The 1980s had some amazing music and some brilliant songs but some of the worst lyrics of all time. Here's a guide to just a few of them:
I’m in the mood for dancing – The Nolans (1980)
Are you really in the mood for chancing and romancing or are you just saying it because they both rhyme with dancing? What is chancing anyway?
Oops up side your head – The Gap Band (1980)
Oops up side your head? What’s the follow up called? Oops down front your shirt?
D.I.S.C.O. – Ottowan (1980)
A novel idea for a song this, describing an awe inspiring disco dancer using the letters that make up the word disco. That and the fact she doesn’t just disco dance, she actually personifies the entire genre – she is disco! They begin by saying she is ‘D – delirious’, fair enough but is she really ‘S – Superficial’? Well that’s not very nice!
They go on to say, ‘She is C – complicated’. Well, I hardly think she needs a session with Sigmund Freud; she’s just having a bit of a jive in the corner to the Bee Gees. The other things they describe her as include impossible and disastrous. I hope I never meet this woman. She never gets described by anything beginning with O however. They get to that bit of the spelling and just sing ‘oooooohhhhhhh’. Maybe they should have used adjectives such as obstreperous and overbearing? Just a suggestion.
Special Brew – Bad Manners (1980)
Kingsley Amis said of Carlsberg’s Special Brew that it had the ability to create goodwill like no other drink.
Those who have sampled its delicate bouquet can testify that they’ve probably lost many an hour of their lives to bits of completely blank memories and confusion about how and where certain tattoos happened. Bad Manners decided to immortalise this dicey liquid in song with words like ‘I love you, yes I do, ‘cos I know that you love me too’. The fact you think your can of beer loves you right back is evidence enough that you really need to put the can down and have a nap.
Ant Music – Adam and the Ants (1980)
Who knew that insects could play tiny drum kits and teeny-weeny guitars? Not really! The Ants I assume are Adam Ant’s backing band. It was odd that he was called Adam Ant, and his backing band were called The Ants so it was really Adam Ant and The Ants; he was also an ant so they were all ants? It should have just been ‘The Ants’ shouldn’t it? Anyhoo, ‘Don’t tread on an ant’, Adam warns us, ‘he’s done nothing to you’. Well, I had ants in my house once and they were all over the carpet and I couldn’t help treading on a couple of them because there were so many, see? If only I’d listened to Adam because he then goes on to tell us ‘Don’t tread on an ant, you’ll end up black and blue, you cut off his head, legs come looking for you’. Do ants have eyes in their legs? Can Ants come looking for you with their legs? Google doesn’t think so. Phew, I might be alright.
Do the Hucklebuck – Coast to Coast (1981)
There are a lot of songs that tell us how to do specific dances. There’s ‘The Twist’, ‘The Locomotion’, ‘Fashion’, ‘The Clapping Song’, ‘The Time Warp’ and ‘The Hippy Hippy Shake’ to name but a few. However, ‘The Hucklebuck’ is still a mystery to most people on the planet despite the singers claim that ‘Here’s a dance you should know!’. The most bizarre part of the song comes when the singer gets all uppity and tells us that if we don’t know how to do it than that’s our hard luck! Then proceeds to tell us how to do it anyway! ‘If you don’t know how to do it, then you’re out of luck!’ (there should have been some kind of evil cackle in there somewhere).
Now, there are several dances out there which are quite easy and fun to do like the Macarena or The Birdie song or that one they do when ‘Saturday night’ by Whigfield comes on. They’re harmless and they pass the time between sundown and bed time when you’re on a resort holiday in Spain. However, I defy anyone to show me someone who has ever done, heard of or enjoyed doing the ‘Hucklebuck’.
If you’ve never seen, heard or smelled anyone doing this inexplicable dance yourself, here’s how it’s done (not that it has actually ever been done even by Coast to Coast on Top of the Pops):
1. Start twisting mad
2. Move all around
3. Wiggle like a snake
4. Waddle like a duck
5. A little bit of this
6. A little bit of that
7. Shove your baby in (as long as social services don’t find out)
8. Twist her all around
9. Start shaking in
Pretty sure that made up most of a chapter of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Hands up – Ottowan (1981)
There are only two times when you need to put your hand up. One, when you want to go to the toilet and two, when you just don’t care. Ottowan want us to put our hands up for this reason : ‘Don’t think twice or count to ten, don’t take advice, don’t ask me when, just come my way, simply kiss me and say: Hands up, baby, hands up! No use playing hide and seek for a week.’ English isn’t their first language so I’ll let them off for that. However, when they start the bit with the chat-up lines in it, I’m a little less lenient as I’m pretty sure they know what they’re saying when they utter, ‘Let me be your Romeo’ (famous classical character associated with love) ‘your wonder boy’ (famous classical character from Sega) ‘and your super champ’ (do they mean super tramp?).
