The Absolute, No-Debate Worst Song Any Beatle Ever Recorded

Categories: Music

Paul McCartney - Waterfalls.jpg
Young McCartney always dreamed of the day he would become a real boy.
​Last week, our colleagues in Broward County and Los Angeles shared their lists of the five worst Beatles songs. While amusing, both omitted what objective science tells us are, in fact, the honest-to-God stinkiest Fab Flops: "Mr. Moonlight," "The Fool on the Hill," "Blue Jay Way," "Piggies," and, of course, that ear-bleeding, makes-time-slow-down crapsterpiece "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite."

(And, for what it's worth, here are the Five Most Underrated Beatles Songs that Should Replace "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on All Classic Rock Radio Formats: "You're Going to Lose That Girl," "Hey, Bulldog," "Rain," "I've Got a Feeling," and "No Reply.")

Now that that's settled, let's take on a much tougher question: What is the single worst song written and recorded by an ex-Beatle?

The "written" requirement rules out most solo Starr. Most solo Harrison is simply too middle-of-the-road and earnest to inspire much distaste, although "Got My Mind Set on You" is a bubblegum snakebite: it sticks, and it's poison.

Solo Lennon ranges from searching, good-as-the-Beatles rock ("Instant Karma"; Plastic Ono Band) to tuneless, kind of dumb agitprop ("Woman Is the Nigger of the World"), to settled, would-shame-the-Monkees twaddle (Mind Games and "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," which sounds exactly like G.E.Smith's Saturday Night Live band coming back from commercial.)

But none of that comes close to the la-di-da disasters routinely banged out by Sir Paul McCartney, England's noble knight of songfail. The wholly unnecessary new reissue of his 1980 doodle-slop electro solo record, McCartney II, makes further argument moot: "Temporary Secretary" is far and away the worst ex-Beatle song. Pop on McCartney II, get to track two, and you'll feel your brain explode like a Gremlin in a microwave.

Recipe for a musical horror: Take the No-Whammy spinning-board sound effect of the old Press Your Luck game show, layer above it a not-quite-in-time lyric fantasizing about old-school workplace sexual harassment, and then let some slumming Liverpudlian screech "Temporary! Secretary!" ad nauseam entirely through his nasal passages, and, well, if you had any honor you would then take the resulting mess out behind the barn like Old Yeller.

In fairness, the song -- like much of McCartney II-- exemplifies many of McCartney's rare strengths. First, the willingness to experiment, here with computers and sequencers awfully early in the history of electronic pop music. Second, that cheeky horniness that lent so many midperiod Beatles songs the gentlest edge of humor and danger: Here's the man who nearly made it with a sister or two, who savored "finger pie," who savors Lady Madonna's breastfeeding. ("Hello Goodbye" could have used some of that.) Finally, there's no denying his gift for the ditty -- the secretary might be a temp, but the song will be lodged in your head forever.

But, experiments can fail, especially when overseen by an inattentive scientist who never breaks a sweat. Plus, boyish cheek charms less and less the older a man gets, and there's a big difference between a man-on-the-make daydreaming about a meter maid's sister and a made man daydreaming about the broke-ass subordinate. Finally, there's no denying that gift for the ditty is too rarely paired up with discipline to craft full-fledged songs. This is from the man who wrote "Spies Like Us" rather than the man who wrote "Maybe I'm Amazed" -- which, incidentally, is the all-time best ex-Beatle song.

Oh, and while we're here ...

Number two with a splash!

----

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32 comments
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Richard Haick
Richard Haick

Bwahahahaha! My girlfriend thought it was some hipster indie band! Then I told her it was Paul McCartney and nearly shit herself and said he should stop trying to be a young hipster. Then I told her it was from 1980 and she was like "Really? This song is terrible!". I thought it sounds like much of the new indie music I hear as if late.

