Ep. 36 – “Why I Hate This Song” Listener submissions featuring hits by Billy Ray Cyrus, Kings of Leon, Scott Stapp, Rebecca Black, 4 Non Blondes, and… Radiohead?!

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In this episode, Carl King plays a game called “Why I Hate This Song!” Listeners submit their LEAST favorite songs, and Carl King tries to explain why. Featuring hits by Billy Ray Cyrus, Kings of Leon, Scott Stapp, Rebecca Black, 4 Non Blondes, and… Radiohead?!

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Episode 36!


Hank Howard III, Modiak, Chris Higgins, Max Stanley, Dusty Grimm, Derek Keller, Dale Turner, Ruth Turner, Christian Bjerring, and Dan Rainone 


Submitted by Hank Howard III

Submitted by MODIAK

Submitted by Chris Higgins. 

Submitted by Max Stanley

BrokeNCYDE / Freaxxx
Submitted by Dusty Grimm

Submitted by Derek Keller

Submitted by Dale Turner

Submitted by Dale Turner’s distant relative, Ruth Turner. 

Submitted by Christian Bjerring

Submitted by Dan Rainone

Huberman Lab Podcast

Billy Ray Cyrus Discusses David Lynch

Don Koch Music Licensing

Art of Anarchy / The Madness

VICE: I Made The Most Hated Music Video Ever

You Have Bad Taste In Music


I’m Carl King, and this is The Carl King Podcast, where we learn about music, filmmaking, and the other creative arts. To support this podcast, head over to Patreon.com/carlking, and join for just $1 or $5 per month. Or send a tip through PayPal or Venmo to username CarlKingdom. Special thank you to my Illusionist $51 level patrons, both Hank Howard III and Chewbode. 

Quick shout-out to my music endorsements: Vienna Symphonic Library, Fractal Audio, Ernie Ball Strings, Toontrack, and Millennia Media.

Now let’s get this episode Beginned! 


Very Good Friends of Carl King: it’s raining here outside Plosive Central Studio B. But we’re feeling good, and I will explain why. 

Two little bits of News and THEN we will get Beginned.

1 – I have fallen into the Huberman Rabbit Hole. I’m referring to Andrew Huberman Ph.D. of the Huberman Lab Podcast. He’s a Neuroscientist and professor of Neurobiology at Stanford, and wears a large wrist watch. 

For the past week I’ve been waking up at 6am and walking a couple miles to suck natural sunlight into my eyeball neurons. And also taking COLD SHOWERS. This has been a huge change for me, as I have never been a quote unquote Morning Person. I’ve also been going to bed early and limiting my light exposure in the evening. I’ve installed little dim red lights all over my house that automatically turn on when it gets dark. 

And so far, I feel a heck of a lot better. I’m sure Chris Higgins has something to say about that.

If you want to listen to the Huberman Lab Podcast, it’s available on The Internet. And I will provide a link to the internet in the show notes. 


2 – Second bit of news:

I have uploaded a private video for Patreon members only: Sir Millard Mulch Live in Sarasota, Florida (1999). Performing a set of music at a place called The Light Painter. The camcorder audio is terrible and distorted, and whoever filmed it was getting creative with the camera angles and built-in effects (a.k.a. bored). It’s a 36-minute show and my 3-piece Sir Millard Mulch band played 10 songs, including Broccoli and The Boy With The Perfectly Square Butthole. So join my Patreon to check that out. 

Now. Right Now. Today, we have a SPECIAL episode, in a different format. And I’m calling it Why I Hate This Song. 


Last week I asked listeners to submit their LEAST favorite song. I gave priority to my Patreon members, and selected TEN songs most worthy of examination. And I’ll be covering them in this Special Episode. 

By the way, that theme song you just heard is a song CALLED “I Hate This Song.” By me. It was my Patreon-Only song of the month for October. And Patreon members at the $5 level and up can get it as a 24/48 WAV file plus alternate mixes. 

Now. Before we get into examining these songs, I want to make some overall observations: 

1 – First of all, I noticed some Common Denominators: many of these songs have just one tempo, one instrumentation, and one chord progression throughout. 3-4 chords. One of them only has TWO chords. And one of them has NO chords. In short, they are EASY TO REMEMBER, and REPETITIVE. But that’s not something in itself that makes a song “bad” or even subjectively annoying. Repetition is essential to pop music, and almost all music. Unless it was written intentionally to not repeat, in which case it is called Through-Composed.