‘Let me take you to the milky way, on a holiday.’ As space travel hasn’t yet been approved for civilians, and as we’re already technically at the Milky Way, that’s not the best promise to make someone. Might as well just put our ‘hands up, baby, hands up, give me your heart’. Just make sure you’ve signed your donor card.
Favourite Shirts - Haircut 100 (1981)
These lyrics sum up the reason this blog exists perfectly. A decent little guitar riff and a jaunty smile goes a long way because I can guarantee 98% of the people who heard this on the radio in 1981 didn’t bother trying to work out what Nick Hayward was saying, let alone what he was on about. I think the lyrics will speak for themselves so here’s a small sample and if you think they’re anything other than random words that had just the right amount of syllables to fit the melody then you’re probably one of those people who come up with elaborate explanations when your psychiatrist does the ink blot test. You can’t fail to love the amazing, ‘Never mind, someday Terry, feel the pain, hit, feel, rap, sweat’. And what about the amazing, ‘Why feel the floor? Sweets for my way’ and the unforgettable, ‘Your favourite shirt is on the bed, do a somersault on your head.’
Waiting for a girl like you - Foreigner (1981)
Foreigner : ‘I’ve been waiting for a girl like you’
Girl : So, you haven’t been waiting for me, just a girl like me?
Foreigner : ‘I’ve been waiting for someone new’
Girl : So in other words, I’m like the girl you’ve been waiting for but all you’ve been waiting for is someone who isn’t your old girlfriend?
Foreigner : ‘You’re as cold as ice!’
Girl : That’s not helping is it?
Foreigner : ‘I want to know what love is’
Girl : Well, you’re not going to find out from me. Bye!
The Lion sleeps tonight - Tight Fit (1982)
‘In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight’, they tell us. Lions don’t sleep in jungles. They sleep on a Savannah surrounded by Giraffes, Antelope and other Lions. Also, Lions spend 20 hours a day snoozing, two hours walking around looking busy and an hour eating. They generally hunt at night so there’s no sleeping going on at all. Also, ‘in the jungle, the quiet jungle’?? 57% of Planet Earth’s species live there so I doubt it’s quiet.
I ran - Flock of Seagulls (1982)
Now, I might be missing something so I apologise in advance, but normally, when you run away from something it’s because your fight, flight or fright mechanism has just kicked in to try and protect you from immediate danger. The Seagulls tell us after each verse that they ‘ran, ran so far away, I just ran, I ran all night and day, I couldn’t get away.’ I think the ‘running’ is a metaphor, or something, and the ‘couldn’t get away’ is because the thing that’s scary is inside the poor man’s head but just listen to the thing he’s trying to ‘run so far away’ from :
‘I never thought I’d meet a girl like you … with auburn hair and tawny eyes … the kind of eyes that hypnotise me through’. All this while walking ‘along the avenue’. Terrifying I must say; you’re not even in a darkened alleyway nor does she resemble the Bride of Frankenstein. If you run when you’re faced with that scenario, what are you going to be like in the queue for the teacups at the local amusement park?
Hungry like the Wolf - Duran Duran (1982)
Simon le Bon is the king of using nonsensical phrases to fit the little melody he’s just come up with. In the album track ‘To the shore’ from Duran Duran’s first album, he tells us that ‘diamond stars shine glitter bright, gorging your sanhedralites’. He goes on to tell us that ‘glad stand pouring fruit trees and now they glisten on the waterline. I’m moving Chrissie pretty flowers in the shuttermaze.’ Well, now you know what a random poet he is, you’re well prepared for the lyrics of this 1982 smash hit.
