Most Overplayed Songs From Each Decade
Pop songs that get stuck in your head aren’t created by accident. There’s a science to creating a sensational song. That’s why they all sound the same! The music industry knows what chords to play, how fast to play them, and what words to sing. It’s a science they have perfected that makes them money and ruins your day at the same time.
You’ll see a lot of the same things in these songs. The chorus repeats itself a thousand times. The lyrics are kind of gloomy and romantic. The chorus is perfect for singing along with — which you’ll definitely end up doing before you even realize that the song is stuck in your head. Typically, we like these songs for a few days before we realize: “Oh no! This is another Top 40 hit. It’s going to be played so many times I’ll end up hating it.” And by then, it’s too late.
Here’s a list of songs we can’t stand even if we loved them the decade they came out. They might have been decent at one point, but they are way beyond ruined now. Do you agree with us? Are you sick of hearing these songs on the radio? Or will they never get old? Let us know!
1958: "Tequila" by The Champs
"Tequila" by The Champs is an excellent song if you’re nervous about trying karaoke for the first time. Any other time, this song is just too annoying. The whole thing is instrumental music broken up by the occasional “Tequila!” We are saying that you need to drink a lot of tequila to get any enjoyment out of the song... Seriously!
This song was released in 1958 by Gene Autry's label Challenge Records. It became a number one hit on pop and R&B charts. It has been covered numerous times over the years and has been featured in various film and television works. None of this changes the fact that the song is annoying though.
1958: "Yakety Yak" by The Coasters
“Yakety Yak” is catchy in a bad way. The lyrics consist of lines about doing your chores and keeping your complaints to yourself. This song just reminds us of what our mothers used to say to us before we were allowed to leave the house. No, thank you! We'll listen to something else that doesn't make us feel like angsty teenagers.
"Yakety Yak" was written, produced, and arranged by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for the Coasters. Released in April 1958, it spent seven weeks at number one on R&B charts and a week at number one on the Top 100 pop list. Over the years there have been numerous pop culture references to the song. Only covers of the song have made it stay even somewhat relevant.
1963: "It's a Small World" by Sherman Brothers
You know this song from the water-based Disneyland ride of the same name. Songwriters Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman wrote "It's a Small World" to be easily translated into several different languages. Given that it is played over and over and over again, it is possible that it's one of the most played songs in history.
Now you know who wrote this horrific song because we didn’t know before now. This song assaults most of us at Disney theme parks, but it pops up from time to time elsewhere. Disney, do us all a favor and stop using the song. Retire it! The world will be grateful.
1965: "What's New Pussycat" by Tom Jones
"What’s New Pussycat" sounds like one of those songs that ends way before it actually does. Like many other artists, Tom Jones has a burning question: What’s new, pussycat? Nowadays, the song kind of sounds gross, too. It's just not a good song and we can't figure out how it ever became popular!
The song, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, was released in the United States in June 1965, and in the UK that August. In the UK it peaked at number 11 as a top 30 record. In the United States, it peaked at number 3. And in 1966 it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for the film of the same name.
1965: "I Want Candy" by The Strangeloves
"I Want Candy" wasn’t always annoying until it started to show up everywhere from TV shows to movies and even in grocery stores! You coundn't get away from this stupid tune. What makes it worse is that it’s so freaking repetitive. Plus, it's since become a song featured in the worst children's movies out there, Hop.
The Strangeloves recorded the song back in 1965 and not everyone realizes it's that old because it's still played today. The song peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts. In the UK, the song peaked at number 25 and in Australia, it reached number 81.
1970: "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel
Simon and Garfunkel, might not mean much to people nowadays, but if you heard their hit song "Bridge Over Troubled Water," congratulations on living a long and fruitful life. The song that survived disco and one shy of a dozen wars. Bridge Over Troubled Water is the fifth and final studio album by American folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel.
On January 1, 1970, Columbia Records released it. Art Garfunkel joined the cast of Catch-22 as an actor. Meanwhile, Paul Simon worked on the soundtrack, penning all songs with the exception of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant's "Bye Bye Love." This followed the duo's work on the score for The Graduate. It's a well-loved song. You'll hear no complaints from us.
