‘Abracadabra’ – The Worst Song Ever?

Abracadabra single cover

Abracadabra single cover1982 was a pivotal year in music for me — it was when I really started listening to the radio. I had it on constantly, and embraced Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 as if it were Billy Graham’s radio hour.

I fell in love with “Come on Eileen,” “Don’t You Want Me,” and even syrupy ballads such as “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” and “Up Where We Belong.” I even liked “Ebony and Ivory.” But one song that always made me change the station — no, the one that made me lunge across the room, flying horizontally, reaching for the radio dial — was the Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra” song.

The worst song ever

Steve Miller is one of many sources for the emergence of punk’s deconstruction of rock music (What music wasn’t in the 1970s?); his middle-of-the-road, album-oriented rock made many people’s teeth grind.  It had been a full five years between Top 10 songs for Miller, and he emerged in 1982 with “Abracadabra.”

“Hey Jude” this is not. A series of minor arpeggios in the bass line is the basis of the song, and it repeats throughout the song, jarring on your nerves like a dentist performing root canal. The moment I hear those minor chords, I am reminded of how bad this is going to get — kind of like when I hear the opening lines to “Margaritaville.”

Abracadabra Lyrics – WTF?

The lyrics. Oh my god. Here are some samples without hearing Miller’s Midwestern twang:

I heat up, I can’t cool down
You got me spinnin’ round and round

Those sound like lyrics from a Survivor or Bon Jovi song.

Every time you call my name
I heat up like a burning flame

More heat?

Burning flame full of desire
Kiss me, baby, let the fire get higher

Yes, even more heat.

Abra, abracadabra
I wanna reach out and grab ya

Quite possibly the worst rhyme in all of rock music.

I’ll leave it at that and skip the references to leather and lace and black panties. Lyrically, this is crap.

I’ve never liked Miller’s voice — it ranks right up there with REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin as the most irritating voice in rock. I respect his guitar talent, but like Eric Clapton and Santana, he should probably just stick with the guitar playing, because his voice isn’t up to par.

Icing on the cake: The coda to the song features a rehash of the first verse, with Miller’s attempt at a Queen/ELO harmony in falsetto, which falls flat — literally. It’s so off-key, it makes my skin crawl.

I’m posting the video for my mom, who may not have heard the song before. She may punch me after she listens to it.


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  1. Kyle

    Thank you. A million thank yous. I’ve been spinning round and round, round and round and round for 35+ years. I believe I can now cool down. Again, thank you for shedding light on this musical travesty!

  2. Charlie

    Peter, I agree with everything you say except for one. You don’t like Eric Clapton’s voice?!?!?!?!?!? I think he has one of the finer voices in rock.

  3. Peter Lee

    I always felt that he was a guitarist first and was forced to become a singer. His voice, although not grating, is a bit muffled and hollow. To each his own, I guess… :)

  4. Peter Lee

    Glad you agree!