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When Artists Hate Their Own Songs

When Artists Hate Their Own Songs

When Artists Hate Their Own Songs
14 July 2014

When an artist records a song, they slave away over it, making sure that every little detail is perfect before they unleash their artistic gift to the world.

Surely, they must love everything they create? It seems to not always be the case.

Here are 22 examples where artists have hated their own song - many times despite (or perhaps because of) it being their biggest hit. Honestly, artists. They're just so difficult aren't they?


Radiohead - Creep

Where else to start but one of the most famous examples. Creep was Radiohead's breakout hit from their first album Pablo Honey, giving them a huge audience via MTV which they exploited to the full on the follow-up The Bends (more on that later). Unfortunately, they hated it, saying it was "crap", and the band regretted recording the radio-friendly alternative lyric of "so very special", viewing themselves as sellouts. It was dropped from their live set for years, and when one audience member requested it, was told to "fuck off, we're tired of it."

Lorde - Royals

Lorde's debut enormohit Royals is barely a year old, yet apparently she already dislikes her own version. In an interview she claimed, "I listen to people covering the song and putting their own spin on it, and I listen to it in every single form except the one I put out…and I realize that actually it sounds horrible! It sounds like a ringtone from a 2006 Nokia! None of the melodies are cool or good! It’s disastrous. Awful… But for some reason, in the context of the way I released it, it just worked." You leave Nokia ringtones out of this matey.

REM - Shiny Happy People

The look on Peter Buck's face below sums it up. Legend has it that when the group submitted Out of Time to Warners, the label said that they needed an extra happy, upbeat song for radio. The Athens boys then wrote this, expecting them to reject it; instead they loved it. The band left it off their Greatest Hits compilation, In Time and Michael Stipe has said he hates the track. Nonetheless, we think the band have it wrong: it's a brilliant pop song, the 3/4 breakouts are nicely weird, and when it kicks back in at 2:40, only the most stone-hearted person could resist. We'll admit that the video is utterly ridiculous though.

The Who - Pinball Wizard

Dismissed by Pete Townshend as "the most clumsy piece of writing I've ever done" and generally "awful", the track still managed to be a huge hit and the standout track from Tommy, their concept record. It was actually an afterthought; after an early preview of the album received a lukewarm reception from leading critic Nik Cohn, Townshend suggested that the title character should perhaps be good at a game; by pure coincidence, Cohn was a huge pinball fan. The song was then written, recorded and added into the record. Townshend can't hate it too much - it's been played at virtually every Who concert since 1969.

The Smiths - What Difference Does It Make?

It's one of their most instantly recognisable songs, but Morrissey is no fan of What Difference Does It Make?, which appeared on the band's self-titled debut album. He has stated that it's one of the least favourite Smiths songs due to his lyrics, which he finds, "facile and mildly embarrassing". Clearly, the lyrics to a song do make a difference then.

Pulp - Common People

When Pulp drummer Nick Banks first heard Common People - the song which would be their biggest and most-well known hit, and come to define an entire era of British music - he thought it was a "tuneless dirge". His opinion of Jarvis' original demo was that it was a "load of rubbish". Fortunately, once producer Chris Thomas and the rest of the band fleshed it out, he started to appreciate that it was a little better than that. A little lesson there: never trust the opinion of drummers when it comes to incredible anthemic songs.

Berlin - Take My Breath Away

The song that made them, and broke them. Berlin's enormohit Take My Breath Away, written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock and famously featured on the Top Gun soundtrack, was not universally liked by the band. Lead singer Terri Nunn, who was a fan of the track, has said that the band's bassist John Crawford, "hated it. He kept saying it just wasn't our sound or the right direction for us as a band, and that if we didn't write it we shouldn't record it. But our label insisted it wouldn't hurt us, so we went ahead." The rest of the band agreed with Crawford and the ensuing bitterness led to the band splitting a year after the track's release.

Pretenders - Brass In Pocket

Brass In Pocket is the Pretenders' only UK No.1 single, and is obviously one of their best songs. Or, perhaps a little bit too obvious for Chrissie Hynde, who says the song is one that she "hated with a vengeance", describing it as "so obvious". She told The Observer in 2004 that she "wasn't very happy with it and [I] told my producer that he could release it over my dead body". Well, she's still here, so someone didn't keep their side of the bargain. Still, what a tune.

Beastie Boys - Fight For Your Right To Party

Arguably the Beastie Boys' most well-known song, but one which they no longer like. In the liner notes to their greatest hits The Sounds of Science, they wrote that the song "sucks". This is undoubtedly down to its widespread misintrepretation as a song glorifying frat boys and hooligans, when in fact it was meant to be a satire on their behaviour. Subtlety never works too well in music - just ask Sting about Every Breath You Take.

