“I’ve Never Been to Me” by Charlene

This is one of the most fascinatingly horrible songs ever released, and the saddest part is that it really shouldn’t have been. The singer, one-hit wonder Charlene, is reasonably capable in a second-string Motown sort of way, the concept is valid (if more than a little dated…it’s basically a woman who lived a life of adventure telling a wife and mother that she’s not missing anything by staying at home), and the melody is attractive and actually rather poignant. And for the first verse and chorus, it actually seems like an interesting, if very melodramatic, old-style Pop song. But about halfway through the song, starting with the cringeworthy line ‘I’ve been undressed by kings/And I’ve seen some things/that a woman ain’t supposed to see’, everything goes right to Hell. What follows is a ghastly mess including a humiliatingly sappy spoken bridge, a line about ‘crying for unborn children’ that actually wasn’t a reference to abortion but will always be read that way, and indecipherable lyrics like ‘I’ve spent my life exploring/the subtle whoring/that costs too much to be free’. Because this song is, if nothing else, one of a kind and extremely memorable, it’s actually quite possible to put it to good use…Priscilla, Queen of the Desert memorably used it as a tone-setting opening…but only if you’re using it for it is—a morbidly fascinating piece of uniquely horrible high camp.

Verdict: Can be enjoyably bad under the right circumstances, but still undoubtedly one of the worst songs of all time.

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