springsteen_supermarket.jpg

Darkness On The Edge of Town is great, I’ve been listening to it a lot this week. But that’s a post for another day (later this year, when the album gets reissued). Instead we should consider Working On A Dream, because that hits stores today and you’ll be watching a performance of the title track on Superbowl Sunday. Some reviewers say the Boss’s 16th studio album is “classic” (that’s what 5 stars in Rolling Stone means), but most are not that kind. What critics around the country do agree upon, however, is that track #4 is the worst song Springsteen has ever written.

“Queen Of The Supermarket” is a hokey ode to the girl behind the checkout counter at the grocery store.

With my shopping cart I move through the heart
Of a sea of fools so blissfully unaware
That they’re in the presence of something wonderful and rare
The way she moves behind the counter
Beneath her white apron her secret remains hers

This is a sampling of the critical response:

“The worst song Bruce Springsteen has ever written.”
- Detroit News

“At the 3:00 mark, it accidentally turns into a Meatloaf song.”
- Blender

“Removes this record from consideration as one of the best releases of his career.”
- Chicago Tribune

“Unintentionally ludicrous.”
- San Jose Mercury News

“Unbelievably melodramatic … sounds like someone doing a Springsteen parody.”
- Orlando Sentinel

“Might be the worst song Springsteen has ever released.”
- Philadelphia Inquirer

“May be the worst thing he’s ever written.”
- Pitchfork

Can it really be that bad? I investigated via YouTube, where one inspired fan has used the song to score footage of a grocery store. Always a good idea.

Yeah, it’s pretty bad. What’s for dinner?

Working On A Dream is out now on Columbia.

Comments (99)
  1. Supermarket Lady  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 +1

    Doesn’t seem that bad to me.

  2. People are stupid. He explains the basis of the song here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/jan/18/bruce-springsteen-interview

    • wordup  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 -1

      Open mindedly, I read his explanation of that song. Now the only thing I’m convinced of is that Bruce is retarded.

      And that song still sucks.

      It should be the theme song for The United States of Tara. That way they could both suck together eternally.

    • That explanation doesn’t make the song any better.

    • hlebtastic  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

      if anything that interview just makes this song even more retarded.

  3. Jim  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    Anyone notice that Bruce drops the f-bomb during the bridge? Not that I don’t think Bruce shouldn’t drop one now and then, but this has to be the weirdest, most anodyne song in which the lyric “blow this fucking place apart” appears

  4. woozefa  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    it’s a silly song, but not that bad as a bruce song. his worst is still ’57 channels and nothin on.’

    this should be the official video, btw.

    • Rob  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

      Thank you. How soon we forget.
      I don’t really like a lot of Bruce so to me this supermarket song sounds like every other “I gotta union card and I gotta meet Mary at the edge of town” song to me.
      “57 Channels” separates itself from the rest of the Springsteen canon with unprecedented suckitude.

  5. Andrew  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    This video made me want to watch Supermarket Sweep.

  6. Tony the Drummer  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    Reno.

    Thank you.

  7. Tom  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    Um, I’m sorry, but “Real Man” from “Human Touch” has such a big lead in this category that the question in the headline need not be asked.

    “57 Channels” in it’s original solo acoustic guise is actually not bad, btw…

  8. I don’t mind this song. I think the video’s pretty bad, but the song is catchy enough.

  9. jjazznola  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    I am a huge Springsteen fan but unfortunatly I think this album, just like the last 2 he made with The E St Band are mostly weak efforts. Brendan O’Brian is Bruce’s new righthand man these days. His production + sub-par songs are the problem in my opinion. Luckily they are still incredible live. Last summer at Giant Stadium were the best shows I have ever seen in the 30 years+ that I’ve been going to see him. The one show was 3 1/2 hours and the crowd still wanted more! Let’s see one of these boring, dopey indie bands pull that off.

  10. ao  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    Sounds like a theme song for some 80s sitcom.