Internotional Times
Internotional Times

Thw worst song with a Beatle on it is by The Beatles and it's on the White Album.  It's the one on that album skipped even by people who listen to 'Revolution 9' all the way through. It's the one that Ringo wrote and it's so bad I wont even trouble myself naming it. It's the one that caused George Martin to say that the album would have been stronger if they'd have dropped a song or two. It goes on for an age and I was too stoned to get up and turn it off last time it came on so I will not be argued with .-) His second song, on Abbey Road, is nearly as bad but in the context of the album is bearable. Nobody in the history of the universe has ever thought to themselves 'I just wanna hear that one'

Beatlejames
Beatlejames

Slam away... but I don't think any artist or band wouldn't want the "worst" Beatles or Solo songs as their own.  S'pect a few would have given their  right arm just to be able to reach the level.  It's easier to point the finger at someone else than to See Yourself.  Best Wishes to you and your direction in life...  Cheers.

Vincent Truman
Vincent Truman

"Only People" and "Freda Peeple" (Lennon, Mind Games) are two tracks that are self-conscious, go nowhere, and are boring, even to their author.  Any number of Harrison tracks from Dark Horse and Extra Texture are equally aimless and just work to listen to.  "Ding Dong, Ding Dong", anyone?  And none of these tracks bubbled up in dance mixes over the last decade, whereas "Temporary Secretary" has.  It's a bizarre, strange, wouldn't-have-expected-that-from-even-a-Beatle track.  These facts (not just opinion) force me to reject this article outright.

Anna
Anna

Well, no one has had more dance mix success than Yoko Ono. So I think her musical output should have an equal revisionist outlook. Yoko has OWNED the dance charts for a while.

B Rick Layer
B Rick Layer

Got My Mind Set On You was written by Rudy Clark, not George Harrison.  so you are obviously no "Beatles Expert" and we should all remember that when we decide whether or not to take your opinion seriously.

Noone
Noone

Has anyone heard of George's Old Brown Shoe? Few people talk about this particular Beatles song. I suppose it's because that song is pretty bad. If I didn't know any better I would say that it was a demo that was scrapped early. But no. There is no care put into this song. I usually liked George's songs but Old Brown Shoe is a disappointment. 

As for a bad ex-Beatle song, that new Blue Sway song doesn't seem very promising. 

apollo_c
apollo_c

....As for a bad ex-Beatle song, that new Blue Sway song doesn't seem very promising.

?

Twice I've tried to include a YouTube link to 'Blue Sway'. The 'new' song that apparently isn't 'promising'? Thought perhaps those not familiar with it might want to hear. Make up their own minds.

But my previous posts were rejected.It seems this music blog doesn't want anyone leaving here to, ahhh you know, listen to music?

Ok, will try once more. This time not to You Tube. http://beachchairscientist.wor...

Note, this was originally an unreleased track from 1979.

I wonder, what's wrong with this? I'd like to know.

It doesn't fit expectations?.....what the artist should be doing? This often seems to be the critic point of view.

apollo_c
apollo_c

Bad. The 'new' song isn't 'promising'? Because it doesn't fit certain expectations...what Paul should be doing? Or it's just not of your interest? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... original Blue Sway was made in 1979.

apollo_c
apollo_c

....that new Blue Sway? I suppose you mean this one? An update on what was originally a 1979 track.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFRHgk... what makes something promising? Or acceptable?Seems that for many 'professional' as well as amateur critics, if it doesn't fit their interests or doesn't match what they expect from a particular artist, it's what?....garbage?Maybe it just time to relax, turn off your mind, float downstream.

Emily
Emily

Ugh, that McCartney stuff is aboslute GARBAGE. I can't take it. And "Woman is the ***** of the World" is a phenomenal song. I love it and the delivery, the riff, the entire message that it sends. I'm female and I was very happy to hear a song by a man who admittedly wasn't that great to women for a long time singing something this sincere. I adore it. 

ElizaBro
ElizaBro

If you like that Lennon song, then you've got as simplistic an understanding of politics as he did. It was a dumb song then and it seems even dumber now.

