the worst songs of all time, part 1: the girl is mine


In 1981, Paul McCartney contributed a composition of his called "Girlfriend" for Michael Jackson's album "Off the Wall." Were that the McCartney-Jackson collaboration could have ended there. For in 1982, the two joined forces again for the Jackson-penned sausage-fight-love-ballad "The Girl Is Mine." Millions of innocent unprepared listeners just trying to get from "Baby Be Mine" to "Thriller" were subjected to Michael and Paul talking smack about their romantic prowess.

The song begins with a slow, pseudo-funky beat that probably would have been rejected by even Tito or LaToya Jackson. "The Girl Is Mine" may be the only song from "Thriller" that never has, never will be sampled by even the most desperate hip-hop producer. Michael then croons the vaguest lyrics imaginable about this mysterious woman:

Every night she walks right in my dreams
Since I met her from the start
I'm so proud I am the only one
Who is special in her heart

This is doggerel, Michael Jackson! Anyway, throughout the entire song it's striking how little there is in the lyrics about the "girl" in dispute between Jackson and McCartney. Maybe that's because even Michael Jackson can't imagine some hypothetical woman that Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson could possibly be fighting over. Jackson continues to the defiant chorus:

The girl is mine
The doggone girl is mine
I know she's mine
Because the doggone girl is mine

A logic chain worthy of Descartes: I know she's mine, ergo, the girl is mine.

McCartney fires back a salvo, stating emphatically that the girl is his:

I don't understand the way you think
Saying that she's yours not mine
Sending roses and your silly dreams
Really just a waste of time

Again, no description of the mythical Linda McCartney-Diana Ross lady hybrid that might charm the Jackson-McCartney duo. McCartney reiterates that the doggone girl is his, adding "Don't waste your time." It pains me to hear adult males using words like "doggone." It's like watching a Mafia movie on television and hearing words like "fairy godmother" dubbed in to cover up the profanity, only in this case, the dubbing was done pre-emptively by the original artist. Nobody says "doggone" except to self-consciously point out how they don't swear, like a girl who mentions the first time you ever hang out with her how she's got TMJ, and thus can't give blowjobs, only you weren't even talking about jaw problems or oral sex, not at all, but she's still awkwardly pointing it out and you feel really uncomfortable. Listening to "The Girl Is Mine" makes you feel like that. Bad.

More awkward rhyming ensues:

I love you more than he

But I love you endlessly

"More than he" rhymes with "endlessly." Goddammit, Michael Jackson. Couldn't Michael Jackson's crazy abusive father had made him read a little bit of poetry, in between practicing the choreography with Tito and Jermaine? And it goes on:

Don't build your hopes to be let down
'Cause I really feel it's time

I know she'll tell you I'm the one for her
'Cause she said I blow her mind

Then the real snappy give-and-take begins. Paul tells Michael that he doesn't want to fight over this "girl." Michael responds that he's a lover, not a fighter. Paul, rather outlandishly claims that the girl has told him that he is her forever lover, then desperately adds, "you know, don't you remember?" Michael zings him back: "Well, after loving me, she said she couldn't love another," which would have rhymed with "forever lover," sort of, except for Paul's babbling at the end of his line. Paul, clearly lost, demands, "Is that what she said?" to which Michael responds, "Yes, she said it, you keep dreaming."

Paul is stunned. He can only howl, "I don't believe it!" and start doing a low harmony part, effectively leaving the argument of Michael Jackson to carry the day. The only comparable time Paul has been outsmarted so badly, intellectually whipped so thoroughly, is when Michael Jackson outbid him for the Beatles song catalog. This is the other awful legacy of "The Girl Is Mine": Michael Jackson bought the rights to the song catalog, and soon "Revolution" was in a Nike commercial.

In a way, "The Girl Is Mine" was the end of the line for both performers. Though the two reunited for the top Ten hit "Say Say Say" in 1983, there still remains a foul aftertaste of "Girl Is Mine" in your ears when you listen to "Say Say Say," kind of like drinking tequila for the first time after you got really sick drinking cheap tequila a few months ago, and even though this new tequila seems OK, you still sort of shudder involuntarily when it touches your throat.

