“You’re the Inspiration” by Chicago

This song gets slightly more hate than it deserves, at least in the context of its era and genre, but the fact that it’s still completely without merit of any kind makes it hard to bemoan its mildly unfair status as a focal point for rage with any sincerity. Certainly, there is no shortage of legitimate reasons to hate this song: Peter Cetera, who was the band’s frontman at that point in their career, had one of the most irritating falsettos in the history of Pop, right up there with early Justin Bieber and post-Autotune Adam Levine, and he insisted on histrionic showboating in the vein of Michael Bolton on most of their songs, including this one. The lyrics are vapid, trite cliches that sound like they were taken directly from a Hallmark card, and the music itself has the prepackaged staleness associated with honest-to-God Muzak…you could honestly imagine hearing this while waiting on hold when phoning a Doctor’s office or a tech support line. The only reason this song is just a bit overhated is that Soft Rock was in a very dark place in the Eighties, and this actually looks like a masterpiece compared to “Hello” or “Party All the Time” or “All Out of Love”, to name just a few examples. And the truth is, Chicago cranked songs exactly like this out like an assembly line throughout the decade, and many of them were considerably worse than this, but because this was their biggest hit, it’s the one that became the by-word for bad manufactured Soft Rock for long after it was relevant as anything other than a punchline.

Verdict: It gets a little worse than it deserves, but only in comparative terms. Bad.

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