‘Darken the city, night is a wire.’ How can that even be a metaphor? Wire is a thin piece of metal. How can the night be a thin piece of metal? He then tells us that he ‘smells’ like he ‘sounds’. Well, you sound like an 80s pop singer so I’m guessing you smell like one too? Next he tells us that because he is hungry like a canid native to the wilderness and remote areas of North America and North Africa, his mouth is ‘alive with juices like wine.’ What other juices are like wine? Port perhaps? Shloer? Grape juice? Your mouth is alive with grape juice? Do you see how ridiculous you’re being Simon? Stop it.
Iko Iko - Natasha (1982)
Whether the song comes from France, Italy, West Africa or down in the Bayou, it’s not clear if the chorus is about gold, paying attention, love causing a king to be born or God watching us. My issue is with Natasha’s story about her grandmother and ‘your’ grandmother sitting by the fire. Usually in such situations, they’ll discuss ‘that lovely man who does the weather’ or how the weather was cold that morning but warmed up in the afternoon and how late the bus to the bingo was. However, the conversation in the song quickly escalates and her Grandmother threatens to set ‘your’ Grandmother’s flag on fire. I bet you didn’t even know she had a flag!
Fame - Irene Cara (1982)
‘I’m gonna live forever’, Irene warbles but then tell us ‘I’m gonna make it to heaven’. How are you going to make it to heaven if you’re going to live forever? Also, ‘I’m gonna learn how to fly’? The first thing you’re going to do when you find ‘fame’ is to get your pilot’s licence? Very strange.
Don’t go - Yazoo (1982)
‘Came in from the city, walked into the door’. Now you know it’s there, maybe try opening it next time?
Just what I always wanted - Mari Wilson (1982)
If you were to make a list of all the things you’ve ever wanted, then it might include things that have just been invented (in which case, that can’t be something you’ve always wanted) or things you could never hope to own that would make your life decadent, luxurious or full of excitement. Mari tells us that she’s always wanted a mink from Paris (I assume it’s a coat and not an actual mink as they don’t live wild in France), a ring from Rome (famous of course for its rings!?), a tune from Tenney (not so famous for his ‘tunes’ that bloke - not what you’d call a writer of catchy jingles) and an Ashworth Snap (you could just take a selfie; it’ll be very similar).
She also tells us that she wants ‘a Picasso’ and that she wants to be ‘a millionaire’. All fair enough I suppose but the one thing she always wanted that baffles me is the very first thing she mentions, the one thing that if someone asked you what you’ve always ever wanted since you were old enough to realise you didn’t just want a plastic toy from a rack in the Post Office, that there were bigger better things out there, the things that you work all your life to be able to afford and now you’ve got a record contract and a top ten hit, might just become a reality! What is that thing? A taffeta dress! £6.99 on e-bay; what’s the matter with you?
Should I stay or should I go? - The Clash (1982)
Some questions just answer themselves. Like ‘should I have a cup of tea or coffee. I don’t like tea, but I like coffee’. It’s simple. ‘Should I wear a spangly crop top or a tailored suit to my job interview? The job is in a solicitor’s office.’ See, you’ve answered your own question. The Clash ask, ‘Should I stay or should I go? If I go there will be trouble, if I stay there will be double’. Sounds pretty obvious to me.
Electric Avenue - Eddy Grant (1983)
Eddy Grant’s to do list :
1. Rock on to Electric Avenue
2. Take it higher
1999 - Prince (1983)
Not sure what there was to celebrate in 1999 to make Prince want to party like he was sixteen years older. Surely it was more the advent of the millennium that was the reason for the party of all parties? Also, when exactly is ‘Two thousand zero zero?’ That’s not until 200000, in 198000 years time? Not sure the planet will be here then let alone Prince records still being on the playlist of Radio Zarg (or whatever the aliens that have taken over by then will call Radio 1). The lyrics should really have said ‘They say two thousand, midnight January 1st, party over, oops out of time. Tonight I’m going to party like it’s December 31st 1999’. Shouldn’t it? And we haven’t even mentioned the fact he’s got a lion in his pocket in verse three. You can get arrested for that you know. As for the next line where everybody’s got a bomb so he’s going to dance his life away. Hope that works out for you Mr. Nelson, I really do.
Is there something I should know? - Duran Duran (1983)
If you try to turn the lyrics for this song into a story, you’ve got one of the lost episodes of Twin Peaks.
