Is there anything worse than a bad song on a nearly perfect album? Probably, but for the sake of our series, Seeing Red, there isn’t. In Seeing Red we ask our staff writers to talk about the songs that they hate on albums that they love.
Today we have Dying Scene editor Bizarro Dustin, who opens up about their endless annoyance with The Offspring‘s “The Worst Hangover Ever” off their 2003 record, Splinter. You can read their complaints below.
All right look, it’s no secret that latter-day albums by The Offspring aren’t exactly masterpieces, but for a post-Smash album, Splinter is pretty okay. Sure, it has “Hit That” and “Spare Me the Details,” but it’s also got “The Noose,” “(Can’t Get My) Head Around You,” “Da Hui” (which is admittedly a silly song, lyrically speaking) and the 1-2 punch of “Never Gonna Find Me” and “Lightning Rod.” When you consider the usual number of joke tracks or dumb singles on an Offspring album, Splinter has a pretty high number of good song… or at the very least, enjoyable filler. Even Ixnay on the Hombre can’t boast that. Seriously, go look at Ixnay’s track list and remove the intro/intermission tracks, and any song with “clever” or funny lyrics and you’re left with like six songs or something. That’s less than half the album. Splinter has a better track record than that.
But I digress. I’m not here to explain why my brain can hear a song like “Race Against Myself,” know that it’s only there to take up space, and still enjoy it, or why I think that “Hit That” is a superior single to both “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)” and “Original Prankster.” What I am going to discuss is how god-awful “The Worst Hangover Ever” is. Because goddamn that song sucks. The chorus is obnoxious and repetitive and the lyrical approach is all wrong. Yeah, hangovers suck and there’s a way to write songs about the painful self-reflection that occurs during a hangover… and then there’s complaining about how much it hurts. I’m not saying that I’ve never felt like giving up drinking, but did we really need an anthem dedicated to how much hangovers can hurt? No. The answer to that question is no.
For the record, I am completely aware of how ridiculous for me to be so angry about a dumb song by The Offspring. Ixnay has “I Choose,” “Don’t Pick It Up,” “Mota,” “Me & My Old Lady,” and “Way Down the Line” (That last one is up for debate). Americana has “Pretty Fly,” “She’s Got Issues,” that semi-cover of “Feelings,” “Walla Walla,” and “Why Don’t You Get a Job?”. Conspiracy of One has “Original Prankster” and “One Fine Day” and… well, I’ve made my point. There is absolutely no reason for me to be so mad about “The Worst Hangover Ever” when it’s just par for the course when it comes to The Offspring. And yet here I am anyway. I am not a reasonable person sometimes.
At least a part of my hatred for this song comes from its placement on the album: dead-center. It’s sandwiched between the album’s best single, “(Can’t Get My) Head Around You” and the aforementioned sequence of “Never Gonna Find Me” and “Lightning Rod.” That just really kills the whole mood of the album. What could have been a terrific string of songs, the likes of which haven’t been seen on an Offspring album since 1994, instead turns into the band’s usual fare of “decent filler song / great single / terrible joke song / wonderful songs that will cut from future live sets to make room for dumb singles.” (For those who might be confused, I’m including “Race Against Myself” at the start of this sequence.) “When You’re in Prison” is a terrible song too, but at least it has the decency of being at the end of Splinter, where you can easily just turn the record off. (I would also like to acknowledge that I am aware that songs can easily be skipped using CD technology, and that when it comes to digital music, a person can simply remove or delete a song they dislike from a playlist. Shut up, you’re ruining my point.)
What I also hate about “The Worst Hangover Ever” is its style. When Splinter came out in 2003, I was very much a third-wave ska kid. It seemed like punk bands primarily used ska for goofy and/or throwaway songs (See: Green Day’s “King for a Day,” NOFX’s “Anarchy Camp” and the entirety of The Aquabats’ and Reel Big Fish’s discography), so when Streetlight Manifesto released Everything Goes Numb that year, I was happy to finally have an album that didn’t make me embarrassed to talk about one of my favorite genres. Then The Offspring released this abomination, undoing all of Everything Goes Numb‘s goodwill. I don’t even really listen to ska all that often anymore, but just thinking about “The Worst Hangover Ever” makes me an angry fifteen year old ska-kid all over again.
The amount of energy that I put into hating this song is almost as dumb as the song itself, I realize this. But when a band’s career is like that of The Offspring’s, it’s rare to find an album that’s enjoyable all the way throughout. Splinter is almost that album. “The Worst Hangover Ever” doesn’t bring it down so much that it’s completely irredeemable, but it does make it difficult to argue in favor of that album in any discussion about The Offspring’s post-1994 discography.