12 Songs That Get Worse on Weed
There is some music not even marijuana can enhance.
This article originally appeared on Noisey US.
Weed and music: Name a more iconic duo – we'll wait. THC and tunes go together like peanut butter and jelly, like ketchup and mustard, like, well, weed and contemplating the vast mysteries of the universe. It's a scientifically proven fact that music sounds better when you're stoned. People have been going to college for years to learn about this phenomenon, but it doesn't take a geochemistry-musicology degree to know the appeal of smoking on that gas and playing some jams, as anyone who has ever read Noisey once can attest.
Except: What if that's not always the case? Lots of music sucks, so it stands to reason that, even given the powerful properties of pot, plenty of music would suck even after you've smoked weed. And, crazily enough, some music might even suck more because of the weed. To invoke science once again, cannabis is generally enjoyed calming and relaxing effects, which might be totally at odds with the kind of music you enjoy. There is always an exception that proves the rule, even when the rule is one as steadfast as: music sounds better with weed. Here are 12 of those very instances:
1) The Locust - "Earwax Halo Manufactured for the Champion in All of Us"
I read Chuck Klosterman's SPIN review of grindcore-or-whatever legends the Locust's 2003 album Plague Soundscapes (in print, no less!) and desperately needed to hear it. For some reason, though, I couldn't find a downloadable copy (these were my pirating days, folks—forgive me) back at my parents' house, so I asked my friend Nick (names have not been changed to protect those involved) to download it for me from his parents' PC. A few weeks later, I was sleeping over his house with a few friends and we'd just smoked some suburban weed in the guest house bathroom, getting ready to do something else with our time. As we milled about in a fresh haze, I thought it would be a good time to go into his considerable iTunes library and finally take a listen to Plague Soundscapes. As Julia Roberts once said in Pretty Woman: big mistake – huge. I hit play on "Earwax Halo Manufactured for the Champion in All of Us," a song that sounds as insane as its title suggests, and I was immediately frozen in terror upon hearing the bursts of ugly screaming and mangled electronics that opens the song. "Earwax…" only runs 52 seconds long—the Locust were never ones for overstaying their welcome – but I turned it off after five had elapsed, safely decamping to the comforts of Explosions in the Sky's The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place instead. Typical stoner shit. —Larry Fitzmaurice
2) XTC – "Jason and the Argonauts"
This song ticks all the boxes: it's over five minutes long (6:07 in fact); it's built around a hypnotic, chiming riff that sounds like toddler who ODed on Nerdz running up and down a four-step flight of stairs; it contains some faintly surreal lines involving the natural world ("As the nets unravel / All exotic fish I find like Jason and the Argonauts"). Truly, this tune should only improve when you listen to it completely baked. But somewhere around the three-minute mark, the syncopation gets out of control, singer Andy Partridge drops his vocal so low it sounds like half-heard murmurings down an endless corridor, in a sanitarium wired with faulty electrics, (or could those be the voices in your head?), meanwhile the song's mathy tendencies and slight psych lean cycle maddeningly on and on and on and on. I listened to this when I was way, way too high on gummies and the lines, "I was in a land where men force women / To hide their facial features / And here in the West it's just the same / But they're using make-up veils," sent me spiralling into a paroxysm of introspection. I threw out all my cosmetics. In the morning I woke up with a massive zit on my nose and had to extract all my make-up from the trash. —Kim Taylor Bennett
3) Binaural Beats
In my beginning woke stages some years back, I was looking up ways to harness my sexual energy and also just how to get my thoughts in order. According to a close homeboy, binaural beats were the wave. But I didn't really trust what he was telling me because he had a tendency to be out of the loop. Like, telling me J. Cole was groundbreaking level out of the loop. So I hit up Google and they backed his claim so I was with it. First, I checked in on a couple binaural beats and realised that most of them I came across were different and they neither helped me in my sex life or my mental concentration. I said fuck it for a minute. Then one random night, I had a backwood stuffed with weed and nothing important to do, so I figured I would give these sounds another go. Weed is supposed to open your mind to shit but all it usually does for me is make everything taste better and make