Justin Timberlake’s new single “TKO” dropped last week, and because we are professionals, we forced ourselves to listen to it despite the fact that it starts with the refrain, “She killed me with that coochie-coochie-coo.” The song doesn’t get a whole lot better, to be honest, but that particular line is surely the least appetizing sex-related lyric of the year (honestly, who uses the word “cooch” outside of high school?!), and it started an intra-office conversation about where it rates in the pantheon of hilariously awful sex lyrics. Here are the results of our highly scientific discussion: a giggle-inducing survey of the worst of the worst. You’re welcome.
Justin Timberlake — “Strawberry Bubblegum”
The offending lyrics: “Little girl won’t you be my strawberry bubblegum/ Then I’d be your blueberry lollipop/ And then I’d love you ‘til I’ll make you pop”
The whole coochie-coochie crisis isn’t exactly Timberlake’s first offense against good taste. Apart from songs that are several eons too long, the defining feature of The 20/20 Experience is that its lyrics are largely dire, which is a shame, because FutureSex/LoveSounds was home to some pretty effective pop lyricism. If you’re comparing your paramour’s vagina to strawberry bubblegum, though, it’s hard not to sound a) creepy or b) ridiculous; this song manages both. (And then there’s the whole penis-as-lollipop metaphor, to which we will return in due course.)
John Mayer — “Your Body Is a Wonderland”
The offending lyrics: “One mile to every inch of your skin, like porcelain/ One pair of candy lips and your bubblegum tongue.”
More bubblegum. Apart from the saccharine Hallmark card shitfulness of the lyrics, there’s one inescapable fact here: bubblegum and candy are for kids. Mentioning them in the context of a song about sex is creepy. It makes you sound like the sort of man who uses the word “panties.” The end.
Black Eyed Peas — “My Humps”
The offending lyrics: “I mix your milk with my cocoa puff/ Milky, milky cocoa/ Mix your milk with my cocoa puff/ Milky, milky right”
It’s no surprise that the official Worst Song Ever is also home to the official Worst Lyrics Ever, but even so, these lyrics are the sort of thing you need to kind of sit back and marvel at for a few moments. Milk. Cocoa puffs. What the actual fuck?
50 Cent — “Candy Shop”
The offending lyrics: “I’ll take you to the candy shop/ I’ll let you lick the lollipop/ Go ‘head girl, don’t you stop/ Keep going ’til you hit the spot”
The return of the lollipop! It’s a metaphor, y’see.
U2 — “Get On Your Boots”
The offending lyrics: “I got a submarine/ You got gasoline/ I don’t want to talk about wars between nations/ Not right now/ Hey sexy boots/ Get on your boots/ Yeah”
The thing is that No Line on the Horizon wasn’t a bad album — it was, however, preceded by a single so hilariously appalling that it made even hardened U2 apologists from way back (like your correspondent) cover their faces in horror. There are certain things that no human being should ever have to hear, and Bono singing “You don’t know how beautiful you are” is one of them.
Interpol — “Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down”
The offending lyrics: “She was my catatonic sex toy love-joy diver”
Well, that sounds like fun.
Kiss — “Burn Bitch Burn”
The offending lyrics: “I wanna put my log in your fireplace”
Even setting aside the, um, charming song title, this must surely be a contender for the coveted prize of music’s most unappealing metaphor for sex ever. Yeah, baby! Check out my… log! Wait, where are you going?
Peter Gabriel — “Kiss That Frog”
The offending lyrics: “Let me introduce his frogness/ You alone can get him singing/ He’s all puffed up, wanna be your king/ Oh, you can do it/ C’mon lady, kiss that frog”
And while we’re on unappealing metaphors, here we find Peter Gabriel comparing his penis to, yes, a frog, an image that makes 50 Cent’s lollipop downright enticing by comparison. Pucker up, ladies.
