This Is Not A Tribute

« March 2005 »

"It'll Be Fun".

Those are the three most dangerous words in the American working environment. "It'll Be Fun". Whenever you hear someone say those words, doom lies just around the corner. I believe that when those three words were spoken, as they inevitably must have been, in the Starbucks headquarters, the earth opened up, flames shot out, a goat wandered into the boardroom and exploded in a shower of viscera and goatmeat, and a deep cackling voice echoed in the distance.

These obvious warnings were ignored, however, and so it was, in February, at the Washington State Convention Center, a beast was unleashed upon the world, a beast known as the Worst Song Ever.

Shut up. I do not say this lightly, so shut up. Whatever song you're thinking of, choke on it, because it's not worse. I don't want to hear the words "Yoko Ono" leave your lips. This is not an open competition, this is me telling you this is the Worst Song Ever. You can discover this in one of two ways. I will provide a link to the song twice - once at the end of this paragraph, and once at the end of the column. That way you can choose to hear the song BEFORE I describe it, AFTER I describe it, or ideally, not at all, if you value your sanity. Download here.

You see, the managerial types speaking at the Starbucks Licensed Awards Ceremony thought it'd be fun. They thought it'd be fun if they all dressed up in costumes, full of glitter, and pretend to play fake instruments while lipsynching. This kind of thing happens a lot in the world of work. We've all seen management's attempts to "connect" with staff or "humanize" itself through tacky embarassment. But at Starbucks, they DO NOT FUCK AROUND.

At Starbucks, they don't just lipsynch to some song in the Executive Sales Director's CD library, oh no. They go the extra mile. They take an existing song, rewrite the lyrics, and have an all new version of the song "professionally" recorded for them to lipsynch to. Now, this sounds pretty fucking awful, as well it should. But at Starbucks, they DO NOT FUCK AROUND.

First, they actually gave CD's out featuring the song to all the attendees. This ensured that the song would make its way gradually onto the Internet, and people like me would hear it. And second, the song they chose... the song they picked to put new lyrics to... was already, up to that point, the single most artistically indefensible song our species has produced during the course of pop music: Jefferson Starship's "We Built This City".

So there, in the Washington State Convention Center, Starbuck's licensees were treated to a musically incompetent, intellectually void, ham-handed rendition of what is already an embolism-inducing piece of music, newly titled "We Built This Starbucks". I know what you're wondering. What did they build this Starbucks on? They built this Starbucks... on heart and soul.

It gets worse. I give you the official Lyrical Cleverness High Point of the song: "Knee deep in the mocha". That's as good as it gets, and not only is it brainshatteringly awful, it's also a seriously unhygienic practice. In a song that also includes the lyric "Who trains the licensees / to operate the bar", it might not be the best idea to imply that these licensees should put their feet in your coffee. On the other hand, the scalding, blistering pain would be a distraction from the rest of the song. Some lowlights:

  • What appears to be a man attempting to sound like Grace Slick, and a woman attempting to sound like Mickey Thomas.
  • "Living the ways of being / In the Green Apron Book" - Which makes Starbucks sound like a bit of a Zen cult. Which is not actually a huge surprise now that I think about it.
  • "Someone's always working / BM's and inside Sales / We Care and service levels / are driving better sales" They rhymed sales with sales. They also rhymed "place" with "place" in the first verse. These are not DIFFICULT WORDS TO RHYME, people. If you'd spent your time with a thesaurus instead of making a giant 45 to hang above your heads while you embarassed yourselves, you might have ended up with the second worst song in human history.
  • "It's another fun day / with the deals we land / Licensees have got the venue / and we bring the brand" - This is the HALFWAY POINT of your five-minute tour of pain. We actually hijacked a time machine and assembled a three-member judging panel of history's greatest pain experts to listen to this song. By this point, the Marquis De Sade had left the room, Pol Pot was retching in the corner, and Adolf Hitler was looking mighty uncomfortable.
  • At three and a half minutes, they do the traffic report. It cannot be described in mere words. But Hitler was not happy.

The last minute of the song is just trailing-off chorus, allowing the horror to sink in. I can only imagine that last minute in the Convention Center, an entire room full of people wondering when it will end. I suspect time stopped for them, as the chorus repeated and repeated. While on the stage, people that hold the audience's livelihood in their hands cavorted about in what they honestly somehow though was a good idea. Even Starbucks employees don't deserve that.

If, after all this, you still need to know for yourself, I repeat the link to the page where the song can be found. Because deep down, you don't believe me. And you think you've heard worse. And you may even bravely try to tell me you've heard worse. But we'll both know better, won't we. Yes. Yes we will.