shit that is already funny more funny. So yeah, I'm high as hell at this point, and I go to Youtube to search for some Binaural Beats and come across one with this green and black artwork and it looks kinda spooky but also maybe like it will open my mind to another dimension. I hit play and it was considerably worse than how I heard it sober. It didn't make things scarier for me or trip me out in any profound way. The shit just sounded bad. Like, these sounds should not be accompanying each other right now. I thought I might have been being close-minded so I let it rock for about ten minutes before I shut it off completely. Maybe I'm not on that spiritual level to accept the beats. Maybe you shouldn't be high and listen to them. Idk. I don't recommend it, though. —Lawrence Burney
4) Dave Matthews Band – "#41" Live at Wrigley Field
I have a best friend who I often introduce thusly: "This is my friend [name withheld to preserve dignity]. She doesn't drink, but she's a real stoner. She loves Dave Matthews Band so much she used to follow them around the world. Oh and she keeps peace for a living. Like, she deals in world peace." I find all these points really funny and admirable, even though she hates being introduced like this. What's not funny is when I go over to her house to watch TV and smoke and and get all snuggly on the couch with a bowl of potato chips only to find that the blanket I'm curling up with has Dave Matthews's face on it. Not cool. Still, it's easy to mock a DMB lover: they spend far too much money following him around the world (my friend included), and I saw on the internet that one fan had his eyes tattooed just above her vagina. Just imagine getting busy with his watchful eyes bearing down on you. Anyway, because I love my friend, and because she has #41 tattooed on her ankle, I once tried to listen to this version of this song. Technically I should LOVE it because I love the sax—love the sax like I love Rick James (bitch)—and this 16 minute live rendition of "#41" has a sax solo that lasts at least half the duration of the entire song, and all the while the drummer appears to be having some kind of seizure (across nine drums and 15 cymbals. Thanks wiki!). But guess what! Even though I love my friend like a sister and pot is supposed to heighten the goodness of jam bands and all their fret-wankery, DMB still suck the big one and no amount of inhalation is going to make this golden. —Kim Taylor Bennett
5) Nirvana – "Endless, Nameless"
The first time I heard "Endless, Nameless", the hidden track that appears at the end of Nirvana's classic Nevermind, I was half snoozing on a sofa in my parent's front room. It was a Wednesday and I'd skipped school to spend the afternoon listening to records and smoking some of the weed I'd found earlier that week. I've never been good at weed and the sense of paranoia that comes with it but back then I was a rank amateur trying to improve my game with a couple of poorly rolled joints. The song appears after 10 minutes of silence following the album's closing track "Something In the Way" so when I was awakened from a stoned, though not exactly relaxed, doze with Cobain screaming "Hear me, see me" I thought it was the coming of the apocalypse or worse, my Mum arriving home from work early. —Tim Scott
6) Ed Sheeran – "Shape of You"
Smoking weed and listening to music is historically tight because weed deepens the experience. You feel the notes in your body; you bathe in the rich aural textures of this lush soundscape; you revel in this feast for the senses; you catch the cosmic vibrations of the lyrics; you find yourself discovering aspects of the music you never knew were there. None of these, however, are responses that anyone needs to have while listening to Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You," a song that sounds like it was designed in a lab to be background music. "Shape of You" is like a dancehall song reimagined for toddlers, and toddlers should absolutely not be smoking weed. Try to imagine hanging out with your friends and suggesting you put on Ed Sheeran and then all of you just sitting there vibing to it. Until they develop a strain of weed that literally puts you in a coma as soon as you inhale, no part of that sounds fun. In the right circumstances, weed and music can enrich the soul, but those circumstances don't involve wandering around under the fluorescent lights of a grocery store trying to remember whether Twinkies were actually discontinued or if in fact they just aren't on Aisle 12 anymore, which is the only situation where you're likely to find yourself listening to "Shape of You." —Kyle Kramer
7) Weezer - "In the Garage"
