Where I live (for now), in Van Nuys, California, the dominant grocery chain seems to be Ralphs (without the apostrophe, possibly because the store was created by two guys named Ralph who were dubious about taking ownership of it). Like all grocery stores, Ralphs plays really shitty music. This is mostly because they can’t risk offending people who are busily trying to buy up tons of Diet Coke, Spam, and Budweiser Cheladas (a “Chelada”, if you really want to know, is Budweiser – or Bud Light – with Clamato in it. Clamato is tomato juice with clam in it. Or clam juice. Or something. They make it taste like clams. Some experts think “Chelada” is Spanish for “Ghetto Bloody Mary” but the cunning linguists here at Bollocks! assure me it means “The Great Taste of Vagina in a Can”). So the best song you’re gonna hear at Ralphs is maybe “Long December” by Counting Crows or, if you’re really lucky, R.E.M.’s “Man on the Moon.” But every time I’ve gone into my local Ralphs – every single time, for at least the last three years – I have heard Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” And if any song is one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard, it’s this fucking thing.
Just thinking about this song 1) gets it stuck in my head and 2) makes me want to have an aneurysm. It’s so bad, I’m having a hard time figuring out where to start eviscerating it.
How about some context? In the early part of their career, Aerosmith liked to put their make-up on and fuck a little glam androgyny into Rolling Stones songs and you know, they made some pretty tolerable guitar rock along the way (Toys in the Attic is actually pretty decent). Somewhere in the 1980s, though, they went through the first of many trips through rehab (I think Steven Tyler could be his own season of Celebrity Rehab at this point) and came out on the other side with an album called Permanent Vacation. This album featured some 80s-ish rock songs (like “Rag Doll”) that weren’t nearly as tolerable as the old stuff, but they were still ostensibly rockers. Hidden toward the back of that album is what historians refer to as a “power ballad” called “Angel.” It became a pretty big hit for the band, but no one thought much of it. It was just one power ballad on an album, and almost everyone was doing it in the 80s.
When it came time to follow up Permanent Vacation, though, the band panicked. In need of another power ballad, they rewrote “Angel” and called it “What It Takes.” Bingo! An even bigger, more powerful ballad propelled Pump to even greater heights than its predecessor. But by the time Aerosmith got around to making the next album, they were using the power ballad more than they had previously used cocaine. “Angel/What It Takes” now became three songs: “Cryin,” “Crazy”, and “Amazing,” all of which were basically identical. Turns out you can fool a lot of the people almost all of the time, though; Aerosmith’s power ballad trick worked again and Get a Grip became a smashing success.
And so it went. Somewhere in there, Steven Tyler had a daughter named Liv who started acting. Think of her as like a proto-Megan Fox, but with slightly more acting chops (okay, we’ve all taken craps that were better actors than Megan Fox, but I think you know what I’m getting at here). Anyway, Liv was doing this horrifying Michael Bay shitfest called Armageddon and, always Daddy’s little girl, she knew her pop could use some money to fuel his next big relapse. So she got Aerosmith a gig doing 90% of the Armageddon soundtrack (seriously, like four of their songs appear in the movie. It’s gross) and the band, never one to fix what ain’t broke, decided to record “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, which was written by an evil wizard named Diane Warren (who also wrote “Because You Loved Me” for Celine Fucking Dion and “Un-Break My Heart” for Toni Braxton). If you can believe it, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” actually suffers from not sounding like “What it Takes to Make an Amazing Angel Start Cryin’ Like Crazy.” Anyway, it went on to be nominated for an Academy Award. So if you’re ever wondering what my beef with awards shows is, consider two facts I’ve mentioned this week – Train won a fucking Grammy and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was nominated for an Oscar.
Like a lot of Michael Bay’s movies, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” is so stuffed with ham-fisted, certifiably fake emotion that you can’t help but wonder if the whole thing is some kind of Andy Kaufman-esque joke. Actually, this is my problem with most power ballads. But also like Michael Bay movies, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” is infuriatingly predictable, trite, and custom-made to pluck the heart strings of the easily manipulated. And speaking of strings, why does every fucking power ballad have to have a goddamn orchestra in it? Since when does slapping some violins and cellos in your song make you sensitive? You want strings in a rock song? Here’s how to do it right. But for asshole rock bands like Aerosmith, strings were just another ingredient in a power ballad, like having a pretty girl in the video (which, in the case of “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, is Steven Tyler’s fucking daughter. What is this man trying to tell us?).
Know what else pisses me off about this song? Around the one minute mark, when Steven Tyler sings “I could stay lost in this moment forever,” he takes a big, audible inhale between “moment” and “forever.” So what you hear is, “I could stay lost in this moment <HUGE FUCKING WHOOSH OF AIR PASSING OVER STEVEN TYLER’S MASSIVE LIPS>………forever.” Honestly, what the fuck is that? How does inhaling into a microphone show anyone that you love them? It’s so meaningless that it actually physically hurts me, but so does the rest of the fucking song.
Aerosmith deserves a lot of disdain for recording this tripe, but Diane Warren ought not to be let off the hook for writing it. First off, Ms. Warren, in any relationship that lasts more than a few months, there are plenty of things you wanna miss – I love my wife more than I love literally everyone and everything else, but I want to miss every dump she takes for the rest of our lives and I’m confident she feels the same way about me. You also wanna miss colds the other person gets because they’ll just give ’em to you, which sucks (I once spent a weekend quarantined on our couch so my wife could miss a nasty bug I’d caught. Not only did she want to miss a thing, she was fucking smart to do it). Also, the song repeats the sentiment that the narrator wants to “stay here in this moment” for all time. Well, asshole, if you stay in one moment forever, guess what you miss? Fucking everything!
Sweet Zombie Jesus, I feel like my eyeballs are gonna burst, so I’ll just wrap this up by pointing out the obvious: “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” is among the stupidest fucking songs ever written and prolonged exposure to it will turn your colon to pure liquid cheese.