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The 40 Worst Lyricists In Rock — #10 to #2
They rhyme girl with world, apricot with gavotte—and that’s when they rhyme at all. Meet pop’s metaphor-twisting, mysticism-spouting, Hallmark-card–quoting bards of banality.

By Jon Dolan, Josh Eells, Tim Grierson, Andrew Harrison, Ben Mitchell, Tony Power and Mark Yarm

Blender, November 2007

10 • Jim Morrison
Why would a guy who looked this good shirtless want to be smart, anyway?

As a teenager, Morrison was alleged to have read a hundred books a week. Before his 1971 death in a Paris bathtub the Lizard King made pretentious-rocker history fusing French symbolism, Blake-ian romanticism and Beat shamanism into dreamlike evocations of L.A. excess. The result: poetry a drug-mad hippie would come up with if he’d never read a single book.
Worst lyric: “Breakfast where the news is read/Television children fed/Unborn living, living, dead/Bullet strikes the helmet’s head” (“The Unknown Soldier”)

09 • Donovan
LSD may be a lot fun—But not if we have to listen to entire albums made on it.

The ’60s folkie once claimed he could “write about any facet of the human condition”; sadly, Donovan chose to concentrate largely on the ones ­involving mermaids. The annoying hippie’s annoying hippie, Donovan traveled to India to see the Maharishi, wore robes on his record covers and released a double album for the children of Aquarius called Gift From a Flower to a Garden. Today, a man with his skill set would be hassling people for bus fare; back then, he was a pop star.
Worst lyric: “In love pool eyes float feathers after the struggle/The hopes burst and shot joy all through the mind/Sorrow more distant than a star/Multi colour run down over your body/Then the liquid passing all into all/Love is hot, truth is molten” (“Barabajagal [Love Is Hot]”)

08 • Diane Warren
Love stinks.

The famously reclusive songwriter has never been married and doesn’t like dating. This estrangement from actual relationships may help explain her astonishing longevity as the world’s most successful author of creepily idealized cheesy love songs—from Michael Bolton’s “How Can We Be Lovers” to Brandy’s “Have You Ever?” and LeAnn Rimes’s “Can’t Fight the Moonlight.” She has enjoyed more than 100 Billboard chart hits. Unless you’re a big Cher fan, you haven’t enjoyed any of them.
Worst lyric: “Feeling your heart beating/And I’m wondering what you’re dreaming/Wondering if it’s me you’re seeing/Then I kiss your eyes and thank God we’re together” (Aerosmith, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”)

07 • Paul Stanley
This is what’s wrong with being sexy.

Despite stiff competition (itself a potential Kiss song title), Stanley takes the honors over his bandmates. Gene Simmons is too hilarious (“Ooh baby, wanna put my log in your fireplace”), drummer Peter Criss too “street” (“I’m a hooligan/Won’t go to school again”) and guitarist Ace Frehley too drunk. Despite casting himself as a sensitive ladies’ man, Stanley really hits the bull’s-eye with his schoolboy cock-boasting on tracks such as “(You Make Me) Rock Hard” and “Love Gun.”
Worst lyric: “Baby, let’s put the X in sex/Love’s like a muscle, and you make me wanna flex” (“Let’s Put the X in Sex”)
Bonus Worser lyric: “She’s a dancer, a romancer/I’m a Capricorn, and she’s a Cancer” (“C’Mon and Love Me”)

06 • Tom Marshall
The poet laureate of jam-band America—and a big fan of unicorns.

A prep-school friend of Phish frontman Trey Anastasio, Marshall parlayed his lack of instrumental chops into a gig as the band’s on-call lyricist—like the Grateful Dead’s Robert Hunter, only far, far worse. Phishheads especially covet bootlegs of a never-released rock opera called The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, about a retired Long Island Army colonel who journeys through time to rescue a document called the Helping Friendly Book from an evil dictator named Wilson.
Worst lyric: “Guyute was the ugly pig/Who walked on me and danced a jig/That he had learned when he was 6/Then stopped and did some other tricks/Like pulling weapons from his coat/And holding them against my throat” (“Guyute”)

05 • Dan Fogelberg
John Denver, you’ve met your match.

No one can bum out a dentist’s waiting room like this titan of ’70s light rock. A sometime L.A. session musician, Fogelberg relocated to the Rocky Mountains, where the thin oxygen inspired many ballads about strange women, distant dads and, uh, sexy racehorses. His sappiest moment might by his 1981 ode to the Kentucky Derby, “Run for the Roses,” in which he serenades a champion thoroughbred in weirdly erotic terms.
Worst lyric: “All the long, lazy mornings/In pastures of green/The sun on your withers/The wind in your mane/Could never prepare you/For what lies ahead/The run for the roses so red” (“Run for the Roses”)

04 • Noel Gallagher
Too busy being better than the Beatles to edit for clarity.

“I’m equal part genius, equal part buffoon,” Manchester’s drunkest son once said. And for a guy of Noel’s intelligence, half-right’s not bad. The man who sang “look into the wall of my mind’s eye” probably could’ve used some Ritalin to go with the lager and cocaine, since he often seemed incapable of following a metaphor through a single line, let alone a whole verse. But when you’ve lived in a house called “Supernova Heights,” such petty considerations are probably beneath you.
Worst lyric: “Slowly walking down the hall faster than a cannonball” (“Champagne Supernova”)

VIDEO: Oasis, "Live Forever" at Across the Narrows Fest

03 • Scott Stapp
Just good friends with the Lord.

“The comfort of your arms around me/Your tender hands caress my head,” the Creed fisher of men sang to the Risen Savior on The Passion of the Christ CD. It takes no small amount of arrogance to imagine Jesus wants to make out with you—but Stapp seems to have missed the bit in Proverbs about how “pride goeth before destruction.” True to prophecy, Creed was eventually laid low by their frontman’s pious bombast.
Worst lyric: “When you are with me I’m free/I’m careless, I believe/Above all the others we’ll fly/This brings tears to my eyes/’Cause when you are with me I’m free” (“My Sacrifice”)

02 • Neil Peart
An ace on the rototoms, a train wreck on the typewriter.

Drummers are good at many things: exploding, drowning in their own vomit, drumming. But the Rush skinsman proved they should never write lyrics—or read books. Peart opuses like “Cygnus X-1” are richly awful tapestries of fantasy and science fiction, steeped in an eighth-grade understanding of Western philosophy. 2112, Rush’s 1976 concept album based on individualist thinker Ayn Rand’s novella Anthem, remains an awe-inspiring low point in the sordid relationship between rock and ideas. Worst lyric: “I stand atop a spiral stair/An oracle confronts me there/He leads me on light years away/Through astral nights, galactic days” (“Oracle: The Dream”)

40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-2 | THE WORST LYRICIST EVER

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