The name game: ranking 10 different songs called ‘Crazy’

Aerosmith Willie Nelson Cat Stevens vinyl

There are a lot of songs called “Crazy.” Like, a lot. Country songs. Rap songs. Rock songs. You get the idea.

So I thought I would rank them. I trimmed the list down to ten different songs called “Crazy” and put them in order from the worst to the best.

Are you ready? I know I am!

  1. Simple Plan – “Crazy”

Oh dear. My only prior experience with Simple Plan was hearing “Perfect” back in college and making fun of it. Along with Hoobstank’s “The Reason,” it was everything I hated about mid-2000s alternative; paint-by-numbers songwriting, joyless compositions, and insulting branding that seemed to prey on young kids who legitimately needed help. Looking back, I was probably being too hard on music that clearly affected a lot of people in a positive way, but what can I say? It was bad music by a bad band, and college-aged me was more than happy to make fun of it.

Anyway, I can officially say that Simple Plan’s “Crazy” is just as hard to listen to as “Perfect.” Again, this probably makes a lot of young kids feel better about their lives, and it’s hard to hate on anything too much when it does that, but this is still really bad.

I never want to hear this song again. Ever.

  1. Widespread Panic – “Crazy”

I feel nothing listening to this. People are playing instruments, someone is singing, but I feel nothing. I’ve known people over the years who were flat-out obsessed with Widespread Panic, and I’m sure this isn’t necessarily a good representation of the band’s sound, but I’m still not impressed. Sorry, jam band friends.

  1. Neil Diamond – “Crazy”

Neil Diamond’s “Crazy” is one of three collaborations with Burt Bacharach he included on 1984’s Primitive. This is post-Jazz Singer, post-”Heartlight” Neil, when he was just kind of coasting through the 80s and staying afloat the best he could. It’s an over-produced, middle-of-the-road song built on heavy synths, background vocals, and loud, popping bass … but if you’re into that sort of thing, maybe it’s right up your alley.

  1. Snoop Dogg (featuring Nate Dogg) – “Crazy”

Remember when Snoop had that late-career comeback thanks to the success of “Beautiful” and “Drop it Like it’s Hot”? His “Crazy” came out right smack in the middle of that run, and it finds him rapping slow, steady lines over a bass-heavy beat from producer Fredwreck: Have a look outside and take a stroll with me/ California lifestyle, you wanna roll with me?/ I can take you in and out and where it’s gonna be/ Now as crazy as it is, you know this home for me.

Not exactly mind-blowing stuff here, I know, but it’s still fairly entertaining.

  1. Cat Stevens – “Crazy”

1977’s Izitso is the single most underrated album Cat Stevens ever recorded. The songs are simple and fairly straightforward, but Stevens had recently discovered the world of synthesizers at this point, and he plays with them quite a bit throughout the record. It’s fun and tasteful synth-playing, though, the kind of stuff a genuinely curious musician might play when messing around with a brand new toy. “Was Dog A Doughnut?” remains my favorite Stevens song from this era, but “Crazy” might just my second favorite. Fans of Stevens’ more popular songs should do themselves a favor and seek this one out.

  1. Pylon – “Crazy”

Pylon’s “Crazy” is probably most famous for the fact that R.E.M. covered it in the band’s early days; it was the B-side to the band’s “Driver 8” single and later included on 1987’s Dead Letter Office compilation. I’ll take the pure jangle pop of the original over R.E.M.’s cover any day, though. The guitar work is simple, yet forceful, the snares echo like they were recorded in the Grand Canyon, and Vanessa Briscoe’s lyrics are mesmerizing, even if you can only make out about every third word. There’s a reason R.E.M. loved this band so much; they made raw, beautiful music that could soothe you and knock you on your ass at the same time.

