Is “We Built This City” the worst rock song ever made?

I recently read that Starship’s “We Built This City” is considered to be one of the worst rock songs ever made, mostly because of the disconnect of its anti-corporate message and the undeniable fact that it sounds like a cheesy advertising jingle.

Let’s dig deeper.

Perhaps its worst offense is that they named the entire album after its cringiest lyric, “Knee Deep in the Hoopla,” a line that not only sounds dumb but doesn’t even make the slightest bit of sense in the context of the song. 

The second cringiest lyric is, of course, “Marconi plays the mamba.” Listen to the radio… or maybe turn it off?

There’s also the fact that the song can’t decide which city it’s about, with references to both San Francisco (“the city by the bay”) and New York City (“the city that never sleeps.”) And the video clearly references Las Vegas. But does any city even want to be associated with this song?

If there’s anything interesting about the lyrics, it’s how utterly devoid of meaning any of it is. It’s the lyrical equivalent of a lorem ipsum.

As for the music video I’m still struggling to understand what any of this has to do with Abraham Lincoln, but perhaps we’re beyond that point. The extras in the video seem equally confused. And what’s going on with the compositing? Even by 1985 standards it looks worse than a typical TV weather report.

I was a bit surprised when I found out the song was covered recently by a band called *checks notes* um… *checks notes again* Ninja Sex Party. And that the music video for this cover was filmed — where else — at Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe.

Take a look:

What makes the Ninja Sex Party, a phrase I can’t believe I just had to type for a second time, version of the song so much more palatable is the way they injected some much needed silliness into it all. If anyone is knee deep in the hoopla, it’s them.

It still keeps the baffling line that brings up the ugly specter of police brutality, only to say nothing whatsoever about it. No matter who sings it, this truly is a song about nothing. Eat your heart out Seinfeld.

Still, is it really the worst song ever made? While it may sound like a commercial jingle, they’re not here to sell you Pepsi or Levi’s or anything. And it has a catchy enough hook and chorus to at least be listenable, which unfortunately is more than you can say for most pop rock.

So I’ll step up and say that no, We Built This City is not the worst song ever made. That doesn’t mean it’s good, but as Ninja Sex Party’s version goes to show maybe all you need to do is put on a shirt made out of glitter and have some fun with it. After all, if who cares what’s good or bad as long as we’re having a good time?

Update: In reply to a Reddit post about this song, user Jack_Q_Frost_Jr points out the following:

One part of the song says it’s Sunday, and another part of the song says it’s Saturday.

Sure enough, one of the verses starts out with “It’s just another Sunday / In a tired old street” but then in the radio interlude, the announcer says, “I’m looking out over that Golden Gate bridge / On another gorgeous sunny Saturday.” I’m repeatedly applying my forehead to the desk here, folks.