  11. brent  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    He has written way worst songs than that. Namely thunder road.

  12. Love the Boss, but leaning towards YES

  13. Laura  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    I love Bruce Springsteen, but this is definitely the worst thing he’s ever written. The Wrestler is the only song on this album I like.

  14. Anonymous  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 +1

    Is that Whole Foods? There’s hotter chicks at the Piggly Wiggly

  15. Anonymous  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    The one legged dog that you will never see hopping along in his one leg because it got euthanized is in The Wrestler

  16. anonymous  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    You think that’s bad? What about this:

    If you?ve ever seen a one trick pony then you?ve seen me.
    Have you ever seen a one legged dog making its way down the street
    If you?ve ever seen a one legged dog then you?ve seen me

    A ONE LEGGED DOG????????????

    • anonymous  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

      clearly you didn’t read the liner notes. the dog is getting help from kind strangers as it makes its way down the street. sheesh.

      • Anonymous  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 -1

        Oh i must’ve missed the liner notes where Bruce says this one legged dog is inside the Queen of the Supermarket’s shopping cart being pushed around by the kindly strangers

    • ur another idiot. the song is not only an answer to a personal request from Mickey Rourke for Bruce to do a song for the movie but it’s a self portrait of Bruce himself both onstage and the depression & mental anguish he’s carried with him all of his life.

  17. still better than any song on the fleet foxes album

  18. Dane  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    Bravo to whoever put this together. Before the lyrics start, I thought, “My, those canned vegetables look plaintive.”

  19. Dave   |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    Yeah, this song is pretty terrible. Mostly because he’s singing about a woman at a supermarket. WTF? If he replaced it with some other image, something trite like a brown-eyed girl, the song would be not as offensive, but still not a great song. Even when he says “I’ll blow this whole fucking place apart,” it adds nothing cool to the song.

    I heard the song “Outlaw Pete” on NPR.com (streaming the whole record) and I find it equally as terrible. Despite the figure of an outlaw (inherently more badass than the queen of the supermarket), the song is riddled with trite imagery of outlaws and native american maidens. These two songs have made me rethink wanting to buy the record. It seems like Springsteen has gone from badass sing-along anthems to really terrible and cheap stories. Plus now he’s selling a 12-song greatest hits record at Wal-Mart. Sounds like the Boss is more in love with some other market. I’ve lost faith in the working man’s hero.

    PS He was so awesome, though, when he performed at Ohio State on behalf of Obama’s campaign! I just don’t understand.

  20. Dear Stereogum,

    Please don’t ever use Blender magazine as a reference to back up your point again. Thanks

  21. ryuk  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    The Hold Steady has written worse songs than this.

  22. the big m  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    i love the boss, i love melodrama and i love meatloaf. this song is pretty swell in my books.

  23. And there she was at the supermarket her long hair flowing through the checkout checking me out. And she bagged the groceries with fear and grace cause she knew she had to feed 6 baby faces at home, on the edge of town and life is hard so I put back the mints I was gonna buy, and then she starts to cry. I said supermarket lady dont get down, the man is running you down, but here we are licking the food stamps of life but who’s gonna bag your groceries and tuck you into bed. Maybe tomorrow when I finish my shopping list, that I cant even read cause I didnt pass the 4th grade cause my dad made me work in the factory and I don’t know how to pick out a good tomato, but who cares supermarket queen woman. I feel your name tag pressed against the cigarettes in my pocket and I wonder if your boss’ll catch us. Young lovers like we were 17, still living the American dream. And you called my name on the intercom and told the whole store that I turned you on, and you felt like going to war and dyin’ for the supermarket life that you hold dear, and I hold you dear.

    • Anonymous  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 0

      “And you called my name on the intercom and told the whole store that…”

      The new brand of lube i was looking for is out of stock. What a bitch.

