The Horror Stories Behind Songs People Never Want to Hear Again
Illustration by Erik Pontoppidan


This story is over 5 years old.


The Horror Stories Behind Songs People Never Want to Hear Again

From roommates getting it on to Neil Young to whiskey blackouts and broken ankles to ”La Bamba.”

This article originally appeared on Noisey Denmark.

You know that special, queasy way your stomach turns when you think of tequila—or whatever type of liquor it was that made you blackout and wake up with your innards splayed all over your skinny jeans a few New Year’s Eves ago? That permanent blacklisting from your body that makes you recoil just at the sight or scent of it? Of course you do. Just like you’re aware of the musical equivalent. Almost everyone on planet Earth has that one Celine Dion song that reminds them of a bad break-up or some other track that we’d be perfectly fine with never, ever listening to again.


Seeing as we’re all in the process of mentally erasing and rewinding our way into the great Restart button that is 2018 anyway, we decided to rip out the painful stitches of some of those musical memories in our friends and colleagues by getting them to tell us the traumatizing stories behind their most hated tracks. As it turns out, there are quite a lot of ways to develop playlist-PTSD:

Neil Young – "Old Man"

I used to live with a dude who had an extremely limited taste in music. It wasn’t that he was too picky, he just had a tendency to listen to the same two or three songs again and again. Especially Bob Dylan and Tom Waits—and he would always slap on Neil Young’s “Old Man” when he had chicks over. A couple of years back I was at an intimate Neil Young concert in Los Angeles. It was just Neil, his organ, and his collection of beautiful acoustic guitars. It was a really special and amazingly unique experience. The tickets cost me an arm and a leg, but when Neil finally grooved into “Old Man,” the only thing audible in my head was the harrowing sound of my old roommate loudly fucking in the next room. –Theis Duelund, Translator

Gorillaz feat. Andre 3000 – "Do Ya Thing"

In my final year of high school, during exams week, I stumbled upon the sickest track to quell my nerves on my morning bike ride to school. I shamelessly listened to it on repeat for the entire 15-minute duration of the bike ride. After every final, I was beyond sure that I had locked down an A, but kept winding up with Cs. Whenever I’m faced with my GPA today, I always feel a bit unintelligent. I blame Gorillaz for me never getting into medical school. –Amanda Hjernø, Photo Intern


Nickelback – "How You Remind Me"

When I was in 5th grade, we had a sound system from Aldi in our classroom. The idea was that we would determine what to listen to during recess via a democratic process. When Nickelback dropped “How You Remind Me,” I was the only person who couldn’t stand it, and so it was played, on repeat, every single recess. Naturally, this was actual hell on Earth. People didn’t seem to care much as I desperately tried to protest that the song sucked. Until finally, one day, I’d had enough, so I grabbed my bag and went home. My teacher called my mom and said that it wasn’t okay to leave school just because I didn’t like the music that was being played at recess. Weirdly enough my mom answered that I had ear trouble, and that there were certain notes I just couldn’t handle. Which led to my teacher imposing a total ban on any Nickelback ever being played at recess again. Which helped. The song still makes me aggressively uncomfortable, and I will never again willingly subject myself or anyone else to its whiny, tormenting ways. –Nicoline Larsen, Staff Writer, Broadly Denmark

BFL – "Stadig Brian"

This track is the last hours of Sunday morning at Roskilde Festival 2017. This track is the comedown from a gritty week of festival-going. This track is the train ride back to Copenhagen in a train car filled with soulless human husks with black eyes and muddy shoes. I will never listen to this track again. –Ida Maj Eriksen, Production Intern


Los Lobos – "La Bamba"

I blacked out drinking whiskey to this song in a summer house in the south of Denmark. Later that night, we hit the town, where I slipped and broke my ankle in three places while the city’s youth population surrounded me, taking pictures on their phones. The hysterical melody of “La Bamba” reminds me of the hours leading up to me handicapping myself for a good couple of months. – Lars Jellestad, Managing Editor, VICE Denmark

Lars Lilholt – "Kald Det Kærlighed"