There’s a man who has a hideaway in the mountains but he can’t remember where it is, having ‘run out’ yesterday, needing somewhere to lay low. Unable to locate it, he decides that maybe he’ll try again next year or maybe he won’t go at all, he hasn’t decided yet.
‘There’s a dream that strings the road’, sings Mr Le Bon not even sure himself what that means before asking, ‘can you see in the snow’. It’s not clear from the lyrics why it’s necessary to find out whether vision in a snow flurry is a pre-requisite but it’s the next analogy which probably goes a little bit further than it needs to.
We’ve all met people who are a bit stubborn or a bit overbearing. It seems Simon has met someone who not only provides music for malevolent spirits but is also so demanding a person, he needs to build an underground bunker and stay there for six months. ‘Fiery demons all dance when you walk through that door. Don’t say you’re easy on me, you’re about as easy as a nuclear war.’ Might have overcooked the analogy a bit there Simon.
Love is a stranger - The Eurythmics (1983)
‘Love is a stranger in an open car, to tempt you in and drive you far away’. Annie Lennox there demonstrating why you should never take sweets off strangers and you should never ever go and see anybody’s puppies.
Wanna be startin’ something - Michael Jackson (1983)
‘Too high to get over’, sings the King of pop. Could this be a wall he’s singing about? A world record attempt at the pole vault? No, because it’s also ‘too low to get under’. So, it’s too high and too low? Ok, so you’ve riddled me this... put me out of my misery, what is it? ‘You’re stuck in the middle and the pain is thunder’, he continues, cryptically. Is the answer on the back of the record sleeve? Is it said in a spooky voice when you play the record backwards?
Not content with making me wonder for over thirty years what is too high to get over and too low to get under, he starts insulting us all. ‘You’re a vegetable, you’re a vegetable’, he sings. Alright Michael, we’re not all Sherlock Holmes. Hang on, what’s that? You’re going to tell us the answer? But you’re going to sing it in Duala, a dialect cluster spoken by the Duala and Mungo peoples of Cameroon?
‘Ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa’.
What? Doesn’t matter, I give up.
Come live with me - Heaven 17 (1983)
‘I was thirty seven, you were seventeen, you were half my age...’ Granted, it’s been a while since you were at school doing maths but surely you don’t think seventeen is half of thirty seven?
Who’s that girl? - Eurythmics (1983)
Science has explained why hot things can sometimes feel cold, not that I want to bore you with that here. Things can’t actually be hot and cold at the same time however, despite Annie Lennox telling us that the language of love that falls from her lover’s tongue is ‘cooler than ice cream and warmer than the sun’. Maybe it’s also too high to get over and too low to get under?
Right by your side -Eurythmics (1983)
Annie Lennox is back again for a third time in the same year telling us that if you ever find yourself in a mess that one of the ways to sort yourself out is to ‘swing from limb to limb’. Is she on the monkey bars at her local park? Maybe doing an assault course releases endorphins or something? She then tells us that she starts to feel a little bit fruity when the person she needs to be ‘right by the side’ of, sets light to her orange crew cut. ‘I’m so full of desire when you set my head on fire’, she yells. Whatever floats your boat I suppose.
This charming man - The Smiths (1983)
‘Punctured bicycle on a hillside’. Inflatable bicycle is it Morrissey? Even when it’s inflated it’s not going to get you very far is it unless you fill it with helium and float off across the rooftops, but then, you haven’t got a stitch to wear so you can’t.
That Was Then – ABC (1983)
‘All fall down, can’t complain, mustn’t grumble – help yourself to another piece of apple crumble.’ The first part is taken from ‘ring-a-ring-a-roses’ where we all fall down through losing our balance because we’ve sneezed too much. Can’t complain indeed, mustn’t grumble. However, who knew you could forget all your worries with a subsequent portion of a crumbly topped citrus pud?
The Reflex - Duran Duran (1984)
Mr. Le Bon is back with more nonsense in this number one smash hit from 1984. A reflex is an involuntary and nearly instantaneous movement in response to a stimulus. So I think it’s impossible to ‘bruise’ it which is what we’re warned not to do by the song. Pavlov’s research with dogs told us that once a reflex has been established, we can’t ever ‘lose it’, so whyayayayayay don’t you use it? Probably because we have no idea what you’re talking about Simon.