2 – Second, none of the songs here are instrumental. Now isn’t that interesting? It’s safe to say that MOST OFTEN, it’s the VOCALS that listeners can’t stand. I believe, in all of these examples, if the singer was removed from the song, and it was originally released that way, it would NOT have the same irritating effect. And here’s why: vocalists tend to project a feeling of confidence and feeling good about themselves. Or some other emotional content that the listener just can’t bring themselves to BUY INTO. There’s a mismatch between what the performer is telling the listener to feel, and what the listener is WILLING to feel. We call it CHEESY. And I think deep down, we’re threatened by it. My argument is that it’s rarely the music’s fault. 

3 – Third, we form associations between songs and OTHER THINGS. A piece of music will immediately remind us of people and places we might not like. It happens more often than we are willing to admit, and it creates a prejudice towards what is nothing but a collection of harmless notes. For example, my own personal Least Favorite Song might be Cumbersome by Seven Mary Three. I can tell you I used to get VERY agitated by it. It makes me think of white guys who sing with a deep southern accent and try to sound bluesy and macho. I grew up in Florida surrounded by people who embodied those traits. And I’m sure it’s no coincidence, Seven Mary Three made it big out of Orlando, Florida. So the song didn’t need to travel all that far to get on my nerves. But here’s my advice: instead of getting mad, and letting some silly music raise your cortisol levels, it’s far healthier to simply laugh at music you think is bad. As if it’s a parody. 

4 – Fourth, I want to point out that I had no negative physiological reaction to any of these songs. Ten years ago I would have had an emotional meltdown over making this episode. Instead, it was a lot of fun to dissect the music. It brought me back to the days of theory classes and harmonic analysis. There were even a couple of musical ideas that caught my attention and challenged me. I had to grab my PRS SE24 and solve the puzzles. So even if you dislike a song, I recommend learning it. 

5 – Fifth –  While working through this whole thing, I came up with something called The Ween Test. Would I enjoy this song if someone told me it was Ween? Or if Ween covered it? I use Ween as an example because they regularly crossed the line, back and forth, between making music that is bad on purpose — and BRILLIANT on purpose. Part of the enjoyment is figuring out which is which. 

6 – And finally, there were so many good song submissions. I want to thank everyone who sent them in. I’ll definitely save them for a future “Why I Hate This Song” episode. 

With those points out of the way, let’s start.


Submitted by Hank Howard III


The tempo of Achy Breaks Heart is 122 BPM, which is perfect for walking or line dancing. 

This is a standard rock and roll song. 

It’s in the key of A Major, a good choice of key. And it only has two chords. A and E. Which are the Tonic and Dominant chords. Because that’s all tonal music needs. 

The lyrics are about the protagonist giving various permissions to the listener. He or she can tell lots of people various things. The people named include Billy Ray Cyrus’s mom, his aunt, a dog, and also his fingers. But not to tell his heart, because it might blow up and kill this man. 

Originally written in 1990 by Don Von Tress, and released on the Marcy Brothers album in 1991, but then the next year Billy Ray Cyrus covered it. Well, he didn’t let much time pass, did he? Just grabbed it right up and made it his own massive hit. 

And here’s some more good news. Billy Ray Cyrus reworked the song in 2017, at a slower tempo. Approximately 113. I tried line dancing to it, but I injured my skeleton in 3 places. 

I don’t think this song has much to like or dislike about it. So why does everyone hate it? 

Well, after lots of analysis, I believe I have found the answer. It’s because MOST of us know Billy Ray Cyrus for his surreal film acting. Such as starring in Mulholland Drive by David Lynch. 

Billy Ray Cyrus Discusses David Lynch

I think the biggest complaint people have is this: they would like him to stick to acting, rather than trying to start a music career. No one likes it when famous actors play music. It makes us think they ran out of acting ideas. 

And who can argue, because Billy Ray Cyrus has starred in countless avant garde classics like Sharknado 2, Hillbilly The Real Story, and let’s not forget his outstanding performance with Gene Simmons in Wish You Were Dead.

I’d like to say Thank You to Hank Howard III for submitting this song. 


