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: Earlier this year, Mike Rosenberg, a.k.a. Passenger, released All The Little Lights, a heartfelt collection of charming folk songs full of witty observations, well-crafted lyrics, and compelling choruses. As the British singer-songwriter proves in one of the songs on the record, though, he’s not afraid to call out the things that piss him off. In “I Hate,” he rails against daily annoyances like picky eaters, people who talk during concerts, The X Factor, and “queuing up for festival toilets, especially when you need a shit.” Given Rosenberg’s propensity for peevishness, The A.V. Club figured he’d be a good person to talk to about just what song he hates the most.
The hated: Celine Dion, “My Heart Will Go On” (1997)
Mike Rosenberg: I hate this song for a million reasons, really. It’s just an ocean of cheese—excuse the pun. The main reason is when the film became a massive hit, my local radio station in Brighton would play a version of the song with actual quotes from the film sort of thrown in, like, “Are you ready to go back to Titanic, Titanic, Titanic…” It was really the most uncomfortably awful thing I’ve ever heard.
The A.V. Club: So do you just hate that version or all versions?
MR: Oh, I think they’re all in the category of terrible. I’m sorry, Celine. Obviously, it’s a worldwide smash and I shouldn’t think Celine Dion really gives a shit about my opinion, so it’s all fine. But just the intro—using pan pipes on any song is a bold move. Or was it a flute? Whatever it was, it was a bit disgusting. It’s just everything I dislike about music wrapped up into four minutes of cheese.
AVC: Did you hate Titanic too?
MR: Yeah, I hated Titanic. I hated the fact that when Jack was drowning, she was on the biggest raft on earth and could have pulled him up.
AVC: Raft theories aside, the song was nearly inescapable on the radio, sold millions of copies worldwide, won the Oscar for Best Original Song, and dominated the Grammys in 1999. Why do you think so many people have such a positive reaction to it?
MR: I think the song fit the bill perfectly. I mean, it was an epic blockbuster movie. It’s not like you could have brought in Fleet Foxes to do the soundtrack. They needed to wheel out a big gun, and I think Celine Dion and that song completely smashed it. I don’t have any argument against its success, and I understand why it’s so successful. I just think it was shockingly over the top and cheesy, which kind of went with the movie. Look, Grammys, Oscars, No. 1’s… On a personal-taste level, I’d rather listen to white noise.
AVC: But it’s not like you hate pop music in general. You have covered Rihanna’s “Umbrella.”
MR: But I think the difference with “Umbrella” is that it’s a really beautiful song with a really beautiful sentiment. In a world of mainstream hip-hop where it’s quite often about bitches, money, and consumerism, this song is actually the opposite. It’s saying shiny cars and all that kind of stuff doesn’t matter. Instead, it’s about love, people, and friendship. I think the message in that song is really beautiful. I view that as a very different thing compared to “My Heart Will Go On.”
AVC: You’re in good company. In an interview, Kate Winslet said she wants to vomit every time she hears it.
MR: Well, there you go. Poor Kate must’ve had to listen to it more times than I ever had to.