Amanda Palmer — “Map of Tasmania”
The offending lyrics: “Freedom down there, I swear, do you see me smirkin’?/ Do you see me wearing a merkin?/ Get in the formation, let’s start triangle jerkin’”
For anyone unfamiliar with Australian slang, “Map of Tasmania” is an old and rarely used euphemism for female pubic hair — it’s the roughly triangular shape, y’see. It was exhumed by sometime Australian resident (hey, we never asked for this) Amanda “Fucking” Palmer for this song, which contains surely the first and only lyric to rhyme “merkin” with “triangle jerkin’.” Well, hopefully, anyway.
Jadakiss feat. Kanye West — “Gettin’ It In”
The offending lyrics: “My apologies/ Are you into astrology?/ ‘Cos I’m tryin’ to make it to Uranus”
Next year, young Kanye is starting middle school! He’s growing up so quickly!
Los Campesinos! — “By Your Hand”
The offending lyrics: “She dresses loosely in a bathrobe with her hair up in curls/ ‘Cos we were kissing for hours with her hands in my trousers/ She could not contain herself, suggests we go back to her house/ But here it comes, this is the crux, she vomits down my rental tux”
The obvious WTF moment here is the vomiting-in-the-rental-tux conclusion, but there’s something somehow worse about the second line — it makes the whole encounter sound like the sort of fumbling gropefest that corpulent bosses have with long-suffering secretaries at office Christmas parties.
Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell and TI — “Blurred Lines”
The offending lyrics: “I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two”
Apart from the general rape-culture ghastliness of the lyrics, there’s the above, which doesn’t sound like the kind of boast that would make the ladies come a-runnin’.
R. Kelly — “Share My Love”
The offending lyrics: “Let’s do what we were born to do/ Populate/ Let’s get together/ Populate/ Make the world better/ Populate”
Our legal counsel nixed our first comment on these lyrics, so let’s just say that their premise sounds unfeasible given what we’ve heard about Kelly’s sexual tastes.
Kings of Leon — “Sex On Fire”
The offending lyrics: “Oh, your sex is on fire/ Consumed with what’s to transpire”
Even if this lyric didn’t conjure up having images of having sex with Caleb Followill, it’d fall somewhere into the benighted lyrical zone that unites the clichéd with the nonsensical. As it is, it does conjure up images of having sex with Caleb Followill, which is enough to make us pray to the Great Pooping Pigeon God above to make it stop.
Eminem feat. Obie Trice — “Drips”
The offending lyrics: “She foaming at the lips, the ones between the hips/ Pubic hair’s looking like some sour cream dip”
Because nothing says sexy like sour cream, right? Oh.
Rihanna — “S&M”
The offending lyric: “Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it/ Sticks and stones may break my bones/ But chains and whips excite me”
This is to writing about sex as Hot Sexy Amateurs!!!1! are to porn — the sort of plastic sex that, despite all its desperate grasping for raunchiness, ends up being entirely unsexy. A couple of years back, when the song was released, Maura Johnston cited it as an example of how “raunch pop” makes sex boring. She was dead right, and the song only sounds all the more clichéd and awful with a couple of years of incessant airplay behind it.
Prince — “Soft and Wet”
The offending lyrics: “Hey, lover, I got a sugarcane that I wanna lose in you/ Baby can you stand the pain?”
Oh come on, you’re about three feet tall. It can’t be THAT big.
Nickelback — “S.E.X”
The offending lyrics: All of them, really, but especially “I’m loving what you wanna wear/ I wonder what’s up under there/ And if I’ll ever have it under my tongue?”
NO. NO, YOU WILL NOT.
Led Zeppelin — “The Lemon Song”
The offending lyrics: “Squeeze me baby, ’til the juice runs down my leg/ The way you squeeze my lemon, I’m gonna fall right out of bed”
The thing that no one ever mentions about this lyric: lemon juice is yellow. Hope you packed the rubber sheets.
Jimmy Webb — “MacArthur Park”
The offending lyric: “As we followed in the dance/ Between the parted pages and were pressed/ In love’s hot, fevered iron/ Like a striped pair of pants.”
One of music’s most celebrated terrible lyrics, especially the bit about leaving the cake out in the rain. Even that, however, kinda pales in comparison to the above verse, which is kind of amazing in its awfulness. It takes a special sort of lyrical imagination to come up with the idea of comparing sex to a pair of pants being ironed.