Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.
1. John Lennon ("Let It Be" by The Beatles)
Written by Paul McCartney but collaborated on with John Lennon, "Let It Be" is a beloved rock song by the Beatles that was released in 1970. The song was a critical and commercial success, soaring to the top of the charts and becoming a song of hope. "Let It Be" was also the Beatles' final single released before McCartney's departure from the band.
One person not so crazy about the song? Lennon himself. In his 1980 Playboy interview, the iconic singer disavowed any involvement with composing the song, having said, "That's Paul. What can you say? Nothing to do with the Beatles. It could've been Wings. I don't know what he's thinking when he writes 'Let It Be.'"
2. Kurt Cobain ("Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana)
Arguably one of the group's most iconic and famous anthems, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was the chart-topping hit that helped propel Nirvana to stardom in 1991. Despite garnering widespread critical acclaim, the band grew uncomfortable with the amount of attention the single brought them and would often exclude it from set lists. Though the song may be a fan classic, the members of Nirvana weren't pleased with the demand of playing the tune.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Kurt Cobain once expressed, "I still like playing 'Teen Spirit,' but it's almost an embarrassment to play it ... Everyone has focused on that song so much...I can barely, especially on a bad night, get through ‘Teen Spirit.’ I literally want to throw my guitar down and walk away."
3. Frank Sinatra ("Strangers in the Night")
Even "Ole' Blue Eyes" himself was no stranger to disliking a successful hit song. Frank Sinatra is highly regarded as one of the greatest musical artists of the twentieth century, having sold an estimated 150 million records worldwide. "Strangers in the Night" was a 1966 massive hit, topping the charts and earning three Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year.
Despite all these accolades, Sinatra notoriously despised the song. Though giving the singer his first number one hit in 11 years, the single was a thorn in his side. Over the years, Sinatra would candidly describe the song as "a piece of sh*t" and "the worst f***ing song that I have ever heard."
4. Led Zeppelin ("Stairway to Heaven")
Composted by guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant, "Stairway to Heaven" is heavily regarded as one of the most iconic and greatest rock songs in history. Released in 1971, the single was the most requested song on FM radio stations in the U.S. in the 1970s.
Of the song Page once recalled, "I knew it was good, but I didn't know it was going to be almost like an anthem ... But I knew it was the gem of the album, sure." Plant's tune eventually changed over time, having said to the band Heart that he's, "learned to just hate that song because everybody murders it." The band would play the iconic song, just not very often and with a lot of convincing from fellow members.
5. Oasis ("Wonderwall")
Written by Noel Gallagher and released in 1995, "Wonderwall" took the world by storm and propelled Oasis into fame. The single was off their sophomore album (What's the Story) Morning Glory, and quickly became the band's most popular song. "Wonderwall" was also the first song from the 1990s to reach one billion streams on Spotify, doing so in October 2020.
Oasis is no stranger to inner turmoil and friction, and while promoting one of the band's albums, singer Liam Gallagher once said, "At least there’s no 'Wonderwall' on there. I can’t f*cking stand that f*king song. Every time I have to sing it I want to gag. Problem is, it was a big, big tune for us. You go to America and they’re like: ‘Are you Mr Wonderwall?’ You want to chin someone.”
6. Berlin ("Take My Breath Away")
Originally written for the beloved '80s classic Top Gun, "Take My Breath Away" was written by Tom Whitlock and Giorgio Moroder and performed by American new wave band Berlin. The single topped the charts in 1986 and even earned Berlin an Oscar and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
Why does the band hate such a successful song? Many of the members blame "Take My Breath Away" as the reason the group disbanded. Singer Terri Nunn claimed in 2016 that the band's success from the single forced them into a recording and tour schedule, and they spent too much time together. It ultimately led to their downfall and they couldn't stand being around each other anymore.
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7. Madonna ("Like a Virgin")
"Like a Virgin" was the ultra-successful single from Madonna's 1984 second studio album of the same name. The song provided the Queen of Pop her first number one single on the record charts, and went on to sell five million copies.
