Friday, February 13

Worst song ever? Only time will tell

Picking the worst song in the history of rock music is no easy task. There's plenty to choose from.

The entire catalogs for Mr. Mister, Kansas or Toto come to mind. All certainly awful, but the worst? Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" is wretched as well, but any "poor old sod" would have to admit that it's fun to sing along with. And forget about all of those one-hit wonders. That one-hit thing is a redeeming factor, even for "In the Year 2525," "Billy, Don't Be A Hero" or "Take On Me."

Instead, we submit "Only Time Will Tell" by Asia as the worst song in the history of rock. The band's "supergroup" label is one strike against the song, which was released in 1982. The fact that Asia has a geographically based name is another. But wait, there's more:

The music: "Only Time Will Tell" is a piece of corporate prog-rock, a cynical attempt at radio airplay on stations that played what was then known as album-oriented rock. It also has cowbell. The song opens with a dated '80s synth part that is even more painful to hear now. It then switches to a bone-crunching guitar riff, then settling into a marching pace that seems designed to appeal to goose-stepping stormtroopers. Indeed, the song has a spirit-killing, soulless feel.

The lyrics: With the title itself a cliche, "Only Time Will Tell" is a petulant and spiteful rant by a rock star who feels wronged by a woman. The song's singer, John Wetton, is put out by his wayward lover. Portraying himself as the "starry-eyed" victim in this failed romance, Wetton decries her "insincerity," even as his own unconvincing vocal performance exposes that it is he who is most likely the insincere one in the relationship. Of course, in Wetton's view, the passage of time will vindicate him and condemn the one who dared leave him. It's a result as "sure as the sun will cross the sky" — another cliche.

For these reasons, we offer "Only Time Will Tell" as the worst song in the historia del rock. Watch the horrible video (with an unexplained appearance by a gymnast) and see if you agree. We're open to other nominations, of course.

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