According to the Durans, a reflex is an only child in a park, in charge of finding treasure in the dark and every little thing the reflex does leaves you answered with a question mark. Fair enough Simon, you absolute weirdo.
Once you’ve stopped reading Lewis Carroll novels, I’ll let you get on with the second verse. ‘I’m on a ride and I want to get off but they won’t slow down the roundabout’ That’ll teach you to go to an unlicensed fairground on a patch of wasteland at the back of your council estate.
What’s love got to do with it? - Tina Turner (1984)
‘Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?’, Tina asks. Well, if you’re going to use that logic, you’d never own anything would you? Who needs an I-Phone when an I-Phone can be broken? Even with an extended warranty?
Seven Seas - Echo and the Bunnymen (1984)
The Bunnymen? Is that a band of vigilantes with the powers of a radioactive rabbit? Hope so. Anyway, Ian McCulloch, lead singer of said Bunnymen was once described by someone I can’t remember the name of, as a vocalist who could sing the phone book. If he had, it would have been more coherent than this little ditty from 1984. ‘Stab a sorry heart with your favourite finger’, he chirrups. We’ve all got a favourite finger haven’t we? Mine is the first one after my thumb on my right hand. What’s yours? I bet you don’t want to go stabbing hearts with it though, even if you are a surgeon trying to see if it’s still working, however apologetic. ‘Paint the whole world blue’, he continues. I painted a radiator once, took ages it did. The whole world? Where would you get the paint? Where would you get a brush big enough? Finally though, Ian tells us that he is glad to see his face among the seven seas kissing the tortoise shell. What even does that actually even mean actually?
Agadoo - Black Lace (1984)
No, I don’t have an issue with shaking trees and grinding coffee, my beef is with the girl in the first verse. It’s entirely realistic to expect someone to jump up and down and ‘to the knees’ but I draw the line at someone ‘selling Pineapple, playing ukulele’. Playing a tiny guitar requires the use of both hands and have you seen the size of a Pineapple? They’re massive! She couldn’t be carrying them around with her, even on a kind of utility belt. Never mind that for now however because the singer goes up to said girl and asks her ‘Come on and teach me to sway’. She replies, ‘Yes, come tonight to the bay’. Swaying lessons on the bay at night? Seriously?
Smooth Operator – Sade (1984)
Sade, pronounced ‘Sharday’ and not ‘Sadie’ as I insist on calling her, shows here that her grasp of Geography is as weak as a puppet’s handshake, ‘.. coast to coast, L.A. to Chicago’. Chicago is nowhere near the coast. I understand she needed a place name with three syllables to make the lyrics scan but what’s wrong with ‘Rhode Island’ or ‘New Jersey’ or ‘Miami’ or ‘Key Largo’? They’re all on the East Coast. Chicago isn’t!!
Do they know it’s Christmas – Band Aid (1984)
Yes, it was hastily scribbled on the back of a cigarette packet in the back of a taxi, but that’s no excuse for all the inaccuracies in this song, no matter how much good it has done in the world. Boy George claims that there ‘won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time’. Clearly he’s never been to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. ‘Where nothing ever grows’, he claims, apart from that massive Rain Forest in the middle, and ‘No rain or rivers flow’. Isn’t the longest river in the world, The Nile in Africa? I rest my case.
Kiss me – Steven ‘Tin Tin’ Duffy (1985)
Imagine a world where a fermented grape based beverage is the pinnacle of all you’ve ever dreamed about. When you wake in the morning feeling a bit glum, you know that all you require is a sip of that fruity hooch and all will be well with the world. Welcome to Steven Duffy’s world.
In trying to let us all know how much a certain girl means to him, he needed to let us know that her love was better than something, something that in itself is pretty damn great and if something is going to be better than it, then it must be pretty damn good. To most of us it would be, ‘Your love is better than getting the top off a jar you’ve been struggling with for fifteen minutes’ or ‘Your love is better than finding a fiver in an old coat pocket’. To Mr. Duffy he thinks ‘your love is better than wine’. Sorry, not possible. Nothing is better than wine. Why else would people use phrases like ‘wine o’clock’ and have those comedy selfies where the wine glass is really close to the camera lens while they’re in the background looking like they’re holding a glass fourteen times the size of normal? Why Steven, Why?