1976: "Afternoon Delight" by Starland Vocal Band
Ignoring that "Afternoon Delight" has been used and re-used so many times that it’s basically a deflated balloon, it’s also just plain annoying! One of the worst parts of the song is the random “Skyyyy rockets in flight” line that doesn’t fit anything else in the song.
"Afternoon Delight" was recorded in 1975 and was released in 1976. It received three nominations for the 19th Grammy awards and won Best Arrangement for Voices. In 2010, it was named by Billboard as the 20th sexiest song of all time. Since its release, it has been featured in numerous films and shows including Good Will Hunting, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Arrested Development.
1978: "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow
Just because it’s by Barry Manilow doesn’t mean it’s good. Even though the lyrics are different, it feels like it’s the same thing over and over and over. Then, after hearing it, it gets stuck in your head. Just the “Copacabana” part. Nothing else. It's honestly a waste of everyone's time.
"Copacabana" was released in June 1978 and became a summer hit that year. It was first featured in Billboard magazine's Top 40 chart on July 7, 1978, and peaked at number 8. it was also featured in the top 10 lists of Belgium, Canada, France, and the Netherlands. In the United States, it received Gold certification with over 1 million sales.
1978: "Disco Duck" by Rick Dees
"Disco Duck" is everything no one wants to remember about the '70s. It’s got a disco beat, which is fine, but then there’s an annoying duck quacking through the track. Then, the duck starts talking, and it sounds just like Donald the Duck, who is also one of the most annoying characters of all time.
"Disco Duck" was released in September 1976. It was a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 list for an entire week. The highly popular song was not welcome everywhere, however. it was banned by radio stations in Memphis. In the United States, it earned Platinum status for selling over 2 million copies.
1979: "Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd
The three parts of "Another Brick in the Wall" appear on Pink Floyd's 1979 rock opera album The Wall. During "Part 1", the protagonist, Pink, begins building a metaphorical wall around himself following the death of his father. In "Part 2", traumas involving his overprotective mother and abusive schoolteachers become bricks in the wall.
Following a violent breakdown in "Part 3", Pink dismisses everyone he knows as "just bricks in the wall". Important social commentary in song? Yes. Was it played so much makes me want to put my own head through a wall? Also Yes. Although one would only need to go into the education system to understand the constant protest.
1979: "Message in a Bottle" by The Police
Most people can make it through "Message in a Bottle" just fine…until they get near the end. From that point, The Police sing “Sendin’ out an SOS” for a solid minute. We’re not joking. A solid 60 seconds of “sending out an SOS.” At that point, we’re sending out an SOS – save us from this song!
The Police's "Message in a Bottle" was released in September 1979 and became one of the band's first number one singles. It is also one of the band's personal favorite songs for some reason. In addition, to hitting the charts worldwide, it also made the Billboard Hot 100, ranking 74 at its peak.
1982: "Come On Eileen" by Dexys Midnight Runners
"Come On Eileen" is a song by English group Dexys Midnight Runners, released in the United Kingdom in June 1982 as a single from their second studio album Too-Rye-Ay. It reached number one in the United States and was their second number one hit in the UK, following their 1980s "Geno".
It was heard non-stop from coast to coast that year and the following years. If you're still alive to the tell the tale, I'm sure you remember. It boasts impressive bleed-through to movies and cinema with at least a dozen mentions. I'm sure we'd all agree to say, come on Eileen, that'll do....
1983: "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club
C-C-C-Can we not? “Karma Chameleon” has a weird harmonica in the background that sticks out and repeats itself just for the beat. God forbid they just throw in more lyrics. Loving this song would be easy if it wasn't so repetitive... But, alas, here we are, and now you can go if you please.
The hit song from the Culture Club was released in 1983 and it's one of the most '80s songs out there to be sure. It spent three weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and it is the only number one hit in the United States. But they certainly had more around the world.
1984: "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!
This song is just funny. The lyrics aren’t as bad as many pop songs. The sound is much more Beach Boys than '80s hair band, and that’s definitely a good thing. But man, this song gets old about halfway through, yet it goes on for way too long. Just as it wakes you up, it puts you right back to sleep.
"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" was released as a single in the UK in May 1984. It was a number one hit in the US and the UK. And with over 2 million copies sold, it earned Platinum status. The song was written by the late George Michael and was ranked among VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the '80s" at number 28.
