Starship’s “We Built This City” has become so infamous that it has become iconic. It is considered by many to be the worst song of all-time. Blender named it the worst song ever. Rolling Stone readers named it the worst ‘80s song in an online poll the magazine called possibly “the biggest blow-out victory in the history of the Rolling Stone Readers Poll.” To dig deep into “We Built This City” to try and figure out what went right/wrong with the process, GQ has put together a fascinating, in-depth oral history of the song.
What makes this oral history so good is that nobody pulls punches, good or bad. This includes an unnamed member of a “successful ‘80s band” who called the song “the most pussy thing I’ve ever heard.” Not everybody who worked on this song feels bad about it, though. Multiple people use the phrase “I’m still here and Blender’s not.” On the other hand, guitarist Craig Chaquico and bassist Pete Sears both seem to recognize its flaws, but they both also seem to have a good sense of humor about it. Chaquico probably sums up the overall feelings the people involved have when he said, “I don’t think anybody can take all the credit, or all the blame.”
It must be tricky to deal with a legacy like “We Built This City” has. It was a huge hit, which is part of the reason why it gets cited as the worst song of all-time. If it was a song nobody had heard of, it wouldn’t make any “worst song ever” lists. It would have just been forgotten. The fact it is so ‘80s probably doesn’t help, either. Making fun of the ‘80s was popular for some time. The people who come across as particularly defensive in the oral history maybe don’t come out looking so great, but on the other hand, it’s understandable.
Also, if you’re wondering, nobody manages to make the case for the lyric “Marconi plays the mamba” making any sense.