Round and Round – Jaki Graham (1985)
All I need do here is give you the lyric, let you make of it what you want and move on.
‘Have you ever wondered why you sometimes see me smile? It’s to tell you that I care. And the best thing you can do is come and follow through.’
Take on me – A-ha (1985)
Not many people know this but A-ha’s version was a cover of a song by Yoda.
Lipstick, powder and paint – Shakin’ Stevens (1985)
The title not only sounds like an advert for the Make-up counter at Boots, but could equally be misconstrued as a weird aisle at B&Q. Shakin’ sings it in such a good mood you can’t help but be swept along by his enthusiasm; that is until you listen to what he’s actually saying. None of it actually has anything to do with Lipstick, powder or paint.
‘There goes my baby up a tree’, he warbles. That’s an issue for social services if ever I heard one. ‘Let me put my glasses on, haven’t had such fun since she’s been gone.’ If putting your glasses on was the height of your enjoyment when she was here then you’re best off rid of her if you ask me. ‘Taller than a barnyard’, he sings next. How tall is a barnyard? I thought it was an area of open ground around a barn, in essence making it two dimensional. So yes Shakin’, ‘ten feet high’ is taller than a barnyard.
We built this city – Starship (1985)
We’ve all gotten a little too involved in the tombola at some point in our lives haven’t we, if we’re honest? We’ve all gotten far too immersed in the hook-a-duck or the ‘stand-the-coke-bottle-up-with-a-stick-and-a-hook’ too haven’t we? But for Starship to be ‘knee-deep in the hoop-la’? They’ve taken that fete they went to far too seriously.
The walk of life – Dire Straits (1986)
‘Here comes Johnny singing ‘I gotta woman, down in the tunnels trying to make it pay’’. Well that’s no way to treat your wife is it?
Dktr Faustus – The Fall (1986)
‘Horseshoes splacking swallows hay-cart, cart-horse of the peasant blocking his path.’
Nasty – Janet Jackson (1986)
If you’ve ever wondered what Janet Jackson’s real name is, then wait no longer. She reveals all in this ditty from 1986 when she tells us firstly that she wants you to ‘close the door if you want me to respond’.
Ok, the door is closed… why am I closing the door again?
‘Cause privacy is my middle name’
Ah, I see. So if ‘privacy’ is your middle name, what is your last name?
‘My last name is Control’. She then clears up the last bit of lingering confusion by telling us, ‘No, my first name ain’t baby’. And here’s me thinking that Michael Jackson’s little sister was called ‘Baby Privacy Control’ all this time!
Word Up – Cameo (1986)
‘Yo, pretty ladies around the world’, sings Larry Blackmon of Cameo whilst sporting a fetching red codpiece. I’m going to assume he’s talking to the ladies that in his opinion, are pretty, rather than those who are conventionally pretty or think themselves to be pretty.
‘Tell your brother, you sister and your momma too’. Bit rude that don’t you think. Basically Larry is saying my sister and momma aren’t part of the original ‘pretty ladies’ he was calling out in the first line. Thanks Larry, you awful man.
Why can’t this be love – Van Halen (1986)
‘Only time will tell if we stand the test of time.’
Rain or Shine – Five Star (1986)
Jackson 5 wannabes, Five Star were using some very strange syntax and odd analogies in this 1986 hit to say that the subject of their affection would be the one for them come ‘rain or shine’. The sentiment is there but unfortunately, the execution is not. ‘From mañana to mañana’, they sing, which actually means from tomorrow to tomorrow (not as I’m sure they mean ‘from tomorrow to forever’ or ‘from tomorrow to every day after that’)? That’s only one day and it’s not even a proper timescale. I wouldn’t be particularly enamoured with someone who told me they wanted to be with me from Tuesday to the exact same Tuesday. They follow this up with the sentence, ‘Do I am love you? Yes I do, do.’ Now, we all hate question talkers don’t we? Do we? Yes we do. But ‘Do I am love you?’ Well, was I am went to find out, then we will been to finding were answers.
‘Robin Hood and Major Tom’, they add, ‘all the super heroes rolled into one.’ Firstly, neither Robin Hood or Major Tom have super powers and if you rolled all the super heroes into one, you’d have someone who could go invisible, have laser vision and fly. That never ends well in my experience.
