In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: Vocalist and bass player Ben Greenberg has been a part of punk band The Men since original bassist Chris Hansell left in 2011. Though Greenberg didn’t appear on the band’s debut album, Immaculada, he’s made solid contributions to all their records since, including 2012’s excellent Open Your Heart, 2013’s New Moon, and the new Tomorrow’s Hits, on which the band continues its march away from “fuck you” punk and toward a more melodic classic- and country-rock vibe.
The hated: Sweet, “The Ballroom Blitz”
The A.V. Club: Why is this your least favorite song of all time? And, by the way, I disagree with you.
Ben Greenberg: You like “The Ballroom Blitz?” Is Grease your favorite movie?
AVC: No, but I do like Wayne’s World.
BG: Wayne’s World is awesome, but the song is the worst moment in the movie. If anything could ruin Wayne’s World—obviously nothing can—but if anything could, that did, by far.
It’s such a joke of a musical theater, limp-ass, non-song. Do you know why Sweet wrote that song?
BG: Because they played a show at a ballroom and an entire audience pelted them with beer bottles because they sucked so bad. Then they wrote a song about it to take the high road, and everybody lost because it’s the worst song ever.
AVC: It doesn’t sound like you like Sweet too much in general.
BG: You know what, I actually do. I like that song “Love Is Like Oxygen.” I have that single. But something about “The Ballroom Blitz” is so overly campy and just way beyond. It’s that kind of Saturday Night Fever Part 3 campy that bums me out.
AVC: It’s not as epically campy as “Paradise By The Dashboard Light.”
BG: I hate that song, too. It just sounds like people that don’t make rock music trying to make rock music for the Broadway stage. It sounds like a joke.
AVC: But they obviously did make rock music, so where did they go wrong? How did this happen?
BG: I don’t know. I can imagine they were so traumatized by having an entire audience hate them that it screwed their heads up forever. I don’t know. Even the Stones wrote some bad songs. It happens.
AVC: Have you always hated this song?
BG: Yeah, ever since I was born. It’s one of those songs that you can’t go to a bar without it coming on. It’ll be like, “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Anarchy In The U.K.” and then “Ballroom Blitz” for some reason. Then you’ll be like, “Why am I here?” Every Lower East Side shit bar experience I’ve ever had can be summed up in “The Ballroom Blitz.” It’s like a Black Eyed Peas song or something. It’s such utter crap.
AVC: Are there campy songs that you like, or are you generally opposed to them?
BG: I’m not generally opposed, but stuff that gets really far out like that is really hard for me to do. I can think of some Bowie songs that verge on the edge, but he’s pure class so it’s impossible for him to really get there.
AVC: Prince is pretty theatrical.
BG: Yeah, but it’s like so stone-cold serious at its heart that it’s totally unfuckwithable. Bowie or Prince, if you ran into them on the street and they stared you down, you’d shit yourself. But the dudes from Sweet? Come on! If you ran into them on the street, you’d be like, “Who’s that old guy?”
AVC: You don’t trust their seriousness; you don’t trust their artistic integrity.
BG: It’s not even that. It’s more like they don’t have the conviction to pull off straying from making something genuine. They don’t have the conviction to pull off insincerity.
AVC: So you think they mean this totally sincerely? “There’s a girl in the corner” and all that?
BG: Well, no. I just don’t think they have the conviction to pull off the insincerity because it’s so campy. To pull off something jokey like that, at your core, you have to be really solid and confident.
Also, their voices make me want to fucking pull my ears off my head. It’s like they inhaled a bunch of helium or something.
AVC: Maybe it worked in Wayne’s World because a woman sang it, and because it was so ridiculous and so theatrical.
BG: It’s a super theatrical song, and that’s why I think it’s out of place in rock music. It’s basically a heavy Stephen Sondheim song or something. It isn’t rock music, but for some reason, any tattooed idiot doing blow at 3 in the morning will get up and boogey to it. It bums me out.
AVC: Do you like “Bohemian Rhapsody?”
BG: It’s hard not to like that song. But that song is so astoundingly musical and virtuosic in so many ways. In that way, it transcends its own camp. Also, it’s not a funny story. It’s not being jokey even though some of the voices come off funny right in the middle of the song. In general, it’s pretty heavy shit.
Plus, it ends with a gong. And you can’t fuck with that.