Kiss, the rock band from New York that I find it hard to believe is still going, have been noted over their long tenure for many things: face paint, shagging copious groupies, breathing fire, explosions…..and really, really, really terrible lyrics. In fact, when I look back on Kiss, it is the lyrics that I find most endearing. Because they aren’t merely bad or even really bad; Kiss’ lyrics are to rock music what the Star Wars Holiday Special is to visual entertainment. I thought it might be fun, therefore, to search out the very worst of the band’s words.
I set up some ground rules: nothing post-1977, for a start. The reason being, to do otherwise would make the task impossibly difficult, given their 80s lyrics are even more awful than their 70s output. Seriously, could you decide which of the following is the worst of this bunch below?
“When your body’s been starved, feed your appetite/When you work all day, you gotta Uh! all night/Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, woo, woo, woo”
“Ooh, so I hop into my car, hit the local titty bar, uh huh/’Cause that’s my kind of situation, when I need some perspiration, uh huh”
“Baby, let’s put the X in sex/Love’s like a muscle and you make me wanna flex”
Also, as the above selection aptly demonstrates, Kiss’ lyrics in the 80s were just a sort of, half-arsed, beyond Spinal Tap level of self-satire sleaze. The early Kiss lyrics had a strange, almost innocent ambition to them – while being unbelievable awful, of course, as my top five will shortly demonstrate. The other rule is, only one lyric from any one song. This was necessary as otherwise, all of the lyrics could have been pulled from “Love Gun” alone.
5. “She’s a dancer, a romancer/I’m a Capricorn and she’s a Cancer” – from “C’mon on and Love Me” (1975)
I recall once a friend of mine telling me that some band he’d heard had the worst lyrics ever. “Seriously, man, they are sub-Kiss level bad” he told me. Now, I knew this guy hadn’t really heard a lot of Kiss, so I recited the above lyric from the band’s 1975 “classic” song, “C’mon and Love Me”. He laughed for about a minute and then said, “Okay, I take your point”. I actually sort of love this lyric – it is genuinely in the “so bad, it’s good category” and is a great example of how the early Kiss lyrics differ from the “hit the local titty bar” style of their middle period.
4. “I’m sorry to have taken so long/It must have been a bitch while I was gone/You mind if I sit down for a while?/You’ll reacquaint yourself with my style” – from “100,000 Years” (1974)
I first heard most Kiss songs when I was a fairly small child (like nine or ten in the earliest instances) and I always figured that I would understand a lot of them when I was grown up; that what sounded like nonsense to me was probably referring to something beyond my years. I’m in my forties now and I still have zero idea what the hell Paul Stanley means when he says “You’ll reacquaint yourself with my style”. Is it supposed to be an attempt at saying something slyly seductive to this woman who has been waiting for a hundred millennia (literally, if we are to take the rest of the lyrics at face value) for him to show up from whatever the hell he’s been up to? I hope she punched the protagonist in the face.
3. “And you’ll need her, so you’ll feed her/With your endless dedication/And the quicker, you get sicker/She’ll remove your medication” – from “Firehouse” (1974)
This is from one of the band’s earliest numbers, the “classic” song, “Firehouse”. It is a treasure trove of bad lyrics, this one. For instance, I could easily have chosen “She’ll adore you/and she’ll floor you/With her wisdom and her vision/And you’ll love it and think of it/’Till you lose all intuition”, but something about the verse I chose instead has always stayed with me, partly because as a kid I thought the latter half of it went, “And the quicker, you get thicker/She’ll remove your education”, which I thought was weirdly clever for Kiss, only to find out it was the inferior (and even stupider) version I have quoted.
2. “You watch me singing this song/You see what my mouth can do/And you wish you were the one I was doing it to” – from “Great Expectations” (1976)
Only Gene Simmons could have written that lyric. It is so perfect a distillation of the guy’s world view, it should be his epitaph. What I love about this lyric is it is prime early Kiss; so profoundly, deeply idiotic, that it is almost brilliant. Almost.
1. “I’ll be a gambler, baby and lay down the bet/When we get together, mama, you’ll sweat” – “Love Gun” (1977)
This has to win, because not only is it the worst Kiss lyric, it is the worst lyrical couplet written by any rock musician anywhere, ever. What’s amazing is that most of the other lyrics in the same song are almost as awful. Like this one, for instance:
“I really love you baby, I love what you’ve got/Let’s get together, we can, get hot/No more tomorrow, baby, time is today/Girl, I can make you feel….okay”
What is so strange about a lot of Kiss lyrics is that seem like they were written by a bunch of guys who had never had sex with a woman. The songs’ idea of what romantic relations with the opposite sex are like appear to spring from the mind of a twelve year old virgin. Maybe that was the idea, I don’t know, but given the band’s image as groupie cullers extraordinaire, this has always seemed odd to me. I guess it’s all part and parcel of the band’s “magic” – appeal to the imaginations of the target audience of young boys by telling them that women really like it when you refer to your penis as a weapon. Ah, the 1970s.