by Ryan Meehan
Summer is on its way, and soon everyone who was complaining about the cold weather will be bitching about how the Midwest heat is simply too overbearing for their fragile egos. Such is the life of a resident in this unfortunate bend in the jet stream, and likewise the nature of every American to complain about things that really aren’t that big of a deal within the grand scheme of things. I am no exception, as complaining about things seems to be one of my more enlightening personal characteristics. Before we go any further, I should probably share something: Sometimes while composing these pieces, they grow an extra head. This is actually the dark side of what eventually became the Ragged Records Playlist Five: Summer Songs Edition. That piece will be posted on Thursday, and will give you an idea of what you can listen to while soaking up the warm Quad-City sun-rays. What had happened was that I began listing all sorts of songs that shouldn’t ever be on any summer playlist ever, and before I knew it that tiny blurb became way too long to fit into an intro. The result is what you will see below, in traditional Deep Six format. Consider yourself warned.
- “Summer Nights” by John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John (1978)
Everybody that had anything to do with the production of Grease can burn in hell. It’s an awful musical, so it’s only fitting that this dumpster-ditty would be the one auditory abortion that everybody remembers from that program. Keep in mind: This is a track that placed John Travolta’s singing “skills” on the pop charts. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the equivalent of sticking ABBA in the middle of an English speaking feature film in which they play the main characters. Some people just try to do too much, and Travolta is one of them. That’s what all of this Scientology BS is about…He wants to believe in an out there God in order to get everyone else in Hollywood to buy that he’s a deep thinker, but he also wants his God to live in outer space so that people will remember that he can show up by jet in a white suit anywhere in the country and nobody can call him a lunatic without looking like an asshole. But it won’t change the fact that he played a guy by the name of Danny Zuko in the musical Grease, where he polluted the airwaves with a musical discussion about his summer romance with a girl named Sandy Olsson. (The extra “S’ is for shit in case you were wondering…) Believe it or not, I don’t have a tremendous level of beef with Olivia Newton-John. I actually really dig the song “Let’s Get Physical” and that video is one of the most hilarious clips of all time. She would have been crazy to exercise her better judgment and turn the Grease gig down because it made her a pile of money stacked higher than all get out, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a putrid piece of art and that this is one of the worst songs ever. The backtalk from the male members of this chorus while the track plays seem pretty tame when put up next to any World Star Hip Hop video nowadays, but even though this was a different era I simply can’t see how any guy would even care about how his buddy’s date went. Travolta’s verse should have simply stated “I met this girl, I pulled out, everything’s cool and she’s not pregnant, let’s go grab a case of Busch Light.” It wouldn’t have rhymed, but it would have increased his credibility with dudes who were forced to watch this film at pussypoint. I couldn’t care less about the sexual exploits of the people I’m friends with, I have enough of my own problems to keep me busy until Iran and North Korea finally decide to blow this orb to shreds. The female angle I understand, because women do care about stuff like whether or not guys have cars or whether or not they’ll tie them to a train track in the middle of the night. (I use A-Z Lyrics for my analytic research, so not all of this may be relevant information…) As harmless as Olivia Newton-John is, it’s hard to not wish that fate on everybody involved with getting this film to come to fruition.
- “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams (1984)
Did you hear? In the summer of 1969, Canadian-born rocker Bryan Adams bought his first real six-string at his local “five and dime” store! He played it until his fingers bled, and we’re going to stop this fabricated fairytale right here because everyone on God’s green earth knows that shit isn’t true. Are you familiar with all of the blues musicians in the early 1900s who worked on plantations in the South picking cotton? Do you know what all of those people would have in common if they were still alive? None of them would give a flying fuck about Bryan Adams. They wouldn’t listen to one word about how how torn up his fingers were from trying to write horseshit like this with his garage band, mostly because they’d be so busy beating him to death with the instruments they had to whittle by hand. This song propelled Adams’ fourth studio album “Reckless” to international superstardom, alerting the United States Drug Enforcement Agency that cocaine was a serious problem and beginning to severely affect the judgment of decent people who were also too stupid to know better. This video is puzzling as hell because in the performance portion of the clip, it shows only one keyboard player when on the track it sounds like there are at least fourteen hundred of them. Additionally, every guitar on this recording sounds like exactly like a keyboard. I can’t believe there was actually a time in my life where I owned a jean jacket, and what’s even worse is I can’t believe that there was a time when this style of music was referred to as anything other than the arena-pop garbage that it truly is. I don’t remember the whole ’69’ joke lasting longer than a week and a half in grade school, so the fact that this became a running gag that turned into a monster hit should make every white person who writes songs want to take up rowing so at least they won’t be lying to themselves about being the pretentious asshole that they truly know they are. I also think it’s weird that everybody in this very early eighties video has the exact same haircuts as the band in Bon Jovi’s “Keep The Faith” video does, proving that there is officially nothing cool about this paragraph at all.
