They built this, shitty

I have never quite understood the utter hatred some people have for this song:

Yeah, it’s dumb, and it’s a long way from the Sixties/Seventies greatness that was Jefferson Airplane/Starship. But Worst Song Ever? Not even:

Blender magazine may have erred in 2004 by labeling it the “worst rock and roll song of all time,” at least in any universe in which John Lennon released “Imagine.” Their dissection of it as corporatized synth pop masquerading as social commentary is mostly accurate, of course. And they are quite correct in saying that its lyrics are silly rhyming couplets masquerading as profound insight (although the person who has never felt “knee-deep in the hoopla” has never attended a committee meeting).

But the same things can be said about some of the best rock and roll songs of all time, too (Substitute “most favorite” and “least favorite” for “best” and “worst,” if you prefer). If I had to pinpoint what I think is the reason “City” is so lousy, it’s because it takes itself and its genre so seriously. Rock and roll didn’t build San Francisco — and you could make a good case that the popular culture of the ’60s represented by Starship when it was still Jefferson Airplane didn’t build much of anything.

They were, after all, the Ship of Fools.

And in the three years since Vevo provided the video to YouTube, 96 percent of the thumbs are quite definitely up.





5 comments

  1. Roger Green »

    6 September 2016 · 5:17 am

    As a Lennon fan who finds Imagine treacle and theologically suspect to boot, I think the problem with WBTC is its lineage from JA, to JS to Starship. This is Grace Slick selling out. g

  2. fillyjonk »

    6 September 2016 · 7:33 am

    I don’t care for the song in question but I would question the “worst” status.

    (One of the problems with the Internet Age, I think, is “my favorite” so quickly becomes “best” and “my least favorite” so quickly becomes “worst” in many people’s minds).

    And I agree with Roger on “Imagine,” for what that’s worth.

  3. McG »

    6 September 2016 · 11:47 am

    I have to admit that “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “People Are People” come in way ahead of WBTC for worst pop song (I think rock-n-roll ended before any of these came out, and “rock” is to rock-n-roll as “country” is to country-and-western).

    Don’t even get me started on “Spirit in the Sky.”

  4. CGHill »

    6 September 2016 · 1:39 pm

    About 2009, someone unearthed a bunch of Reg Dwight (Elton John) covers done for budget labels. One of them was, yes, “Spirit in the Sky.”

  5. Roger Green »

    6 September 2016 · 8:55 pm

    Oh, I love those theological treatises like Spirit in the Sky and Put Your Hand in the Hand and One Toke Over the Line and Jesus is Just Alright.

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