Submitted by MODIAK. 


The tempo of Use Somebody is approximately 67 bpm. 

You COULD argue it’s double that, at 134. But I refuse to believe this song is faster than Billy Ray Cyrus’s Achy Breaky Heart. 

So… at 67 bpm, you’d notate all those guitar strums as 16th notes. Why not?

Use Somebody is in the key of C, which is a good choice of key. It’s also the most normal of all keys. Fun fact, majority of Sir Millard Mulch songs were written in C major. Including Broccoli. 

The verse and chorus of this song use a sequence of Three chords, played twice: 

C, Em, F
C, Em, F

That would be I – iii – IV

Followed by another sequence of three more chords, played twice:

Am, C, F
Am, C, F

That would be vi – I – IV

Those repeat approximately 75 times. 

This is one of those songs with the WHOA WHOA WHOA vocals. This has been called the Millennial Whoop. It sounds like a Coca-Cola commercial to me. 

In the second verse, they get real clever in the rhythm section. The bass guitar and drums use rudimentary syncopation. A musical technique invented… approximately 600 years ago. 

The Bridge comes out of NOWHERE.

It goes from D Major to F# Minor and then a B chord briefly. Which doesn’t lead back to C in a strong way. 

Normally for a bridge you’d move to a relative key like Am or Em, but they already used the heck out of those two chords in the Verse and Chorus. But you know what chord they NEVER used in the key of C? G major! The V chord! The second most important chord in the key. Perfect opportunity to move to G major for a bit. Had I been there, I could have told them that, and they could have won either 4 Grammys — or 0 Grammys.  

After the fake bridge, it’s straight back into the droning C Em F with a guitar solo. 

Overall, I would describe this as Hipster Girl music. The singer is doing that vocal fry and accent thing that girls and some men probably think is sexy. That’s my best guess, anyway. 

Entirely without my help, this song won 3 Grammy Awards. 

I’d like to say Thank You to MODIAK for submitting this song.


Submitted by Chris Higgins. 

This song is at 95 bpm. And it starts with a… B major 7 chord!? 

Hang on, we’ve got Jazz chords here. Also known as Extended Chords. Music theory nerds know that chord extensions are notes beyond the triad of 1, 3, and 5. 

This song is basically in the Key of B major, which is a good choice of key. 

And there’s sequence of jazzy chords with some leaps in fifths, but not exactly a Circle of Fifths. 

That sequence is:

C#m7 (ii)
F#7 (V7)
D#m7 (iii)
G#7 (VI7)
EMaj7 (IV)
A7 (bVII7)
B major

Remember that for later, because it’s important. 

In thinking for hours about the chorus lyrics, “Simply having a wonderful Christmas time” — I suspect this song is actually about a man who suffers from alcoholism. I imagine his wife has woken up because he’s banging around the house with his drunk friends, and she asks what the heck they are doing. And he says, “Simply having a wonderful Christmas time! Ding dong ding dong!” And she tells him, “Christmas, it’s the middle of JULY!”

The whole thing is actually pretty dark and traumatic if you look any deeper. So let’s change the subject. 

I’d like to say Thank You to Chris Higgins for submitting this song.


Submitted by Max Stanley

Up next is The Christmas Shoes by NewSong. 

Hmm. Another CHRISTMAS song. Boy, do we have some real Grinches in the audience.

This song was allegedly written in 2000 by a man named Don Koch, and I’ll tell you more about him later.

There seems to be TWO versions of this music video. 

2007 – Seems to be more homemade with a squashed, 4:3 interlaced aspect ratio. Pretty low budget. 

2011 – With footage from the Christmas Shoes HALLMARK movie. With Rob Lowe. 

The Christmas Shoes: 2007 Version

The Christmas Shoes: 2011 Version

Oddly enough, I found the 2007 low-budget version to be far more worthy of review. If you know the song from the 2007 version, here’s my diagnosis. 

Part of the problem is the LITERAL interpretation of the music video. It uses a similar style as R. Kelly’s Trapped In The Closet, or more importantly Weird Al’s Trapped In The Drive-Thru. 11 minutes of monotonous exposition. Describing every single action. Much like another song I’ll talk about later in this episode. 

This type of storytelling is more like musical theater. 

