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Songs with the Most Clichés
Songs with the Worst Clichés

Which songs have the most clichés? Which album had the most clichés? Which best-selling artists and acts had hits with clichéd lyrics? Would it surprise you to learn that some of the best-selling songs of all time are essentially non-stop streams of clichés? When I started working on this page, I was surprised to discover that some of my favorite songs incorporated clichés that I had never noticed while enjoying them. It seems all clichés are not created equal. Some stick out like sore thumbs (pardon the cliché!), while others are unobtrusive or somehow managed to please.

I'm a "lyric man." I love good music, but bad lyrics set my teeth on edge. However, I must admit that clichés don't always ruin songs. If you bear with me, I will attempt to identify when clichés result in musical horrors, and when they unexpectedly succeed. 

Related Pages: The Most Overrated Songs of All Time, The Worst Song Lyrics Ever Written

The Top Ten Worst Song Lyrics of All Time (with number one being the worst of all)

(#10) Any song sung (or, more correctly, not sung) by Milli Vanilli; however, they do get one-sixteenth of a gold star for not actually singing their disasters!

Can we accuse people who don't really sing of indulging in clichés? If their songs are so forgettable that we can't remember a word, do the clichés count? Isn't it like a tree falling in forest when no one hears it? After careful consideration, I decided to give Milli Vanilli a teeny-tiny bit of credit for not actually singing their clichés!

(#9) Any numbingly monotonous and endlessly repetitious song by K. C. and the Sunshine Band (which means take your pick from their entire catalog).

I believe there are different kinds of clichés. There are some that arrive stale: for instance, "under a silver moon." But there are clichés songwriters create by repeating lifeless, ineffectual lines over and over again, until our brains turn to mush. For example: "Shake shake shake / Shake shake shake / Shake your booty!" 

(#8) "Ben" by the Jackson Five has the most ludicrous theme of all time, since it's a wildly melodramatic, cliché-ridden love song to a rat. Eeek!

In some cases we hardly notice the clichés because everything else is so awful. This song is essentially one uninterrupted cliché, but the theme distracts us from the staleness of its lyrics.

(#7) "Ice, Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice and "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis ... is your tiebreaker a super-inflated ego or supremely grandiloquent lyrics?

Terrible clichés are bad enough, but they can be aggravated by the artists' arrogance.

(#6) "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" by Heart; all we wanna do is not hear another freakin' cliché!

This is the first song in my list that can be condemned entirely on the basis of its clichés. I have provided a snippet of the song as evidence, in the following section.

(#5) "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" by Hank Williams Jr. was male chauvinism's absolute nadir ... until Donald Trump oinked.

Hank Williams Jr. seems intent on becoming a walking, talking, singing cliché. And a sexist cliché at that.

(#4) "Having My Baby" by Paul Anka raises the question: Should men expect women to demonstrate their "love" by providing their eggs to be gratuitously fertilized!

Paul Anka raises the sexist ante to an even higher (or much lower) level. His clichés are compounded by the production of babies for nonsensical reasons. Surely they deserve better parents!

(#3) "My Way" as performed by bad lounge and karaoke acts around the globe: "The record shows that WE took the blows when you sang it your egomaniacal way."

"My Way" is the ultimate cliché. It's possible that someone with actual accomplishments might pull it off — Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley, perhaps. Although I don't find them convincing myself. But in the hands of lounge and karaoke singers, this song is a train certain to fly off the tracks. 

(#2) "McArthur Park" as performed melodramatically, pretentiously and über-bombastically by Richard Harris. Someone left your brain out in the rain and it got all soggy.

Sometimes something stunningly original can immediately become a cliché. This may be the most original extended metaphor ever created. But it is also an infinitely terrible extended metaphor. It was a cliché the instant it was drafted, and no performance can possibly improve on it.

(#1) Paula Cole's stunningly terrible "I Don't Want to Wait" has the single worst song lyric ever penned: "Say a little prayer for I" ... and she sings it over and over and over like a broken record! Shades of Marco Roboto!

Someone please inform Ms. PC that grammar checkers are free! We don't want to wait for your song to be over. Now please repeat after me, ten thousand times: "Say a little prayer for me, that I will not make such a fool of myself in public, ever again!" This is another song where the clichés virtually don't matter. The chorus is enough to fry our brains.

Katy Perry's Prism wins the album category for most clichés, with a stunning 226 enumerated by Rich Juzwiak. And it's not just the volume; Perry actually recycles all-time taters like "the eye of the tiger," "under a silver moon," "fresh as a daisy," "running on empty," "walking on air," "the truth will set you free," etc.

Heart's "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You"

Heart's "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" is constructed from a series of miserably bad clichés, and even worse, it makes no sense. Why borrow other people's words only to mangle them?

