Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Havin' WHOSE Baby?

Thirty-six years ago, the worst song of all time reached #1 on the Billboard charts.

That sounds like opinion, but it's almost morphed into fact.

The poll was conducted by CNN in 2006. The winner (loser?) was Paul Anka's ode to his expectant wife, "(You're) Having My Baby," which found itself on the top of the charts on this day in 1974.

Anka, whose songwriting prowess cannot be denied, penned a stinker when he wrote "YHMB," which was written in celebration of the impending birth of Anka and his wife's fifth child. Anka wrote the song while appearing at Lake Tahoe.

At the suggestion of United Artists recording executive Bob Skaff, Anka was asked to change the song from a solo effort to a duet with virtually unknown vocalist Odia Coates, who made the mistake of being present in the studio when the song was about to be recorded.

Anka took a lot of abuse from women's rights activists, who saw the lyrics and the spirit of the "YHMB" to be highly chauvinistic, egotistical, and basically obnoxious.

Among other issues, the song was criticized for declaring the child was the man's, rather than the couple's. Anka would later replace the line "you're having my baby" with "you're having our baby" while performing in concert.

The song was so vilified that Anka would often simply omit it when he sang a batch of his old hits in concerts.

Then there's the 2006 CNN poll, which placed "YHMB" at the top of the heap when it comes to all-time bad songs.


Paul Anka

The National Organization for Women gave Anka the satiric "Keep Her in Her Place" award during "its annual putdown of male chauvinism" in the media on Women's Equality Day. Ms. Magazine "awarded" Anka their "Male Chauvinistic Pig of the Year" award.

All that, yet the song achieved great commercial success.

One of the lines from the song that took some heat stated that while the woman could have "swept it from [her] life" (abortion), she hadn't because it was "a wonderful way of showing how much she loves him" In response to feminists, Anka said the song was "a love song".

The song is typical 1970s shlock---a syrupy melody and an arrangement that screams lounge singer.

But it topped the charts, 36 years ago today.

Perhaps no Paul Anka quote is more appropriate for this discussion than the following.

"I believe in criticism," he once said.

And he's gotten a ton of it, for a song he probably innocently wrote over three decades ago.


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