    • Anonymous  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 0

      And i don’t care that you have 6 kids and no baby daddies to help you out, I’M RICH BITCH ((Llama squeal))

    • PIGASSMOTHERFUCK  |   Posted on Jan 29th, 2009 0

      GENIUS, SIR!!!!!!!!!! I APPLAUD YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. “Even when he says “I’ll blow this whole fucking place apart,” it adds nothing cool to the song.”

  25. Anonymous  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    So he went to a new supermarket in his neighborhood and got wood witnessing such plenty. And out came this gem, like a nasty spill on aisle 4. WTF, he acts like he’s been on food stamps.

  26. Anonymous  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    Oh i get it, this is like Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ but in an expensive supermarket in NJ. Gotcha.

  27. Robert  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 0

    Walbaums has some pretty good fruit. Nothing better than Fuji apples.

  28. Rational  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 0

    When you’ve written 5000 songs and 50 Top 10 hits, you’re allowed a stinker every now and then. Just ask Paul McCartney.

    I don’t like Bruce Springsteen but even I recognize he’s the motherfucking Boss and one song in the Boss’s canon doesn’t mean shit. You’re giving this way too much attention.

  29. tommy  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 0

    haven’t i heard this before? pretty sure its the second verse of jizz in my pants…

  30. Well Bruce, you’d said it yourself:

    Glory days well they’ll pass you by
    Glory days in the wink of a young girl’s eye
    Glory days, glory days…

    Time to quit…

  31. dave  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 0

    Actually, this is one of the few on the record I keep returning to (along with Outlaw Pete, The Wrestler and Good Eye). The production touches sorta work in its favor; I found myself liking the song despite itself. That being said, I would like Bruce to take back the mantle of “car song writer” from Neil Young, because Neil’s new stuff is putrid.

  32. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. The worst song he’s ever written? It’s probably the worst song on the album, which is an otherwise phenomenal record. It’s not even close to the worst Springsteen song ever though. For example…

    57 Channels (Human Touch)

    Soul Driver (Human Touch)

    Worlds Apart (The Rising…if I want to hear a Sting record, I’ll buy a Sting record.)

    I’m A Rocker (The River)

    TV Movie (Tracks…not to mention about ten other songs from Tracks)

    Born In the USA (Don’t pretend you dig that song, nobody does. The acoustic version was pretty sweet though. But Bruce ought not monkey around with synthesizers.)

    Dancing In the Dark (ditto)

    • I disagree on “Dancing in the Dark” and maybe “Born in the U.S.A.” (I appreciate how it works on a subversive level, but it’s not that much fun to listen to), but Adam’s right on all of the others, “Worlds Apart,” especially.

      Could it be that Springsteen is fully aware that the subject matter is silly? Plus, the lyrics aren’t “the song.” The music is actually pretty good, so it at least works on that level.

      • Whaaa?!?

        No one likes “Born in the U.S.A.”? It’s not that “fun to listen to”??

        Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but have you actually listened to the song? It’s incredible!! The relentless snare, the arena-sized synthesizers, the girty lyrics, sustained Boss yell at the end — this song all but forces you to stand up and pump your first in the air when it comes on. It would be fun to listen to if the only thing it did was remind you of Bruce’s sweet denim-vest-over-leather-jacket combo and headband in the video. At the very least, me, my dad, and Win Butler like the song. Maybe you should try signing it in Karaoke — it’s one of personal favorites to do — then tell me its not a fun song

  33. “I dunno, i though it was a twisted pop fantasia that has a Sixties AM-radio vibe reminiscent of Manfred Mann’s “Pretty Flamingo”. I’m also wildly pretentious.”
    -Rolling Stone

  34. Scott  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 0

    Bruce is one of the most important songwriters of the last 50 years…but I have to admit this song blows. For every Backstreets, Lost In The Flood and Promised Land he’s allowed one of these – and overall the classic has outweighed the shit, by far.

    For what it’s worth, I saw Neil Young a couple months ago and the new songs he played were flat out embarassing. 10x worse than Queen of the Supermarket.

