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What a great year ’95 was! There might not have been much new or interesting music out there, but there was certainly an abundance of wretched lyric writing. Not since the glory days of our awards’ patron saint, Bernie Taupin, have rock lyricists let such dismal efforts see the light of radio play. Any other year, Silverchair or Live would have won going away instead of fighting it out for the No. 2 spot. But the antipodean underagers and York, Pa.’s earnest neo-R.E.M.ers couldn’t stand up to the juggernaut that was Joan Osborne.
And while hiphop, mainstream pop, country, and other musics featured wordsmiths toiling diligently to dismay their fans, the cutting edge of dispiriting doggerel still lay in the pseudo-catharses of modern rock.
Rankings are based on scores in the following categories: obtuseness, offensiveness, shamelessness, embarrassment value, metric malformity, and grotesqueness.
1. ‘Cept for the pope maybe in Rome, “One of Us,” Joan Osborne (It is breathtaking how far “The God Song” goes to hammer home its shallowness. And it’s hard to imagine who wouldn’t be offended by this line: Catholics, other Christians, non-Christians, polytheists, atheists, anyone with taste.)
2. The water out of the tap is very hard to drink, “Tomorrow,” Silverchair (The most impenetrable line in years, and a sure No. 1 any other season; the precociously bad Aussies get extra credit for making this line the very heart of the song.)
3. The placenta falls to the floor, “Lightning Crashes,” Live
4. Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage, “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” the Smashing Pumpkins (An obvious one, perhaps, but still a masterpiece of meretricious self-pity and bad prosody.)
5. Like a holy rolling stone, “One of Us,” Joan Osborne (There was some question among our judges whether a song could be eligible twice, but this line proved embarrassing enough to overcome all objections.)
6. She was just like kissing me, “I Kissed a Girl,” Jill Sobule (What narcissism! What grammar!)
7. It’s not fair to deny me of the cross I bear that you gave to me, “You Oughta Know,” Alanis Morissette (The surprise here, of course, is that Morissette didn’t rank higher, but her unmatched egregiousness is too mercurial to distill in a single line. Her career-making “Would she go down on you in a theater?,” while perhaps the most shameless lyric of all time, was found lacking by our judges in other areas of incompetence.)
8. I hope to God I’m talking metaphorically, “A Girl Like You,” Edwyn Collins (Apparently, the Bowie imitation was just a desperate attempt to obscure the words.)
9. We could build a factory to make misery, “Misery,” Soul Asylum (Dave Pirner’s habit of ending his lines with long “e” vowels just so he can drag them out in a fingernails-on-chalkboard whine does not contribute to the ranking; if delivery counted, this entry would be battling Billy Corgan and Morissette for the top spot.)
10. If you’re down with P., then you’re down with me, “Friends of P.,” the Rentals (Potty joke or not, a stupid line.) CP