10 Artists Who Hate Their Hit Songs

Surprisingly, half of the songs are among top tabs on UG.

Ultimate Guitar
10 Artists Who Hate Their Hit Songs

Have you ever done anything you regretted later? I bet you have. These 10 artists created great hit songs and they wish they'd never done this.

10. Frank Sinatra - Strangers in the Night

Though “Strangers in the Night” was a comeback for Frank Sinatra in the mid-1960s, reportedly he hated that song. Why? His wife Barbara, once recalled that Sinatra called the single “a piece of shit” and “the worst fucking song I’ve ever heard.”

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9. James Blunt - You're Beautiful

“You’re Beautiful” is Blunt's biggest hit, reaching No. 1 in the U.S. and selling over 3 million copies stateside. But the singer has since come to resent the song, suggesting that it was wildly overplayed. As he once told Hello! Magazine, “It was force-fed down people’s throats and it became annoying.”

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8. Warrant -- "Cherry Pie"

Warrant is known for one song and one song only: "Cherry Pie." In the video, lead singer Jani Lane prances around with his feathered hair, making cartoon character faces and singing to his four shirtless friends about how much he loves female genitalia.

Following the commercial success of their debut album, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, Warrant went in to record their anticipated sophomore effort. While everyone in the band was happy with the end result, the record label was worried that the disc didn't have a clear hit single. So, they told Lane to get his ass back into the studio and write them a toe-tapping jam they could use to move units. He responded by writing "Cherry Pie" in 15 minutes on the back of a pizza box, which was meant as a thinly veiled "fuck you" to the label executives ("I Dare You to Play This Pussy Ballad on the Radio" was presumably the song's original title).

To his surprise, the executives loved it, and "Cherry Pie" became both the album's title and its lead single. Understandably, Lane held a bit of a grudge for being eternally associated with a song he was forced to write, despite the fact that its massive success undoubtedly led to a deluge of "research material" for future compositions:

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7. The Who - "Pinball Wizard"

Pete Townshend, the Who's lead guitarist and songwriter, refers to "Pinball Wizard" as "awful" and "the most clumsy piece of writing I've ever done". It was thrown into the mix at the last minute to try to get a good review from Nik Cohn, one of the most influential music critics in the industry, who, by the way, happened to be a big pinball fan.

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6. Weezer - Pinkerton (the Album)

Cuomo vented in a few different interviews about how much he wished he'd never written everyone's favorite Weezer album:

"It's a hideous record. It was such a hugely painful mistake that happened in front of hundreds of thousands of people ... and [it] just won't go away. It's like getting really drunk at a party and spilling your guts in front of everyone and feeling incredibly great and cathartic about it, and then waking up the next morning and realizing what a complete fool you made of yourself."

He even bookended the set with performances of "Beverly Hills" and "Island in the Sun" to remind everyone that as far as he is concerned, Pinkerton can go fuck itself.

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5. Beastie Boys - 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.”

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4. Robert Plant - Stairway to Heaven

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.”

Plant referred to it as "that bloody wedding song" (for reasons that aren't entirely clear) and felt that it paled in comparison to the rest of their repertoire. He was doubly irritated that "Stairway" was the only thing interviewers seemed to want to talk about, and fans became borderline obsessed with it, cooking up bizarre theories surrounding the song's possible hidden meanings that persist to this day.

Plant's dislike of the song was so intense (and so contrary to Page's enthusiasm for it) that it impeded talks of a Led Zeppelin reunion for decades, simply because Plant didn't want to have to perform it every night and have Page turn it into a 38-minute guitar solo. When an Oregon public radio station announced that they would never play "Stairway to Heaven," Plant actually pledged a donation. That's right - he gave money to a radio station that had literally vowed to never play his most famous work.

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3. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” might be considered one of the group’s most iconic anthems, but Kurt Cobain didn’t think too highly of the song after a certain point. “It’s almost an embarrassment to play,” he told Rolling Stone in 1993. “Everyone has focused on that song so much. The reason it gets a big reaction is people have seen it on MTV a million times. It’s been pounded into their brains… I can barely, especially on a bad night, get through ‘Teen Spirit.’ I literally want to throw my guitar down and walk away.”

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2. Radiohead - Creep

It isn’t exactly a secret that Radiohead hates their 1992 hit, “Creep.” Thom Yorke has publicly labeled the song “crap” and refused to play it in any of their live sets for years. In fact, when one audience member tried to request it at a concert in Montreal, he famously answered by saying, “Fuck off, we’re tired of it.” The band has reportedly begun playing the song in concerts again, but only rarely.

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1. Liam Gallagher - 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 fucking stand that fucking 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."