Michael Jackson saw diminishing returns with each subsequent album after "Thriller". Plus, bought a bunch of girafees, hung out with the Culkin family, and completed two sham marriages. And pretty much lost his mind. Paul McCartney's wife died, and he married a new, younger, one-legged wife. He also released an album called "Flaming Pie" whose standout tune contained the lyric, "I go back so far/ I'm in front of me." Maybe there was an accelerant effect, a catalytic lyrical reaction upon exposure of McCartney's already-unstable lyrical mind to Michael Jackson's poetic influence. The lyrics to McCartney's "Freedom" are really worse than anyone could have expected, even those who already hated "Rocky Raccoon" and "Honey Pie."

For a Occidentalist pro-McCartney perspective, refer to Fred Lee.

17 Comments rocky raccoon...

if i was asian i would totally date fred lee. maybe.

i prefer the allenhaim version, about john mccain. but only if he's wearing the hat.

That's funny. If I were white I would totally date the asian Michelle.

Doggone it. "Honey Pie" is a classic. The brilliant and prescient Mr. McCartney included it in the Beatles catalog specifically to tempt Mr. Jackson to want to give back the songs. Sadly, he holds on to the lot so he can cash in on the day when "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" makes its triumphant return to the Hot 100. I pray that day is soon.

i thought michael jackson sold the beatles songs because he was having the money troubles, on account of spending it all on gawd-awful paintings, mannequins, go-karts, and the testimony of small children.

fred, you're totally white and you know it. "fred lee"? what an obvious pseudonym. we all saw those pictures of you as a pasty, buzz-cut white guy in the squelch. stop living a lie.

Ok... the TMJ/blow job thing -- I had no idea. Really. That TMJ would prevent one from giving them, I mean. Honest.

Back on track, "The Girl is Mine" was possibly the most horrid song ever recorded [Aside from anything done by Yoko Ono. Funny how there's a Beatle connection to them both].

Sounds like that blowjob/TMJ conversation has actually happened to you . . . my condolences.

you are hilarious.

"The Girl is Mine" is definitely the worst song on "Thriller"... I even thought so when I made my dad buy the LP for me when it came out, but I think it was more because I had no idea who Paul McCartney was. I only knew that he wasn't nearly as cool as Michael Jackson (was) and it was an annoying low-point in the album, narrowly topping "Lady in My Life" as the lamest song on Thriller. However, I doubt that it really qualifies as one of the *worst* songs of all time; aside from its frightening/gross quality, it's not that bad for a song from the 80's... a time we should all look back on and be deeply ashamed for liking so much of that crap.

(If I were single) I'd date Fred Lee, but he wouldn't have me because I'm not asian enough...

if I wasn't dating elliott smith I would totally date fred lee.

i'd make out with fred lee if we were both girls.

Is it possible for me to be more related to this article (fairy godmother, horsey.jpg) and simultaneously completely unrelated to it? I didn't think so.

In a similar vein, i *am* dating Fred Lee, even as i am simultaneously not dating him.

i'm glad that teen! squelch is getting the exposure on cementhorizon that it never got in print. personally i would have preferred to see the picture where we gave tyler his own fake eyes.

"The Girl Is Mine" is probably one of the worst songs that either McCartney or Jackson ever recorded. Then again, McCartney's track record for duets has been bad: "Ebony And Ivory"? Trash...and the worst song Stevie Wonder ever did, to boot.

Are you kidding? The Girl is Mine is a classic song. And not just because it's on the Thriller album. Just listen to 'The Girl is Mine 2008' and you'll realize that it is actually a very good song.
And what kind of pop songs have ever had deeply meaningful lyrics!?

There you go, Sean, see? It's not just Holohan who gets the random comments years later. Now come out of the corner and stop crying.

A very good Colaboration between michael and paul.... plain to see that paul benifited from the talent and the energy of michacel...Im not putting paul down.......but he has never sounded so great......The song grows on you...and I am a musician and my book its a classic..Thank you

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on June 5, 2003 2:01 AM.

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