Disclaimer: the views expressed below are entirely my own. Feel free to read on and disagree with any/all of my choices, or add a few of your own to the list, but here they are: the most annoying songs in the whole world, in no particular order.
1 Celine Dion: ‘My Heart Will Go On’
I loved this song when I first saw Titanic. With its undulating melody and not-so-subtle key changes, it pressed all the right emotional buttons and suited the film’s epic sweep. Take it out of context, though, and you’re left with fromage, which, 25 years after the film’s release, hasn’t necessarily ripened favourably with age.
2. Giacomo Puccini: ‘Nessun Dorma’ from Turandot
Yes it’s a great tune. But ever since 1990, when Luciano Pavarotti made it synonymous with the World Cup, and the world went bananas for it, ‘Nessun Dorma’ has been done to death. What’s more, it’s generally done as a standalone song, with no hints as to what the heck it’s actually about. I, for one, didn’t even realise it was from Puccini’s Turandot, until I first heard the opera and thought ‘what on earth is “Nessun Dorma” doing there?’ Perhaps, that’s just as well as the premise of the opera is slightly ridiculous, revolving around a princess who submits her suitors to three riddles, threatening to have them all executed if they fail. Sung by the hero Calaf in the final act, ‘Nessun Dorma’ is a boastful declaration that he will win Turandot in marriage. Which is, frankly, unbecoming.
3. Léo Delibes: Flower duet from Lakmé
Poor old Delibes could never have foreseen that the beautifully serene Flower Duet from Lakmé, his 1883 opera, would one day be commandeered by British Airways. It’s not his fault that this gorgeous song would one day be reduced to on-hold music. Then again, given how rarely the actual opera gets performed nowadays, at least it’s some kind of exposure, even if it’s hard to love a song when you’ve heard it 327 times in a row.
4. Andrew Lloyd Webber: ‘Don’t Cry for me Argentina’ from Evita
Written and composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice while they were researching the life of Argentinian leader Eva Perón, ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ is one of the best-known musical tearjerkers, particularly in Madonna’s version of it (pictured). Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most irritating: as much for the artificiality of the way it presents Argentinian culture as for its sheer schmaltz.
Yes the music is glorious, but, let’s just look at the lyrics in the cold light of day: ‘Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah / For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth / Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah / For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth / Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah.’ Personally, I think it could do with a few more ‘Hallelujahs’.
6. Baby Shark
I realise this is an outlier in terms of genre but I’m mentioning it anyway because, my goodness, how I hate this song. It’s hard to understand how it has got to over 13 billion views on YouTube given that (in my humble opinion) it has no redeeming features. Not melody, lyrics, not even hand gestures. Nothing.
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7. Carl Maria von Weber: ‘Wir winden dir den Jungfernkranz’ from Der Freischütz
This contribution comes from Der Freischütz, Weber’s dark tale of a young forester who finds himself, unknowingly, in league with the Devil as he attempts to win a shooting contesting order to earn his girlfriend’s hand in marriage. Sung by a gaggle of bridesmaids, as the forester prepares to use his seventh and final bullet, this song is only a few minutes long but is so hyper-repetitive and four square that it seems to go on forever.
8. Richard Strauss: Final scene from Salome
This moment in Strauss’s decadent 1905 opera sees the eponymous Salome singing, for a good twenty minutes, to the severed, bloodied head of John the Baptist. I’m not sure if ‘annoying’ is quite the word, but it’s certainly a strong musical flavour that might not be to everyone’s taste, not least because it culminates in Salome passionately kissing the prophet’s dead lips, before being crushed by Herod’s soldiers.