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52 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have to tell you, even if he hated it, Jani Lane had to be pretty talented to write a song as catchy and just all-out fun as Cherry Pie in just 15 minutes. Pizza seems to inspire people
    He was quite a talented songwriter and handled the majority of songwriting duties for the band. That was the big reason he was pissed off, it overshadowed all the songs he put effort into. 
    I used to enjoy how my ex-gf loved cherry pie just because thinking of the song and her dancing to it turn me on, but since we broke up I think glam metal is one of the things I'll hate until the day I die.
    that's what I thought too. I wouldn't work so well under pressure like him.
    To be fair though, Warrant has some better work.  Saw them live recently (of course no Jani, he died awhile back), I blame the record companies the same I do for all the other songs on the list.
    Ooh, interesting. I lost interest in them after Jani died, sadly. He was Warrant to me.
    Anybody can write a song like cherry pie in 15 minutes. Going public with it is the hard part. Embarrassing!
    Rush played a lot of songs that they hated (think closer to the heart). They understood that their fans were the only reason they were there and without them they would not get to live their dream as musicians. You have to admire that.
    And yet Liam Gallagher was willing to sing "Wonderwall" with Beady Eye at the 2012 Olympic closing ceremonies. Probably because no one knows Beady Eye songs, which must be really frustrating to him. 
    It think it's cool when the song overgrows you and is in the powers of the people. You can hate it, but it has it's own life.
    sure.. hate the reason you have a nice big house, and a nice sports car, and a beautiful wife and can afford good education for your kids. Being sick of playing that 1 song that made you rich and famous over and over is one thing, but hating it? Fuck off
    I hear what you're saying and it does probably sound like they're biting the hand that feeds... ...But from experience - my band had this one song, a slower ballad that sounded nothing like our other stuff - and we were constantly being asked to play it, to the point that we had to stop.  You can get pigeon holed just by one song and that can make it difficult to be taken seriously afterwards.
    Play what you like or play what pays the bills. If your goal is to make money from music you have to be prepared to play what you are told. Even, or should i say especially, big bands that are signed to big labels have to do this. If you wanna spend all your music career in a small pub, playing in front of 10 people, you can play your favourite tunes and it won't matter because those 10 people are usually there do have a drink. I hope it makes sense
    Yep, I see what you're saying. I've played gigs in front of 10 (or less) people, who are more interested in their next drink. And I wasn't being paid for the gig either, so trying to muster some enthusiasm to get through it wasn't easy. I suppose the point I was trying to make, was that its easy for people on the outside to say "be grateful for what you have", because they might only see you play that song once during a tour. But for the artist/band, who has to play the same song 100 times on that tour, it isn't easy. If I need to do the same thing more than a few times in a row in my normal day job, I get bored. Its the same thing for a touring musician - its just that their normal day job is playing songs for people.
    I don't like playing the same set twice, too. But that's just how the music/touring business work. You put together a setlist and then you play it around the world. If you play songs A B C in New Yord and then as part of the same tour you play songs A H X in LA, the people of NY could feel that they've wanted to hear song H, and people in LA wanted to hear song C. A lame way of explaining it, i know, but that's how it is. It's same with the travelling theaters, circus, ballets, orchestras.
    Some of them should be grateful that such mediocre songs set them up for life.Its not like they have to play them at every gig they do.
    Except they do, or the crowd will be pissed.
    Not true.Plenty of gigs ive been to didnt involve the bands biggest hit.Fair enough if they only have one big hit and never played it i could understand that buts that highly unlikely.For example ive seen the smashing pumpkins numerous times and most of the big hits are missing but the stuff that takes it place is more than satisfactory.
    I didn't know about the Sinatra one! There are plenty, though: Michael Stipes hates "Shiny Happy People", Bob Geldorf hates "We Are the World" ("One of the worst songs in history")... You could make a reverse list as well: songs that the songwriter or performer hated until it became a hit. Slash and "Sweet Child O' Mine", Pulp and "Common People", etc.
    Jon Bon Jovi didn't think 'Livin' on a Prayer' was good enough to be on their album, and Rivers Cuomo didn't want to put 'Buddy Holly' on their debut album but the band and producer insisted.
    figured sweet child of mine would be on here, i seem to remember slash calling it 'the ice cream van song' at one point.
    Don't know if it's true but I heard Motörhead hated playing ace of spades
    I've seen in an Interview Lemmy saying, for what was understandable, he didn't like it so much, but play it live because he didn't play for himself but for the fan and it would have been terribly disresspectfull to not play what everyone was waiting him to perform (sorry for bad english)
    nefaSto Favore
    Can anyone at UG please deliver my bank account cohordinates to the above gentlemen? I will be happy to relief them from receiving royalties from the songs they hate
    I read before about River's regret for having done Pinkerton but I will always hold that album in high regard.
    I think it was an amazing album. I didn't realize he despised it so much. Might explain some of their newer material is lacking. Don't get me wrong, I still like a good bit of their new stuff...much of it is just missing something, though. Maybe it's the Pinkerton influence I wish they would allow to come out more. 
    I was at a drum clinic with Chris Adler and he made it clear how sick he was of Black Label and how he hated playing it at every show.
    I think in most of the cases here it' because those songs got overplayed to death, except maybe Pinkerton.  It gets tiring once you hear the same thing over and over.  It's skind of like working in a kitchen and you smell the same food every bloody day - on the early days It's hard to come home without it, but after awhile you just want to puke when you smell "work". In the case of Pinkerton - which I've never actually listened to, I'm wondering if this is one of those cases where the artist decided to do something spur of the moment to be successful and because of the focus on the direction of the art versus the art itself, it caused it to be an "embarrassment".
    It's embarassing to him because it's full of intimate thoughts, the kind of things that come to your mind out of frustrations and you would never say out loud... some parts of it sound a bit misogynistic or just weird. He recorded his thoughts and shared the record with the world, the press unanimously cringed, the fans loved it. It must be said that when he bashed the record in the aftermath of the release he was just holding tight to his career, he wanted his next record to be successful and tried to distance himself from what at the moment was a problem for him. When Pinkerton became a cult classic and the press finally started praising it, Rivers said that he always loved it and knew it was a good record... he's a strange, lovable dude, haha.
    Liam was not the brains behind anything, only wrote a handful of Oasis songs, and absolutely didn't write Wonderwall as this article would have you believe.