The vocalist delivers with over-emotional mannerisms. We’re supposed to feel something profound from his hoarse, constri cted dude voice. And a lot of people sure do. But some of us only feel a profound irritation. Like, why is that guy acting like that?

Now if this were a Ween song, they’d take it a step further, or a thousand steps further, towards the absurd. Their song Spinal Meningitis comes to mind. “Am I gonna see God, mommy? Am I gonna die? Stinky vaseline, mommy.”

67 bpm, which is the optimal tempo for a ballad. 

This was written in the Key of G, a good choice of key. Well, the FIRST VERSE is in the Key of G. But beginning with the first CHORUS, it has a Producer’s Modulation up to A Major. A whole step up. It’s called a Producer’s Modulation because it simply JUMPS up, rather than being setup through a series of chords. And there’s yet another Producer Modulation up a whole step to B. It represents moving up the guitar neck, closer to heaven. 

The bridge has a sudden A chord in it. That’s a bVII. In contrast with that F# major chord, a nice mediant relationship. 

Then we get a group of children singing the chorus over a sparse accompaniment. It supposed to sound sad. 

Don Koch, the writer of this song, is now a Director of Worship… AND Music Publishing at First Worship Ministry. Music Publishing? Huh. I might be confused, but he and his company seems to have created a mixture between a church AND a record label. They’ve put out… FIFTY songs across 6 albums. I think you’re supposed to contact him about licensing them. You can also purchase complete stem tracks, rhythm charts, and bass rehearsal tracks. In case you want to do a BASS cover of Hop[e For The Ages A Multigen Worship Experience For Christmas. But be sure to have your music attorney or general counsel clear it with them first. 


I’d like to say Thank You to Max Stanley for submitting this song.

5 – BrokeNCYDE / Freaxxx

Submitted by Dusty Grimm


Now this is definitely not a Christmas song. I mean, it could become a Christmas song someday. I wouldn’t rule it out. 

Freaxxx takes place at 120 bpm. The default tempo that probably any drum machine or DAW will be set to when you start it up. 

Which is GOOD, because it happens to be perfect for doing things around the house or in your garden at 120 bpm. Depending on what you like to do in the garden. 

This one is in the key of C minor, which is a good choice of key. But it doesn’t appear to have ANY chord changes. That’s right, it stays on C the entire time. 

The cultural costume of this music is something called CrunkCore. A style of music invented by Sand People in places like Albuquerque. Now it’s important to know that CrunkCore is Crunk Hip-Hop but with Screamed Vocals and various Tusken Raider sounds.

Brokencyde is two high school kids, and I’m assuming they were rich kids. Because no one cares about poor kids. 

The lyrics are about a topic, and one of the two kids is singing with heavy autotune set to the C minor scale. Most of the melodic variation is happening simply on accident. When he sings that C note too flat, Autotune will quantize it to Bb and if he sings the C note too sharp it will quantize to Eb or D. 

And the other kid is simply SCREAMING every measure or so. And not screaming words, just: “BLEEEEEAAAAAAAH.” Although checking the well-crafted lyrics, I think he’s allegedly screaming the word “Now!”

The music video must have been expensive because the concept is this: a group of high school kids dancing in their mom’s driveway and occasionally in front of a green screen. 

I’d like to say Thank You to Dusty Grimm for submitting this song.


Submitted by Derek Keller

Up next we have Marlins Will Soar, by Scott Stapp. 

Did you know that Scott Stapp is the 68th greatest heavy metal vocalist of all time? He’s also a Christian known for his sex tape with Kid Rock. 

PS – Under the name Sir Millard Mulch, I did a cover of Creed’s song, “Higher.” And there are only two places you can find it at this time. First, someone put it up on YouTube. And it’s also on the original Mimicry Records pressing of How To Sell The Whole F#@!ing Universe To Everyone, Once And For All! Available in my shop. And I think it’s possibly the best song on the album. 

Now let’s get back on topic. Marlins Will Soar is a song about Mr. Stapp’s excitement about some fish. He wrote it in 2010. Strangely enough, he has a nearly identical song on his album The Great Divide, called You Will Soar. From 2005. But it’s probably just a coincidence, as lots of artists write songs that all sound similar. 

It was smart, because You Will Soar can be adapted to be about anyone he wants. That’s right. It’s not just the fish. Scott Stapp can declare that you or even I will soar. Now or in the future. There is plenty of soaring that can happen between now and then. 

