Worst moments in songs

I don’t think we’ve had this one. But possibly the worst moment in any song is Paul McCartney’s vocal noodling in Hey Jude.

Any other contenders?


8 Responses to “Worst moments in songs”

  1. Art Vandelay on January 13th, 2007 21:51

    Paul McCartney and cricket all in a couple of days. You are on dangerous ground.

    Please define ‘vocal noodling’.

  2. Dan on January 14th, 2007 05:31

    vocal noodling (n.): the act of straying from the notes that formally make up the song in an attempt to make it more appealing, particularly common in a live setting

    This particular noodling comes in exactly 4 minutes into the version on the Beatles’ “1” album.

  3. Art Vandelay on January 15th, 2007 03:26

    Dan I considered this by listening to Hey Jude for the first time in some months.

    The first thing that struck me was the sheer beauty of the first part of the song. Paul Mccartney could have stopped there and written (yet another) beautiful, melodic song to go with the greatest collection of melodies the world has ever known.

    But he didn’t stop there. He then added the second half – the na na na. You or I would not have done that, and nor would any other band, they’d have played it safe, stuck with the hand they had, which was a sure fire winner.

    But it’s the contrast of the second half that defined late Beatles and sealed their genius. The experimentation and surprise of Sgt Peppers, the contrast of the White Album, the majesty of Abbey Road, were all symptomatic of Paul’s ‘vocal noodling’.

    In addition, the version you speak of is THE version. It isn’t the live version, but the studio version. So to criticise this in the same bracket as cricitsing live versions of songs for their ‘vocal noodling’ is like saying you enjoyed a book but not how it ended. How it ended IS the book. The vocal noodling IS Hey Jude.

    I suspect the reason you don’t like it is your desire for control and for technical, grammatical, even semantic perfection. That’s fair enough and can be entertaining, but to extend your desire for control to this is like criticising one of Picasso’s brush strokes. It may not be proper, or technically correct, but it is what defines true art. It is the willingness to experiment that made the Beatles the best, leaving the rest of us to stand and wonder. If Picasso were like you (or indeed me) he would have churned out countless Lake Windermeres or other still life nonentities. No doubt he could have done them perfectly, but genius, for this is what we are talking about, transcends the every day, the normal, the perfect, and takes us beyond ourselves.

    This might all be a bit much for some of Paul’s vocal noodling, but, like one of David Gower’s cover drives, you cannot separate the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’ in terms of results. It is all genius. Messy, complicated, risk taking, but ultimately life-affirming genius, which we can only stand and admire.

    To criticise the things that sound odd is missing the point:

    For well you know that it’s a fool
    Who plays it cool
    By making his world
    A little colder.

    yours, Art

  4. Dan on January 15th, 2007 07:41

    Art. A few things.

    First of all, my definition of “vocal noodling” (taken from the OED) merely uses the live setting as an example. It is not the only setting.

    You refer to the Beatles as being the best. Have you forgotten the Proclaimers?

    Apparently, while the Beatles were busy writing songs, the rest of us were standing and wondering. I guess that you and I were not even twinkles in our respective fathers’ eyes.

    And finally, please can you classify Gower’s performance on A Question of Sport?


    P.S.: I still don’t like that noodling

  5. Art Vandelay on January 15th, 2007 09:24


  6. Dan on January 16th, 2007 04:23

    Three words for you: Mull Of Kintyre.

    Enough said…

  7. Steve on January 17th, 2007 21:33

    Yeah, I’m with you on that – the willingness to experiment is what progresses art. Blake’s philosophy that without opposites there can be no progression is quite applicable for Macca.

    He is rightly applauded for his ability to capture human frailties and appeal to our emotions to make us feel triumphant and maudlin and everything in between. This the ability to make this connection, is possible only because he himself is human and subject to the same emotional swings. And as such, he can’t get it right all the time. It’s a question of polarities, for every hey Jude, there’s a Frog Chorus; for every Yesterday, there’s a Mull of Kintyre; for every Linda, there’s a Heather.

    For the record, I think Hey Jude is a nice likkle pop song. But about two minutes too long. It’s difficult to see through the rose-tinted mist anymore, but essentially it’s one of those chanty songs that’s been elevated to anthemic status by virtue of a) the passing of four decades b) nostalgia, and c) a catchy singalonga chorus (see also Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance).

    It’s impossible to underestimate the influence of ‘The Beadles’ (McCartney, in particular, is/was a fantastic songwriter and his use of the G7 chord was second to none), but anyone who is able to elevate their entire canon to the the status of masterpieces is of questionable musical taste, they just got it right a disproportionate number of times.

    Experiments in music or any branch of the arts, are only a sure fire winner if you’re a fan. Conversely, experiments are very easy to criticise if you’re not. In conclusion then, and at the risk of sitting on the fence, I’m between you both.

  8. Dan on January 17th, 2007 21:43

    I’m with you on it being too long. It’s almost as if they didn’t know how to attend it, so didn’t.

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