Top 10 Regrettable Downloads

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Music appreciation is ruled by our emotions. Which can lead to some regrettable impulse buys. Back in the CD age, however, we had the advantage of a certain “cooling-off” period—that is, the interval of time between hearing a song and actually buying the album. Now, with the advent of digital downloading, we are increasingly the victim of our impulses. The computer is like a loaded gun. And under the influence of extreme emotional states, we can become a threat to our own music collection. Please, download responsibly.

10) “Anthem of Our Dying Day” Story Of The Year You have a total crush on some cute girl and discover that her favorite band is—gulp—those emo pretty boys Story of the Year. Just in case she wants to run her fingers over your iPod, you download their hit to impress her. Then she goes off and dates some jock and you’re stuck with a piece of fluff that reminds you how little you know about women.

9) “Here I Go Again” Whitesnake Heartbroken, you suddenly discover the poignancy of this ’80s power ballad. When David Coverdale sings, “Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone,” it’s as if he really understands your pain. One month later, you realize you’re stuck with a piece of fluff that reminds you how little you know about good music.

8) “Karma Police” Christopher O’Riley You really want to hear that one song by Radiohead. Unfortunately, iTunes has yet to make the requisite publishing arrangements with the band. But hey, what’s this? A cover version by some guy named Chris O’Riley? Can’t be that bad, you think to yourself. One minute and $0.99 later, you own a piano-lounge rendition of “Karma Police” that may taint your appreciation of the song forever.

7) “Brandy (Your Fine Girl)” Looking Glass Nostalgic, you download a hit from your childhood—only to realize the lyrics are about a loose woman doing sailors in a seaside town.  

6) “Hollaback Girl” Gwen Stefani Well, she didn’t seem so annoying in the video…. 

5) “I Don’t Want to Be” Bo Bice Unbeknownst to you, your little sister downloads a song she thinks you’ll dig: a Gavin DeGraw track sung by “American Idol”’s token rock dude. You’re first made aware of her “gift” when it comes up on your shuffling iPod at a party. Your friends have yet to let you live it down.

4) “An Honest Mistake” The Bravery After seeing the video, the hook of this doomy synth-pop song gets stuck in your head, and so you decide to buy it. Then you discover that the Bravery are just a pale imitation of the Killers, who are a pale imitation of Interpol, who are a pale imitation of Joy Division.  

3) “Hello Tomorrow” Karen O. & Squeak E. Clean You hear 30 seconds of a haunting chamber-pop piece on an Adidas commercial and just have to own it. Of course, you soon find out that they used the best 30 seconds for the commercial.  

2) Various Artists  Intoxicated by the power of rock—or perhaps just intoxicated—you go on a buying spree at iTunes, downloading all your favorite songs. Oh, man, I gotta get this one … and this one! A month later you get the credit card bill. For $99.99.  

1) “files_hand_that_feeds.mp3” Nine Inch Nails In recent years, the RIAA has made an example of illegal downloaders, fining them thousands of dollars. Still, sometimes you can’t resist hearing a song by a favorite band before its official release. You find a site claiming to have a leaked copy. Who’ll know? Click. Seconds later, as you stare at a blackened screen, you realize you’ve just downloaded a computer virus instead.