Readers' Poll: The Worst Songs of the Sixties - Rolling Stone
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Readers’ Poll: The Worst Songs of the Sixties

Selections include ‘I Got You Babe,’ ‘Revolution 9’ and ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’

American musician Tiny Tim, January, 1960

GAB Archive/Redferns

The Sixties were supposedly the golden age of rock, but pick up any old issue of Billboard and see what was actually popular at the time. For every Beatles and Rolling Stones song on the charts, there were also massive hits by Englebert Humperdinck, Bobby Vinton, and John Fred and His Playboy Band. After hearing about our readers' least favorite songs of the Seventies, the Eighties and the Nineties, it was time to see what they hated in the Sixties. Click through to see the results. 

By Andy Greene

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10. Tiny Tim – ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’

Many people remember Tiny Tim as the high-pitched weirdo who sang old songs on the ukelele on The Tonight Show and Laugh-In during the 1960s, but the man was also a very serious student of folk music. “No one knew more about old music than Tiny Tim," Bob Dylan said on his Sirius/XM radio show Theme Time Radio Hour. "He studied it and he loved it. He knew all the old songs that only existed as sheet music.” The pair  hung out together during Dylan's early days in Greenwich Village, often performing at the same clubs.

In 1968, Tiny Tim became nationally famous when he appeared on The Tonight Show and performed "Tiptoe Through the Tulips," which originally charted back in 1929. His strange voice and demeanor made him a big hit with Carson, and he became a regular on the program. His fame peaked in 1969 when he married his 17-year-old girlfriend, Miss Vicki, on The Tonight Show. He died of a heart attack in 1996. 


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9. The Trashmen – ‘Surfin’ Bird’

This song is an absolute classic and everybody who voted for it is crazy. Sure, it's incredibly stupid, repetitive and simple, but that's part of the song's brilliance.

This isn't to suggest that the Trashmen were an important band – like many garage bands of the 1960s, they had one fleeting moment of greatness. It came in 1963, right around the peak of the surf music craze, when the Minnesota group took two songs from the 1960s doo-wop group the Rivingtons and combined them into "Surfin' Bird." It shot up to Number Four on the charts and was later covered by the Ramones on their classic 1977 album Rocket to Russia. Weird Al Yankovic has also expressed his love for the song over the years. 

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8. Sonny and Cher – ‘I Got You Babe’

Cher's incredible five-decade career as a superstar began in 1965 with the release of "I Got You Babe," which was written by her husband and singing partner Sonny Bono. He was inspired to write it after the success of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me, Babe." Their song shot to Number One and kicked off a string of hits that included "The Beat Goes On" and "But You're Mine."

In the 1970s, the duo became the hosts of a popular variety show, but they divorced in 1975 and went their separate ways. In 1987, they reunited on Late Night With David Letterman and were coaxed onstage to perform "I Got You Babe." Six years later, Cher re-recorded the song as a duet with Beavis and Butt-Head. 

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7. The Archies – ‘Sugar Sugar’

According to popular myth, producer Don Kirshner offered "Sugar Sugar" to the Monkees in 1969. They refused to record it, and Michael Nesmith supposedly even punched through a wall to show how strongly he felt about the situation. The story goes that Kirchner decided to have a group of studio musicians record it as the cartoon characters the Archies so he wouldn't have to deal with pesky human beings.

Actually, Nesmith likely punched through a wall when the Monkees refused to record another, similar-sounding song, but the important point is that "Sugar Sugar" was released as an Archies song. It was the single most popular song of 1969. It's also a longtime favorite of Homer Simpson. And somewhere deep inside, you love it, too. Admit it. 

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6. Herman’s Hermits – ‘I’m Henry VIII, I Am’

History hasn't been very kind to them, but between 1964 and 1967, Herman's Hermits were absolutely massive. They scored huge hits with "I'm Into Something Good" and "Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter." When the Who first came to America in 1967, they were opening up for Herman's Hermits.

In the summer of 1965, Herman's Hermits released a cover of "I'm Henry VIII, I Am," which was a huge hit for Harry Champion way back in 1910. Herman's Hermits sung the main verse three times, famously screaming out, "Second verse, same as the first!" between verses. The line was used later by Joey Ramone on "Judy Is a Punk." Once again, you guys are picking on songs that the Ramones cherished. 

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5. The Beatles – ‘Revolution 9’

Admit it. This is the one song you always skip when listening to The White Album. There's no shame in that. At eight minutes and 22 seconds, it's the single longest Beatles song – and probably their strangest one, too.

The work is, essentially, a sound collage created by John Lennon with Yoko Ono and George Harrison in the summer of 1968. The piece samples various bits of classical music, a sound effects LP, violins from "A Day in the Life" and an old tape that Lennon found at Abbey Road of somebody saying "number nine." For many Beatles fans, it was way too avant-garde and a waste of precious space on an otherwise brilliant album.

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4. The Association – ‘Cherish’

Wussy soft-rock love songs are often seen as an early 1970s phenomenon, but the Association pioneered them. Their massive hit "Cherish" was inescapable in late 1966, and they were even given a slot at the Monterey Pop Festival the following year. They scored a handful of other hits over the ensuing years, and have continued to tour with a rotating line-up of musicians.  

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3. Richard Harris – ‘MacArthur Park’

"MacArthur Park" has been recorded by everybody from Donna Summer to the Four Tops to Frank Sinatra. It was written by Jimmy Webb about the end of his relationship with Susan Ronstadt, sister of Linda. The song was originally part of a longer piece that ran for 22 minutes, which is why the Association turned it down.

Richard Harris chopped the track down to seven minutes and released it as a single in 1968. He screwed up by repeatedly singing "MacArthur's Park," a mistake that was later copied by Donna Summer in her famous remake. Yes, it's a little stupid that he uses the analogy of a cake out in the rain to describe his ruined relationship, but it's not a terrible song.

Case in point: check out Weird Al Yankovic's "Jurassic Park" parody. It's an under-appreciated classic. Sample lyric: "Jurassic Park is frightening in the dark/All the dinosaurs are running wild/Someone shut the fence off in the rain/I admit it's kind of eerie/But this proves my chaos theory."

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2. Bobby Goldsboro – ‘Honey’

Who could forget the love song about the girl who was "kinda dumb and kinda smart" written by the boyfriend who "laughed until [he] cried" when she fell down and almost hurt herself? It's a shitty, shitty, saccharine love song about a dead girl that America fell in love with in 1968.

Tragic love songs were all the rage in the late 1950s and 1960s, but this one hit relatively late. It does prompt a serious question: did Honey kill herself? The lyrics go, "One day while I was not at home/While she was there and all alone/The angels came." Anything could have happened, but it seemed like Honey killed herself. Maybe Bobby shouldn't have called her "kinda dumb."

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1. Ohio Express- ‘Yummy Yummy Yummy’

Much like "Sugar Sugar," "Yummy Yummy Yummy" was a bubblegum-pop concoction by a group of anonymous studio musicians in the late 1960s. It's also another favorite of Homer Simpson.

The song hit Number Four on the Hot 100 on June 15th, 1968. That week, oddly enough, it was one slot above "MacArthur Park." Also, it managed to also beat out "Think" by Aretha Franklin, "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell and the Drells, and "A Beautiful Morning" by the Rascals. Unlike those songs, "Yummy Yummy Yummy" is absolutely terrible. 

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