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?

12 comments:

mickey said...

I couldnt agree with you more on this one chris, sorry.

I think craig was gone by this time and they needed the $$$. Fortunately that was the last I remember hearing of the marty & gracie show.

Deborah said...

I wonder how many people will click on the You Tube arrow to listen and see... I bet zero.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Were you drunk when you wrote this?

pale male said...

forget the indignity visited upon Lincoln

what about "Marconi plays the mamba?"

the man who invents telecommunications

is playing a snake?

WTF?

dehumidifier said...

The funny thing is the fremont street area is where all the "hipster/scenester" kids hang out in vegas, it's filled with locals and is much preferable to the strip. I dunno about in 1985 though.

Anonymous said...

wow people actually liked that song?

Anonymous said...

"edge of seventeen" is way, way worse-- a one-chord cougar-teenager song by a future porker who broke up a great band to go solo, and the song sounds like a bird is crapping on her 87 times

Anonymous said...

Wow. You sir, are NUTS. As is Vh1.

We Built this City is a classic. Of course you also call other 80s classics like “Rock Me Amadeus” and “The Safety Dance” 'front runners' for worst song ever, so it just shows what a complete whack job you are.

The 80s had to be the best decade for music ever. Such classic music came from that one decade. I was on the treadmill just last night listening to the soundtrack to 'The Muppets', and thinking how great of a song 'We Built This City' is, and then it was referenced later that same night on Fox's 'New Girl'. This morning I came to work and googled the song to watch the video and found all this BS about it being the worst song ever.

Some people need to have their heads examined.

Anonymous said...

"Some people need to have their heads examined."

Yes, you do, if you truly believe that "The 80s had to be the best decade for music ever."

That rivals some of the dumbest, most ignorant comments I have ever seen on the Internet.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, you do, if you truly believe that "The 80s had to be the best decade for music ever."
That rivals some of the dumbest, most ignorant comments I have ever seen on the Internet. "

-Great, another whack job. Can you name a BETTER decade for music?

Anonymous said...

"Can you name a BETTER decade for music?"
50s: The development of rock and roll, elvis, sinatra, dean martin, bing crosby, little richard, chuck berry, jerry lee lewis, ray charles, fats domino, miles davis, john coltrane, harry belefonte, johnny cash, carl perkins. And this guy called b.b. king.
60s: psychedelia, beatles, brit invasion, buddy holly, the rolling stones, the yardbirds, the kinks, Manfred Mann, Muddy waters, ericl clapton, fleetwood mac, the beginnings of led zeppelin, howling wolf, the who, cream, pink floyd, bob dylan, leonard cohen, the byrds, crosby stills and nash, simon and garfunkel, the doors, grateful dead, jefferson airplane, beach boys, janis joplin, jimi hendrix, lynyrd skynyrd, zz top, ccr, neil young, king crimson, aretha franklin, serrat, the foundation for michael's jackson future superstardom (that, i give you, was in the 80s)
70s, band like zeppelin and pink floyd, at their full power, disco (bee gees, blondie), alice cooper, deep purple, ac/dc, black sabbath, arena rock(basically the only thing that worked in the 80s), aerosmith, rush, journey, boston, the eagles, frank zappa, supertramp, ELO, talking heads, cheap trick, the ramones, carpenters, the guess who, the beginning of queen, rod stewart, barry manilow, cher, carole king, billy joel, diana ross, stevie wonder, james brown, kenny rogers, elton john, lennon on his own, yes, genesis, jethro tull, emerson lake and palmer, david bowie, bob m and the wailers, sex pistols, the clash, the police, elvis costello, joy division, siouxsie and the banshees,
90s: nirvana, rhcp, most of smashing pumpkins albums, ratm, counting crows, blink-182, pearl jam, foo fighters, the strongest period of flaming lips, incubus, dre, 2pac, lauryn hill, outkast, jay-z, daft punk, paul van dyk, blur, the verve, oasis, stereophonics, massive attack, portishead, bjork, beck (he started at the end of the 80s), atcq's best albums, the best albums of dream theater, seal, tori amos, robbie williams, elliot smith, soundgarden, stone temple pilots, the prodigy, notorious big, neutral milk hotel (all of elephant six collective actually, some of the most talented and creative minds in the 90s and in quite a while), pj harvey, pavement, nine inch nails, loveless by mbv, u2's achtung baby, most of de la soul'd ouvre, air, weezer, moby, nas, morrissey, yo la tengo, fiona apple, wu-tang clan, wilco,radiohead.

The 90s maybe didn't have as many big bands as the 80s but it more than made up for it with the indie scene and real alternative music. It's too realy for the 00s to say if they were better or worse than the 80s, I sincerily think they were better. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Mickey,
I totally agree with your (and seemingly everyone's assessment of this....travesty? However, don't bring Marty Balin into it, he had nothing to do with it. As for Grace, well, she was reportedly sober during this period, and I so wanted to mail her as many sheets of acid as I could acquire.