Assembling the worst Kiss songs is a tricky task. Often their weaker (read: 80s) material falls into that problematic ’so bad it’s good’ category (hello Let’s Put The X In Sex), but the New York institution have almost as many flat-out stinkers as they have solid-gold classics, so we cast our net wide over 40 years of Kisstory to zero in on 10 of their most horrifying shit sandwiches. Note: we’re not including covers, or songs from the 1978 solo albums (otherwise this would be the tracklist from Peter Criss).
10. OUTTA THIS WORLD
Although musically this track from Kiss’s last album doesn’t descend much lower than their recent bog-standard average, it’s the attitude behind it that’s more offensive. As if recasting Tommy Thayer in Ace Frehley’s make-up and persona wasn’t a dismal enough process, the solid-but-dull guitarist was encouraged to concoct blatant Frehley pastiches like this, but without the true Spaceman’s charisma and magic.
9. CHILDHOOD’S END
Trust Kiss to ‘go grunge’ in 1997, several years after the trend peaked. But although the low-key, much-delayed Carnival Of Souls wasn’t as bad as you might expect, Childhood’s End is the creaky, sleepy sound of cock rock’s befuddled old guard struggling to adapt to changing commercial forces in rock’s mainstream. Result: Kiss slobbing about in stubble and jeans, sounding like a depressed Stiltskin.
8. UH! ALL NIGHT
As the LA glam scene took hold of rock’s mainstream in the mid-80s, Kiss were listlessly panting in its shadow, desperately trying to outdo the Sunset Strip whippersnappers for titty-bar gormlessness and sterile swagger. Bewilderingly, Paul needed help from two hired songwriters to write this lobotomised soft-porn nursery rhyme, which largely seems to have involved watering down the riff from Zeppelin’s Misty Mountain Hop.
1992’s Revenge was a surprisingly strong return to form, but the album wasn’t immune from the odd clunky stab at contemporary trends and over-familiar ideas pilfered from rock history. Gene’s unpleasant Spit banged both of these weaknesses together with an awkward staccato groove riff, a chorus pastiching Whole Lotta Love and lyrics lifted from Spinal Tap’s Big Bottom, making this a parody of a parody.
6. EASY AS IT SEEMS
Having lucratively leapt aboard the disco bandwagon on 1979’s Dynasty, Kiss felt emboldened to follow a poppier direction on 1980’s Unmasked, but forgot to write any good songs. This featherweight duffer was one cut that dropped the ball hardest, with its nondescript riff, aimless hot-air chorus and feeble, tentative synthesised harmonica.
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5. BURN BITCH BURN
In 1984, Gene was too busy launching careers in band management and bad movies to bother writing decent Kiss songs. This Animalize low-point tosses off demo-level meathead riffs, a tediously repetitive yet barely conceived chorus (“Burn bitch burn, woo-oo-oooh”), and the worst innuendo in the Kiss catalogue (“Wanna put my log in your fireplace” indeed).
4. READ MY BODY
This egregious fruit salad from 1989 resembles a medley of I Love Rock & Roll and Pour Some Sugar On Me played through a Walkman with flat batteries. It’s also one of Paul’s most spurious sex metaphors, bizarrely likening his body to a book (“Are the letters big enough?”).
3. I FINALLY FOUND MY WAY
1976 hit Beth was a torpid schmaltz-fest that set a regrettable trend for rock bands doing drippy radio ballads, but it possessed some innocent charm, whereas this moribund, self-parodic rewrite from 1998’s fraudulent ‘reunion’ album Psycho Circus is drippier than Madame Tussauds on fire. Hard not to conclude it’s a piss-take, with poor Peter Criss wheezing out comical lines like “We’d share the secrets of our souls”…
2. BANG BANG YOU
By 1987, dumbing down was a dangerous path for Kiss, whose brain activity had already been critically low for some time. Slipping into a vegetative state on the Crazy Nights album, this leering ditty has ‘can’t be arsed’ written all over it; from lyrics that sound like runners up in a Kiss songwriting competition for pre-pubescents, to the mystifyingly flagrant nod to an extremely well-known AC/DC riff.
1. NOTHING CAN KEEP ME FROM YOU
Back in the limelight with 1999 movie Detroit Rock City, Kiss were desperate for a smash ballad in the same girlfriend-baiting mould as Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing. They (or rather Paul – Gene didn’t even turn up for this) employed that song’s writer Diane Warren to pen something similar; this result was less memorable, more cynical, and even more nauseating.