Anorak News | Smell Like I Sound: Top Ten Lyrical Low Points of the 1980s

Smell Like I Sound: Top Ten Lyrical Low Points of the 1980s

by | 4th, January 2014

Duran Duran


Smell Like I Sound: Top Ten Lyrical Low Points of the 1980s 


10. “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran

Smell like I sound.  I’m lost in a crowd

BEG PARDON?  What does that even mean to smell like you sound? No offense to Duran Duran; it’s a great song, and let me say right off the bat that I happen to enjoy most songs on this list. That being said, each one has moments of lyrical awfulness that will have you asking the Age Old Question: “Wait – what did I just hear?”  Granted, 1980s musicians weren’t exactly known for their clever and profound wordsmithing, and regrettable lyrics are easily forgiven within the context of a snappy 80s melody; however, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a little good-natured ribbing on occasion. So, let the ribbing commence…


9. “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles


“All the Japanese with their yen
The party boys call the Kremlin
And the Chinese know (oh whey oh)
They walk the line like Egyptian”

Okay, I get it.  It’s a silly pop song, not Bob Dylan.  So, I suppose it deserves a free pass… until it reaches the end, where the weight upon my psyche becomes too much to handle.  The whole thing is just so senseless and sugary sweet that by the last verse, I’m entering a diabetic coma.


8. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!


“You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day”

How does one choose a single lyric in a song like this? It’s an embarrassment of riches.  Yet, when the chips are down I can overlook the “jitterbug” tomfoolery, but can’t let the insane Doris Day reference slide.  This lyric literally “put the boom boom into my heart”.


7. “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News


“Tougher than diamonds, rich like cream
Stronger and harder than a bad girl’s dream
Make a bad one good, make a wrong one right
Power of love that keeps you home at night”

Admittedly, I didn’t pick up on the graphic sexual allusion when I first watched Back to the Future.  It wasn’t until the song was played on the radio a few million times that I noticed the bit about a “bad girl’s dream.”  Indeed, this four lined stanza ranks among the worst lyrics uttered since Richard Harris sang about his rain soaked cake.


6.  “The Look of Love” by ABC


“Who got the look? I don’t know the answer to that question
Where’s the look? If I knew I would tell you”

When’s the look?  For the love of God, I don’t know.
Why the look? I swear I will kill you in cold blood if you ask again.
What is the look? (BANG!)


5. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor


“Face to face, out in the heat,
Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry
They stack the odds, still we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive”

Actual transcript of Record Producer Billy Vera during the recording session:

Really, Survivor?  Those are the lyrics you’re going with?  I feel obligated as your producer to tell you these are terrible, just awful.  And I mean really, really bad. The worst I’ve seen since Grand Funk Railroad. Sure you don’t want to sleep on it; maybe look on it with a fresh set of eyes in the morning?  No?  (dejected sigh)  Okay, you’re the band.


4. “Stand and Deliver” by Adam Ant

stand and deliver

“We’re the dandy highwaymen so tired of excuses
Of deep meaning philosophies where only showbiz loses”

First off, I’m not sure I’m on board with the dandy highwayman shtick.  Second, for some reason that second line only makes sense when simultaneously drunk and suffering from a high fever.


3. “Maniac” by Michael Sembello

Michael Sembello - Maniac 1

“It can cut you like a knife if the fight becomes the fire
On the wire between will and what will be”

What the f-? “Sussudio” makes more sense than this.  Is this some kind of Da Vinci Code we need scholars in semiotics to translate? Is Umberto Eco available?


2. “Spies Like Us” by Paul McCartney


“We don’t do a thing by the book
Never needed special clothes
How we did it no one knows
I guess we must have had what it took”

This from the same mind that gave us “Yesterday” and “Penny Lane”.  Suffice it to say the 80s were unkind to a lot of talented musicians from previous decades.  Go ask Alice – er, I mean just ask Grace…


1. “We Built this City” by Starship

we built this city

“Knee deep in the hoopla sinking in your fight
Too many runaways eating up the night”

I do not enjoy even a nanosecond of this universally derided song.  I hate this song so much that even in an alternate Bizarro universe where everything is the exact opposite – I still hate this song there.  A dimension in time or space simply does not exist where this song is good.  As for the lyrics, I have to literally fight my gag reflex to muscle through the opening words.  Blecch.

Posted: 4th, January 2014 | In: Reviews Comments (4) | TrackBack | Permalink