Wednesday, June 20, 2007
What Sucks…“We Built This City On Rock and Roll”
In 1985, remnants of the San Francisco based rock giant, once known as Jefferson Airplane, then Jefferson Starship, then subsequently “Starship”- a group that played Woodstock and is known for their ground braking hits “Somebody To Love”, “White Rabbit” and, if you like to listen to music with your lover like I do, “Miracles”, came out with what could arguably be called the worst song of all time, “We Built This City”.
And yes, some may remember a few years ago this song was recognized for its crappiness by VH1, garnering the # 1 ranking in their “Most Awesomely Bad” countdown*. But you know what? That’s not enough.
We don’t call Stalin “Kookily Insane”. Spinal Meningitis isn’t a “crazy crappy” disease to get. Rape isn’t “Wickedly Traumatizing”.
I don’t want to live in a world where someone googles “We Built This City” and the only condemnation they can find is “Most Awesomely Bad”. “Awesomely Bad”? What the fuck is that? These guys release an all-time turd like this- put out a video that inexplicably has Abraham Lincoln getting out of his chair at the Lincoln Memorial and dancing, a song that contains the lyric “knee deep in the hoopla” and all they get for it is a title of “Awesomely Bad”? Fuck that. VH1 is a bunch of pussies- call it what it is. “Awesomely Bad” does not equal “Sucks”. This song sucks.
As was the case in the 80’s, this shitty tune went all the way to the top of the charts, finding itself at #1 for a short time. Just to give you an idea of the climate back in 1985, the song it replaced at #1, was something called “The Miami Vice Theme”, by Jan Hammer- incidentally, Starship’s reign ended when “Separate Lives” by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin replaced it. By the way, paying attention closely at the time was Glenn Frey, who that weekend dug through his storage room searching for early scratch tracks long ago abandoned, containing “Smuggler’s Blues”, because, yeah, the time was right.
As for “WBTC”, it had all the markings of a hit- and by that I mean, a place in the song for local radio stations to insert their call letters and a traffic report. Actually, I’m being facetious. Up until this time, songs did not contain a place for traffic reports. I know, hard to believe. Of course I’m not counting early Pink Floyd’s “Piper At The Gates Of Dawn”, where in if you play side one backward, you hear a futures report urging you to invest in plastics.
So, could “We Built This City” be the worst song ever? You can make a compelling case. You can also make a case that front runners such as “Rock Me Amadeus” and “The Safety Dance” were ironic, there is no such hope for We Built This City. Oh, they were completely earnest. I’d bet my life on it.
As for Starship, they parlayed their number one tune into a gig writing the theme for “Mannequin”, entitled “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, shortened incidentally from its original title “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now…Obviously”.
*Denotes: “VH1’s “Awesomely Bad Countdown” ranked #2 in E’s “Terrifically Mediocre Countdowns”. Source: me.
What Sucks…”We Built This City On Rock and Roll”: CODA
I have to add a coda to this post. If you watch the video, again, and make it past the Lincoln thing, you'll see the scene switches to Vegas, but not the strip- it switches to Fremont Street, home of the “Fremont Street Experience” which if you've ever been to, is basically like the “Port Authority Bus Terminal of NY” experience, but without the life-affirming uplifting feeling of hope.
I honestly can't wrap my head around why they chose to feature the casinos of Fremont Street like "4 Queens" and the “Golden Nugget”. Are they decrying the old school casinos being pushed out by a “new Vegas”? This took place in 1985, was new, corporate Vegas what it was today?
Plus the line "someone always playing corporation games, who cares they're always changing corporation names” is impossible to take seriously. The follow up line is “we just want to dance here”- if you dance on Fremont Street in Vegas some homeless, down on his luck guy who’s just stumbling out of one of the many pawn shops in the area will fucking stab you.
And I still have no idea why the people gather at Lincoln’s feet. Why is the singer guy all in Lincoln’s face? Abe hasn’t done enough for the country? What the fuck does he have to do with Rock and Roll? And who the fuck did they get to play him, Joe Flaherty?