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Listen To 13 Of The Absolute Worst Songs Of The 1960s

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I HESITATED using the word “worst” since many of these are novelty songs, which are intentionally strange or humorous rather than attempting to be a genuinely serious musical composition. However, that doesn’t erase the fact that they, like all the songs in this list, are simply unlistenable, intolerable, and unbearable. These songs are so bad you will be tempted to escape and click your “back” button. But I encourage you to see it through – press on, and see what sort of stuff you’re made of.

Should you choose to listen to all 13 songs, there are few precautions before you begin

  1. Make sure there are no sharp objects nearby. You may be tempted to jab them into your ear.
  2. This article has been declared a choking hazard. You may vomit and black out, so have a spotter nearby to turn you on your side.
  3. And finally, at times, death will seem like a sweet escape. Remember your loved ones. Choose life.

Now, good luck to you, and I’ll meet you on the other side.



13. “The Crusher” by The Novas (1964)



Take note of the painful growl you hear throughout this song. You’ll be making a similar noise by the time you’ve reached the end of this list.



12. “I Want My Baby Back” by Jimmy Cross (1964)


It’s been many months now, since that fateful night.
An’ you know sum’in’? I tried… believe me, I have tried!
But I just cain’t make it without my baby.
So, I decided, I’m gonna have her back, one way or another.
Oh, baby, I DIG you SO much.

Teenage tragedy songs were the rage in the early sixties; this song is more or less a parody. However, things get a bit extreme when the singer describes the carnage of the wreck, then tops it off with a little necrophilia.



11. “Abraham, Martin And John” by Moms Mabley (1969)



This song was covered expertly by Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Dion…. Not so much by Moms Mabley. Her version unbelievably reached #35 in the US and earned her the distinction of being the oldest person to have a top 40 hit, a record that still stands (she was 75).



10. “Tijuana Border” by El Clod (1961)



Jose Gonzales has a pretty young daughter
She say she meet me this Friday night
Her tender “leeps” are hard and “cheeely”
But her father is such a square

This is why gringos should never sing about Tijuana. This song is intolerable in its own right – the racist Mexican accent is just the cherry on top (or, if you like, the jalapeno).



9. “It’s a Gas” by Alfred E. Newman (1963)



An instrumental punctuated by belches. It’s supposed to be bad – and succeeds handily.



8. “Paralyzed” by The Legendary Stardust Cowboy (1968)



The Legendary Stardust Cowboy (LSD) intentionally tries on this track to sound like a stroke victim (never a good thing). It’s simply unlistenable, yet David Bowie was LSD’s biggest fan (Ziggy Stardust even took the “stardust” from LSD). Well, you know the saying: “Different strokes for different androgynous glam-rockers”.



7. “Bobo’s Party” by Melanie (1968)



I find Melanie’s screeching intolerable. I’ve been told to give it another try, that it’s not so bad; however, I simply can’t because a little part of me dies with each listen.



6. “Umbassa and the Dragon” by The Turtles (1968)



With experimental (albeit unbearable) tracks like this, the critical reception depends on who’s recording it. If Frank Zappa, King Crimson or Captain Beefheart had recorded this, critics would be drooling over it. In this author’s humble opinion, if it’s just a collection of ear piercing noises, it sucks no matter who made it (and, yes, that would apply to everything Yoko Ono has ever done).



5. “Split Level Head” by Napoleon XIV (1966)



I´ve lived in apartments, I´ve lived in a home
I traveled in trailers when I used to roam
But now in these places you won´t have me dead
´Cause I´m happy I live in a split-level head

I don’t know for certain if anyone has made it all the way through this song and not woken up in a mental ward. Not to worry; it’s nothing lithium and shock treatment can’t cure.



4. “Surfin’ School” by King Uszniewicz & The Usniewicztones (1963)



If there’s one thing that’s synonymous with Poland, it’s surf music.



3. “The Face from Outer Space” by Jeff Barry (1960)



Jeff Barry is one of the greatest songwriters and producers in pop music history. Barry and his wife wrote dozens of hits for other artists including “Chapel of Love” and “Leader of the Pack” as well as “Then He Kissed Me”, “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Baby, I Love You”. He introduced the world to Neil Diamond and wrote the theme songs to “The Jeffersons”, “One Day at a Time” and “Family Ties”.