When I was in high school, one of my friends had talked me into going on a canoe trip outside of Skanderborg. We smoked bong and drank Breezers all day while attempting to row our way up the river Gudenåen. One night Danish folk music legend Lars Lilholt played live at the camping area we were staying at. I was way too fucked up to even consider leaving my friends and trying to find my tent on my own, so I ended up in a chaotic mess of people shouting along to “Kald Det Kærlighed” (“Call It Love”). To this day, the sheer anxiety of that moment re-conquers my entire body every time someone puts Lilholt on around me. My friends still go on the same trip every year. –Sandra Vinge Jensen, Editorial Producer

Dire Straits – "Walk of Life"

Dire Straits is the soundtrack of my childhood in the 80s. The live album Alchemy was played excessively on my yellow, waterproof Walkman on family road trips to France and “Money for Nothing” was the first track my friends and I attempted to cover in the school’s rehearsal room. However, as soon as I hear the hammond intro to “Walk of Life” today, I throw up in my mouth a bit. This insufferably happy-go-lucky anthem with its clap-and-whistle-friendly chorus was an unavoidable classic at any party ever hosted by my parents, which, for me, meant that it became the literal manifestation of un-coolness. This song equals cans of cheap German lager, card games and my dad climbing the canopy tent at the neighborhood block party. These are experiences that I will never be able to unsee, which will remain etched into my soul for eternity. Just like hammond-riffs and Mark Knopfler’s red headband. –Lars Hinnerskov, Managing Editor, Munchies Denmark


Ten Walls – "Walking with Elephants"

As I was standing at the Berlin Festival in 2015 listening to Ten Walls, waiting for Underworld to take the stage, I was blown away. This was top drawer tech-house. I was sucked into a world of gloomy ecstasy, and loving every minute of it. A month later, the Lithuanian musician penned a status update on Facebook comparing homosexuals to pedophiles. Now I can’t listen to his music without my mouth filling with the bitter taste of hate and homophobia. –Kristian Ejlebæk Nielsen, Staff Writer, VICE Denmark

DJ Satomi - “Castles in the Sky”

No human is born with a good taste in music. And if they are, they’re genetically immaculate hipster-spawn living Pinterest board childhoods with parents that give them names like Chesterfield or Maxian and dress them in berets and fedoras from age four. The rest of us are forced to live through an unfortunate string of formative, cringeworthy phases before we arrive at an acceptable physical appearance and some halfway decent playlist choices. DJ Satomi’s obscure, shamelessly chipmunk-voiced techno-banger “Castles in the Sky” was the soundtrack of 15-year-old me hitting the rocky bottom of my grimmest provincial teenage twat phase. In a toe-curling haze of Cult Shakers, Puch Maxis, print T-shirts (“If you see da police, Warn a Brother” *Warner Bros. logo*), white Energie jeans and fake Gucci belts, the track, which can best be described as pause-menu-music-in-a-Japanese-fighting-video-game-adjacent, lands me right back in a sinkhole of teenage angst and stylistic confusion that I have no desire to ever revisit. There was even a custom dance that went along with it. So thank you, DJ Satomi, wherever you may be. You helped me become the person I am today. Now please fuck off. Forever. –Alfred Maddox, Staff Writer, Noisey Denmark

R. Kelly – "Ignition (Remix)"

I know every word to this godforsaken track. Every. Single. Word. I sang the karaoke version at my birthday a few years back. And I remember all too clearly how I was convinced that this had to be the best song in the world, when I heard it for the first time back in 2004. But I apparently have a breaking point when it comes to dance-friendly R’n’B earworms, and especially dance-friendly R’n’B earworms performed by creepy dudes whose sexual deviance has netted more front pages over the last decade than their musical careers. After years of bounce, bounce, bouncing across Copenhagen’s dance floors, I contracted a more or less chronic aversion to the Kellz, comparable to an arthritic wrist or an annoying brother-in-law. The final nail was resoundingly hammered into the coffin last year, with the latest allegations surfacing of R. Kelly’s apparent role as some type of chieftain of a sex cult for young girls. Now, I’d really like nothing more than to never again have to hear even the slightest bit about his “key.” Regardless of whose “ignition” he’d like to stick it in. Enough is enough, Robert. –Lasse Cato, Managing Editor, Noisey Denmark