The only thing that makes having a song stuck in your head worse is having a truly terrible song stuck in your head thanks to some dolt at the bar. And if you’re out drinking at a bar with a jukebox, that’s inevitably what will happen.
Unfortunately, many jukeboxes are filled with subpar songs just waiting for someone with a few quarters to come along and hit “Play Next.” So, in an effort to help you avoid being that guy the next time you belly up to the jukebox, here are the 13 songs and artists to avoid playing at all costs.
Anything by a Jam Band
Please, keep the gratuitous, noodling guitar solos to a minimum (or, ideally, an absolute nil). That means no Phish or Grateful Dead or anything that requires hallucinogens to be enjoyed.
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“YMCA” by Village People
This song was super fun to dance to in grade school during assemblies and field trips. But at a certain point in your life, spelling out the lyrics with your whole body stops being entertaining. And if you’re not going to do that, there’s no reason to get “Young man, there's no need to feel down” stuck in your head on repeat.
Anything by Nickelback
It’s 2017—and by that we mean that the overwhelming distain for Nickelback is widespread and well documented. That’s not likely to change, no matter how many times we’re forced to listen to Avril Lavigne's ex-husband's gravelly, earnest vocals at the bar.
Anything by Björk
Don’t get us wrong—we don’t dislike Björk. But there are almost no situations in which her quirky vocals and eccentric music set the right mood in a busy bar.
“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
Jr. high pep band called and it wants this corny “rock” song back forever. We might sing along if we’ve already had a few rounds, but we won't be happy about it.
“It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls
While we’ll watch RuPaul and Martha Wash give a fake weather report to the tune of this Weather Girls’ hit over and over, this jam doesn’t work when you’re throwing one back at a dive bar or cocktail den.
“All Star” by Smash Mouth
You may know this song from its unfortunate popularity in the late ‘90s and early aughts—radio stations across the country couldn’t get enough of it, especially after its appearance in Shrek in 2001. Once in awhile, someone gets the bright idea to throw this on at a crowded bar, hoping to elicit some fond, nostalgic feelings. But a true all-star will shut this song down on the jukebox before it’s even started.
“Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton
There’s a reason everyone groans as soon as they hear that first guitar lick come over the speakers. Bars are for cheersing and conviviality, and this song’s depression factor is just too strong. While we’re at it, we’ll add downers like “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion and “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner to the list too.
“American Pie” by Don McLean
It’s possible we enjoyed this song the first 100 times we heard it, but at this point the eight—yes, eight—minute long song from Don McLean is just an excuse for the entire bar to come together in mutual rage.
“Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba
While ‘80s one hit wonders like A-Ha’s “Take On Me” and “I Ran (So Far Away)” by A Flock of Seagulls are always solid picks for the jukebox, the same can’t be said of ‘90s one hit wonders like this monstrosity from Chumbawamba. Rolling Stone summed it up best when they included “Tubthumping” in The Worst Songs of the Nineties and compared the group to the Baha Men. Resist!
Anything by Tom Jones
It’s not clear why “What’s New Pussycat” and “It’s Not Unusual” are ever available options on jukeboxes, but Jones all too often crosses the line from cheery to obnoxiously peppy—and no one needs that kind of pressure. It’s happy hour, not elated hour.
“Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett
Please refrain from playing this song unless you are a 60-year-old man in a cheesy Hawaiian shirt or if you’re literally at Margaritaville.
“Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Oh, the dulcet tones of Lynyrd Skynyrd. When we hear this opener come on, all we can hope for is that it’s not an extended version of the highly overrated 1973 ballad. Instead of subjecting your fellow bar patrons to 10 minutes of whiny lyrics and super-sized guitar solos, please “Freebird” your way right on out of the bar.