The Top 10 Hits the Band Wishes Didn't Exist
It's a well known fact that the music most bands want you to hear isn't the music that's actually popular. Tales abound of serious bands having novelty hits, novelty bands having serious hits, and audiences completely missing the point of songs. In fact, sometimes, it gets so bad, the band wishes they'd never even come up with the song.
Source: Capitol Records
By Dan Seitz
10. Butthole Surfers, "Pepper"
The Butthole Surfers is an experimental post-punk band infamous for their live shows. Smoke machines, strobe lights, two drummers, Gabby Hayes lighting things on fire and throwing around blow-up dolls, all surrounded by sludgy, scary metal. This is a band who put out an album called Hairway to Steven. And they'd been doing this since 1981, although by 1996, when "Pepper" hit, they'd calmed down a bit.
So what was the deal with "Pepper"? It was a send-up of Beck, actually. Not being a fan of the guy at the time, they wrote a song poking fun at his lyrics and styles: for example, you can hear the bridge played in reverse in the song, just like in "Loser."
So what happens? The parody, which is mostly filled with clues that only other musicians can pick up, becomes their sole number one hit, and drags the album Electriclarryland to gold status. Ever since, the Buttholes were asked to chase that "random mix of lyrics" success, at least until Capitol finally dropped them and they could get back to business.
9. Boston, "Amanda"
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We take it for granted now that every arena rock band has some sort of soulful ballad they throw in mostly as a sop to the lead singer's girlfriend. But Boston is a pretty unique case.
"Amanda" was actually written back in 1980, but didn't see an album until 1986. The band loved the song so much they didn't even appear in the music video, which was never officially released and is so obscure you can't even find it on YouTube. Boston didn't even do sensitive acoustic ballads; they were an arena rock band.
So naturally this is the song that rockets straight to number one and performs the best out of all of them. Boston didn't talk much about this song, although one thing that does become clear is that the band never really shook off that whole sub-Barry Manilow thing.
8. Blur, "Song 2"
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Blur wasn't really noted as an alternative band before 1997. In fact, they were a pop band, largely only a success in Britain, and by the time "Song 2" came along, they'd been together as a band for almost 10 years.
"Song 2" actually came about as a joke on Graham Coxon, one of the founding members, who was making a point to listen to American bands like Pavement to mock Damon Albarn, which has since been made into an official British sport, and who kind of ran the entire band despite Coxon having, you know, opinions and seniority and things like that.
Hence, "Song 2" came about as a bit of a tweak on Coxon…aaaaand it wound up being the hit everybody aside from the Brits knew them by, and they've had to cater to that ever since. Not even their old fans wanted their old sound after "Song 2" became such a hit. No wonder Albarn started Gorillaz. He wanted to perform something, anything, else.
7. Ray Stevens, "Everything is Beautiful"
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Who, you may ask, is Ray Stevens? Well, that's a good question. You probably know him best, if you know him at all, as the composer of songs like "Guitarzan" and "Osama Yo' Mama," or as an award-winning country songwriter. When he's not writing fairly successful songs for other people, he's kind of like Weird Al, except without the wit. Or the musical ability. But he keeps winning the Music City News Comedian of the Year Award, for some reason. Seriously, he's won this award we've never heard of nine times. In a row. He must be friends with the editor or something.
Anyway, one of Stevens' biggest hits, and arguably one he's been trying to get away from for thirty years, is "Everything is Beautiful." Yes, that song, the sappy, serious ballad about how everybody should love one another, come together, hold hands, and sing songs together, preferably those penned by Ray Stevens. It was good enough for him to get a Grammy, which he probably followed up with a song about running around naked. Stevens doesn't talk about the song much, presumably out of shame.
6. The Cure, "Friday I'm In Love"
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The Cure is notable for many things, but mostly for defining what it meant to be depressed in the '80s. Granted, South Park isn't far off the mark about "Disintegration" being one of the best albums ever, but it kind of tells you how joyful the band is as a general rule. Even if Smith did at least have the sense of humor to let the South Park boys turn him into Megalon, the giant drill-handed cockroach.
"Friday I'm In Love" was actually the Cure's last big hit, back in 1992. Not that this has stopped them from hating the hell out of the song. Robert Smith even went so far as to say fans of the song weren't actually fans of the Cure, firmly separating themselves from the one happy song in their oeuvre. Well, unless you count "Do The Hansa," but that's kind of its own special case. It's largely the Cure's refusal to turn out crap that has kept them from being the cultural force they were in the '80s. Well, that and all their fans had kids and decided they didn't want to write bad poetry anymore.
But at least they got a South Park appearance out of it.