The Worst Song in the World
The Era of Good Music
The 20th century blessed the world with so much great music – from jazz to blues, rock, and roll to funk. That may not be a case with 21st-century music, but that’s another story altogether. Last century was a revolutionary time in western culture, as well as other parts of the world, and it produced some extraordinary art, including music. However, not everything produced was solid-gold music. Just look at John Mellencamp’s 1985 hit “Small Town.” It is easily one of the worst songs ever made. Not only is the song a big let down, it’s also repetitive, and it’s glorifying small-town mentalities, lifestyles and limitations almost to the point of condescension. In no way, shape or form is the song a good one; rather, it is surely one that should never be played or listened to ever again on the public radio.
Guitar Rhythm Going Nowhere
For starters, “Small Town” could be considered the worst song in the world because it’s one big disappointment after another. It’s a catchy intro, the guitar rhythm, but it seems to go nowhere. It illustrates that silly, simple drumbeat typical of music from the 1980s, which is all just terrible; except for anything by bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan, which is absolutely excellent. But Mellencamp’s “Small Town” is just a small-minded song that is barely a song. It’s mostly a bunch of shoddy lyrics backed by even lamer music. It’s the worst song in the world, and it clearly was an expedient effort to get paid.
Secondly, and most importantly, it’s the worst song in the world because it can drive anyone nuts with its mindless repetition. It lacks creativity, originality, and diversity. In just seven stanzas – it has six four-line stanzas, and one five-line stanza – Mellencamp says the world “small town” 17 times – again, 17 times! It’s so annoyingly redundant that the listener has no choice but to anticipate him saying it, almost to the point of an anguishing dread. Some of the better songs have diverse choruses, interesting phrases. But, no, Mellencamp went a different route. How it reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart is surely a mystery that no cultural expert or art critic could explain. If anything, it alludes to the sheer idiocy of the 1980s – with its hair-metal bands, outlandish behavior, and working-class sensationalism.
Too Depressive Song
Thirdly, that latter point brings up another reason why “Small Town” is so horrible, probably one of the worst songs ever made: It clearly is pandering to a demographic – the small-town natives with their small-town mentalities – that it’s more depressing than encouraging. In the second stanza, he sings, “All my friends are so small town/My parents live in the same small town/My job is so small town.” Now it’s quite a challenge to look beyond the sheer, mindless redundancy of the lyrics, but he sings like he is celebrating the small-town life while making fun of it. He is a sort of condescending. And yet, Mellencamp left the “small town” to become a “big” star. In a sense, he is making fun of the dumb people buying his album, who thinks he is glorifying them and their lifestyles. But that is not the case. It is essentially Mellencamp catering to this poor, working-class demographic, knowing he can easily get them to buy his new album. It’s basically marketing at its finest, a business effort to make money. Only, art and music are these beautiful gifts that should never be used as tools to merely make money. “Small Town” did just that, and it should not be considered a good song. It should be seen as one of the worst songs – if not the worst song – ever made.
To conclude, every time Mellencamp hears “Small Town” on the radio, he probably cringes, lights a cigarette and promptly changes the station. In fact, he has likely removed every single radio his family owns, whether in cars, unused rooms, everywhere that could house a radio, and replace them all with iPods of only his greatest hits. “Small Town,” because of its disappointing, repetitive, trolling, sold-out nature, is assuredly the worst song on the face of the Earth. It should be banned from universities, public libraries, and hospitals. It has no place in American culture, no place in the lives of hard-working, decently intelligent people – and we should make sure children grow up never hearing of such a terrible, soul-sucking song.