La Isla Bonita – Madonna (1987)
‘Young girl with eyes like the desert’, Madonna gurgles, allegorically. Are they full of sand? Do they have camels roaming all over them, or are they just hot, like that ‘hot-eye’ you get when you know you’re going to have flu really bad the next day? Whichever it is, I don’t think she’s going to have a great time at the opticians later.
Pour Some Sugar on Me – Def Leppard (1987)
‘Livin’ like a lover with a radar phone’, they claim. How does a lover live and is it different to one that’s got a radar phone? Why would you need a phone that sends out a radio wave to determine the range, angle or velocity of objects in your vicinity?
Wishing Well – Terence Trent D’arby (1987)
Among life’s great questions about Butterflies (according to Google’s predict-a-question-as-you-type-in-the-first-part feature) are ‘Can Butterflies hear?’, ‘Can Butterflies bite?’, ‘Can Butterflies see?’ and my favourite, ‘Can Butterflies Cry?’.
I was intrigued to find someone had written a book all about the latter, then disappointed when nothing in the book revealed whether in fact Butterflies have the power to squirt water from their eyes or not.
Terence postulated in 1987 that there was such a thing as a ‘wishing well of butterfly tears’. I know they tend to gather on those droopy purple bushes in autumn in their thousands, but even if they all cried at the same time, would it be enough to fill a wishing well? Then I listen on and Terence continues to tell me that such a thing as a ‘wishing well of crocodile tears’ exists too. Now, I’ve heard that crocodiles can’t cry, it’s a metaphor which means someone’s crying but they aren’t really, or something. So is the Butterfly tears thing the same as the crocodile tears thing or can they both cry? Or can neither cry? I just don’t know now. Thanks Terence.
Jive Talkin’ - Boogie Box High (1987)
Not entirely sure what Jive talkin’ is, with or without the ‘g’ on the end so I’ll let that indiscretion pass. What I don’t get is this : ‘With all your jive talkin’, you’re telling me lies, good lovin’ still gets in my eyes’. How can – erm – how do you – erm – what gets in your eyes exactly??
‘If there’s somebody you’ll love ‘til you die, then all that jive talkin’ just gets in your eye’.
Seriously, do you need a hanky and a mirror?
Valerie – Stevie Winwood (1987)
According to Stevie, the girl he’s singing about, ‘Valerie’ is either a photograph or really really light because ‘she just blew away’. An unfortunate event one would think but inevitable when Stevie explains to us that ‘she can’t be that warm with the wind in her arms’. Chilly and smelly I would have thought.
These Dreams – Heart (1988)
‘I walk without a cut, through a stained glass wall’. I think you’ll find a wall made of glass is called a window.
The rhythm is going to get you – Gloria Estefan (1988)
Gloria paints a picture of a sinister and creepy, perhaps malevolent entity known to all musicians as ‘the rhythm’. Now we all know that Bootsy Collins has got the funk, but who has got the rhythm? Not bass guitar players, that’s for sure. According to Gloria, ‘the rhythm’ is a sentient being which will hunt you down. She tells us that even if you ‘turn off all the lights … at night’ or ‘in bed, throw the covers on your head’ and ‘pretend like you are dead’, the rhythm will still ‘get you’. Helpfully, Mrs Estefan puts a timescale on when this strange beast will conduct its hunting activities, adding ‘rhythm is going to get ‘cha, rhythm is going to get ‘cha, rhythm is going to get you, the rhythm is going to get you – TONIGHT!’ Well, I’ll be sure to sleep tight knowing that, thanks!
The only way is up – Yazz and the plastic population (1988)
‘The only way is up’, claims Yazz. I’m pretty sure there’s also sideways and back and forward but Yazz is a very wise pop star so who are we to argue?
You are the everything - REM (1988)
‘Late spring and you’re drifting off to sleep, with your teeth in your mouth.’ If you wear false teeth, you really should pop them in a glass of water by the side of your bed before you drift off to sleep.
