NPR logo I Give Up: Songs Of Surrender

I Give Up: Songs Of Surrender

Earlier this week, NPR's Morning Edition had this interesting tidbit at the tail end of a piece about Manuel Noriega's recent extradition to France on money-laundering charges:

"You know, when Noriega fled U.S. troops back in 1989, the U.S. military tried to blast him out of an embassy in Panama by playing loud music. They included this smash hit by Rick Astley."

Surrender? No way! I just did a little dance around the room. Sure, maybe after 100 more listens I might want to leave the house, but only to purchase the entire Whenever You Need Somebody album on vinyl.

I'm no longer talking about Rick Astley when I say that I'm all for music that contains "dealbreaker" elements. Who wants to be part of something, specifically in the realm of art, that is loved by all? Wherein there isn't even enough merit or risk-taking to warrant a good argument?

To really be tortured by a song, it needs to be more than just something you don't like or don't get; it has to make your skin crawl by getting under it. Strangely, that last clause could describe provocative or daring music, as well. So I think a song that would have me begging for mercy would have to go beyond obnoxious; it would have to lack mystery or an ineffable quality that might intrigue me, even on a cerebral level.

Furthermore, the most agonizing songs tend to be catchy and cloying — so much so that they flip the world on its head and you swallow their sickness like it's a remedy. Yes, they truly are that bad. We're talking about torture tactics here, not pet peeves.

Here, then, are three songs that would have me raising my flag in surrender if they were blasted at me and played on repeat:

(There are certain friends in whose company I can't even say the word "Damn" without them launching into that Sophie B. Hawkins song.)

What songs could make you flee your house and force your surrender?