- “Summer Girls” by LFO (1999)
I realize that picking on a boy band is like pushing someone in a wheelchair off of a pier, but hear me out as to why this bothers me so much: This song was released in June of 1999, two months before I attended what would sort of be my junior year of college at Illinois State University. For those of you who aren’t familiar with that sorry ass excuse for an educational institution, let me break it down really quick for you. When you’re not in class, you’re surrounded by a shitload of rich kids from the suburbs of Chicago that all have Jeeps. They are as annoying as you can possibly imagine, save a few of them who had been shown the light of the way that was Napalm Death. The campus is really clean for the first weekend you’re there, but then the “students” turn it into a human toilet until the Thursday night before parents’ weekend. Then, miraculously the sleepy little town of Normal, Illinois turns into something out of the movie “The Truman Show” until the weekend gets over and then it’s back to looking like eight miles of spilled porta-potties. By this point in the year that I attended ISU, this song was crazy stupid popular. You could hear it blaring out of the dorm rooms of those whose only purpose in life should have been to eventually star in ISIS’ Funniest Home Beheadings, and you couldn’t go to any party without some girl demanding to the DJ that it be played full blast. Long story short, there was a time where unless you were chained to a bed begging for your life hearing this single was unavoidable. It was fucking everywhere and dominated radio with its nonsensical stream of consciousness word association with various pop culture references, many of which were completely outdated by several years and/or unrelated to those which surrounded it. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Meehan, why haven’t you made any pleas to our fair and just God requesting this guy get struck by lightning?” That’s proactive brainstorming on your part, but I actually don’t need to because the guy who wrote this song did actually grow a headstone out of his mouth back in 2010. He was driving a Prius behind a truck carrying redwood lumber when one of the splints fell off of the bed, penetrating the windshield, crushing his skull and killing him instantly. Truthfully he passed away from leukemia, but which one of those two stories do you really want to remember the next time you hear this piece of shit?
- “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley
The initial reason Don Henley ended up on my shitlist to begin with is because he released an album in 1989 called “The End of the Innocence” and it was played in the house that I lived in so much I was convinced his ponytail mullet was powering the furnace. I’m so tired of people using the theme of innocence lost. Life is a downhill struggle no matter how you look at it: You are young and enjoy everything about life because you don’t have a care in the world, but then you hear one of Don Henley’s solo albums and you spend the rest of your adult life trying to dig yourself out of that emotional torture chamber. Five years prior to releasing the lamest title to ever hit record shelves, the least likable member of The Eagles released a solo album called “Building the Perfect Beast”. I didn’t really research the subject matter of the record, so I might be a little bit off in suggesting that it’s all about Don building his own robot buffalo to have sex with. The lead single was a reverb-drenched guitar driven pile of buffalo manure called “Boys of Summer” in which Henley uses a tired analogy of summer love to glaze over his continued obsession with aging and reflecting on instances in his past. Even though the title suggests he’s about to describe the world’s most intense gangbang, the song ends up being a slow drive off of a short cliff. But wait until you hear the bizarre true story about how this cut came about: Neil Giraldo – Pat Benatar’s husband, producer and guitar player – said in an interview one time that when he was recording the framework tracks for “Love is a Battlefield” Henley stopped by the studio and essentially asked if he could use the same up-tempo beat and overall feel for a new song he was working on. The song in question ended up being “Boys of Summer”, which we now know could have easily been prevented had Neil simply turned around and said “Listen, Don…we all loved ‘Victim of Love’, but seriously…get the fuck out of here.” I will admit I do have a soft spot in my heart for the aforementioned track off of “Hotel California”, but there have been points of my life where I’ve kind of understood The Big Lebowski’s issues with The Eagles and their music. So to remove the best parts of that equation and give me all Don all day is not something that I want to experience unless the duration of how long I do so determines how much money I win. And even if that was the case, I’d probably spend so much emotional energy wondering how I ever ended up in that situation to begin with I’d likely just whip out a box-cutter and slit my own throat. I would say this was the worst thing that happened in Henley’s seemingly never-ending solo career, but the next single he would release after this one would be “All She Wants To Do Is Dance”, so there goes that argument.
