Day 25. Worst song you have ever seen performed live

“Imagine” — Melissa Etheridge

There are some people who could sing the phone book (assuming you can find one) and sound good.

Melissa Etheridge is not one of those people.

There are people who can sing a capella and sound amazing.

Melissa Etheridge is not one of those people.

There are people who can sing with minimal instrumental accompaniment and sound good.

Melissa Etheridge is not one of those people.

When I saw today’s topic come up in the 365 Day Song Challenge, at first I was at a complete loss. I’ve seen a lot of live music over the years, but for some reason, I think you block out some of the worst ones. For instance, I know I saw Whitesnake back in the late 80s and I’ll guarantee it was terrible, but all I really remember are the girls in tight leather skirts, high heels, and big hair. Then again, that may have had nothing at all to do with Whitesnake being terrible.

I was saved in late December when I went to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra. People rave about these guys, and to be sure, they’re good musicians, but after about 90 minutes of 80s hair band wankery, I was more than ready to go home. (“Oh! But it’s Christmas 80s hair band wankery! It’s so good!” Um, no it’s not.) I thought I had my “worst live song” post all wrapped up.

And then New Year’s Eve rolled around.

I’m no Melissa Etheridge fan on the best of days. I was permanently traumatized in the late 90s when I would set my radio alarm clock to wake me to the sound of WXLO in Worcester, MA. And for some reason, for the span of about three months, they would invariably be playing “Come To My Window.” I still get nauseated just thinking of it. (And no, I don’t know why I didn’t just pick another station. Quit being logical.)

So, on New Year’s Eve I was watching Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper’s show when they cut to Melissa. Apparently she’s hawking a new album six months before it’s even released. Who does she think she is? Axl Rose? Anyway, she was playing some song that I’m told is old but I had successfully avoided until now. As if this isn’t scary enough, while she’s playing, I can’t help but notice that she looks exactly like Hillary Clinton now! Dead ringer! Actually, if it was Hillary Clinton singing, that might explain a lot. When she finally finished, Anderson Cooper excitedly tells us that Melissa will be playing “Imagine” just before midnight. Oh boy!

Sure enough, a few minutes before midnight the music starts and Melissa begins to warble the opening lines of “Imagine.” The house immediately starts shuddering, the result of shock waves from John Lennon spinning in his grave at the speed of a jet turbine. I was sure the Apocalypse was upon us. Was it Y2K, 14 years late?

After three painfully long minutes, the song ended, the tremors stopped, the ball dropped and life returned to normal. Reports were that only 14 people of the more than one million revelers were lost when they fell into the Lennon-spawned seismic cracks that had opened in the streets of New York City.

Okay, it wasn’t quite that dramatic. But still really, really bad. “Imagine” is a pretty simple melody. I’m no singer, and I can do a respectable job of it. But, I kid you not, I don’t think she hit a single correct note in the entire song. Her supporters will say she was “interpreting it” in her own inimitable style. Of course it’s inimitable: It’s awful. Who would want to imitate it?

Here’s hoping next New Year’s Eve is less disastrous.