Hits Artists Hate Performing or Regret Recording by tamir  - Ourboox.com
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Hits Artists Hate Performing or Regret Recording

  • Joined Dec 2019
  • Published Books 1

The simple question: “what makes a song popular?” has a rather complicated answer that combines many criteria which are all significant. However one of them stands out the most, the ability to arouse strong and positive feelings among people who listen to it.  given this information, we have to ask one more question – what about the artist? does the artist opinion and attitude towards his/ her songs affect the latter’s popularity? I believe that the answer is crystal clear If an artist loves his/her creation. That is because he/she wishes to become well-known by writing or performing songs, which best represents his/her style, skills and ideas. Therefore, the musician puts a lot of effort in shaping and improving his/her work to a maximum level, and in promoting it on concerts. It is no coincidence that  immortal songs such as ‘somebody to love’ and ‘yesterday’ are much loved by Mercury and McCartney respectively.

But, what if an artist hates his/ her own song?


Yes, it can happen. sometimes the artists just doesn’t like the  song, or regrets recording pieces of it, but there are more dramatic examples. Some artists hate even their biggest hit. Strange as it sounds, there are logical explanations causing this imaginary situation to be quite real. The prominent reasons are excessive popularity, lack or lost of emotional connection with it, being forced to perform it, listeners’ “wrong” interpretation of it or simply being John Lennon.

This book is reviewing the most interesting stories between the 60’s and the early 90’s in order to reach a conclusion whether the artists’ negative feelings towards their songs have any affect on the latter’s popularity.


“Brass in Pocket” is a 1979 single by the English-American rock band – The Pretenders. It was written by the band’s lead singer Chrissie Hynde and the band’s main guitarist James Honeyman-Scott. Hynde wasn’t a fond of the song from the very beginning, thus she was opposed to releasing the song as a single (“This goes out over my dead body”). If her wishes were fulfilled, the song probably would not have score number one in the UK single chart in January 1980.




Hynde: “I never thought it was that great. Was it pop? Motown? Rock? It didn’t seem to know what it was. I used to cringe when I heard my voice on those early Pretenders recordings, and then that fucking went to No.1! I remember walking around Oxford Circus hearing it blasting out of people’s radios. I was mortified.”



“Fight For Your Right (To Party)” is one of the best known songs of the Beastie Boys – an American hip hop group. It was released in 1986 and was written by Adam Yauch and one of the band’s friend. The song was intended to be an ironic parody of “party” and “attitude”-themed songs, but most of the party lovers haven’t picked up the irony and adopted it as their party anthem. putting it mildly, The band wasn’t enthusiastic about it – “The only thing that upsets me is that we may have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different”(Mike D” Diamond).






in 1999 the band said that their hit “sucks




“What’s Love Got to Do with It”, released in 1984, is a song considered as Tina Turner signature hit. It was written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle and was originally offered to Cliff Richard and Donna Summer. They both turned it down and then the song made its way to Turner. At the time, Turner hated it and didn’t want to record it as well but her manager demanded her to do so. the song would become a great success and score number one in the US. Today, I guess Turner has mix feelings about it.





“like a virgin” is one of the biggest hits Madonna recorded. It was released in 1984 and was written by by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. The song reached number one in the US and in some other countries and it remains very popular up to this day. But, unlike the song’s many fans, Madonna doesn’t even want to hear it  – “For some reason people think that when you go to a restaurant or you are going shopping that you want to hear one of your own songs. It’s usually ‘Like a Virgin’ and that is the one I don’t want to hear.” I think that the tendency for melodrama obscures her true feelings about the song, and even so, it is still worthwhile to mention this story.


Madonna: “I’m not sure I can sing “Holiday’”or “Like a Virgin” ever again… just can’t, unless somebody paid me, like, 30 million dollars or something.”



“Shiny Happy People” is a song written and recorded by all R.E.M. band members in 1991. This cheerful song is a result of the band’s effort to step into a new territory and change their sound. In the public eyes the experiment was successful (the only R.E.M. song to reach the top ten both in the UK and the US), however the band members weren’t proud of it at all.

Front-man Michael Stipe said: “I hate that song”(humorously -1995), “it has limited appeal for me” (2003), Don’t hate it. But I don’t want to sing it” (2016). He also raises a very intresting point – “I try never to say anything bad about the songs that I don’t particularly like. Because there might be someone out there who hears that to whom that song means everything, to whom that song represents something in their life which is essential and I don’t want to take that from them”.



Although it is possible that he had felt regret at the time the song was released, the conclusion that the public opinion is much more significant than his, helps him mitigate his feelings of regret and embarrassment.


Stipe: “If there was one song that was sent into outer space to represent R.E.M. for the rest of time, I would not want it to be Shiny Happy People”.






“Pinball Wizard” is a song performed by the English rock band “the Who” and written by the band’s co-founder and leader Pete Townshend.  The song featured on their 1969 rock opera album “Tommy” which tells the story of Tommy Walker, a “deaf, dumb and blind” boy. In order to lighten the the album’s heavy atmosphere, Townshend decided that Tommy should be particularly good at a certain game. Knowing that an influential rock critic Nik Cohn was a pinball fanatic, Townshend suggested that Tommy would play pinball although he didn’t like pinball at all.  In contrary to the Cohen’s review an the public opinion (the song reached No. 4 in the UK charts), Townshend hated it and referred to it as “awful”.












Townshend:“the most clumsy piece of writing I’ve ever done”.



The John Lennon Part

The rivalry between Lennon and McCartnry is a common

knowledge. Lennon’s harsh expressions against McCartney’s successful songs reflect that fact perfectly (his exact words appear later). But, Lennon didn’t spare criticism of his own songs as well.