This song is in the key of D Major, which is a good choice of key. 

It’s in the 6/8 time signature at about 54 bpm. And it’s only a minute and a half long, depending on how many times you listen to it. Over here it came out to about 6 and a half hours and a divorce.

As far as the structure, there’s not really a verse and chorus here, so I’ll call it an A and a B section. 

The A Section’s progression is only 3 chords. Bm, G, and D. That would be the vi – IV – I.

And the B section is Em, G, D. 

Folks. Fooolks. It looks like we have ANOTHER hit song with no V chord. If there WERE a V chord, it would have been an A major. Again, had I been there during the writing, I could have helped them out with that. For a fee. I do charge a lot to add a V chord. 

But here’s what’s important. The thing that makes Scott Stapp special is his mastery of the technique known as Vowel Modification. 

Like other professional vocalists, Scott Stapp turns his mouth into a tube, much like a tube you’d use for feeding cockroaches to a pet reptile. If you want to try this at home, and I recommend doing it without the cockroaches. What you do is create space in your mouth, but then press your tongue forward to fill that space. You want a tiny opening with lots of R. Give everything an RRR sound. Vowel Modification is a popular technique in singing, and it’s well known that you want to make as many vowels into Rs as possible. 

Let’s talk about the vocal melody. You might notice he employs some modal interchange on the phrase “Come on Marlins, make us proud.” He sings a minor third over a major chord, on the word “us” as in Make Us Proud. That would be borrowing notes from the parallel minor key, or D minor. A clever move! 

Here’s some trivia. Did anyone here know Scott Stapp actually had a band on Century Media with BUMBLEFOOT? Called Art of Anarchy? How did THAT happen? 

They had a single called The Madness, with a music video. Everyone go watch that, because I… AM… CONFUSED. Does anyone else notice that he BARELY sounds like Scott Stapp? Did someone else actually sing that one in the studio? And Scott Stapp just showed up for the music video? I’m serious. Go listen to it. Try to convince me, and yourself, that it’s the voice of Scott Stapp. You can’t do it. 

Art of Anarchy / The Madness

I’d like to say Thank You to Derek Keller for submitting this song.


Submitted by Dale Turner

Up next is Friday by Rebecca Black. Submitted by avid music fan Dale Turner. 

Now we all have to realize: Friday is not actually BY Rebecca Black, as she was only 13 years old at the time. Her mom paid a company called ARK Music Factory $4000 to make a song and music video with her. Seems like a fun thing to do when your kid is 13. Of course, no one was expecting the video to get much attention. Rebecca Black was made fun of by… pretty much the entire world. 

By the way, there’s a short documentary by VICE about it called I Made The Most Hated Music Video Ever. In which Rebecca Black talks about her experience. She is still making music and videos on her YouTube channel, where she is known as just… Rebecca. 


Now let’s talk about the actual nuts and bolts of the song. Non-musicians like Dale Turner will need to hang in there while I talk some serious music theory. 

Friday is performed at 112 bpm. No coincidence, 112 bpm is the same tempo as Pantera’s Cowboys from Hell. And this song has a strikingly similar lyrical theme, but we’ll get to that… in just a little bit.

We’re in the Key of B major, a good choice of key. And the chords are B, G# minor, E, F#. It’s a I – vi – IV – V progression. And it doesn’t change throughout the song. Same four chords, over and over. 

In the verses, the vocal melody is almost entirely a single note. B. The root note of the key. It’s heavily auto-tuned, of course, as all music is now. There are some moments of ornamentation, but not much. 

The chorus melody is an oddity, but not quite to Trevor Dunn level. During the main hook of the song when she sings the word “Friday” —  she’s singing the scale degrees 3 to 2. So it’s a consonant note resolving to a dissonant note. But this is far from being the least sensible thing about the song. 

The lyrics are in a style that screenwriters call “On The Nose.” Meaning they are… literal exposition, describing physical things that are happening. There’s no abstraction or symbolism to it. It’s all concrete. Examples are “Gotta get down to the bus stop, gotta catch my bus, I see my friends.” And the lyrics don’t rhyme at all. “Gotta make my mind up, which seat can I take?” We hear many sentences forced into rhythms without concern for matching the accented syllables to the weak and strong beats. 