- “California Gurls” by Katy Perry
Recently Billboard Magazine listed this song as the number one summer song of all-time. That’s like Indiana governor Mike Pence winning an award for tolerance from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Look, I get that Katy Perry is fun entertainment for most of the whole family when cleaned up for TV, but seriously if Snoop Dogg can’t even save a remix of this song you’re in a world of trouble. It bums me out to no end that the guy who rapped on the Deep Cover soundtrack would even consider a collaboration like this, but then again Snoop knows how to get his money. The portion of this song where he doesn’t rap is just straight up tool fuel, and I just can’t get away from the misspelling in the song title. Why stop there? Why not just end throw a Z in there and call it “California Gurlz”? Better yet, how about we just go ahead and misspell everything so it removes any doubt at all you stole the title of the song from Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys? Why not just spell the name of the state phonetically like it’s listed in the dictionaries we never seem to use anymore and call it “Kah-Lih-FOR-nyuh Gurlz”? That way when you trotted contest winners disguised as professional dancers onto the stage in shark costumes during Halftime of the Super Bowl, we’d just assume that there was something wrong with you and nobody had bothered to mention it to each other. Speaking of which, I figured that America would tire of Katy Perry as soon as we all collectively got our periods and she’d be popular enough to get a gig of that magnitude. But then again, the section of my brain which said that would also probably question why someone like her is famous to begin with so who knows how any of this happened. In order for a summer song to be a summer anthem, you need more than just lyrics about the summer. The whole production has to have somewhat of a summery feel to it, and I’m not feeling that the background music does anything other than make my balls shrivel and retreat all the way from the pouch of my scrotum to their new home on the back of my neck.
- “Endless Summer Nights” by Richard Marx
Where do I even start with this song? I have to trust the good judgment of the readers of this blog and just go ahead and assume they are all aware that musically this is somewhere between Charo and what ever happened to Kix after “Don’t Close Your Eyes”. That leaves us with the lyrics, which are somewhere between a thirteen year old boy who only listens toRichard Marx and, well…the man of the hour himself. The bullshit light goes off pretty early in this one, as the verse first contains the line “I’d give my life for one more night of having you here to hold me tight”. This is going to sound awfully sexist but since that’s never stopped me before, let me just say that I’m pretty sure that there is no puddle of poon on the face of the earth that’s worth the remainder of your existence. Unless you’re living underneath an overpass with a time bomb strapped to your chode, there’s nothing in your life worth losing it for and I’m sure any of the women who ended up milking Richard Marx’s prostate in the eighties are no exception. He goes on to say that “Time was all we had until the day we said goodbye”…Then what the hell are you so sad about? If the only thing between the two of you was your own pubic hair and whatever was left on the clock, was it really worth putting all of your energy into making everyone in America miserable for the four and a half minutes they had to listen to this song in the waiting area before they got their teeth pulled? What a dick. This guy rented out an empty Wrigley Field to shoot “Take This Heart” just three years afterwards, further cementing him as the world’s biggest douchebag with that many number one hits. I’d rather watch seventeen hours of gay porn with the sound off while Rick Dees’ “Disco Duck” pounds through my headphones than pretend like this is a good song for a fraction of a millisecond. One more note about the video for this song: I realize that the hairstyles and fashion sense of 1988 were about to take the needle the second grunge hit the airwaves, but where did some of these directors get the idea that there were thousands of male songwriters with their hands tucked in leather jackets on every street corner looking away from whatever was in front of them? I was only nine years old when this clip came out and we can all agree that the Quad Cities is a pretty nice area, but with all that said I’ve never seen a single dude in that scenario in my entire life. Yet for some reason, every single pop-rock video filmed between 1986 and 1991 features a guy in this very same predicament not getting robbed or shot. I’ve got thousands of dollars set aside for a limo to be sent to right to Richard Marx’s house right now so we can drop his ass off in West Baltimore to re-shoot that scene right now. That way when some of those rioters jump into the shot to steal his earrings we can see how much he’s really concerned with whoever was the inspiration for this enema of a musical offering.
As previously mentioned, I’ll go ahead and give you a playlist of summer songs that are actually good on Thursday but I felt I had to get this out first. You’ll notice I kept the same format and included the videos here in case you wanted to remember how bad they actually are, but I want you to know that this is something I went back and forth about for several weeks. In the end, I obviously decided to keep them in because either way we’d lose so I figured I might as well stay consistent. Stop back by on Thursday and get the real goods from Ragged’s best, and once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.