Playing Around with Chat GBT, Pt 2: Bowie’s Worst Song
Chat GBT gave coherent and plausible responses when I asked it about Bowie’s best albums since Scary Monsters (see yesterday’s post). Its response to my asking about Bowie’s worst song showed the inadequacies of the AI in its current form. I’m not referring to a difference of taste I have with the algorithm, but rather that it gets some of its facts wrong.
Not to give away what’s on the list, but when you get to it you will notice that one of the five supposed worst songs is “Don’t Sit Down,” which is described as a B-side to “The Prettiest Star.” “Don’t Sit Down” was not the B-side to the “Prettiest Star” and really isn’t a song at all. Though it gets a track listing on those versions of the Space Oddity album that include it, it is really just a few seconds of ambient chatter accompanied by some playing around with musical instruments.
The third song on the list, “Video Crime” could plausibly be thought of as bad, but it wasn’t released in 1980 and was not part of the album, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). Rather, its a Tin Machine song from 1989. The explanation, which refers to “other tracks on the album” is also confusing because it isn’t clear which is the album in reference.
Finally, the fifth song, Girls, was from the time of Never Let Me Down but was not on the original issue of Never Let Me Down. I understand it was included as a bonus addition to at least one reissue of the album, but I doubt GBT culled its view that “Girls” is “one of the weaker tracks on the album” based on its obscure inclusion as a bonus track on a reissue. Bowie wrote the song for Tina Turner, who recorded it (and released a video), and then he recorded his own version, which he released as a B-side to the excellent “Time Will Crawl,” which indeed was on Never Let Me Down. On top of all that, Never Let Me Down is one of Bowie’s most critically pummeled albums and includes plenty of unloved songs, such as “Too Dizzy” and “Shining Star.” My point is not that “Girls” is objectively better than those songs, just that there’s a lot out there that’s very critical about more prominent songs from that time.
The final two songs on the list, “The Laughing Gnome” and “Dancing in the Street” are described accurately and are both widely derided. In 2016 I wrote that “Gnome” was “indisputably the worst” Bowie song (today I’m not so sure). “Dancing” was a big hit at the time but today is dismissed as Bowie and Mick Jagger goofing around.
With all that said, here’s what GBT thinks are Bowie’s worst five songs, flawed information and all:
Opinions about David Bowie’s worst song also vary among fans and critics. It’s important to note that what one person may consider his worst song, another might appreciate for different reasons. However, here are some songs that have received mixed or negative opinions from certain listeners:
1. “The Laughing Gnome” (1967): While some fans appreciate the whimsical and playful nature of this song, others consider it to be one of Bowie’s weakest tracks. Its novelty-like style and repetitive chorus have led some to dismiss it as a low point in Bowie’s discography.
2. “Don’t Sit Down” (1969): Released as a B-side to Bowie’s single “The Prettiest Star,” this track has garnered criticism for its simplistic and repetitive structure. Some listeners find it unremarkable and lacking the depth and creativity associated with Bowie’s best work.
3. “Video Crime” (1980): From the album “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps),” this song has divided opinions among listeners. While some appreciate its experimentation and unconventional structure, others find it disjointed and less engaging compared to other tracks on the album.
4. “Dancing in the Street” (1985) – Collaboration with Mick Jagger: While this cover of the Motown classic was created for a charitable cause, it has often been criticized for its over-the-top and overly energetic rendition. Some listeners find the vocal performances and excessive production to be off-putting and believe it falls short compared to the original version.
5. “Girls” (1987): From the album “Never Let Me Down,” this song has received mixed reviews from Bowie fans. Some argue that its dated production and simplistic lyrics make it one of the weaker tracks on the album and in Bowie’s overall discography.
It’s important to remember that opinions about Bowie’s worst song are subjective, and what may be considered weak or less impressive by some listeners can still hold value or resonate with others. Each individual has their own preferences and interpretations when it comes to music.