Embarrassingly bad songs are a guilty pleasure for many of us. But we tend to enjoy them in the privacy of our own company.
Among other people, you might laugh the tunes off as being passé. However, in the same breath, as the music comes on, you can’t help but sing along.
Join us as we check out some of our most embarrassingly favorite bad songs. We bet you like at least a few of them.
Let’s jump in!
What Is an Embarrassingly Bad Song?
Secretly, we all have a list of songs we don’t admit we still listen to. You know, the ones on repeat in your playlist—the ones that catch you off guard when your phone syncs to Bluetooth.
These tunes may be a guilty pleasure now. You liked them when they first played on the radio, and you still enjoy them today. Yet, they cause you to pause for whatever reason before anyone else hears you sing along with them.
You haven’t outgrown a song from your old high school days. But over the decades, the artist fell out of favor among your peers. It could be that the melody you love is just way overplayed.
We’ve picked seven embarrassingly bad songs that we know you secretly indulge in. Let the earworms begin.
#1 Never Gonna Give You Up
About the Song: Never Gonna Give You Up was the U.K.’s biggest single of 1987. It made British singer Rick Astley an international superstar.
The song originated from a long phone call that production member Waterman had with his long-time girlfriend. Astley said, “You’re never gonna give her up.”
In 2008, the tune had a resurgence with an internet craze called Rick Rolling. On April Fools’ Day, online users got pranked with a popular bait-and-switch. Clicking a link for one thing actually took you to Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up music video. It’s a fun trick to play on unsuspecting friends.
Greatest Lyric: In short order, we all sing these unforgettable lyrics. We’re never gonna 1) give you up, 2) let you down, or 3) run around and desert you. We also promise we’re never gonna make you cry or say goodbye.
First Appearance: Astley recorded the song in 1986. He released it in 1987 as his debut single.
#2 Who Let the Dogs Out
About the Song: A few would argue that this one-hit wonder by The Baha Men should fade into the land of never-to-be-heard-again songs. But Who Let the Dogs Out keeps, well, escaping.
The tune went viral, but not due to radio play. Instead, it was heavily marketed in the sports world. As a result, it’s still played today—by high school bands at football games, in college basketball arenas, and even during professional league sports.
The accompanying video does include canine companions. But it’s full of booty slapping and foot-stomping calypso dancing. Who Let the Dogs Out may be embarrassing because the average barfly looks ridiculous trying to pump those booties.
Greatest Lyric: The only lyric anyone seems to remember from this song is, “Who let the dogs out? Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof.”
First Appearance: Trinidad musician Anslem Douglas wrote and released the song Doggie in 1998. Who Let the Dogs Out is a cover of the original Douglas tune.
About the Song: The J. Geils Band departed from their usual blues-based sound when they created the album Freeze Frame. The band released the song Centerfold in 1981, and the accompanying music video became a regular on MTV.
The song is the lament of a high school guy who learns his crush is the centerfold in a magazine. It starts with a new wave synth sound matched by a steady clap.
Some people find this song annoying. But we can’t decide which is more embarrassing: the 80s garb or the jerky dancing around a classroom. Yet the allure remains.
My blood runs cold My memory has just been sold My angel is the centerfold Angel is the centerfold
First Appearance: Centerfold is the J. Geils Band’s biggest hit with its 1981 release.
#4 I Touch Myself
About the Song: A lot of blushing and nervous laughter starts when I Touch Myself plays. The song, sung by the Divinyls, is about masturbation. Talk about embarrassing.
Billy Steinberg wrote the song for Divinyls singer Christina Amphlett. He claims there’s more to it than the raw sexual overtones of the title and chorus. Instead, the music is supposed to poetically talk about accepting yourself and finding love for yourself and someone else. Keep in mind Steinberg also wrote Madonna’s Like a Virgin.
There’s an irony to the song. The Australian singer Amphlett passed away from breast cancer. A year later, in 2014, the I Touch Myself Project launched to raise awareness for the early detection of breast cancer.
Since 2014, famous people have begun singing their own interpretation of the song about the project. Tennis star Serena Williams even recorded a version. It was the most shared social media during International Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2018.
Greatest Lyric: Despite the implied understanding behind the verse and song, the greatest lyric is simply, “I touch myself.”
First Appearance: The song is on the album Divinyls, released by Virgin Records in 1990.
#5 Heaven Is a Place on Earth
About the Song: Heaven Is a Place on Earth is a song recorded by Belinda Carlisle. She was the lead vocalist for the girl rock band the Go-Go’s before the group broke up. The song made Carlisle an instant global success as a solo artist.
The hit song is effervescent, happy, and hopeful, and suggests heaven is anywhere you make it. A greeting card from a gas station that read, “Heaven on Earth,” inspired the tune’s lyrics and title.
The video for the song, though, is embarrassingly bad. Suppose it weren’t for the Robert Palmer-style black-masked women. In that case, the guy (Belinda’s husband) seemingly giving Carlisle an endless hickey clenches it.
Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth? Ooh, Heaven is a place on Earth They say in Heaven love comes first We'll make Heaven a place on Earth Ooh, Heaven is a place on Earth
First Appearance: Carlisle first sang the song on her 1987 album, Heaven on Earth.
#6 More Than a Feeling
About the Song: The Boston classic, More Than a Feeling, is an electric hard rock instrumental we still bang our heads to today. The song is about a guy who wakes up feeling blah and turns on good music. He loses himself in the fantasy of music and a girl named Marianne.
Boston-led Tom Schultz wrote the song over five years. He worked on it from 1968 to 1975 in his basement, using equipment he bought with his earnings at Polaroid. The song initially came in last place on the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list by Rolling Stone magazine. However, it now ranks number 212.
The high-energy song is easily Boston’s greatest and is still a huge commercial success. A very recognizable song, it’s a rush when used in TV shows and movies. Top shows like Glee, The Walking Dead, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind included the music.
It's more than a feeling (more than a feeling) When I hear that old song they used to play (more than a feeling) And I begin dreaming (more than a feeling)
First Appearance: Boston finally released More Than a Feeling in 1976 with the self-titled album Boston.
#7 Achy Breaky Heart
About the Song: From the get-go, Achy Breaky Heart was such an embarrassingly bad song. The lyrics, the drawl, and Billy Ray Cyrus’ mullet were something to behold. Yet we all went crazy for it.
The song is an upbeat transition from the old country crooners to the new, slick country productions. With his signature hit, country artist Billy Ray Cyrus crossed genres into mainstream Top 40 radio.
It even spawned a dance called The Achy Breaky. The novelty had people dancing in bars around the country. However, purists said Cyrus desecrated country music with the tune.
But don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
I just don't think he'd understand
And if you tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
He might blow up and kill this man
First Appearance: Achy Breaky Heart is a remake of a 1991 song by The Marcy Brothers titled Don’t Tell My Heart.
Indulge Yourself In Guilty Pleasure Songs
We understand if you won’t admit it. But we know you love these songs. So turn them up loud and be proud, and sing away.
When one of these embarrassingly bad songs come on the radio or YouTube, go ahead and dance your heart away. Then, throw in a bark or two for us.
What’s your favorite embarrassingly bad song? Tell us about it in the comments below.