The Look – Roxette (1989)
In this late 80’s jingle, Per Gessle tries to take us on a journey through just how ‘in vogue’ a certain lady is. Unfortunately, he describes a woman who would be more at home in a Salvador Dali painting than anything by Da Vinci. Imagine if you will, a woman who is ‘Walking like a man, hitting like a hammer, loving like a wild dog, naked to the T-bone, banging on the head drum’ and my favourite, ‘shaking like a mad bull’. Indeed, this woman certainly has ‘got the look’, if that look is of someone you need to stay well clear of and ring the authorities. No wonder she goes ‘na na na na na’. Also, she is ‘tasty like a raindrop’ too. Got flavoured rain in Sweden have we Mr. Gessle?
Ride on Time – Black Box (1989)
Heather Small (who provided the vocals for this track) seems to be having one of those moments when the alarm goes off at 6am and you’ve pressed the snooze button several times. It soon becomes apparent that it’s now half six and you’re going to be late for work. So she sings ‘Gonna get up, gonna get up, gonna get up’. I wonder if she did get to work ride on time.
The Best – Tina Turner (1989)
Tina wants to let the man she’s singing to know that she thinks he is absolutely and unequivocally the best man of all time. However, she either loses confidence in her claims or realises that she needs to hold something back because she adds a little caveat on the end of her statement, just to make sure her male friend doesn’t think he’s won the power battle in the relationship before it’s even started.
‘You’re simply the best’, Tina warbles, clearly affirming her stance on what she thinks of him, ‘better than all the rest’. He must be feeling a million dollars right now, ‘better than all the rest?’, he thinks, ready to take on the world, full of a renewed sense of self belief. ‘Better than anyone’, she continues; ‘yes’ he thinks, ‘clearly better than anyone in the entire world – I’m great me.’ Then she throws in the caveat, ‘anyone I’ve ever met’. ‘Hang on’, he thinks, ‘that’s narrowed it down to just the people you’ve encountered in your life. So before, I was better than billions of people, now I’m just the best of a couple of thousand? Great!’, he thinks, as he slopes off to the interview for the job he now doesn’t get.
All around the world – Lisa Stansfield (1989)
Lisa has had a fight with her ‘baby’ (her boyfriend, presumably), he said things he didn’t know and she was so bad that she doesn’t think he’s coming back. Now that things have settled down a bit, she probably wants to go and see him, apologise, talk things through. He’s probably at his mate’s house, sleeping on the sofa or he’s gone back to his mum’s for a few weeks until he can get himself sorted. He’s probably waiting for Lisa to text him to ask if they can meet up and talk things through. He’s probably not deleted her off his Facebook yet so he keeps checking his messages to no avail. Why the non-contact? Because Lisa has set off round the world looking for him. He’s about ten minutes down the road from your house Lisa you complete idiot.
Hangin’ Tough – New Kids on the Block (1989)
Bearing in mind that these lyrics are being spoken at you by ‘men’ called Donnie, Joey, Danny, Jonathan and Jordan (sounding more like Reindeer than gangsters), they proceed to ‘threaten’ us all with various statements of violent intent.
‘Don’t cross our paths ‘cause you’re gonna get stopped’, they talk. Well, only because it’s five against one. ‘We ain’t gonna give anybody any slack and if you try to keep us down we’re gonna come right back.’ These are some big words which I’m pretty sure they can’t back up with actions. I’m proven correct when they stop trying to act all belligerent and irascible then start talking about doing some kind of jig whilst sending us all to sleep with what they delusionally think is funk; ‘Just get on the floor and do the New Kids dance … We’re gonna put you in a trance with the funky song’. Well, you got that bit right.
Get up – Technotronic (1989)
Technotronic’s to do list:
1. Get up
2. Get busy
3. Do it
4. Move that body
5. Get down to it
6. See you party
7. Get my butt on the floor (or buy some worming tablets, one or the other)
The Power – Snap
I might as well get it out of the way now because Turbo B came up with some awful couplets in his rapping life. ‘I’m as serious as cancer when I say rhythm is a dancer’ is one, which says more than I ever could about terrible lyrics but in my opinion, his lyric from ‘The Power’ is even worse. ‘Maniac’, he raps, ‘Brainiac’, he continues, ‘winning the game. I’m the lyrical Jesse James.’ Really? He was an outlaw, guerrilla, gang leader, bank robber, train robber and murderer. Are you really the lyrical Jesse James? Really?
Read more terrible lyrics in 'The worst pop lyrics in the world EVER' available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon here : https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01D0NLQBA/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738