What was the most annoying novelty song of all time?

Annoying songs are largely in the ear of the listener. But some songs transcend subjectivity to reach a plateau of irksomeness that is almost universally acknowledged, a state of affairs that is only made worse by the fact that those songs are, at the point of peak irritation, hugely popular too.

Star Trekkin’ by The Firm

An affectionate swipe at a beloved sci-fi franchise, Star Trekkin’ became such a massive hit in 1987 that it coloured the public’s view of the thing it set out to celebrate. To this day people assume the phrase “it’s life Jim, but not as we know it” appears in the original series, and it doesn’t. And it could be argued that this song inspired Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty (The KLF) to adopt the pseudonym The Timelords and create their own fandom hit Doctorin’ the Tardis. Not that either of these facts makes listening to Star Trekkin’ any more pleasurable nowadays, of course.

Axel F by Crazy Frog

The voice came from a daft teenage impression of a moped engine, the song came from the movie Beverly Hills Cop, and the whole thing was an early example of the viral nature of web culture. Daniel Malmedahl’s comedic vocal noises were an early internet hit that resulted in a TV appearance, the soundtrack of which was popular on file-sharing sites in the early 00s. Animator Erik Wernquist used the voice to create a cartoon character called The Annoying Thing, which then became its own viral hit. Then in 2004 the voice was used to launch an obnoxious ringtone called Crazy Frog, which proved so popular, it was then set to Harold Faltermeyer’s 1984 electro hit Axel F and released as a global hit single. Thanks a lot, Tim Berners-Lee.

Mr Blobby by Mr Blobby

This 1993 Christmas No.1 will make absolutely no sense to anyone who wasn’t around at the time. And even less to those who were. Mr Blobby was the anarchic slapstick measley balloon sidekick to Noel Edmonds in Noel’s House Party who would interrupt proceedings, shout “blobby!” in a Dalek-y voice and knock everything over. So in a sense, a song that sounds like a fairground ride in a nightmare – complete with children’s choir – is very fitting. In another, more relevant sense, listening to it feels like riding a supercharged merry-go-round where all the horses are real.

Gangnam Style by Psy

This is where definitions of novelty become a little more hazy. Psy’s breakthrough hit is a masterpiece of attention-grabbing dance-pop dynamics, and was not created to cash in on anything or to mock anything or to be cheesy or annoying in any way. That said, it’s as perky, upbeat and incomprehensible (to English-speaking ears) as Crazy Frog, has a silly dance routine like Agadoo, and is unlikely to be followed by any other hits of the same ilk, because really, nothing sounds quite like it. So it’s a novelty hit, and has definitely annoyed enough people to deserve inclusion in this list.

The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?) by Ylvis

There’s a stark lesson in this song, which was created as an “anti-hit” by the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis. Pulling in a favour from actually-very-good songwriters Stargate, they created the song so they could tell a funny story about messing up: “We thought it would be more fun from a comedian perspective to come home to the talk show and say, ‘Listen we had the chance, we could’ve made it big, but the only idea we got for the song was this old idea about what the fox says so we’re sorry. We screwed up.’ That was the plan.” So it was supposed to be the worst song ever made, and it may well be (which is a success of sorts), but it did not stop The Fox becoming a fairly instant worldwide viral sensation. As a failure, it failed horribly.