What Is the Worst Hold Music?

You know the situation: you bought something and it broke, you have an issue that needs resolving, you desperately need to talk to a human being – something that seems increasingly impossible these days – and you end up on hold listening to awful, awful music.

No one likes hold music. The choices are always bad or inappropriate and it almost seems like whoever you’re trying to phone is insulting you personally. You have an issue? Well now you have two!

But what could the worst hold music be? It’s not easy to pick 10 that stand out but we’re certainly going to try…

1. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard, 1973

Christmas, 2000: I was given a pretty awesome Motorola with a screw-in aerial that could display a whole line of text at a time. It didn’t work! So I called them up and was subjected to a tinny snippet of Wizzard’s 1973 Christmas hit. On a loop. For half an hour. It failed to cheer me up, I’d rather just have a broken phone.

2. The Best – Tina Turner, 1989

Oh, Tina. We love you, we really do, but no. Put this empowering song in a phone queue and it is anything but uplifting. In fact, it just feels ironic because it highlights how the company blocking you is far from the best, and their opinion of you must be equally low if they think this can distract you from poor customer service.

3. Everybody Hurts – REM, 1992

We know you mean well when you play this, trying to ease our pain and reassure is that we’re all in the same boat and we’ll be fine. But that’s not what I take away from it, oh no. The message I get is: “we’re causing misery for lots of people and you have now joined their ranks! Your anguish makes me stronger.”

4. My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion, 1997

Remember those three hours you’ll never get back watching Titanic? This is actually an appropriate song for a phone queue because it sets the mood perfectly. It’s cheesy as hell so that’s annoying, but it also lends an air of fatalism to the call. You won’t get out alive, you’re going down with this ship and when it finally happens, you’ll be relieved.

5. Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley, 1987

Society has reached a new low when a phone queue Rick-rolls you. This song has no redeeming qualities at the best of times. You can’t even enjoy it ironically, so it just seems like a huge insult to hear it on a loop when you already have other things on your mind. You’ll give up on the phone call before this one is through.

6. Celebration – Kool & the Gang, 1980

The irony of this song is not lost on me. Are they trying to tell us that we should take comfort in our memories of better times because things are going to get rough now? Or are they promising good times ahead if we make it through this phone call? No, the first one. Definitely the first one.

7. Things Can Only Get Better – D:Ream, 1993

Another empty promise and an insanely cheesy one at that. It just keeps on promising better things and yet here I am, slowly dying in a phone queue. This song is all about empty promises (now, at least) and the only way to make it come true is to hang up, now. Hey, it worked!

8. I Just Called to Say I love You – Stevie Wonder, 1984

I just called to say a few things but it certainly isn’t that. This song is an optimistic choice if they think they can soften us up before the actual call. I had a complaint, now I have two, this is a cheesy, sentimental song that only makes me want to attack the (relatively) innocent call centre employee when they finally answer.

9. The Winner Takes It All – ABBA, 1980

When you’re on hold, there are no winners. All this song does is remind you how temporary everything is and that death is inevitable so why even bother trying? I thought Stockholm Syndrome was meant to make you sympathise with your captors. Give up now, it’s not worth it.

10. Jesus Gonna Be Here – Tom Waits, 1992

Tom Waits while you wait. All you want to do is renew your phone contract; that should be pretty simple, right? Not when you’re put in a queue, seemingly left to die if the music choice is any indication. Your chances with the phone company don’t bode well if they subject you to this cheery death rattle. Jesus will probably turn up before they help you.