The Songs You Will Hear in Hell

This is pretty self-explanatory…

1. Calvin Harris – Summer

You might think I like all electronic music, but you’d be wrong. As much as hell is eternal, this song will forever remind me of the summer of 2014 and the flaccid 5:00 p.m. gym monkeys who hogged the squat rack for an hour at a time, doing anything BUT exercising. Every…single…time I walked into the gym that summer, I’d see the same guys chatting at the squat rack, and not two seconds later, by dint of back luck or something more sinister, I’d hear the whiny “When I met you in the summer” intro come through the speakers, followed by the nauseating string riff, which would tenaciously embed itself for the entire workout and beyond. If ever there were a contemporary case of classical conditioning, this song would be it, for every time I hear it, I want to punch something. It’s like that scene in Kingsman – Secret Service, when Colin Firth hears Freebird. Except Freebird is good.

2. Tom Cochrane – Life is a Highway

Another case of classical conditioning: when I hear the first few notes of this song come through the speakers of whatever pub/outdoor venue/Xmas party I happen to find myself at, I cover my ears, not so much to block out the song so much as to block out the cacophonic cheer from the crowd and the inexorable conclusion that humanity is destined to extinguish itself.

3. The Proclaimers – 500 Miles

Fuck these guys.

4. Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl

“I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every Panda that wouldn’t screw to save its species. I wanted to open the dump valves on oil tankers and smother all the French beaches I’d never see. I wanted to breathe smoke.” – Fight Club

While Life is a Highway comes close, as well as House of Pain’s Jump Around (which almost made this list), I bet this song edges them out for the sheer  number of times in my life I’ve heard this steaming pile of dung beetle dung. When it comes on nowadays—usually at whatever event also happens to be playing Life is a Highway—I am reminded of all the worst waitering shifts in which I had to endure this aberration in what is otherwise a reasonably good repertoire from this artist; I am reminded of all the most drunken, shittiest nights at the Rose & Crown, Seahorse, King’s Head, Black Swan, et al., where a “musician” for hire sings off-key while a muzak version of the melody cranks through the magic excrement machine; I am reminded of all the days this song has somehow miraculously—or I guess whatever word you would use to describe an act of Satan—crept into my head whence nowhere, and proceeded to sever hundreds of thousands of neural connections per second, not unlike Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

5. Vanessa Williams – Save the Best for Last

Or, in this case, save the worst for last. Picture, if you will, a somber, February day, when the snow has seeped into the failing soles on your budget Aldo shoes on the 20-minute death march to Southport Red Robin, and you’re three hours into an eight-hour shift, which is about an hour after the lunch rush in which second-rate salesmen displayed third-rate civility, and your hangover is nearing its apogee, and you hear the electronic keyboard from this song start to ooze through the restaurant’s speakers, and you know that for the next three minutes and forty seconds you will have to resist the urge to (i) robotically dump the “free refill” mug of Pepsi all over the Big Steel tweed blazer the condescending 10-percenter at table 42 is wearing, and then (ii) take off your red bow tie, unclip your red suspenders, hand your bill fold and open guest-checks to your manager, and walk out of the restaurant and in front of a southbound C-Train.


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