In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: Though he’s appeared on both MADtv and Up All Night, Matt Braunger is best known as a plain old (hilarious) stand-up. He’s done the talk-show circuit, been a regular panelist on Chelsea Lately, and released two albums—2009’s Soak Up The Night and 2012’s Matt Braunger: Shovel Fighter (which was also the name of his Comedy Central special that year). His latest special, Big, Dumb Animal, airs Friday, February 6, on Comedy Central and will be available the next day in the channel’s app.
The hated: Led Zeppelin, “D’yer Mak’er” (1973)
The A.V. Club: Why is this your least favorite song of all time?
Matt Braunger: I had the hardest time with this, not because there aren’t songs that annoy me, but I know why they annoy me, and it’s always for dumb reasons. Like I hate any song that comes out of that Swedish/Scandinavian pop factory that made every hit for the past 20 years or whatever—everything from “Firework” by Katy Perry, which I fucking hate, to “Since U Been Gone,” which I love, you know? But they’ve cracked this formula, so if I hate something by them, it was built in a lab. It’s a robot. It doesn’t matter.
I remember saying in an improv class that I wasn’t into Zeppelin and everyone reacted like I said Hitler had some great ideas. They couldn’t believe it. Yeah, they had some great riffs and stuff, but they’re stolen! They took so many songs from actual black blues artists.
Look: I have a massive chip on my shoulder about how much white people love white people who can sing like a black person. And it goes back to, obviously, Elvis and Rolling Stones, and I get that. Because we had a separation. At least the Rolling Stones went through the South and played black juke joints and stuff. So at least they had that. But now, with everyone losing their shit over Sam Smith and Adele, God, can we just pull it back a little? It’s 2015. It’s an epidemic at this point.
Anyway. Zeppelin is just this band that I feel like never gave back or paid their dues or acknowledged it. They’re like, “Yeah, we’re mystical dudes that J.R.R. Tolkien created. And these riffs just come out of the Earth, and a wizard gave them to us.” And they stole them. From actual great black artists.
And they’re an amazing band. John Bonham: Amazing. Jimmy Page: Amazing. Robert Plant, I’ve always kind of hated. Because he basically just caterwauls and screams and has his belly sticking out, and it looks Vaseline’d. When they asked him about that thing where they—you know, whatever the fuck happened, they threw a mud shark on a girl or something, and they were always kicking groupies off buses and thought that was hilarious and shit—they asked him in an interview later in his life about that. And he said something like, “You’re asking me if these mystical, magical, wonderful things happened?” Fucking shoot this guy! Fuck you!
I mean, for the most part, artists have been like, “Look, we really stole the black sound,” or “I’m so influenced by them that I’m kind of imitating.” From Elvis to Janis Joplin to whatever. They’re just a band that never owned it.
That picture of them standing next to their plane that says Led Zeppelin on it just makes me want to barf.
AVC: Well, Plant is doing roots music stuff now. I don’t know if he’s ever said like he ripped off these guys, but at least he’s working with them now, in theory?
MB: And, look: I might be massively misinformed. This is me talking about them in their prime. I don’t know about now. I’m sure he’s a nice guy. But I’ve just never really been into his voice.
Back to the subject at hand: That song is such a horrific annoyance, because he’s just singing, “Oh, oh, oh, oh, you don’t have to go, ah, ah…” I just see him rubbing his belly.
He’s the guy from Almost Famous. That line, “I’m a golden god”? That’s his line. He yelled that from a roof. And of course he fucking did, you know? Like, “I’m this beautiful guy, and, ahh, I’m so good!” And this is maybe the only positive thing, because it’s hilarious, but he said that he wanted to just jump offstage and shove his dick in everyone’s mouths when he’s playing. And to me, I’m just like, “Okay, that’s at least funny.” But of course he was probably serious, like, “Oh my god. Just because I had that thought and shared it, I gotta fuck like 10 girls tonight. I have to. I’m a golden god, I love it! I love me!” You know?
I think “D’yer Mak’er” is just a play on words for how British people say Jamaica or something, and so they made a reggae song. Led Zeppelin had some amazing songs, many of which I’m sure they did not completely steal. And who knows if they stole that one or not, but if they stole it, they should give it back, because that song’s terrible.
AVC: Do you generally like reggae or dub?
MB: I love a lot of reggae, yeah. I listened to a lot of dance hall in college. I don’t have a ton of reggae, but I like a lot of it. I think it’s maybe just that they’re doing reggae that kind of annoys me.
That’s one of the things that kind of bugs me about white artists doing black music—and again, if you’re good at it, you’re good at it. Whatever. But it’s a question of how just because you can do this, should you? Why wasn’t someone in the engineering booth going, “Hey guys, why don’t we just not do this song? Why don’t we just rock out? This is not pleasant.”
AVC: According to Wikipedia, which is obviously a very reliable source, John Paul Jones said he didn’t like the song because it started off as a joke and wasn’t thought through carefully enough.
MB: To me that explains it. To me, and this is my Robert Plant-hating conspiracy theory, but I think he’s the one that was just like, “I love it. I love it because I can try something new, and really feel out the space of my voice, and just really get into the reggae bounce! I can do anything black people can do.” [Laughs.] I’m being such a fucking cunt. I’m sorry.
AVC: That’s okay. Do you like other Led Zeppelin songs?
MB: Yeah, there are a lot I like. I grew up really digging them. But hardcore fans, when it’s pointed out that “Whole Lotta Love” and “Stairway To Heaven” were completely stolen, they’re like, “Well, yeah, but, I mean…” No! There’s no “Yeah, but, I mean…” That’s fucked up! If I hear an amazing joke and someone’s like, “Oh no, you stole that from a comic nobody’s ever heard of,” and I’m like, “Fuck him!”, that’s not okay. It’s one of those things. It has to come to the forefront if you’re going to be a big fan.
That said, they’re an incredible band. But that’s one reason I chose this song, because they are amazing. I didn’t want to pick some one-hit wonder, like, “I hate ‘Cars’ by Gary Numan,” or something. Who cares?
AVC: You can practically feel the excess in “D’Yer Mak’er.” It just seems like they were smoking a lot of weed and thought, “We should make a reggae song!”
MB: To me it feels like he’s singing to a girl that’s half passed-out who’s trying to leave his apartment. That’s what it feels like to me. Like he’s talking to her like a baby, “oh oh oh.”