They Might Be Giants do that sort of thing, sparingly, for sarcastic, comedic effect. But in this case it was a lack of skill. 

For instance, at the end of the Bridge Rebecca Black sings “Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards.” 

The word “afterwards” lands on and is sustained on the 6th scale degree. Which DOES make some mathematical sense, because it’s a G# over the IV chord, which is an E Major. But it makes the non-rhyming and off-accented “Afterwards” sound even more wrong.

There is certainly… a combination of things that make words or sentences “musical” or “non-musical.” Things like: rhythm, accented syllables, and the arrangement of phonemes that are pleasant to the ear. I’m sure it varies from culture to culture, but songwriters develop an intuitive sense for it. And the person who wrote this song… did not seem to have that. 

I’d like to say Thank You to Dale Turner for submitting this song.


Submitted by Dale Turner’s distant relative, Ruth Turner. 

I’m surprised ALL of the Turners didn’t show up here today. 

Karma Police is the worst offender of all, CONSISTENTLY topping every list of the most hated songs ever. 

And for that, I think someone needs to call the MUSIC Police. 

Radiohead played THIS version of the song at about 74 bpm, which we know is the worst of all tempos. No wonder it was so popular in Iceland. 

Remember what I said about vocalists who emote in a way that their audience can’t identify with? Well this song doesn’t even do that — the singer, whoever he is, sings without any hint of emotion. He’s basically a robot. 

But digging into the music theory, it’s no wonder people can’t stand this song: Karma Police is in a simplistic 4/4 time signature, and even worse: it has a simply incorrect chord progression. 

When they were writing this song, The Radioheads clearly couldn’t make up their minds, because they started in A Dorian, which is a good choice of mode… with:

Am, D, Em, G. Which is i – IV – v – VII. 

And then for no reason, they throw in an F major chord, which doesn’t work. And anyone who has taken Music Theory Level 1 knows you can’t do that. That would be a bVI chord. A big no-no. And he should get an F for it! Because it was an F chord. 

So then it goes back to Em and G in the key of A Dorian like nothing happened. Are we supposed to forget about that F major chord? 

The second time around the progression, it stays in the key. Man, I was worried about what might happen. What other random non-diatonic chord they might throw in. Maybe that F major chord was just a mistake and they realized the second time around? I would have at least expected the producer to ask them to go back and fix that mistake. 

When the song gets to the chorus, the drummer just STOPS PLAYING. I’m thinking, what the HECK?! All the energy drops out. BAD IDEA. Everyone knows you don’t want to do that in the chorus. That’s supposed to be the part everyone sings along to, which is why it’s called the chorus. And if everyone sang along it would drown out the band. They got the dynamics of songwriting exactly backwards. 

The chords during this failed chorus are:

C – D – G. OK, so far so good. That’s the key of G Major, a good choice of key… playing a IV – V – I. It’s a key that’s at least remotely related to A Dorian. But then they add an F#7. Which would be a VII7. Major 7 Seventh Chord. Okay. What were they THINKING?

Good news is, the drummer comes back again later. Maybe he quit because the song was so bad. It’s possible they had a whole line of drummers waiting back there. Maybe every time they got to the chorus and the drummer would walk off, the next guy would jump behind the kit.  

Not surprising, the bridge has just as many problems as the rest of the song. 

It uses the chords Bm, D, and G. Those fit in the key of G, but I don’t recommend using those chords in combination. That’s because Bm is too closely-related to D AND G. In fact it shares TWO NOTES with both of those chords. You don’t get enough contrast in the chord progression. It needs a chord that doesn’t share notes with the others. 

And they tried, but only made it worse. They play a totally out-of-key chord again, an E7. Which is a VI7. And as we know, that should only appear in the key of A. They should have used a C, which would be the IV chord. 

My verdict? These guys need to go back to the basics and learn about diatonic keys, and which chords belong together. And whoever produced this song, I doubt Radiohead or their label ever worked with him again. 

So as you can see, this song is full of wrong chords. And that’s probably why it crashed and burned. 

I’d like to say Thank You to Ruth Turner for submitting this song.


Submitted by Christian Bjerring

I’ll tell you what’s going on: this song is actually called What’s Up? Well, that’s confusing, isn’t it? I wonder if they regret that choice of title. 