Though "Like a Virgin" would go on to become one of Madonna's most famous singles, the songstress is not interested in hearing the song again. During a 2008 interview with New York's Z100 FM radio station, Madonna stated, "I’m not sure I can sing ‘Holiday’ or ‘Like a Virgin’ ever again. I just can’t, unless somebody paid me, like, $30 million or something.”
8. Beastie Boys ("Fight for Your Right (To Party)")
Despite the fact that 1987's "Fight For Your Right (To Party)" helped skyrocket hip hop group the Beastie Boys to stardom, the group isn't too keen on the hit single. The song was supposed to be a parody of the "party" and "attitude" themed songs popular at the time, but the irony was ultimately lost on listeners.
Mike D once commented, "The only thing that upsets me is that we might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different. There were tons of guys singing along to 'Fight for Your Right' who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them."
9. James Blunt ("You're Beautiful")
English singer-songwriter James Blunt became an overnight sensation with the release of his 2005 ballad, "You're Beautiful." The soft rock single reached the top of the charts in multiple countries including the U.S. and U.K. and received three Grammy nominations at the 2007 ceremony.
The widespread airplay and popularity of the song ultimately led to Blunt's disdain. He has since resented the song and has suggested that it was overplayed. Blunt once told Hello! Magazine, "It was force-fed down people's throats and it became annoying."
10. Billy Joel ("We Didn't Start the Fire")
Billy the "Piano Man" Joel is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 150 million records worldwide. His 1989 single "We Didn't Start the Fire" was from his album Storm Front and went on to top the US Billboard Hot 100. The song has since been parodied in pop culture many times, including in film, television and advertisements.
Joel has since criticized the single on strictly musical grounds, having said in a 1993 interview, "Take a song like 'We Didn't Start the Fire.' It's really not much of a song ... If you take the melody by itself, terrible. Like a dentist drill." While performing the song at a concert, Joel also called it, "one of the worst melodies I ever wrote."
11. Pink ("Don't Let Me Get Me")
Released as the second single from her massive hit album Missundaztood, Pink's 2002 song "Don't Let Me Get Me" was both a commercial and critical success. The single specifically references Pink's inner turmoil and conflict with her record label, who wanted her to change her image for more mainstream appeal.
Though the song helped with the ultimate success of the album, Pink is not singing the song praises. She once told the LA Times, "I wish I could burn that song and never sing it again," calling it the song she hates to perform the most.
12. Lady Gaga ("Telephone ft. Beyoncé")
Musical powerhouses Lady Gaga and Beyoncé teamed up for the 2010 smash hit single "Telephone", which was initially meant to be recorded by Britney Spears but was ultimately passed on. The song sold more than 7.4 million digital copies in 2010 alone, and is one of Gaga's best-selling singles.
Her dissatisfaction for the song has less to do with the song itself, and more with the creative process. Lady Gaga called it was very "stressful" and when speaking to PopJustice, she said, "I hate ‘Telephone.’ Is that terrible to say? It’s the song I have the most difficult time listening to." The songstress was also unhappy with the music video, and while she loved her and Beyoncé together, she hated how many ideas she tried to cram into one video.
13. Kelly Clarkson ("Breakaway")
"Breakaway" was originally written by and intended for Avril Lavigne, but was then passed on to Kelly Clarkson for the soundtrack of 2004's The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. The song's success prompted it to be included in Clarkson's second studio album of the same name. "Breakaway" was a smash success and helped to further cement the singer's status as a powerhouse performer.
Although, while Clarkson doesn't necessarily hate the single, she does rank it among her least two favorite songs. She said it wasn't challenging or exciting as a vocalist to sing and perform.
Meisfjord, T. (2018, July 20). Musicians Who Hate Their Most Famous Songs. Grunge.com. https://www.grunge.com/129075/musicians-who-hate-their-most-famous-songs/
Twitter, M. R. T., Articles, M., & Published on January 24, 2018. (2018, January 24). 12 Musicians Who Hate Their Own Hit Songs. Showbiz Cheat Sheet. https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/musicians-hate-their-own-hit-songs.html/
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Rachel M Johnson