Smashed Hits

From The Heights to the depths of bad TV songs

Gloria Loring and Carl Anderson
"Friends and Lovers"
First chart appearance: 8-2-86
Peak chart position: No. 2

Loring played Liz Curtis on the soap Days of Our Lives; this sickening duet was played whenever she appeared ready to kiss any of her co-stars. Daytime dramas continue to use quasi-talented singer/ actors to whip up interest in the shows' shenanigans, but seldom has the result been as awful as this. Soap scum.

John Sebastian
"Welcome Back"
First chart appearance: 4-10-76
Peak chart position: No. 1

Proof that there's no justice in the world: Sebastian is known by an entire generation of music fans not for his frequently groovy work as leader of the Lovin' Spoonful, but because of this, the worst song he ever wrote. Compared to this ode to the Gabe Kaplan TV series Welcome Back, Kotter, costar John Travolta's subsequent recordings were artistically satisfying. Welcome back -- now go away.

Glenn Frey
"You Belong to the City"
First chart appearance: 9-28-85
Peak chart position: No. 2

For a very brief period, Miami Vice was the most newsworthy show on TV, especially around these parts. What most people didn't notice, though, was that its "MTV cops" approach got tired quicker than an in-depth interview with Pia Zadora. Moreover, its Jan Hammer theme was lousy enough to almost make this list, and the contributions of its musical guest stars were usually on par with this limp song by ex-Eagle Frey.

Rex Smith
"You Take My Breath Away"
First chart appearance: 5-12-79
Peak chart position: No. 10

Smith was a teen dream for about as long as it took a generation of late-Seventies youngsters to wake up. What remains of his career is a film version of Pirates of Penzance and this hit, taken from Sooner or Later, a TV movie about a groupie trying to decide if she should "do it" with rock idol Rex. Turns out he did it to all of us.

Sonny and Cher
"When You Say Love"
First chart appearance: 8-5-72
Peak chart position: No. 32

The ultimate combination of lousy music and advertisement. "When You Say Love" is supposedly an original composition, but it's actually adapted from Budweiser's beer commercial "When You Say Bud." Since the marriage of these Bonos was already on shaky ground (it was being kept aloft mostly because of the duo's TV variety series), it's appropriate that their last hit together was so crass.

Mike Post
"Theme From Hill Street Blues"
First chart appearance: 10-3-81
Peak chart position: No. 10

Post's music in the late Seventies and early Eighties epitomized the kind of no-personality musical wallpaper that replaced the gaudy themes of TV shows from earlier years. Gone were wacky lyrics that rhymed "bubblin' crude" with "shootin' at some food," replaced by dreck like this. The theme should have been arrested for indecent exposure.

Richard Chamberlain
"Theme From Dr. Kildare (Three Stars Will Shine Tonight)"
First chart appearance: 6-23-62
Peak chart position: No. 10

No, we're not making this up. Chamberlain, who later went on to become the king of the soporific mini-series, actually had a brief recording career, thanks to his role on Dr. Kildare. He sounds like Leonard Nimoy (remember Spock's ear-pointing rendition of "Proud Mary"?), except less lifelike. Pull the plug -- this patient has expired.

Maureen McGovern
"Different Worlds"
First chart appearance: 8-11-79
Peak chart position: No. 18

McGovern was the woman behind hits from The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno; not content with making the nation's movie theaters unpleasant places to be, she later added to her resume this theme to the forgettable TV sitcom Angie. Another disaster.

Donny and Marie Osmond
"Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing"
First chart appearance: 12-25-76
Peak chart position: No. 21

She was a little bit country, he was a little bit rock and roll, and together they were completely wimpy. Virtually everything this pair plugged on their TV variety show -- it ran from 1976-78 -- deserves a place on this list, but to be fair to other performers, we've chosen this anthem to their ineptitude as their sole contribution.

Pink Lady
"Kiss in the Dark"
First chart appearance: 7-21-79
Peak chart position: No. 37

Japan's hottest disco duo, Pink Lady was subsequently imported to the States and paired with stand-up comedian Jeff Altman for the timeless TV series Pink Lady and Jeff. It's no surprise that this hilariously wrong-headed show failed almost instantly; it's a shock that this song actually sold enough copies to reach the top end of the charts.

New Seekers
"I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)"
First chart appearance: 12-8-71
Peak chart position: No. 7

Yep, it's that same commercial that Coca-Cola has been plugging for a generation. How the New Seekers, a group of Brits and Aussies who excised references to Coke from the lyric, managed to turn this into a seasonal smash remains one of life's great mysteries.

The Carpenters
"We've Only Just Begun"
First chart appearance: 10-3-70
Peak chart position: No. 2

What eventually became the song that was played in more weddings than any other began life as an advertising jingle for a California bank. Rather than leave bad enough alone, the Carpenters resurrected it, giving it the treatment that it deserved.

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