Led Zeppelin - Stairway To Heaven

Singer Robert Plant has said that he'd "break out in hives if I had to sing that song in every show. I wrote those lyrics and found that song to be of some importance and consequence in 1971, but 17 years later, I don't know. It's just not for me." He's also described it as "that bloody wedding song". It's rumoured that the cause of his ill-feeling toward the song also stems from the gargantuan solos that Jimmy Page was wont to put in during the end section of the song. Watching the video below we'd have to say that Robbie might have a point.

Coldplay - Speed of Sound

The band have admitted that they were trying to rip off Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill but didn't quite get it right on this, the first single lifted from their third album X&Y, which went on to become a huge seller. Chris Martin has said that it's one of his least favourite songs; a claim backed up by the fact that they never play it live.

Oasis - Sunday Morning Call

One of the highlights of Noel Gallagher's now-legendary DVD commentary for the videos for the Oasis box set Time Flies was his pained reaction to realising that a song that he takes lead vocals on, Sunday Morning Call, was next up. We can't do justice to the level of anger on display, so we'll simply leave it to the man himself to give you his thoughts on this track.

TLC - Creep

A huge US number 1, but TLC member Lisa "Left Eyes" Lopes was dead against its release. Its lyrics told of a girl who discovers that her man is cheating on her and cheats with someone else as revenge; Lopes believed that the girl should simply leave. She threatened to wear black tape over her mouth in the video as a protest, but ended up giving in.

The Beatles - When I'm Sixty-Four

More specifically, this was one of countless Beatles songs, written by Paul, that John Lennon hated. He referred to this track as "granny music" (well, that is literally true, given the title) and said that the song was "Paul's, completely. I would never dream of writing a song like that." It really is surprising that they split up, looking back, isn't it?

Simple Minds - (Don't You) Forget About Me

Like Berlin, this was a track that the band didn't write (it was written by producer Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff), became a huge hit due to its use in a film (The Breakfast Club) and was hated by the band that performed it. It had already been turned down by Cy Curnin from The Fixx, Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol before Simple Minds were approached. They, too, initially declined it, but their label nudged them towards doing it. It was recorded, then left, before surfacing and becoming a US number 1. Nonetheless, the band left it off their next album and have given it the cold shoulder ever since.

Heart - All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You

Another massive hit reluctantly performed by the group in question, this song was originally written for Don Henley but offered to Heart. In the sleeve notes for Heart's album The Road Home, Ann Wilson stated that "it kind of stood for everything we wanted to get away from...there was a lot of pressure on us to do the song at the time". Heart clearly didn't 'heart' this one themselves.

Queen - Don't Stop Me Now

Almost the quintessential Queen song, but Brian May was no fan of this song, believing it to be celebrating the hedonistic - and risky - lifestyle that Freddie had taken up at the time. May is notable for his absence from the majority of the track, bar a signature guitar solo, which he probably couldn't quite resist.

Frank Sinatra - Strangers in the Night

Old Blue Eyes never held back about this song, a 1966 ballad that was variously described by him as " a piece of shit" and "the worst fucking song I have ever heard". It was, however, a huge early hit for him which meant that he occasionally had to perform it live, usually through gritted teeth. During at least one show, he could be seen mouthing "I hate that song" during the bows. Always a professional old Frank.

Radiohead - High and Dry

Well, well, well, it's old Mr. chuckle Thom Yorke again. While his dislike of Creep is well-known, he also disliked another iconic song from their early period. It was originally written for Pablo Honey, but put aside as the band thought it sounded like a Rod Stewart song. However, while The Bends was being made, it was rediscovered and the original demo mixed (presumably as the band wouldn't rerecord it) and put on the album, becoming one of the album's highlights. Yorke has since said that "it's not's very bad" and they haven't played it live since 1998. If ever there were proof that artists shouldn't be allowed to judge their own work, it's this.

Wham! - Bad Boys

A huge early hit for Andrew and George, but it was quickly denounced by Michael as a song that he hated, describing it as "an albatross round my neck". It was left off their Greatest Hits compilation in 1997 in favour of other non-singles. You show 'em George.

Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas/USA For Africa - We Are The World

They were two huge charity records, which raised an enormous amount of awareness, and money but Bob Geldof, the man responsible for them, is no longer a fan. He has said that he is "responsible for two of the worst songs in history". Of Band Aid, he added - not inaccurately - "I will go to the supermarket, head to the meat counter, and it will be playing...Every fucking Christmas." And a Merry Christmas to you too Bob.