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5 Reasons Building a City on Rock & Roll is a Terrible Idea

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A still from this awful video

“We Built This City (on Rock & Roll)” by Starship is hands down one of the worst songs of all time. I know you’re gonna say “that’s just your opinion man” but really, the song is so bad that pregnant women shouldn’t be allowed to listen to it because it may cause birth defects. The fact that it made it to #1 on the Billboard charts and was nominated for a Grammy shows that 1985 was a particularly dark year. It was the same year that an 8.1 earthquake killed more than 9,ooo people in Mexico City, and yet the release of “We Built This City” is still far more tragic.

Regardless of the horrible things that songs does to your ears, it’s also fucking bullshit. I’m not an engineer but know for a fact that building a city on rock & roll is a terrible idea. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. You can not physically build a city on sound waves.


What the fuck are you monsters even talking about? How do you build a city on rock & roll? Sound moves at 1,126 feet per second. Even if you could keep up by flying in a plane at Mach speeds, you can’t actually build streets, buildings, and parks on noise!

2. Even if you could build a city on sounds waves, would rock & roll really be your first choice?


Think about it. Out of all the types of music in the world, is building a city on rock & roll really such a good idea? Considering the song is about San Francisco, a city that is half built on landfill as it is, wouldn’t you pick a genre that was more even-keeled, like I don’t know, smooth jazz. Don’t get me wrong, smooth jazz is an abomination, but if you don’t want skyscrapers tumbling to the ground (is there even ground in a city of sound waves?) smooth jazz has to be far more stable than something like Black Sabbath. I’d be terrified to live in a building that had “War Pigs” as a foundation.

3. The people who created the song looked like this:


Oh Jesus! These people shouldn’t be trusted to build ANYTHING. Hell they shouldn’t even be trusted to drive the yellow go-cart they are in. These are the people you want to architect your mythical metropolis built on sound? I think not.

4. And they were probably on LOTS of cocaine.


Please refer to the above photo. There are plenty of things cocaine is good for – certain medical procedures, dancing, feeling less drunk, talking about yourself for hours – erecting edifies and laying out streets is not one of them. The last thing I want is some coke crazed madman, who hasn’t slept in two days, planning my city’s mass transit infrastructure. Every single bus and train route will lead directly to the same place: Jimmy the coke dealer’s house. And we all know Jimmy doesn’t want anyone knowing where he lives.

5. Nothing would ever actually get done.


Universal Pictures / Via

Think about all your friends who are in bands. Yeah they are talented and fun to hang out with, and sure, some of them even make tolerable music, but do you want and these people to run a city? These your friends who went through five phones last year because they kept losing or breaking them. These are the people who show up 45 minutes late to their own gigs. They are the roommates who have never once paid rent on time. If you build a city on rock & roll, these will be the folks in charge of running the damn thing. How terrifying is that?

In conclusion, I wish I never had to hear “We Built This City” again. Fuck that song.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".


  1. Jeffrey W. Judkins
    February 8, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Casey Jones wouldn’t mind having a rail to Jimmy the dealer’s house though. It keeps his train toot, toot, tootin’ along…. Allll aboard to Jimmyyyysssss!!!!!! Whoo!! Whoo!!!

  2. GStorm
    June 17, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Not sure it is much different than Journey. They even looked the same back then.

  3. April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am

    🏢 The force is with you, young Broke-Ass Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet.

    The embarrassing fact is that we all dressed that way back then, because the alternative was to be a yuppie. You know who built cities at the time? Yuppies. They built them out of garish salmon marble and and festooned them with gilded surnames like “TRUMP.” Rock & Roll seemed like a reasonable alternative, though alas Starship didn’t play that sort of thing (Airplane did).

    Plus, they used Los Angeles in their video.