Emily
Emily

 You're always on these boards defending Paul like he's your dad. I'm sorry if I don't agree with you, but John Lennon's song is far superior to the horrible crap that is the above two songs. If you like that kind of stuff, go listen to it and don't get so uptight when someone else thinks it's garbage. I LOVE WITNOTW and it was my jam since I was about 10, so no one is going to make me change my mind about the song. Sorry Eliza, but that's how I feel.

Anna
Anna

Dude, I can't even understand what you're saying so I can't give a very clear response to your comment, but I stand by my original statement. Certain words inflect horrible connotations, yes, but this was a serious matter. And John was very serious about his women's lib work. He was a very changed man from the one he once was. I agree he may have jumped on *some* bandwagons always looking/searching for a meaning, but it was a quest for something not necessarily related to fame or trying to look hip. He appeared to really feel the sincerity in many of these false leaders, and that has nothing to do with how his credibility stands now as an artist. I think John is absolutely respected universally and it's a silly argument to assume that, because his social/political leanings were scattered that he lost credibility as a musical artist and person. He was always very honest and truthful and for that he has always been acknowledged. John's humanness is one of his major defining qualities. When he screwed up, he owned it. But as far as his women's lib stuff, he stuck with that to his dying day...read his last interviews. John may have not made all the right decisions, but there was sincerity behind his motives and that is a LOT more to be said than for some people who have a fake upfront and have no problem lying through the majority they say.

Internotional Times
Internotional Times

Well definitely not defending Lennon whose egotistic inclination to bandwagon jump anything he could get more attention for the bandwagon drivers got right out of control after he broke with McCartney, whose own muse was solidly innovative. At various times during the 70's Lennon would have pretended to have lost his own COCK is it coulda got him more 'cred' with the wanksta purveyors of such critical crud. Luckily for McCartney, he couldnt have been less interested in cred, if there was any at available for him once various pseudo-lefties like Lennon had been anointed in it. Which is why Macca has such ACTUAL cred with varied camps today. He earned it and hadnt asked for it.

ElizaBro
ElizaBro

Brave? He was looking for attention and he knew he'd get it by using a racially offensive word. And using an offensive word to sell records because you want to be perceived as "edgy" is, in my book, cynical, manipulative, and offensive.

This is not about "defending" Paul. I'm talking about a Lennon song -- one Lennon song. 

Anna
Anna

I totally don't agree that "Woman Is The..." song is racist in any way. If anyone believes that you haven't got a true understanding of the origin of that song. John Lennon wrote the song as a response to the treatment of women in society. It is a FEMINIST protest song and it is NOT meant to depict any sort of racism and when John played this song live he explained the reason for the song...it was actually a phrase that was used on the cover of the "NOVA" magazine as an expression of the demoralization of women in society. John also shared the complete approval of the use of the word by the chairman of the Black Chorcus, and they actually provided a definition of the N word that was attributed to ALL those denigrated in society.

What John did was HARDLY racist and I take offense to you saying that. It isn't fair to throw around the R word just because you want to defend Paul McCartney's music. John took great care when he wrote that song and presented it and I applaud him for being brave enough to do it. 

ElizaBro
ElizaBro

And you're always drooling over Lennon. Nice to meet you. Anyway, why get so defensive? I'm merely disagreeing with you. That song is a racist, trying-too-hard-to-be-edgy piece of simplistic political ranting. Lennon could and did write much much better tunes than that.

Garygms
Garygms

You've got it all wrong. Biker like an Icon is the singularly worst song written since the 15th century. With lyrics like:

SHE DIDN'T CARE, SHE STILL PERSISTED,

THOUGH HER BROTHER SAID SHE WAS TWISTED.

AND THE FAMILY SAID THEY WOULDN'T MISS HER ANYWAY.

SHE LOVED THE BIKER LIKE AN ICON,

GAZING AT HIS PICTURE EV'RYDAY, MM-MM.