Given all that, how in the wide world of sports did he manage to record this painfully awful song? I understand horror themed novelty songs were big in the early sixties (i.e. Monster Mash, Purple People Eater, etc.), but, Good Lord, this is terrible.



2. “Who Are Parents?” by The Shaggs (1969)


It’s kind of a “no brainer” to include The Shaggs on a “worst of” list of 1960s songs. This girl group has acquired a certain degree of notoriety once the Internet discovered them not so long ago. And their notoriety is well earned – their inability to form a simple melody is truly breathtaking. They sound like a female version of The Incredible String Band before they learned to play instruments…. It’s a far-fetched reference, but I don’t care.



1. “Downtown” by Mrs. Miller (1966)



Miller takes the Pet Clarke hit and strangles it to death…. Which, coincidentally, is what you’re probably doing to someone right now if you’ve made it this far. Well, stop. You’ve accomplished your goal – you’ve scaled the Mt. Everest of crap and lived to see another day. Now, go bask in your victory and then make an appointment with a licensed therapist. You’ve earned it.

  • Paul Duca

    Jeff Barry’s wife was merely Ellie Greenwich…

  • Steve Mills

    Interesting stuff. See, I’ve grown to like listening to Mrs. Miller and especially The Shaggs. And, amazingly, I still hold a steady job. 🙂

    The thing that surprised me most is seeing that King Uszniewicz & The Usniewicztones also did “Little Dead Surfer Girl”. I know that song from an album by The Incredible Broadside Brass Bed Band, and their version is tons better than King’s.

  • Heather

    I have to say, the worst is Split Level Head. Omg

  • vmacek

    What the shit, The Turtles?

  • Cliff Walk

    The problem with making a ‘worst’ list like this is that there is always a topper. For example, I’m sure there is at least one gangsta rap song that’s worse than anything here. So, just like a ‘best of list” is all in the hear of the listener. I’ll agree however, that most of these are pretty bad. I take exception to your comments about Melanie. I’ve always liked here although “Bobo’s Party” isn’t among her best. I had to stop watching that video because I was dreading seeing her guitar head burst into flames from the bonfire she was practically sitting in.

    • Meekrob

      “I’m sure there is at least one gangsta rap song that’s worse than anything here.”

      Agreed, but check the title again. Gangsta rap wasn’t a thing in the 60’s.

  • kat621

    Jeez, haven’t heard these gems since Dr. Demento in the 70’s.

  • I actually bought the MAD Magazine album that featured “It’s a Gas!”

    There were two albums issued, some of the songs were actually funny, like “Blind Date,” and “Since I Found Out Your Dad’s Got Money” . . .

    Oh I used to think that the sight of you
    Could stop a train in its tracks (Cha cha choo choo choo)
    But now I can’t hold you tight enough
    Since I found out your Dad’s got money

    Oh my friends think I’m nuts when they meet you
    But they’ll find out that I’m no dummy
    When I retire at seventeen
    On your Dad, dear old Daddy’s money!

    That’s from memory from 1963 or so. Great stuff!

  • scottst

    King Uszniewicz was the original punk rocker. Taught Joey Ramone everything he knew.

  • Kyle Prescott

    Can you imagine what didn’t make the cut for Mrs. Miller’s Greatest Hits if this did?

  • DoctorZin

    “The Crusher” is totally proto-Cramps.

    Furthermore, I’d rather listen to any one of those tracks than DeBarge.

  • Zebra Dun

    I hope my grandchildren can still bear children after I listened to this.

    • Anoraks

      Makes for a great lullabies album

  • Mark

    Including Mrs. Miller in this list of “Top Ten Worst” isn’t quite fair. She’s in league with “Annoying Music” — people like Florence Foster Jenkins, Johnny “Bowtie” Barstow, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, The Singing Sisters of Syracuse, etc. who got the idea that they should produce records — and when they did, the results were catastrophically funny.

    I’m a professionally-trained classical musician, and it took me NINE MONTHS to be able to sing “Do You Hear What I Hear” so that I matched Johnny “Bowtie” Barstow’s pitches and rhythms!

  • Luke Zimmerman

    For all of the people who think that ALL music back then was great, listen to these songs, then come back here and preach about today’s “horrible” music. Yes, there is a lot of awful music today, but the past had it’s share of duds too.