When I was a #teen I used to hang out in my friend's shed every weekend and some week nights, and because we were #teens we did shit like smoking weed and pissing in the corner (there was a corner of the shed known as Piss Corner). We affectionately called the shed The Graj, for the way that Rivers Cuomo says the word "garage" on the Weezer song "In the Garage," and for this reason I feel as though if I listened to that song with the ears of a stoned person ever again it would transfigure me back into a 14 year old vomiting up ham sandwiches into a plastic bag for the rest of time. —Lauren O'Neill
8) Pharrell - "Happy"
The irony of this song is that, in spite of the title, it actually just bums me out. It drones on so long that it makes me want to throw myself in the nearest river. Weed, unfortunately, only makes it more grating. As if nearly four minutes of this song isn't enough, Pharrell also made a 24-hour music video to go along with it. 24 hours! That's an entire day you could spend doing... literally anything else. Weed is inherently good. But this song is bad. And it's very easy to get the three little words that are repeated throughout the song (because I'm happyyyyyy) wedged into your brain. All the weed in the world couldn't make it better. —Leslie Horn
9) James Blunt - "You're Beautiful"
It's hard to imagine a world in which this song could actually get worse than it is (because Jesus Christ this song fucking sucks), but, if you smoke weed and listen to James Blunt's "You're Beautiful," a song during which he whispers "my life is brilliant" over and over before he talks about how he's "fucking high," there's a strong chance you'll provide some anti-weed ammunition to Jeff Sessions. Seriously, listening to this song while high on some Gorilla Glue or some shit will lead you to taking off all your clothes (like he does in the music video, yes, you forgot) and running down the street, screaming nonsense about how James Blunt is terrible and has a misleading name because my god if a guy is going to be named James Blunt you'd think this shit would at least sound average when you're stoned. Anyway this song sucks and don't listen to it while you're stoned because you'll end up naked in the streets. — Eric Sundermann
10) Spirit - "Potatoland Theme"
A hand-marked vinyl copy of Spirit's The Adventures of Kaptain Kopter & Commander Cassidy in Potato Land was passed to me by my aunt on my 18th birthday with instructions to "smoke something—Class C only" while listening. "The Potatoland Theme," the second track, is five minutes of a man called Randy California singing "Take my hand / We'll go to Potatoland" over magic mushroom guitars and jet engine phasers. After a while and a bowl, you'll probably find yourself enjoying the soft funk vibes—that false sense of security is your enemy and you have to fight it. A train is going to clatter, off beat, into the mix and a conductor will shout "All aboard!" and you will realise that, shit, you can't just turn this off now, Potatoland might be fun, it sure sounds good, so you'll travel with Randy California into the middle of the record and find out that it's "so lonely in Potatoland" and then he'll scream and you'll wonder if you really can hear someone in the back singing "mashed potatoes" and what does that mean anyway, given the context, given that we're in Potatoland, are you dead, or mashed, or is everything else mashed, is everyone dead? "Something's wrong," Randy? Yeah, no kidding. Stop saying that, dude. Stop saying that. —Alex Robert Ross
11) AFI - "Miseria Cantare (The Beginning)"
This song sounds like what would happen if you put the Grateful Dead through the Upside Down from "Stranger Things." It's the complete inverse of everything that makes music sound better when you're high: aggressive chanting, a Michael Bay rhythm section, and Davey Havok at his most self-righteous and nasal. Its orchestration is torture on stoned ears. Just when that heaving bass and drums feels like it could get a little jammy or find a rhythmic flow, he cuts in, sing-song shrill, before abruptly switching again into comically overwrought incantations and lines like "As we all form one dark flame... Incinerate." Decidedly not fire. —Andrea Domanick
12) Willie Nelson – "Moonlight in Vermont"
You're probably thinking there's no way that Willie Nelson, the most famous stoner of all time, a guy who has smoked weed on the roof of the White House, has ever made music that gets worse when you smoke weed. And technically speaking, you're not wrong. But Stardust, Willie's quintuple platinum 1978 album of standards, is pretty sedate fare, and "Moonlight in Vermont," is perhaps the most sedate of all. It's possible that you will smoke weed and enjoy it, but it is equally if not more possible that you will smoke weed and it will put you to sleep. "Moonlight in Vermont" is just that calm a song. You're better off rolling up to just about any other song in Willie's catalog, which, to be fair, you absolutely should do at your earliest possible convenience. — Kyle Kramer
Check out the rest of Noisey's Weed Week coverage here.