SHE LOVED THE BIKER LIKE AN ICON,

SLOWLY WATCHING PRECIOUS WATER DRIP AWAY.

Makes you wonder if this is the same guy who wrote Eleanor Rigby, Hey Jude, and Why Don't We Do it in the Road.

Anna
Anna

 Thank you. I think I agree. I recall my dad had the live album with that song on it and I just remember hating the song, the cover of the album, and everything about Paul for years thanks to that horrible album. I have since recovered but it tainted him for me for a long time. Awful doesn't come close.

ElizaBro
ElizaBro

You're totally wrong about McCartney II, and countless reviewers agree with me (AV Club gave the McCartney II reissue a B+, Pitchfork gave it a quite respectable 7.2, Mojo Magazine gave it 4 stars, Pop Matters gave it 9 out of 10, The Quietus called it "outstanding." Rolling Stone even gave it 3 stars and they rarely like anything McCartney does). But there's a reviewer of a certain age and temperament who just doesn't get McCartney II. Or perhaps electronic music is just not your thing, which means you're unqualified to judge this record. McCartney II is not flawless, but it is terrific in many many ways. And Temporary Secretary is a great track. 

Now if you'd said Ebony & Ivory, I would have agreed. But Lennon's Woman is the N---er of the World ranks as the worst. Or that mushy dirgelike Double Fantasy song, Woman.

Anna
Anna

"Woman" is a fantastic song whatcutalkingbout. I don't go much for love songs but that song is one of the best, along with "Something" and "Maybe I'm Amazed." I think you're really looking for something bad to say about John when you pick something like "Woman." That song, I am going to listen to it now in fact.

ElizaBro
ElizaBro

To each her own. I think it's a sappy boring track, as is true of much of Double Fantasy.

Nostrilthomas
Nostrilthomas

Have always loved Temporary Secretary...and Spies like us!  It's all in the ear of the the beholder!   When it comes to music, there should be a rule..."No critics allowed!  If you don't like it, don't buy it."   Music is something you just can't get a handle on...so to speak.

Guest
Guest

Anytime anybody starts talking "best" and "worst" they're generally talking out of their asses trying to get attention. Like you are here.  Shit pick, shit article.

apollo_c
apollo_c

All the lonely criticsWhere do they all come from?All the lonely criticsWhere do they all belong?

brett burton
brett burton

Interesting take, and I couldn't disagree more.  Temporary Secretary is one of my favorite McCartney songs.  The worst thing ever done by an ex-Beatle is easily Sometime in New York City.  Now there's a wank fest.

Scott S
Scott S

As annoying (mostly because it sticks in the head for the rest of your life) the worst song ever co-recorded was "This Girl was mine" with Michael Jackson.Not because of Michael Jackson (Say Say Say and The Man are very good).but because it's an embarrasment.  "I'm a lover not a fighter".  It's easily the most embarrassing song ever recorded.  Cringing doesn't help.  You want to burn your ears and jab yourself with a knife.

Paul's worst song by himself comes from the same time period...Hey Hey/Tug of Peace.  Just AWFUL.

Lennon had many wankers as well. 

Worst Beatles song does not include any of the ones mentioned.  The worst is probably Run for your life.  Just because it ends my favorite album, its a rip off of another song, and it's embarrassing as well.  Thrown together it is one song the Beatles wrote and used as filler on an album. 

Alan Scherstuhl
Alan Scherstuhl

"The doggone girl is mine!"

The dopey charm of that wins me over, somehow. As for "Run For Your Life": I always thought I hated that song, and the lyric is awful, but the last time I heard it I realized it's their last old-school early-Beatles rock rave up, and that it's a pretty good one. I'll take it over "Michelle," "The Word," or "What Goes On"!

ElizaBro
ElizaBro

Michael Jackson wrote The Girl is Mine. All Paul did was sing on it.

Macca4lyfe
Macca4lyfe

This is dope, are you crazy?? I mean it's kreayshawn or you'd be kissing it's ass

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