1988: "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers
"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" is a pretty sweet song, even if it is annoying. It’s not too repetitive — but those accents and the beat make it so bad to listen to. There are only so many times you can listen to this song before even just thinking about it gets it stuck in your head.
"I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)" was released in August 1988 in the UK and later in the US in 1993. It became popularized in the United States from the film Benny & Joon starring Johnny Depp in which it was used as one of the film's main themes. It reached the top 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart during the summer of that year.
1989: "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice
“Ice Ice Baby” was the first hip-hop single to top the Billboard Hot 100. Everything about the song makes you laugh, but nothing more than the name of the song. It's saying, "The beat is so cool that it’s cold like ice." Sorry, that’s just too far. And then there's the rhythm ripped straight from Queen's and Bowie's "Under Pressure."
The song is bad and it's time we face that fact. While people might have loved it at the time, one-hit-wonder Vanilla Ice has hardly left a lasting impression on the music business itself. But it was a success with critics and commercially as well. Released in 1990, it was the first hip-hop single to reach the number one spot on Billboard.
1992: "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus
What isn’t annoying about "Achy Breaky Heart"? From the horrible mullet in the music video to the horrible lyrics, there’s nothing to like about this track. It’s so bad that it’s often used as the cliché, “ironic” country song whenever someone makes fun of the genre. It's everything people hate about country music wrapped up in one definitive song.
"Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus was released in March 1992. In the United States, it peaked at the number four spot on the Billboard Hot 100 list. In the UK it peaked at number three. These days, the song appears to be another song that people either love to hate or hate to love.
1994: "Cotton Eye Joe" by Rednex
“Cotton Eye Joe” recently came back into popularity through internet meme culture, but it should have stayed in the past. The lyrics are inspired by STDs, with “cotton eye joe” referencing the cotton swab test performed at doctor’s offices. After learning that, you’ll never look at this song the same way again.
"Cotton Eye Joe" is a Swedish Eurodance song that was released in August 1994. Combining American folk music with techno, the unique song was popular in Europe, particularly in Norway, as well as Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, and Austria. In the United States, it peaked at number 25 in May 1995.
1995: "Macarena" by Los Del Rio
Another song with seriously questionable lyrics, "Macarena" was huge back in the '90s. The dance was iconic, so it was played pretty much anywhere where dancing happened, but that just added to its problems. With that said, this one was probably more popular because of the song itself but unfortunately, you can't separate the two.
"Macarena" was originally recorded in 1992 but was released in 1993. Los del Rio earned a spot on VH1's "#1 Greatest One-Hit Wonder of All Time" in 2002 because of the song. Despite how annoying it is, the song has remained so popular, with a number seven position on Billboard's All-Time Top 100 list.
1997: "Barbie Girl" by Aqua
These days, “Barbie Girl” wouldn’t fly. Today, Barbie dolls are mocked for the standards they set for young girls, and this song only goes to make things worse by objectifying women in every way possible. Just listen to the lyrics, and you’ll realize that there’s really nothing good here and it's just plain terrible.
The Danish-Norwegian dance-pop group Aqua released the song in May 1997. It was a meg-hit selling over 8 million copies worldwide. It debuted at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. Mattel, who was not happy with the trademark violation nor the depiction of barbie in the song as a sex object, filed a lawsuit but the case was dismissed.
1997: "It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time" by Buckwheat Boyz
"It's Butter Jelly Time" got popular for being ridiculous, and crowds found enjoyment in how stupid the song is. After the novelty wore off, no one actually listened to it for enjoyment. It’s not hard to see why, either. Every line is repeated at least twice if not four or more times. You can only listen to “Where he at, there he go, peanut butter jelly” so many times before the novelty wears off.
The song was written back in 1997 by Buckwheat Boyz, but it didn't become popular until it became an internet meme in 2002. The viral internet video features a dancing banana dancing to the tune. Now it is known by millions — if not billions — of people.
2005: "Photograph" by Nickelback
This song feels like it is a parody of an actual song. How they narrate everything they do feels like something Weird Al would do in a parody. Add in Nickelback's already weird vocals and you’ve got a perfect song to make fun of. Look at this graph! I mean, photograph. Sorry, forgot what the real song was for a second there.
The song was released in 2005 and was featured on the much-maligned band's fifth studio album, "All the Right Reasons." The song peaked at number one on Billboard in the United States, Canada, and the UK. The song also performed well in Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands among other countries around the world.
