Friday, January 21, 2011

Tales from the Psychobabble Search Engine Terms: the worst monkees song

Have you ever wondered what search engine terms lead the dedicated few to accessing Psychobabble? Me neither! However, some of these terms are so oddly intriguing, so intriguingly odd, that I’ve been exploring them in a new feature called Tales from the Psychobabble Search Engine Terms!

the worst monkees song

Date Searched
January 14, 2011

Possible Purpose

I’d bet my chest hair that the searcher of the term “the worst monkees song” already had a pretty good idea of what he or she believes to be the worst Monkees song. Such a query can only spew forth opinions, so I’m guessing that this person was really looking for justification of his/her opinion about the crappiest Monkees track. I’ve done this myself on occasion. Every time I see the “Post-Modern Prometheus” episode of “The X-Files” I’m compelled to search for “worst X-Files Postmodern Prometheus” to find out if anyone else out in Internet Land shares my opinion that this turd, which is often ranked as one of the series’ best, is in fact, its worst. Why? A little justification; a little hope that I’m not the sole rational “X-Files” viewer who recognizes that a lighthearted romp about a Cher-loving mutant rape monster is unwatchable dreck.

Boy oh boy, does this ever suck.

Back on topic, let’s take a look at what our Google search for “the worst monkees song” reveals. Well, firstly there are refreshingly few results when one plugs in this term surrounded by quotation marks. Nice. I was expecting a slew of posts by bitter hippies answering this question with “all of them.” The once-reviled Monkees have undergone fairly serious reevaluation over the past twenty or so years, and most pundits no longer cling to the erroneous assertion that The Monkees never wrote their songs, never exhibited a lick of talent, and never “played their own instruments” (I believe Peter Tork once responded to this age-old bellyache with the witty retort—and I’m paraphrasing here—“No, we don’t play our own instruments. We borrowed them”). Monkees fans no longer have to hide their copies of Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, LTD. when their snobby buddies visit.
No problems here.

Of course, this does not mean that The Monkees pooped nothing but pearls. A fair number of their songs were pretty lousy and fully support the common gripe that they made low-grade pap for pre-teens. I’m happy to report that two of our Google Search results do, indeed, accurately identify The Monkees’ worst song. The first does not, although it comes pretty close. A customer review on the itunes page for the boys’ penultimate record, The Monkees Present , calls out “Ladies Aid Society” as the worst Monkees song. Close, friend, close! Culled from sessions for More of the Monkees, this piece of bubblegum trash nearly sinks an album of relatively sophisticated music. Late in their career, the guys fully developed and honed their musical personalities: Mike Nesmith, with his assertive country-rock, Micky Dolenz, with his affinity for lounge jazz and avant weirdness, and even Davy Jones, whose adult-contemporary pop confections were finally truly fit for adult consumption. Sadly, none of these musical directions resembled The Monkees’ sound from when they were actually selling records, so The Powers That Be at Colgems records performed an archival dig that resulted in the two weakest songs tacked onto Present: the pointless “Valleri”-retread “Looking for the Good Times” and the truly awful “Ladies Aid Society”, as flaccid a protest against officious moralizers as you’re likely to hear.

The other search result that doesn’t quite answer the query correctly identifies a track called “Moving in with Rico” from the 1987 reunion record Pool It! I don’t doubt that this track is terrible, but I can't say for sure because I’ve never tortured myself by listening to Pool It!. I will, however, suggest that choosing a track from an album made 20 years after a band’s heyday—and one made in the ‘80s, no less—is like shooting ducks in your bathtub.

Revelation: there might be some bad music on this record!

Fortunately, commentators in the final two search results get it right. According to one Darren Andrews of Pandora’s More of the Monkees page and “sunshine eyes” of (brace yourself, seekers of Monkees credibility) The Partridge Family Bulletin Board, the worst of the worst is “The Day We Fall in Love”.

Following a guitar lick that cops the intro of The Stones’ “Tell Me”, Davy Jones begins reciting all the nightmarishly precious things that will occur on the day he falls in love with you. “There’ll be birds singin’ everywhere and the wind will be blowin’ through your hair, I’ll look in your eyes and wait for the prize, your lips kissing mine…” Careful kissing these lips, Davy, lest yours taste the vomit that just climbed up my esophagus.

The worst Monkees tracks were the ones that most played into the group’s status as teeny bop idols. Yes, sometimes the guys went too far in the opposite direction, indulging in bizarre, very teen-unfriendly experiments that were, in all honesty, kind of bad. But I’d still much rather listen to Micky sing the praises of his cat and lament his fame in keening falsetto on “Shorty Blackwell” or Mike caterwaul over a turgid pipe organ on “Writing Wrongs” than hear about how Davy’s gonna look in my eyes and wait for my prize. Regardless of its awfulness, there’s no mystery regarding why recently departed music director Don Kirshner selected this composition by Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell (who wrote the genuinely wonderful “A Lover’s Concerto” for The Toys, as well as The Monkees’ very good “I’ll Be Back Up On My Feet”) for The Monkees’ second album. The idea of Davy Jones, that ultimate idol of the sexually latent set, reciting a litany of vapid romantic declarations in the first person to his legions of little fans must have ignited Tex Avery-style dollar signs in Kirshner’s eyes. Chances are the guy who chose cartoon characters for his next protégés after The Monkees fired him wasn’t going to recognize the cynical horridness of “The Day We Fall In Love”.

Don Kirshner sez: "Well, at least these guys can’t sack me."

File this mystery under : solved

Don Kirshner: 1934-2011
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