The U.K. website Digital Spy recently put together a list of what they consider to be the top 10 worst album titles of our times. Much as I like Alanis Morissette, I’m not really inclined to disagree with their choice of her Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie at No. 4.
But some of their other selections seem a bit baffling: Michael Jackson‘s HIStory: Past, Present and Future – Book I may have been a disappointment as a collection, but I don’t really see much wrong with the title. And I doubt many people would have made the connection that Digital Spy makes between Beyoncé‘s B-Day and the French word bidet (for non-Europeans: the meaning of that word is too gross to explain here). Somehow I feel that the fact that they made that connection says more about Digital Spy than it does about Beyoncé.
Their list got me thinking, though, and I’ve come up with some of my own worst (as well as best) album titles. To start with the worst:
Christina Aguilera, Stripped (2002)
Ironically this is actually one of my favorite albums that I own, and the strength and range of the tracks gave me serious respect for Aguilera. But the title makes me groan. (As does the cover artwork with the crotch lacing on her jeans made to look like pubic hair.) It makes me want to say: "Christina. You’re young, beautiful, and have a killer voice. You don’t actually need to try so desperately hard to make people think you’re sexy."
George Michael, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael (1998)
Since Americans usually refer to their lavatories as "restrooms" rather than by the British euphemisms "Ladies" and "Gents," they may have missed the oh-so-hilarious title reference to Michael’s tabloid-friendly 1998 arrest in a Los Angeles men’s lavatory. To which I can only say: lucky them.
Dusty Springfield, Ev’rything’s Coming Up Dusty (1965)
Maybe it’s a sign of my obsessive cleaning propensities, but this title — along with The White Stripes’ Icky Thump (2007) and the Sugababes‘ Angels With Dirty Faces (2002) — doesn’t really do it for me. Look, I like things clean, OK? Not dusty, icky or dirty.
Westlife, Allow Us To Be Frank (2004)
It seems to me that this title just begs you to reply, "No." And when what this cheesy Irish boy band is asking for is permission to rip off one of my favorite singers, Frank Sinatra, then "no" is actually what I’m inclined to reply.
Robbie Williams, Rudebox (2006)
I cannot think of any conceivable situation in which a 32-year-old man referring to his pelvic area as a "rudebox" would be endearing.
Now, to some of my favorites:
t.A.T.u., 200km/h in the Wrong Lane (2002)
In a brilliant review of the album written back in 2003, the Village Voice‘s Dennis Lim referred to this title as "a clumsily poetic evocation of apocalyptic teenage confusion," and I’m inclined to agree. (He also referred to Julia and Lena as "the lezzies from the Bloc," which — even if it shouldn’t — still makes me giggle).
Fiona Apple, When The Pawn hits the conflicts he thinks like a king, what he knows throws the blows when he goes to the fight, and he’ll win the whole thing before he enters the ring, there’s no body to batter when your mind is your might, so when you go solo, you hold your own hand, and remember that depth is the greatest of heights, and if you know where you stand, then you know where to land, and if you fall it won’t matter, cuz you know that you’re right (1999)
Digital Spy actually lists this as one of their worst titles, but I think they’re insane. I mean, yes, it’s sort of one of those things that sounds incredibly profound when you’re 12 and maybe seems not quite as impressive later on. But still … "there’s no body to batter when your mind is your might." I’ll take that as my inspiring thought for the day, thanks.
Michael Jackson, Thriller (1982)
In an excellent BBC audio documentary made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the album’s release, Thriller songwriter Rod Temperton revealed that the album almost wound up being called Midnight Man. I think we all can agree that the final title was better. And, wow, did the songs live up to that title.
ABC, The Lexicon of Love (1982)
Maybe it’s the English student in me, but I can’t resist a pop album title with the word "lexicon" in it.
Natalie Imbruglia, White Lilies Island (2001)
I haven’t actually listened to a single song on the album, but the title takes me to a happy, floaty place. As, of course, does looking at Natalie Imbruglia.
Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
I can’t be the only person in the world with the recurring feeling that my life is full of troubled water, and that I would just love for someone to come and put a bridge over it. (And if that person should happen to be Scarlett Johansson, well then … so much the better).
Bruce Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
In the album’s title track, Bruce tells the woman who’s dumped him that if she wants him, he’s easily found: "Tell her there’s a spot out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge,/And tell her, there’s a darkness on the edge of town." If a girl dumps me, I’m more likely to be found in a sulk on the edge of my bed, but Bruce’s way sounds much sexier.
What are your favorite and least favorite album titles?