10 Artists Who Hated Their Biggest Hit
Just because certain songs are fan favorites doesn't mean the artists who made them famous feel the same way. Motorhead's Lemmy isn't terribly fond of "Ace of Spades," Slash writes "Sweet Child o' Mine" off disdainfully as a joke—and that's just the tip of the self-loathing iceberg.
1. Radiohead, “Creep”
Thom Yorke nicknamed Radiohead’s first swing at the Top 40 “crap” and steadfastly refuses to trot the song into their regular live performance rotation. Guitarist Jonny Greenwood confessed his dislike for the song during recording; he tried to sabotage the song by hitting “the guitar hard—really hard.”
The volatile Yorke actively and belligerently loathes the band’s first foray into the mainstream—at one concert in Montreal, he quashed a fan request to play “Creep” by lambasting his audience with a, “f*** off, we’re tired of it.”
2. Bob Geldof, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “We Are the World”
It’s tough to imagine hating a song that united Michael Jackson, Sting, and Phil Collins, but at least one season a year, Irish singer Bob Geldof apologizes profusely for co-penning “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” “I will go to the supermarket, head to the meat counter, and it will be playing,” he told the Daily Mail. “Every f***ing Christmas.”
Geldof is busy paying double penance for his hand in a second star-studded charity singlet too: “I am responsible for two of the worst songs in history,” he admits. “One is ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ and the other one is ‘We Are The World.’”
3. Led Zeppelin, “Stairway to Heaven”
In 2002, Robert Plant pledged a donation to a Portland, Oregon radio station that announced its refusal to play Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” a song Plant dubs “that bloody wedding song.” Plant's disdain for the song put the kibosh on reunion talks for decades, simply because the singer had it up to here with singing the hit.
Plant put up with the song for at least 17 years after he wrote it, before finally telling the Los Angeles Times, “I’d break out in hives if I had to sing that song in every show” in 1988. When the band played a one-off concert in London two decades later, Plant demanded the song not be played as a finale, and for guitarist Jimmy Page to “restrain himself from turning the song into an even more epic solo-filled noodle.”
4. Madonna, “Like a Virgin”
It would take deep, deep pockets to convince Madonna to burst into one “Like a Virgin.” In a 2008 interview with New York’s Z100 FM radio station, Madonna admitted, “I'm not sure I can sing 'Holiday' or 'Like a Virgin' ever again. I just can't, unless somebody paid me, like, $30 million or something.”
In 2009, Madonna told reporters that just hearing “Like a Virgin” out on the town miffs the pop star. “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."
5. Beastie Boys, “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)”
The Brooklyn rappers come right out and say the song “sucks” in the liner notes of their 1999 greatest hits album, The Sounds of Science. But the dislike stems more from a lost sense of irony and parody than the song itself. Some fans took the song—and its outlandish pro-partying music video—totally straight.
Beastie Boy Mike D only had one qualm about the song that put the group on the map: “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.”
6. The Pretenders, “Brass in Pocket”
Frontwoman Chrissie Hynde thought the 1979 hit—a song she “hated with a vengeance”—was anything but special, so special. Her bandmates, manager, producer, and record label smelled a smash hit with “Brass in Pocket,” and so did Hynde; that’s precisely why she hated it. She dismissed the tune as “so obvious.”
The song pushed the band’s self-titled album to platinum sales, but Hynde told the Observer in 2004 that she released the song very reluctantly. “I wasn’t very happy with it and told my producer that he could release it over my dead body,” she said.
7. Flock of Seagulls, “I Ran (So Far Away)”
The ‘80s one-hit wonders get remembered for two things, and Flock frontman Mike Score dislikes both of them: “I Ran (So Far Away)” and Score’s eccentric hairdo. In VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the ‘80s, Score acknowledged his loathing for the song, saying that he only performs it live for fans: “Every time I perform live, everyone just wants to hear ‘I Ran.’ I’m sick of it.”
The ‘do wore out its welcome quicker: Score got tired of reporters asking more questions about the haircut than the band’s music. Score, a former hairdresser, told the Daily Record that he basically shaves his head to shirk questions of whether he’ll ever bring back the signature look (and probably also because he doesn't have much hair left). “I think that haircut owns me,” he says. “I don’t own it.”
8. John Mellencamp, “Jack and Diane”
John Cougar can’t name two people in rock ‘n’ roll more popular than his titular pairing (at least according to a 2008 interview with The Sun), but as life goes on, even the Americana singer’s gotten tired of the duo long after the thrill of writing about them was gone. In the same interview, he said, “I am a little weary of those two.”
“Jack and Diane” notched the only #1 in Mellencamp’s career, so the singer begrudgingly owes the fictional high school sweethearts for a sizable chunk of his 35-year career. “I’ve been able to live on my whims, that’s what Jack and Diane gave me,” he says. “So I can’t hate them too much.”
9. Oasis, “Wonderwall”
Liam, half of the brothers Gallagher in English alt rock band Oasis, wouldn’t mind clocking fans who only know the singer as the brains behind the ‘90s most inescapable ballad, “Wonderwall.” He praised Oasis’ final album, Dig Out Your Soul, for lacking any “Wonderwall”-esque tunes, telling MTV, “I can’t f***ing stand that f***ing song! Every time I have to sing it I want to gag,” before rounding out his interview with a knock against fair-weather fans across the pond: "You go to America, and they’re like: 'Are you Mr. Wonderwall?' You want to chin someone."
10. REM, “Shiny Happy People”
Lead singer Michael Stipe isn't too fond of his group's 1991 hit—in fact, he appeared on a 1995 episode of Space Ghost and announced “I hate that song.” Today he tempers his dislike a bit, saying that he prefers not to say anything bad about songs he doesn’t like because there might be a fan out there to whom that song is very important and has a particular meaning. Instead he now says that “Shiny Happy People” has “limited appeal” for him, and adds that it was the one song that the entire group agreed should not be included on their Greatest Hits compilation.