Frank Sinatra – “My Way”
“I hate this song. I HATE THIS SONG! I got it up to here [with] this God damned song,” Sinatra told an Atlantic City audience in 1979 before mechanically starting in on, “And now, the end is here.” He spent the first 30 years of his singing career crooning about romance, but this celebratory, self-love fest never sat right with him. Audiences loved “My Way” and Old Blue Eyes was never one to disappoint a crowd, but he just didn’t have too much respect for the song. Guess he and Sid Vicious had something in common.
David Bowie – “The Laughing Gnome”
This weird little tune was a failed attempt at a charting single released in 1967 by Deram Records — that’s five full years before The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, when Bowie gained real commercial traction. “The Laughing Gnome” was reissued in 1973, when Bowie was off doing his Ziggy thing. This chipmunk track was nothing but an embarrassment to the androgynous alien rock star who was, at the time, trying to bring a message of peace and love to planet earth.
Beastie Boys – “Fight for Your Right (To Party)”
The Beasties intended the song as satire, but it went over a bunch of heads and landed squarely as a party anthem. Misfire. In the liner notes of The Sounds of Science, MCA says the song “sucks,” but no anthology of the Beastie Boys would be complete without it.
Radiohead – “Creep”
The lyrics to ’94′s “My Iron Lung” go: “This is our new song/Just like the last one/A total waste of time/My iron lung.” Yorke was singing about the curse that “Creep” brought about. Massive crowds were coming to see Radiohead for only that song. Sometimes, they’d boo until the tune was played. In 1998, they dropped “Creep” from their set list entirely, but exhumed it for live performance in 2001. With 8 full-lengths now behind them, The Radioheads aren’t quite so delicate; they’ll play “Creep” every now and then.
The Pixies – “Here Comes Your Man”
I always knew there was something weird about this song. The Pixies wouldn’t perform on Arsenio Hall because he asked them to play “Here Comes Your Man.” Turns out that Black Francis wrote the song when he was 14 or 15 and the Pixies recorded it for their 1987 demo tape. While it was released as a single, the song was never included on a full-length album until 1989′s Doolittle. The bouncy, sunshiny tune just didn’t fit in with their usual psychosis — as manic as it may sometimes be.
R.E.M. – “Shiny Happy People”
Stipe took the phrase “Shiny happy people holding hands” from a Chinese propaganda poster issued after the Tienanmen Square massacre. The song was meant to be an indictment, not an over-zealous, straight-laced college rock anthem. Watch the video. The whole deal was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek.
The Doors – “Light My Fire”
Yeah, keyboardist Ray Manzarek absolutely kills on the organ throughout and Morrison comes off as a cool proto-goth poet, but word is he never much liked “Light My Fire.” In his notebook, he wrote that he hated performing it live and resented that much of the group’s success derived from that song, which he had little hand in writing.
Motörhead – “Ace of Spades”
Lemmy’s fed up with this one, but he doesn’t have the heart to put it out to pasture. He admits that for about two years, he sang “the eight of spades” live, and no one ever noticed. “If I never hear ‘Ace of Spades’ again it’ll be too soon,” Kilmister told music writer Andrew Vaughan. “And not that it’s a bad song, but to have people shouting the title at you every night, I mean we have other, better songs!”
Guns N’ Roses – “Sweet Child o’ Mine”
GNR wrote “Sweet Child o’ Mine” while they were recording Appetite for Destruction. Slash was goofing around, making faces, picking away at that riff (the way “Rockin’ in the Free World” has been played at least one million times in jest), when Izzy joined in, and Axl took notice. They loved it, but Slash thought it was a joke.
The Cure – “Killing an Arab”
Robert Smith wrote “Killing an Arab” as a précis to Albert Camus’ The Stranger, in which the protagonist, Meursault, does, in fact, kill an Arab. It’s exactly the sort of puerile lit fan homage that can be misinterpreted. And so, when the song was co-opted by a bunch of skinhead groups, it became a source of regret for Smith. “If there’s one thing I would change, it’s the title,” Smith told Chart Attack some years back. “It’s as far from a racist song as you can write. It seems though that no one can get past the title and that’s incredibly frustrating.”