You might not know that the vocalist, Linda Perry, has continued her career as a hit songwriter. Five Grammy awards, a Golden Globe, and Songwriters Hall of Fame. 

And her greatest accomplishment of all: she used to eat at the same time as me at one of my favorite restaurants in L.A. I should have screamed at her WHAT’S GOING ON?! I wonder how often she gets that. 

The lyrics to the song were written about a topic. 

So let’s get into the music theory. 

The tempo of What’s Going On, or What’s Up is 66 bpm. And it seems to speed up slightly as it goes, up to maybe 68 bpm. Okay than. I will let everyone know. 

It’s in the key of A, which is a good choice of key, The progression throughout this song is made up of 3 chords. They repeat and do not change. 

A – Bm – D

That’s I – ii – IV. 

Now *I* have to ask what’s going on. Where’s the V chord?!?!?! Another song with no V chord. We’re seeing a pattern here, folks. This is the same problem in Scott Stapp’s Marlins Will Soar. 

Just a reminder, I am available to consult in writing chord progressions with an authentic cadence. 

Also important for the world to know: this song is in a major key, but both the guitar and lead vocals have ornamentations using the b3 scale degree, which come from the minor scale. Like when Linda Perry screams “Revolution!” A b3 scale degree is commonly a “bluesy” note and meant to invoke emotion. I don’t know what that emotion is, though, because I lack the b3 gene. Post a comment or reply, if you can tell me what emotion to feel.

I’d like to say Thank You to Christian Bjerring for submitting this song.


Submitted by Dan Rainone

Hey, it’s another Christmas song. Christmas songs are officially 30% of the list. 

So let’s examine this one. 

The tempo of Last Christmas is 106 bpm. Totally acceptable. 

But here’s the problem. This song is around 50 cents flat. That is, if it was meant to be in the key of D, which is a good choice of key. 

Or maybe it’s 50 cents sharp if they meant it in the key of Db, also a good choice of key. That’s right, the whole band was out of tune. But we all go out of tune sometimes.

Or maybe they meant for it to be an artsy, microtonal composition thing. 

Let’s assume it’s in the key of D, because that’s probably what they were going for, and it’s an easier chord to play than Db. 

And Db would have 5 flats, or its enharmonic key would be C# with 7 sharps. And that’s not conducive to pop songwriting. Listeners get too confused if you use too many sharps and flats. 

The chord progression here is D, Bm, Em, A. That’s a I – vi – ii – V progression. Perfectly diatonic.

And it’s those 4 chords all the way through. Verse, chorus, everything. Four and a half minutes. 

Here’s some trivia about this song, that I found on Wikipedia:

1 – George Michael wrote, sang, and played EVERY instrument on it. Well that’s pretty impressive. As far as I can tell, he played bass on that song called Freedom. 

2 – There was a movie made in 2019, named after and inspired by this song, starring Daenerys Targaryen.

3 – George Michael actually DIED on Christmas. Well, that sucks. 

So there. I can’t come up with much to say about this song, except it’s 4 chords and it’s out of tune. 

You know, it’s possible that if you had perfect pitch and didn’t know it, this song would sound horribly out of tune. I hope someone bought Wham a better tuner for their Next Christmas. 

Thank You to Dan Rainone for submitting this song.

And that does it for this edition of Why I Hate This Song. I’ve saved all the other submissions I received for a future episode. So thank you to EVERYONE who sent one in. To. Me. 

One last thing, a friend of mine, Eman Laerton, made a series of viral videos in the mid 2000s called You Have Bad Taste In Music. Required viewing if you call yourself a Very Good Friend of Carl King. I’ll post a link in the show notes. 



OK, that’s the end of this Episode of the Carl King Podcast. Remember to subscribe on Spotify, Apple Music, or anywhere else you listen to these dang podcasts. And support the creation of more episodes by joining my Patreon for $1 or $5 a month. That’s Patreon Dot Com Slash Carl King. Or send a tip through PayPal or Venmo to username CarlKingdom.

And as always, special thanks to my $51 a month Patrons, at the special Illusionist level, Chewbode and Hank Howard III. And thank you to ALL of the Very Good Friends of Carl King for listening, and as I always say: Okay Than. I will let everyone know. 

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