  35. T-Bone  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 0

    I don’t dig the song. It’s a bit stupid but I don’t take it seriously. However, the rest of the album is fine. The best tracks on it (for me) are:
    2. My Lucky Day
    5. What Love Can Do
    7. Good Eye
    11. Surprise, Surprise <– best song (and most unexpected)
    13. The Wrestler

    The rest are fine, but these five really stand out for me.

  36. Seriously….maybe he’s just messing with all of us and this is really a joke.
    Please, please Bruce, tell us this is a joke.

  37. Evan  |   Posted on Jan 29th, 2009 0

    I read the Meatloaf review comment, and I let this play while I looked at the comments. I suddenly snapped my head and said “holy shit this sounds like Meatloaf” and sure enough, it was at 3 minutes in.

  38. Steve Sanders  |   Posted on Jan 29th, 2009 0

    It’s the only Bruce song my girlfriend says she likes. So it must be the worst.

  39. Markus  |   Posted on Jan 29th, 2009 0

    This song is just so superfluous!

  40. Mike  |   Posted on Jan 29th, 2009 0

    As a work of unintentional comedy, I love this.

  41. I love Bruce. I really really do but this is worse than awful, it’s bland and uninspired and feels like the kind of thing John ‘Cougar’ Mellencamp made a career out of. And that is unforgivable. As an aside, I’ve noticed that there is a direct link between Bruce’s dodgy facial hair and dress sense and his churning out of bad music. Check out the happy trail on his chin and then look at the cover of Human Touch. However, good Serpico beard = Born To Run. Mussed up hair and cool leather jacket = darkness. Ponytail = Bruce fucking around with synthesizers. Oh and this might be bad but have you guys heard Mary Queen of Arkansas? Magic, as an album, was pretty poop. Someone needs to get him the fuck away from Brendan O’Brien and into bed with Rick Rubin. He’s the only one who can save this sorry mess

  42. jetjaguar  |   Posted on Jan 29th, 2009 0

    This literally sounds like Flight of the Conchords doing a parody of “Mary Queen of Arkansas”.

  43. Master T  |   Posted on Jan 30th, 2009 0

    The Hold Steady Rocks and writes excellent songs, that is if you aren’t an idiot – ryuk!

  44. It really does sound like Meatloaf….singing a late 70s promotional jingle for a grocery store.

  45. kurt  |   Posted on Jan 30th, 2009 0

    i hope he plays this at the super bowl. it would make for a fantastic wtf moment.

  46. Bleh  |   Posted on Jan 30th, 2009 -1

    Bruce just sucks in general.

    • MagicRat  |   Posted on Jan 30th, 2009 +1

      Yeah. So do the Beatles, Hendrix, Dylan, The Clash, Neil Young, The Stones, and the Who. Love him or hate him, saying “Bruce just sucks in general,” is like saying “Robert Frost just sucks in general” when discussing American literature. You’re betraying that you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. Go spin your Slipknot albums and let the grown-ups have a conversation, Scooter.

  47. ed sargent  |   Posted on Jan 30th, 2009 +1

    I actually like this song a lot, it’s very catchy, the rhythm is good, reminds me of “I Wanna Marry You” from the River. By the way folks, it’s not how many bad songs somebody writes, because all artists writes bad songs, it’s how many good ones they write. Bruce has wrote a ton of great songs, and there is nobody better in concert, never will be either.

  48. Pony Boy  |   Posted on Jan 30th, 2009 +1

    What? You mean he could be aware of the irony of singing about an everyday experience with such grand & sweeping music? He wasn’t the bloke who wrote Racing in the Street was he?

  49. I should know  |   Posted on Jan 31st, 2009 0

    HI TEGAN QUIN, I see you reading this. Hahah.

  50. Hey, Bruce can turn even supermarket drivel into
    a decent tune. Rock on.

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