Lennon had written decent amount of songs he would despise eventually. These feelings were freely translated into unflattering and colorful remarks which are presented later on. It is easy to see the source of the hatred –  songs that don’t reach the high standards Lennon had posed.




However, the cause for his criticism was different, when he spoke against his biggest hits such as “Across the Universe” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. He deeply loved those two, but he was reluctant by the way they were recorded and produced. He claimed it didn’t do justice to the songs themselves “paul would sort of subconsciously try and destroy a great song, meaning that we’d play experimental games with my great pieces. Usually, we’d spend hours doing little detailed clean-ups of Paul’s songs; when it came to mine, especially if it was a great song like ‘Strawberry Fields’ or ‘Across the Universe,’ somehow this atmosphere of looseness and casualness and experimentation would creep in”.


Lennon VS McCartney


1.”Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” (the White Album 1968)

Lennon’s opinion: “granny shit”




2.“Let It Be” (Let It Be 1970)

Lennon’s opinion: “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'”.



loves the picture, hates the frame


1.“Across the universe” (Let It Be 1970)

Lennon’s opinion: “It was a lousy track of a great song, and I was so disappointed by it”



2.“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 1967)

Lennon’s opinion:”The track is just terrible. I mean, it is a great track, a great song, but it isn’t a great track because it wasn’t made right. You know what I mean?”.




pure hate


1.“yes It Is”– (the B-side to “Ticket to Ride” 1965).

Lennon’s opinion: “That’s me trying a rewrite of [1963’s] “This Boy”, but it didn’t work”.



2.“it is only” (Help! 1965)

Lennon’s opinion: “I always thought it was a lousy song. The lyrics were abysmal. I always hated that song”. “That’s the one song I really hate of mine. Terrible lyric”.




3.“Run for your life” (Rubber Soul 1965)

Lennon’s opinion:“I always hated that one”. “just a sort of throwaway song of mine that I never thought much of”.




4.“Good Morning, Good Morning” (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 1967).

Lennon’s opinion: “It’s a throwaway, a piece of garbage, I always thought”.



It Continues… 


5. “Cry Baby Cry” (The White Album 1968).

Lennon’s opinion:“Not me. A piece of rubbish” (as an answer to the question “who wrote the song?”)



6. “Birthday” – co-written by McCartney and Lennon (The White Album 1968).

Lennon’s opinion: “I think Paul wanted a song like ‘Happy Birthday Baby’ the old ’50s hit. It was a piece of garbage”.



7. “Sun King”(Abbey Road 1969).

Lennon’s opinion:“That’s a piece of garbage I had around”.



8.“Mean Mr. Mustard” (Abbey Road 1969).

Lennon’s opinion: “a bit of crap that I wrote in India”. “it was a “piece of garbage. I’d read somewhere in the newspaper about this mean guy who hid five-pound notes, not up his nose but somewhere else”.



“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a worldwide hit written and recorded by all Nirvana band members (Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl). It is the lead single from the band’s second album “Nevermind” released in 1991. The song is often categorized as one of the greatest songs in the history of rock music. Ironically, it’s excessive popularity was the cause Cobain would dislike the song. “Everyone has focused on that song so much. The reason it gets a big reaction is people have seen it on MTV a million times. It’s been pounded into their brains. But I think there are so many other songs that I’ve written that are as good, if not better, than that song, like ‘Drain You.’ That’s definitely as good as “Teen Spirit.” I love the lyrics, and I never get tired of playing it. Maybe if it was as big as “Teen Spirit,” I wouldn’t like it as much”



For a long time, Nirvana would either refuse to play the song or deliberately do it very badly, because they hated the fact it attracted a new audience.




“Stairway to Heaven” is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was written by guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant for the band’s untitled fourth studio album, released in 1971. The song is widely regarded by many as the greatest song of all time. Apparently, Plant couldn’t stant it in the 80’s “I’d break out in hives if I had to sing that song in every show”.  In 2002, he even pledged a donation to a Portland radio station who announced a ban on the track.

In recent years Plant seems to adopt an appeasing attitude towards the song, saying “It’s not about being my favorite or not, it’s just because it belongs to a particular era”. “I think as time goes on, you find another phase of your life more substantial, which occurred relatively later. So while I like it, I’m not connected with it”. In short, he meant that time changed his perspectives and preferences.




Plant: “that bloody wedding song”.



“Strangers in the night” – Frank Sinatra loathing this song is a most surprising fact, considering the song helped reviving his singing career. The song was composed by Ivo Robić / Bert Kaempfert (credit dispute) and written by Charles Singleton and

Eddie Snyder. It made famous by Sinatra in 1966 and reached number one in prominent USA  and UK charts. Sinatra expressed his thoughts of the song openly and bluntly:

a piece of shit” and “the worst fucking song I’ve ever heard”.

Often he would butcher the lyrics for his own amusement and Occasionally he could be seen mouthing “I hate that song”.

Once, he told a bandleader that he would “stick that violin bow up where the sun don’t shine” if he dared play the song once more in his presence.


Sinatra: “This is a song that I absolutely detested the first time I heard it. And strangely enough I keep saying to myself, ‘Why are you still singing this song?”



This book reviewed ten distinctive stories of artists who had straightforwardly dismissed their songs and sometimes took action against the songs’ wide spread. nevertheless, the well written songs remain successful and their popularity just keep growing. Neither the the lack of willingness to record them nor the later remarks describing the artist opinion helped preventing from the listeners to like those songs. The obvious conclusion is that the artist’s negativity has tiny to none influence on whether the song becomes popular. The artist can give wings, but the song flies by itself. Sinatra’s close associate once said “He would say, ‘I hate this song, I detest this song,’ but he would do it [sing the song] because the people wanted to hear it. There is no doubt that Sinatra was doing right.











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