The cold clutches of a hundred VH1 propagandists came for me one Friday night, as my friends and I gathered around a bar rail and drank off the approaching bar time. The button-up middle aged prick to our right was having trouble keeping his head from exploding, due to my usual disdain for the Beatles circle-jerk. In typical hipster fashion, he reacted as though I had just punched his mom in the face, though I only called Lennon an overrated schmuck and McCartney a dopey slinger of trite. After the freakout he sniffed that I needed to expand my musical horizons. Ever notice that this statement usually means fawning over whatever safe/edgy acts populate the current Rolling Stone best-ever list? That’s not expansive; it’s not even musical.
Still, after the namedropper declared that he couldn’t handle our level of ignorance and ran off, I decided to think a bit more about my musical tastes. A question shot out of me, and it shocked me that I had never asked it before. What’s the worst song ever? I blinked. Naming all the various Top 5s of preference was easy and had been done before, but perhaps because music is a form of media (alongside television) with a constant barrage of involuntarily absorbed crap, it’s hard to single out one shining turd to carry the shame. For a second, there was no answer. I looked down at my drink, sideways at my friends, rolling the magic 8-ball around in my head before the answer leaped out and punched me in the face.
“Bodies,” by Drowning Pool, is the worst song of all time.
Now I’ll admit that a big part of my Beatles loathing is cultural and not musical. I was born well after the band’s place in history was set in stone and made it an unassailable cliché. Music, in our state of propaganda, is much more than music; it’s marketing, packaging, radio play, monthly messianic music media. You can be bombarded from a dozen different directions by a musician whose music you’ve never even heard (see: the Osbournes, Chris Brown, the Heartagram). Therefore, I think it’s acceptable to dislike a musician based on the culture he or she creates.
I say this to point out that culture was secondary in declaring “Bodies” my worst song ever. Musically, it’s a mediocre song with a predictable low end and vaguely interesting guitar wails, but Dave Williams’ inane, repetitive growling of third-grade lyrics pushes “Bodies” into shit superstardom. We get sinister whispers in the opening, building tension. We get winded, contrived couplets that would make William Hung piss razors (“Beaten, why for?” Really?). We get a pre-chorus counting game that transforms Dave Williams into the mongoloid cousin of Sesame Street’s Count von Count (“One! One, nothing’s wrong with me! Ah! Ah! Ah!”). And of course, there’s the Cookie Monster call to arms: “Let the bodies hit the floor!” Stir these ingredients, add a pinch of the requisite walls-are-caving-in metal lyrics at the interlude, throw in a few randomly placed adolescent wails, and you’ve got a real piece of shit anthem on your hands!
Now here’s the cultural. It was bad enough hearing this song before Dave Williams died in 2002 and martyred the goddamn thing. Now, “Bodies” has become a permanent Bat-Signal for fistheads across the globe; wherever there are pro wrestling shows, monster truck rallies, or scattered gunfire, there by the grace of God goes Drowning Pool.
It gets better. A few years back, a story broke which stated that American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay were torturing detainees with loud, abrasive music, blaring it at all hours. Guess what one of the songs was. And while most reactions from the appropriated musicians ranged from moderately disturbed to fury and outrage (Metallica’s James Hetfield was a rare case of the cautiously supportive), Drowning Pool’s bassist, Stevie Benton, had the arrogance to say the following:
“People assume we should be offended that somebody in the military thinks our song is annoying enough that played over and over it can psychologically break someone down. I take it as an honor to think that perhaps our song could be used to quell another 9/11 attack or something like that.”
Reader, just stop right here. Go back to that quote, and read it again. Then read it another time. Let’s get this straight. Drowning Pool’s music is going to STOP another 9/11? If I was forced to listen to “Bodies,” on repeat, cranked to unbearable volume, I would want to perform an act of destruction so monstrous that it would make terrorism seem like a little girl’s tea party.
So yeah. For reasons both musical and cultural, I deem “Bodies” the worst song of all time.
But fear not, sinners, for although Drowning Pool has authored the greatest abomination in music history, they are not, in fact my worst band ever. For making Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles retirement home rock look viciously Satanic by comparison, that title belongs to the Carpenters.