So we found this hotel;
it was a place I knew well.
We made magic that night.
Oh, he did everything right!
He brought the woman out of me,
so many times, easily.
And in the morning when he woke
all I left him was a note:
I told him, "I am the flower;
you are the seed.
We walked in the garden;
we planted a tree.
Don’t try to find me,
please don’t you dare.
Just live in my memory,
you’ll always be there."

I believe that what the female speaker means to say is that she wrote her one-night stand a note, then left before he woke up and read it. And how on earth can a flower and a seed walk together in a garden and plant a tree? What she probably means to say is that she was the flower and her lover supplied the "pollen," which then resulted in a seed, which later grew into a new flowering tree (i.e., a child) somewhere in an Edenic garden. But the lyrics are so godawfully bad, stilted and prosaic, who can muster the patience to decipher them?

Famous and Best-Selling Artists Are NOT Immune

Some of these hit songs succeed despite being stitched together largely or partially out of clichés. I have given each song my own personal rating, from A+ to F-, for whatever that opinion's worth.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen (A+)
"Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers (A+)
"What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye (A+)
"Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan (A+)
"Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel (A+)
"Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac (A)
"Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses (A)
"Daniel" by Elton John (A)
"Desperado" by the Eagles (A)
"Dream On" by Aerosmith (A)
"Like a Virgin" by Madonna (A-)
"Candle in the Wind" by Elton John (A-)

"Hey Jude" by the Beatles (B+, silly but infectious)
"Changes" by Tupac Shakur (B+)
"The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers (B+)
"Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones (B+)
"My Name Is" by Eminem (B+)
"Money" by Pink Floyd (B)
"Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey (B)
"Cuts Like a Knife" by Bryan Adams (B)
"Back in Black" by AC/DC (B)
"Different Drum" by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys (B)
"The Greatest Love of All" by Whitney Houston (A+ for singing, B- for lyrics)
"Hero" by Mariah Carey (A for singing, B- for lyrics)
"Fade to Black" by Metallica (B-)
"Smooth" by Santana (A for musicality, B- for lyrics)
"Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi (B-)
"Take My Breath Away" by Berlin (A for singing, B- for lyrics)
"Make Me Smile" by Chicago (B-)
"Crash Into Me" by the Dave Matthews Band (B-)
"My Life" by Billy Joel (B-)

"Please Please Me" by the Beatles (C)
"Love Me Do" by the Beatles (C)
"You're Still the One" by Shania Twain (C)
"Like a Rock" by Bob Seger (C)
"Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen (C)
"Cold as Ice" by Foreigner (C)
"Thank You" by Led Zeppelin (C)
"Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw (C)
"Evergreen" by Barbara Streisand (A+ for singing, C for lyrics)
"Unanswered Prayers" by Garth Brooks (C-)
"Toxic" by Britney Spears (C-)
"Feels So Right" by Alabama (C-)
"Beautiful Day" by U2 (C-)
"Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton (C-)
"Down on My Knees" by Trisha Yearwood (C-)
"Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor (C-)
"Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler (C-)

"Roar" by Katy Perry (D)
"(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" by Elvis Presley (A for cuteness, B+ for singing, D for lyrics)
"Forever Young" by Rod Stewart (D)
"Love Bites" by Def Leppard (D)
"My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion (A+ for singing, D for lyrics)
"I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys (D)
"The Chair" by George Strait (D)
"Livin' on Love" by Alan Jackson (D)
"Freedom" by Reba McEntire (D)
"I Love" by Tom T. Hall (D-)
"Everything is Beautiful" by Ray Price (D-)
"Easy Lover" by Phil Collins (D-)

"Whip It" by Devo (F)
"Forever in Blue Jeans" by Neil Diamond (F-, although I'm a Neil Diamond fan)
"Jump" by Van Halen (F-, with this song Van Halen and David Lee Roth became clichés)
"Ben" by Michael Jackson (F-, although I'm an MJ fan)

