and Oates This blue-eyed soul duo had many, many hits; someone must have liked them. But I always thought of them as the Taylor Hicks of the ’70s; totally uncool. Except for this number, which I turn up when it comes on the radio, but only if the windows are up. Oh, and “Sara Smile,” too. Um, and “Out of Touch,” but that’s IT. And I still hate Hall and Oates, but especially Daryl Hall; I once read the particulars of a paternity suit against him, filed by a girl who was recruited from the crowd at a show by one of his pimps. Cattle in the auction ring are treated with more dignity. Ewwww.

“I Love,” Tom T. Hall I love coffee in a cup, little fuzzy pups, bourbon in a glass, and grass. I can’t believe it! SO DO I!

Oh, God, stop me before I spend all day on this. Any additions? You know where to leave ’em.

Posted at 4:25 pm in Popculch |

32 responses to “A list.”

  1. Danny said on August 4, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    “I’m Not In Love,” 10CC.

    The Grease Soundtrack

    All Disco

    Funny, I used to swear I hated disco back in the high school days, but it is fun music. About a year ago, I let a work friend borrow a couple of dvd’s worth of my ripped CD collection. He questioned me on the disco (“Dude, interesting collection, but what was with all that disco?”) and said that his 14 year old daughter loved it.

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  2. Connie said on August 4, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    Credit for the fact that I know all the words to all the songs goes to Mitch Miller and the gang.

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  3. joodyb said on August 4, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    it never occurred that “she’s gone” would be on the uncool list. every time i play it, someone says ‘omg i love that song’ – everyone has a lovesick association with it… and that is a great album…

    tried to imagine what her nails would look like if she really did that, then i realized – she’d forget to finish them!

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  4. mary said on August 4, 2006 at 5:11 pm

    So much from the early to mid seventies was crap. “The Night Chicago Died,” “Billy, Don’t be a Hero,” “Seasons in the Sun,” and “I”ve been to Paradise, but I’ve Never Been to Me.”

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  5. mary said on August 4, 2006 at 5:12 pm

    I know an uncool song I like…”Oooh Child,” by the Five Stairsteps.

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  6. Danny said on August 4, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    mary, what about “Sweet City Woman,” “Kung Fu Fighting” and “I Can Help?” I remember hearing all of the one’s you mentioned and these repeatedly when I was getting ready for school in the mornings.

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  7. mary said on August 4, 2006 at 6:17 pm

    Wasn’t “I Can Help” composed by Ringo? That explains it.

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  8. fairplaybeach said on August 4, 2006 at 6:52 pm

    Is “Magic” by Pilot uncool? I doubt it.

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  9. Danny said on August 4, 2006 at 7:29 pm

    Hmm, it looks like Billy Swan, who performed the version I am thinking of, was a singer/songwriter, so I think he may have wrote it.

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  10. Connie said on August 4, 2006 at 9:20 pm

    Nice to see “Yellow Rose” on your list. You do know that most Emily Dickinson poems can be sung to that tune? Hum it, Because I could stop for death he kindly stopped for me…

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  11. Susan said on August 4, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    Reading this caused me to go to iTunes and download “The Year Clayton Delaney Died” by Tom T. Hall, and “Magnet and Steel.” Now I’m happier and cheesier and $2 poorer. Thanks a bunch, Nance.

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  12. jcburns said on August 5, 2006 at 12:05 am

    Brandy, by Looking Glass
    Afternoon Delight, by the Starland Vocal Band
    Reminiscin’, by the Little River Band
    Miracles, by Starship, just Starship.

    And pretty much the entire ouevre of Gary Wright, as you’ve discussed earlier.

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  13. alex said on August 5, 2006 at 9:45 am

    Love Jones and Rockin’ Robin come to mind.

    And Hyperbolic Syllabic Sesquedalymistic by Isaac Hayes. That and Hayes doing It Doesn’t Rain in London Anymore.

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  14. Danny said on August 5, 2006 at 11:56 am

    I saw a documentary on REM and somehow, “Brandy,” came up and Michael Stipe started singing it in the back of a cab that he was riding in. Kinda cool. He did a good job a capella.

    “Miracles” reminds me of the two other great Marty Balin tunes: “Runaway” and “Count on Me.” Good stuff. I recommend BMG’s Platinum & Gold Collection, Best of Jefferson Starship. It has these three Balin tunes and does NOT have, “We Built This City.”

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  15. Joe Kobiela said on August 5, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    Please come to Boston.
    What a make out song

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  16. Danny said on August 5, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    Anyone hear from Brian lately?

    Hopefully nothing is amiss and he just went on vacation. Of course, if he went on vacation, we must visit his house and do something like toilet paper his trees and shrubs or switch all of his Pearl Jam CD’s with Engelbert Humperdink or Barbra Steisand.