2005: "My Humps" by The Black Eyed Peas
The more you look into this song, the funnier it gets. The song is obviously sexual, so at first, it’s obvious what the lumps and humps are. But in some spots, the “humps” are actually “hump” in the singular. So, we’ve got lumps, humps, and a hump. Hmmm… Well, the song is definitely up for interpretation, but we’d rather not stick around to find out what’s going on.
"My Humps" was written and produced by will.i.am received negative criticism from seasoned music critics but that didn't stop it from being successful. It earned a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and made the Billboard Hot 100.
2005: "Crazy Frog" by Axel F
When the early 2000s remix the 80s, you know there are going to be major problems. It was released with a fully animated music video featuring the “Most Annoying Thing,” which seems an apt description for the song itself. You have to give it to the Swedish group that made it, though: it’s the second oldest video on YouTube and one of the most played videos of all time.
The original song peaked on Billboard at number 3 in the United States. It was released in 1984 and appeared on the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. Meanwhile, the remix reached number one in Turkey, New Zealand, Australia, and most of Europe. In the US, it was number 50.
2010: "Baby" by Justin Bieber
People made fun of this song even while it was still out. From Bieber’s hair to his extreme youth, the music video should have been a disaster from a start. Apparently, it worked, though. At one point, it was the most-watched video on YouTube. Luckily, we all left “Baby” behind.
"Baby" featuring Ludacris alongside Justin Bieber was available as a digital download in January 2010. The combination of dance-pop and hip-hop was a huge success with critics for some reason and it was a commercial success too. It was number one in Scotland and France and had no problem charting in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada among others.
2010: "Whip My Hair" by Willow Smith
We’re glad Willow Smith is finding her place in the musical world, and her talent is developing more with each release. However, this song repeats “I whip my hair back and forth” almost too many times to count. We get it, you like throwing your hair around. Now tell us something we didn’t know.
The debut single from Willow Smith was released in October 2010. Critics were kind to the song, praising it for its kid-friendliness and sweet beats. It debuted at number 60 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and peaked at number five on the charts. By October it reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.
2011: "Friday" by Rebecca Black
If you’ve never heard "Friday," stay away. This isn’t one of those good songs that got overplayed. It became an internet sensation because it was called the “worst video ever made.” It is currently the 6th most disliked video on YouTube. There's hardly anyone talking about it now, fortunately, well except for us, evidently.
Upon its Youtube release, it was immediately met with criticism, yet it has garnered over 30 million Youtube views and sold 43K copies. Now this tells us one of two things: either people genuinely dislike it and they want to revel in their distaste for it or that they hate that they secretly love it. You decide.
2013: "Happy" by Pharrell WIlliams
Pharrell Williams enjoyed a lot of success from this song, including a Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance for singing it live. Despite its popularity, “Happy” made many people angry for its sing-song sound and repetitive lyrics. Half the song is Williams telling you to clap with a background voice chanting “happy, happy, happy” way too many times.
Okay, maybe we are being a little negative but you have to admit this song was way overplayed to the point that it no longer made anyone happy. As a single from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, it was popular with kids and adults, topping the Billboard Hot 100 list in early March 2014.
2013: "What Does the Fox Say?" by The Fox
"The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?" is an electronic dance novelty song and viral video by Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis. If you've heard it, you've heard it a hundred times. Its immense success boasts over a million views on YouTube. We can only hope that the future of mankind can take it upon themselves to show this generation mercy when recalling this period of time.
It was the song of the summer and so identifiable that when people begin singing it others tended to join in. Much to our luck, it has not made significant headway into pop culture through other mediums other than music. Here's hoping it stays that way, for truly nobody cares, what a fox says.
2015: "Stressed Out" by Twenty One Pilots
We've all experienced stress, yet Twenty One Pilots decided to record it in the song "Stressed Out" for their fourth studio album, Blurryface. It's a mid-tempo alternative hip hop and rap rock genre that seems to be beyond the song's comprehension; perhaps this is the source of all our unified tension.
Maybe it's because this song was played nonstop on radio stations throughout the nation in 2015. I'll admit that if time could be turned back, I'd be more ready to deal with the song's relentless repetition, which taught me how to change the radio station without looking.