“Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio (1995)
When I learned of this week’s list topic, my mind immediately went to three songs off of soundtracks: “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston and “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio. All are from movies I hate that were released during my formative years. Part of the reason I hate those movies (I haven’t even seen The Bodyguard or Titanic) is because of these songs. Not only were they overplayed on MTV at the time, they were overplayed by my female friends.
The worst was “Gangsta’s Paradise.” Growing up in the lily-white suburbs of Chicago, my female friends thought Dangerous Minds was the most inspirational movie ever. This feeling extended to the soundtrack, especially this song. I once knew all the words to this song, though I tried my damnedest not too. My friends just played it ALL. THE. TIME. I still can’t listen to it, it drives me into a strange fit of rage. My Hell would be watching episodes of “3rd Rock from the Sun” (fuck that show) eating at an Olive Garden (fuck that place) with this fucking song on endless loop. Fuck you, Coolio. – Tris Miller
“Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney (1979)
I like Christmas! I like Paul McCartney! But I do not like what happens when Christmas and Paul McCartney get together. “Wonderful Christmastime” is a stink bomb of a song. I particularly dislike the squelchy keyboard, but that alone would not be enough to guarantee a rotation on Hell’s P.A. It’s more about its inescapable, wildly excessive exposure in mall-like settings: not so bad in Hour One, but in Hour Five and by virtue of aversion therapy, purely agonizing. By this point I am angry at myself for not having left my jacket in the car so I’m sweaty, aggravated and encumbered with a lumpy coat, and I am increasingly enraged by that fact that not one of the seemingly countless calendar kiosks or book stores has the “Jeopardy!” Day-By-Day Calendar, which I – long story – cannot return home without. I also probably have cramps and am doddering around aimlessly on only the caloric energy provided by an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. In the background, the incessant squelching of Wings – and I’m not talking angels. “Wonderful Christmastime” plays in this Hell of Niggling Annoyances, where even a Beatle in a Santa hat can put you over the edge. – Stacey Pavlick
“Forever in Love” by Kenny G (1994)
Jazz. For some, it’s the great American art form. For others, it’s an elitist wank. Whatever it is, Kenny G is not it. His would be the music of Hell’s elevators, an endless loop of smooth Muzak lacking all artistry or conviction. Kenny G composes music the way CNN puts together a news story: lifeless threads delicately arranged so as to cause as little offense as possible. Just imagine being placed on the rack and scorched with fire for all eternity with nothing to distract from the unending agony but that fucking soprano saxophone cooing at you as if to remind you to visit Belk’s before heading out of this infernal mall of horrors. I’d rather spend eons with my ears strapped to Napalm Death’s speakers than wandering through the cubicles of torture with “Forever in Love” wafting around the water cooler. A water cooler that, of course, only contains yet more fire. – Jake Cole
“Stigmata” by Ministry (1988)
Sure, for those who are freshly admitted denizens of the underworld, the middle managers of damnation are going to select personal soundtracks that run in cruel opposition to earthly preferences. But the Devil himself has to have a few tracks in rotation to suit his flaming soul too, doesn’t he? After a long hard day, I figure he must kick back and relax with the screaming, buzzsaw tones of Ministry’s 1988 single “Stigmata.” Surely the title alone must have caught his attention, but the industrial fierceness of the music and Al Jourgensen’s razor edge singing would have just the right amount of head trauma appeal to keep the Prince of Darkness hitting repeat. He might even sing along with the vividly abrasive lyrics: “Just like a car crash/ Just like a knife/ My favorite weapon/ Is the look in your eyes.” Music touches everyone, after all. – Dan Seeger
“Metal Machine Music, Parts 1-4” by Lou Reed (1975)
One hour of reverberating feedbacky noise and nobody can tell where it begins or ends or how long it’s really been. Turned all the way up, jabbing at eardrums until they bleed skeletal locusts. There’s no devil, so nobody has anyone to blame but themselves.
And just when they forget the drone is even playing, suddenly the volume goes up one more notch and the piercing cacophony intensifies. Again and again. Forever.
Somewhere on Earth, Lou Reed smiles through sunglasses (indoors, natch) only to realize he’d been rambling out ponderous poetry over sparetire speed metal for the past twenty minutes. Is this thing recording? – Danny Djeljosevic