(Pictured: Eddie Rabbitt, 1981.)
Forty years ago this week, Eddie Rabbitt hit #1 on the Hot 100 with “I Love a Rainy Night.” It’s got to be one of the more unlikely #1 hits ever. Why it resonated with people is hard for me to explain: it’s just one of those records that caught a particular updraft at a particular moment. Similarly hard for me to explain is why I dislike “I Love a Rainy Night.” It’s super-catchy and it sounds good on the radio. I like Eddie Rabbitt fine on his other big pop crossovers like “Suspicions” and “Drivin’ My Life Away.” But I don’t like “I Love a Rainy Night” and I never have, and it’s just one of those things about myself that I (and you) have to accept.
Last weekend, I asked people on Twitter to name a record for which they have an irrational dislike. While I didn’t go viral or anything, I got a few responses, which I will annotate below.
“Endless Love”/Diana Ross and Lionel Richie
“Lady” is one of those songs you played on the air for the first time and thought, “Oh, god, we’re going to be playing this every two hours for the next six months,” and that’s pretty much how it happened. I don’t think my own dislike for “Endless Love” is especially irrational. It’s terminally bland, and while the label says it runs 4:36, it feels like 10 minutes to me.
“You Light Up My Life”/Debby Boone. Lots of people would tell you that disliking “You Light Up My Life” isn’t irrational at all—that it’s one of the most hate-worthy hits of all time. But it barely seems worth the effort now, considering how it’s been disappeared from pop-music history, as if we’ve repressed just how popular it was at the end of 1977.
“That’s All”/Genesis. I have never minded this myself, but I can see how somebody might. It takes four minutes to not do very much.
“Fields of Gold”/Sting
“Don’t Stand So Close to Me”/Police
Music history is full of artists who needed the leavening influence of collaborators to keep them from getting lost up their own external orifice: Lennon/McCartney and Henley/Frey are merely the most famous. To the extent that the Police were ever punk, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland must have been responsible. Sting’s solo work is as punk-opposite as the Captain and Tennille. A lot of it sounds like it was produced in a biologically secure lab; some of it sounds like it was made with no human involvement at all.
Somebody chimed in to defend “Fields of Gold” as “noble and nostalgic.” I can understand how a person might hear it that way. But when I listen to it, I feel nothing one way or the other.
“Stand”/R.E.M. There are handful of critically acclaimed performers whose work moves me not at all, to the point at which friends who are fans cannot imagine how it could be so. Elvis Costello is the biggest, but R.E.M. is another. That doesn’t make critics and fans wrong. It’s just don’t hear it.
“Anything by Yes, but especially The Yes Album and Tales of a Boring Ocean.” I love that the original 70s Yes existed, as a testimonial to the combined power of virtuoso musicianship, esoteric philosophy, and recreational drugs. And I love that Tales From Topographic Oceans exists for the same reason, although I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single second of it. The Yes Album strikes me as fine, though. I will always crank the opening of “Yours Is No Disgrace,” and “Starship Trooper” scratches the same itch in me that Emerson Lake and Palmer did. But yeah, I never need to hear “I’ve Seen All Good People” again.
“Anything with Michael McDonald singing lead.” Welp, that’s certainly an opinion all right.
Your irrational dislikes are welcome below. Not hatred with the red-hot fire of a thousand suns, but just dislike, with extra points if you don’t have a reason. The readership has done a fabulous job of elevating the level of the discourse here in the last few months. I am expecting big things outta you guys this time.
Programming Note: 1991 seems to me like it should be maybe six or seven years ago, but I’m told it’s been longer than that. We’ll spend all of next week in 1991, so stop back.