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  17. Andrew Jarosh said on August 5, 2006 at 8:22 pm

    Jay Ferguson “Thunder Island”
    Chuck Berry “My Ding a Ling”

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  18. brian stouder said on August 5, 2006 at 8:51 pm

    We just got back from spending 3 days in Columbus/Hilliard/Powell Ohio (visited COSI and the magnificent Columbus Zoo)….and THEN I just read that Senator John Glenn is in the hospital after crashing on a highway in northeastern Columbus.

    Looks like he’ll be OK, but just the other day we were musing about his accomplishments in space (thanks to COSI’s nifty artifacts and displays regarding Freindship 7, etc) and then this unsettling news came along.

    If I was going to add a cheesey song that I like nonetheless, it would be Ode to Billy Joe by Bobbi Gentry. It is both stupid and compelling, all at once

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  19. basset said on August 6, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    just looked at the list… who or what is “S Club 7”?

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  20. Dorothy said on August 6, 2006 at 8:25 pm

    I’m woefully out of touch with what is cool or uncool from the past. But I just love to sing along to Mel Carter’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me”.

    “She’s Gone” occupied me in my first car when I drove up to Erie to spend the weekend with my boyfriend (now my husband) when he went to Gannon. Seems every radio station was playing it once an hour.

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  21. Danny said on August 6, 2006 at 8:35 pm

    Guys, what was the # 1 Song / Single the day you were born?

    Find out here:

    The Number 1 single was:
    Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas – “Little Children”

    The Number 1 album was:
    Beatles – “With The Beatles”

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  22. nancy said on August 6, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    Harry Belafonte: “Mary’s Boy Child” Sounds like a Christmas number. The album was “The King & I” soundtrack. Getting to know you…..

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  23. Dorothy said on August 6, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    Paul Anka’s “Diana” and album was The Tommy Steele Story, whatever the hell that was.

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  24. colleen said on August 6, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    Beatles: All You Need is Love.


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  25. basset said on August 6, 2006 at 9:53 pm

    Slim Whitman – “Rose Marie”

    Shoot me now.

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  26. brian stouder said on August 6, 2006 at 10:17 pm

    The Everly Brothers – “Walk Right Back / Ebony Eyes”

    #1 album – Elvis Presley – “G.I. Blues (OST)”

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  27. mary said on August 7, 2006 at 10:50 am

    I love Slim Whitman’s mustache.

    On the day I was born, they were not yet tracking album sales. The number one single was Al Martino’s “Here in my Heart.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard that song. Mitch Miller and the Gang singing “Yellow Rose of Texas,” I’ve heard lots of times. We had several Mitch Miller albums in my house when I was growing up, and that show was one of the few we regularly watched. My dad would sit in his chair with sloshed grin on his face, watching Mitch and the Gang sing songs drunks could sing along with. Lots of guys in cardigan sweaters, singing old fart songs. I have mentioned to my children that they are very lucky I don’t make them watch anything like that with me. I did refuse to change the channel last night when I was watching the “E” Hollywood Story about Kelly Ripa. Doing this encouraged them to get their reading assignments done.

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  28. Ralph Hitchens said on August 7, 2006 at 2:11 pm

    “Fernando” by Abba, taps the secret Mexican revolutionary buried within me.

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  29. John said on August 7, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    This has the serious potential to wreck an afternoon of writing, so I’ll keep it brief and stop as soon as I stop thinking of songs.

    Sister Golden Hair … America (responsible for my most embarassing singing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-at-the-red-light-with-the-window-down-moment)

    Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)

    Let the Good Times Roll … The Cars … Let them brush your rock and roll hair!)

    The Land Down Under … whatever the name of those aussie dues was … Men At Work!

    Tainted Love … Soft Cell … great early 80s psuedo punk … one of my best friends swore they were singing “Painted Gloves”

    second shout out for “Sweet City Woman”

    better stop

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  30. mary said on August 7, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    Everyone in my household has a sort of love/hate thing with Abba songs. My younger song used to sing “see that squirrel, watch it scream, dig it, dancing scream…” Whenever the commercials for “Mama Mia, the Musical” came on TV, I would threaten to take the kids, or at least to send them.

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  31. Sue said on August 9, 2006 at 3:15 pm

    I love Mitch Miller! My dad and I used to sing along with his albums when I was a kid. Every Christmas Eve my family gets together and we play his Christmas albums. I used to have Mitch parties–everyone was required to sing along with Mtch.

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  32. Walter E said on October 5, 2006 at 11:23 am

    Thanks for including me…sorry you don’t think I’m cool

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