The All-Time Worst Lines in Popular Songs

" [We] were pressed / in love's hot, fevered iron / like a striped pair of pants." (Richard Harris emoting on "MacArthur Park" is like Trump modeling Speedos.)
"Caught beneath the landslide in a champagne supernova in the sky." (Oasis delivers the most overblown lyrics since "McArthur Park.")
"I love you red solo cup, / I lift you up." (Yet another country song inspired by a severe drinking problem, Toby Keith?)
Get you love-drunk off my hump / my hump, my hump, my hump ... my lovely little lumps." (Someone please give the Black Eyed Peas a lumpectomy, stat!)
"T to the A to the S T E Y, / girl you tasty." (Fergie and should obviously avoid spelling bees. And writing songs.)
"Should've known you was trouble / from the first kiss. / Had your eyes wide open. / Why were they open? (Hypocrite! Why were your eyes open, Bruno Mars?)
"I ain't the worst that you've seen, / oh, can't you see what I mean? / Might as well jump! (Au contraire, David Lee Roth, you are the worst we've seen. Vamoose!)
"Come on baby don't be afraid, / if it wasn't for date rape I'd never get laid. (Sublime should change its name to Slime.)
"I'm a joker, / I'm a smoker, / I'm a midnight toker." (Steve Miller sure knows how to impress the ladies!)
"Some people call me Maurice / 'Cause I speak of the pompitous of love." (Steve Miller's "The Joker" is a cosmic joke ... on us.)
"Now you get to watch her leave out the window / Guess that's why they call it window pane." (Eminem, the real pain is your abysmal pun!)
"I've got soul, but I’m not a soldier." (At least Eminem has company, thanks to the Killers.)
"I don't like cities but I like New York; / other places make me feel like a dork." (Madonna outs her inner nerd in "I Love New York.")
"She'll think I'm Superman / not super minivan. / How could you leave on Yom Kippur?" (Not even a gratuitous holy day reference can save this Train-wreck!)
"Your lipstick stains / on the front lobe of my left-side brains." (Train's lead singer has multiple expose brains. Or his lover is a brain surgeon.)
"Only time will tell if we stand the test of time." (Only fools rush into such redundant lyrics, Van Halen!)
"I'm living right next door to an angel / and she only lives a house away." (Et tu, Neil Sedaka?)
"Empty spaces fill me up with holes." (Is this a love song or a recipe for making Swiss cheese, Backstreet Boys?)
"Zip your lips like a padlock." (Ke$ha obviously has no idea what a padlock is, or how it operates.)
"When it Waynes, it pours." (It does indeed, Lil Wayne, it does indeed! Like a very stinky golden shower.)
"Oh babe, I wanna put my log in your fireplace." (Kiss is so incredibly romantic in the sweetly titled "Burn Bitch Burn.")
"Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones." (Coldplay, aiming lasers at your lover is no way to "fix" her.)
"Young, black and famous / with money hangin' out the anus." (Puff Daddy should consult a proctologist, pronto!)
"Mix that Goose and Malibu / I call it 'Malibooyah.'" (Kanye West, please stick to what you're really good at―bullying Taylor Swift!)
"Bonafide ride, step aside my johnson. / Yes I could in the woods of Wisconsin.” (Another gratuitous rhyme from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.)
"What else could I say? / Everyone is gay." (Nirvana fails to consider the births of billions of babies in "All Apologies.")
"Swag, swag, swag on you. / Chillin' by the fire while we eatin' fondue." (Justin Bieber, swag and fondue  do not mix!)
"She's got everything / like a moving mouth, body control and everything." ("Highway Star" by Deep Purple keeps us informed about the really important things in life.)
"Lucky that my breasts are small and humble, / so you don’t confuse them with mountains." (Shakira, was this before the boob job?)
"The club isn't the best place to find a lover / so the bar is where I go." (Ed Sheeran makes his mother so very proud in "Shape of You.")
"I'm down on my knees, searching for the answer: / Are we human or are we dancer?" (The Killers tell us it's impossible to be human and a dancer!)
"Am I asleep? No, I'm alive." (According to Jessie J, we die when we fall asleep.)
"I'm serious as cancer when I say rhythm is a dancer!" (SNAP's "Rhythm Is A Dancer" is as serious as terminal brain cancer.)
"Sometimes we swim around like two dolphins / in the oceans of our hearts." (If your hearts are "oceans" what the hell are the dolphins in your insipid metaphor, LFO? Stroke-inducing blood clots?)
"Keep the blood flowing down to your feet, / Brother Lois will be around in a minute, with a bucket filled with squirreled meat. (Prince should consider becoming a vegan.)
"Say a little prayer for I." (Paula Cole, there's no need for prayer because even God Almighty can't save that atrocious line!)

So there you have it: the worst song lyrics of all time, according to me. Of course records are meant to be broken (please pardon the pun), so stay tuned for more abysmally bad lyrics, which surely lie in waiting around the next bend ...

Related pages: The Best Singers of All Time, The Best Singer-Songwriters, The Best Female Singer/Songwriters, The Best Songs of All Time, The Best Sad Songs, The Best Protest Songs and Poems, The Best Love Songs, Rock Jukebox: the Poetry of Rock, The Best Vocal Performances of All Time, The Worst Song Lyrics Ever, The Most Overrated Songs of All Time, The Best Rock Lyrics, The Best Female Poets, The Best Sappho Translations, The Best Metaphors and Similes, The Best Lines from Songs and Poems

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