  1. Seal – “Crazy”

Now this is where things really get fun! Seal’s “Crazy” helped propel the singer to superstardom in the early 90s, and there’s no denying that it’s an outstanding pop song. The production sounds like a Moby-mixed cocktail of swirling synths and wah-wah pedals, and Seal had both the talent and the charisma to actually pull off going by such a ridiculous stage name.

Unlike Seal’s other larger-than-life hit, “Kiss from a Rose,” “Crazy” still holds up after all these years. You know that lame soft rock station they play at the dentist’s office? This is one of the few songs played on soft rock radio stations that doesn’t make me want to rip out my hair and fold my bottom lip over my entire face. Admit it: it’s stuck in your head right now, isn’t it? Don’t fight it, folks; let Seal into your heart! But we’re never gonna survive, unless / We get a little crazy

  1. Aerosmith – “Crazy”

I’ve written about my intense Aerosmith fandom in the past, and at the center of that fandom was my love for every single song on the band’s Big Ones compilation from 1994. The albums from that era, including Permanent Vacation (1987), Pump (1989), and Get a Grip (1993), were all loaded with hits, and Big Ones included all of those singles plus a few additional tracks that were pretty great themselves. Aerosmith’s “Crazy” was one of the last singles Get a Grip and boasted the most famous of the band’s three music videos that starred Alicia Silverstone. It also had a young Liv Tyler (Steven’s daughter) dancing in a stripclub and mimmicking her dad’s dance moves … so there’s that.

The song itself is a typically solid Aerosmith ballad from that time with a healthy helping of harmonica and an insanely catchy chorus. And then Tyler ends things like only he can, by shouting “yeah!” about 350 different times. Let me try and transcribe it: Yow! Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah deh-yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah da-yeah da-yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeaaaaah!

How can you not love those guys?

  1. Gnarls Barkley – “Crazy”

In 2006, Cee-Lo Green of the Goodie Mob and superproducer Danger Mouse teamed up and scored the song of the year with their “Crazy.” Gnarls Barkley only put out two albums, but both 2006’s St. Elsewhere and 2008’s The Odd Couple were great from start to finish. Danger Mouse’s productions were overflowing with ideas, and Cee-Lo really came into his own as a weird hybrid of a soul singer and an indie rocker.

If you were anywhere near a radio in 2006 and 2007, you’ve probably heard Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” about 6,000 times. It seemed to replace Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” as the transcendent pop song that everyone on the planet liked to listen to over and over again. Eventually, I had heard it so many times that I’d rush to change the station as soon as I heard, I remember when / I remember, I remember when I lost my mind.

Listening with fresh ears now, though, it’s still a hell of a song, with bass, violins, backing vocals, and a drum machine all competing for attention with Cee-Lo’s magnificent voice. We may never get another Gnarls Barkley record—and judging from some of Cee-Lo’s more recent shenanigans, I’m OK with that—but we’ll always have “Crazy.”

  1. Willie Nelson – “Crazy”

I’m sure everyone saw this coming. Willie Nelson’s “Crazy,” written in 1961, is both the obvious choice and the best choice. His own version is a superb piece of country songwriting, perhaps one of the better country songs of all time, and then Patsy Cline completely made it her own when she recorded the song late that same year. (Did you know she was still recovering from being involved in a serious car accident when she recorded “Crazy”? It draws an unexpected parallel with how Kanye West recorded his first single, “Through the Wire.”)

Willie has mentioned in interviews how much he loves Patsy’s version of “Crazy,” and I think everyone is in agreement that it’s the superior recording. Heck, the song is so ingrained in my brain that I can’t even hear the word “crazy” in conversation without, for just a moment, hearing her beautiful voice.

Now it’s your turn? Where did I go wrong? Which “Crazy” did I fail to mention? Comment below or on social media and let me know!

Note: The song had to be called “Crazy” to be up for consideration, so “Crazy on You,” “Crazy Train,” “Stone Cold Crazy,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Your Love is Driving Me Crazy,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Still Crazy After All These Years,” and “Crazy in Love” didn’t make the cut.

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