10 really bad songs by brilliant artists, from Michael Jackson to David Bowie

4 August 2021, 18:08

Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Gary Barlow
Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Gary Barlow. Picture: YouTube

By Tom Eames

It's hard to stay on top of your game for your entire career. Even our very favourite artists of all time have had off days.

Here are the songs where pop icons surely looked back and thought 'what was I thinking?'.

  1. David Bowie - 'The Laughing Gnome'

    The Laughing Gnome

    Let it be said, that we actually have a soft spot for this novelty classic. But considering who it was by...

    One of David Bowie’s first ever songs was actually a pastiche of one of his early influences, Anthony Newley. The song tells the story of the singer meeting and chatting with the titular creature, whose sped-up voice joked using several puns on the word ‘gnome’.

    Studio engineer Gus Dudgeon voiced the gnome’s pal Fred. When he was killed in a car crash in 2002, Bowie sent flowers to his funeral with the note: “Farewell to the Laughing Gnome”.

  2. The Beatles - 'Revolution 9'

    The Beatles - Revolution 9 (Music Video)

    We'd maybe forgive a little dose of experimentalism on a Beatles album, but this just went too far.

    John Lennon went all avant-garde with this 8 minute and 22 second track, which is essentially just an audio collage of noise with the words 'number 9' over and over again, and other sounds that you should really avoid listening to at bedtime!

  3. Brian Wilson - 'Smart Girls'

    Brian Wilson - Smart Girls

    This track was written for Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson's rejected 1991 album Sweet Insanity.

    The song sees Brian rapping - yes, rapping - on top of an early '90s beat, along with various Beach Boys samples.

    In 2015, he said of the song: "Yeah, we were just having a good time. Yeah, it was fun. We were just kidding."

  4. Michael Jackson - 'Whatzupwitu' (with Eddie Murphy)

    [HD] Whatzupwitu - Eddie Murphy ft. Michael Jackson

    Michael Jackson teamed up with actor and good friend Eddie Murphy for this ill-fated one-off single, as he thought the lyrics had a positive message.

    Released in 1993, the song sounds incredibly dated today, while its music video looks like it was filmed for a 5-year-old's editing project. It failed to chart in the UK.

  5. Rod Stewart - 'Purple Heather'

    Rod Stewart - Purple Heather (Official Video)

    I'm sure we can excuse a few songs when it comes to football anthems, but this wasn't one of Rod's best!

    Rod recorded his own version of the old Scottish folk song 'Wild Mountain Thyme', along with Scotland's Euro 96 football squad. The worst bit was Rod insisting on showing off his footy skills in the video!

  6. Elton John - 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart' (with RuPaul)

    Elton John, RuPaul - Don't Go Breaking My Heart (with RuPaul)

    Don't worry, we love the original with Kiki Dee before you start shouting at us!I

    n 1994, Elton re-recorded the classic song for his Duets album, but this time with drag superstar RuPaul.

    The overall joy of the original was totally stripped out, and it just sounds very dated and poor in comparison. It did reach number 7 in the UK though!

  7. Elvis Presley - 'Yoga Is as Yoga Does'

    Elvis Presley Singing Yoga Is As Yoga Does

    Oh dear. Sure, a lot of Elvis songs in his movies weren't his best, but this one?

    From his 1967 film Easy Come, Easy Go, this song sees Elvis get caught up in knots as he tries to find out just what this fad called yoga is all about.

  8. Queen - 'Delilah'

    Queen - Delilah (Official Lyric Video)

    If anyone was going to sing a song about his beloved cat and get away with it, it's Freddie Mercury.

    Roger Taylor later admitted he is not fond of the song, stating: "I hate 'Delilah'. That's just not me."The best lyric? "And then you make me slightly mad, when you pee all over my Chippendale suite."

  9. Take That - 'Do What U Like'

    Take That - Do What You Like (Official Video)

    OK, we'll let the boys off considering this was their very first song, but even so.

    This cheesy track with a quite naughty video is amazing when you think how they were able to one day shake off their boyband image once and for all. Now, where's that jelly?

  10. Chuck Berry - 'My Ding-a-Ling'

    Chuck Berry - My Ding A Ling - 1972 (HQ Remastered)

    Out of all the amazing rock and roll anthems Chuck Berry recorded, his biggest ever hit by far in the UK was this silly ditty about his... well, you-know-what.

    The song was even almost the Christmas number one for 1972, but was beaten by Little Jimmy Osmond. Wow.