1. Meat Loaf - "Bat Out of Hell"

Why it Should be Awful:

How seriously are we supposed to take Mr. Loaf? The fact that his name is cartoon shorthand for terrible grandma cooking aside, his most famous album features Phil Rizzuto play-by-playing a sex act, an erotic poetry reading creepy enough for its own segment on HBO's "Real Sex," and a cover that LITERALLY features a man riding a motorcycle out of hell with a bat in the background. These days Loaf is best known for losing his shit at Gary Busey for stealing his arts and crafts supplies on The Celebrity Apprentice.

Why It's Actually Great:

"Bat Out of Hell" is good in the same way that an 8,000-calorie hamburger between two Krispy Kreme donuts is good. Meat Loaf and songwriting's creepy uncle Jim Steinman take the kitchen sink, throw it in your general direction, head upstairs, and start ripping the clawfoot tub out of the floor too. Meat Loaf gives an opening track vocal performance for the ages, and even though "Bat" is a ludicrous ten minutes long, it packs enough material for three songs in one, making it the turducken of seventies dad-rock jams.

 

2. Billy Joel - "Allentown"

 


Why it Should be Awful:

Like pissing your pants at a Bar Mitzvah, discovering that Billy Joel actually kinda sucks is just part of growing up. "Allentown" is Billy Joel at his Billy Joel-iest, providing some of the jangliest piano sounds the '80s ever excreted. Joel delivers his message without a single iota of subtlety, mimicking machine sounds with his mouth and starring in a music video where buff steel workers interpretively dance their working-man's blues away in a manner that Joel himself later described as "really gay." Seriously.

Why It's Actually Great:

Sometimes a really great chord progression and melody can go a long way, and "Allentown"'s is a beaut. The terrible production even works in the song's favor, giving it gray, mechanical quality that actually kind of sort of perfectly fits the lyrics. Plus Joel totally Teddy Roosevelt trust busts Springsteen's monopoly on songs about factories, which is important because monopolies prevent healthy competition in the song marketplace and what have you.

 
 
 

3. Lit - "My Own Worst Enemy"

 

 

Why it Should be Awful:

Following the self-aggrandizing spectacle rock on the '70s and '80s where the goal was to wear cod pieces and have as much unprotected sex as possible and write songs about it later, Nirvana ushered in an era where pouring Hateraide all over yourself was the new cool. This led to countless original bands trying to out uncool each other, from The Offspring making an entire career out of low self esteem, to Sum 41's doctor advocating for their abortions (bortions, bortions, bortions). By the early Noughties the schtick was getting a bit old, and Lit was just another band riding the tail end of the unhip wave to its merciful conclusion.

 

Why It's Actually Great:

Based on the five-ish songs of theirs I've heard, Lit is not a good band. But "My Own Worst Enemy" is a total standout of a lowlife radio song, with an instantly fun guitar lick, just enough self-aware humor, and a high-flying chorus so goddamn catchy, I'm sure a producer is appropriating it for a Pink song as we speak. Luckily, we've now moved on to the age of irony, where coolness collapses back unto itself like a douchey black hole, so that somehow cool and uncool are the exact same thing.

 
 
 

4. Madonna - "Ray of Light"

 
 

Why it Should be Awful:

Madonna is easy to hate. Especially the movie theater-texting, casual n-word dropping, fake British accented, "I'm worth $300" Madonna that started to emerge circa 1996. Coming out in 1998, "Ray of Light" came after most of the good stuff Madonna had ever done had passed, she was in full-on pretentious "Evita" mode. She was also less than five years away from the release of "Swept Away," a movie so horrid it nearly ruined Guy Ritchie's promising career of directing films where British people murder each other a lot.

Why It's Actually Great:

Holy smokes, is this tune ever five minutes of masterfully-produced late-career electro-pop goodness. I don't care if you're the most masculine human being on planet earth and your favorite pass time is balling your hand into a fist while holding shards of glass, every time Her Madge-jesty (I'm sure someone calls her that) unleashes an "and I feeellll" on your ass, you WILL dance. If having this song to jog to means we now have to live in a world where we have to watch Lady Gaga inevitably wear a pizza dress at some point, I'll take the tradeoff. 
 
 
 

5. Justin Bieber - "Baby"

 
 

Why it Should be Awful:

Do I really have to explain why it's embarrassing for an adult human being to like this song? It was tailor made to make teenage girls fork over their parents' hard-earned cash, the chorus is mostly a fifteen-year-old repeating the word "baby," and these days, the Biebs is best known for being the cutest little menace to society on the block.

 

Why It's Actually Great:

You don't put millions behind a pop music hopeful without giving him a ridiculous ear-worm of a song for him to break out with. "Baby" was produced by Tricky Stewart, who's responsible for the likes of such money-printing machines as "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and "Umbrella." Hear the mercilessly catchy background synth jump an octave at about a minute in? That's the stuff multi-million-dollar-pop-artists-turned-banner-children-for-keeping-your-gifted-offspring-locked-in-the-basement are made of.

 
 
 

6. Bon Jovi - "Livin' on a Prayer"

 


Just kidding. Liking this song is inexcusable.