The Most Unwanted Song

"The Most Unwanted Song"
The Most Unwanted Song 250px.jpg
Song by Komar and Melamid and Dave Soldier
from the album The People's Choice: Music
Released 1997 (1997)
Genre Experimental, avant-garde, opera, polka, hip hop ("Unwanted")
Soft rock, R&B ("Wanted")
Length 21:58
Label Mulatta, Needlejuice
Composer(s) Dave Soldier
Lyricist(s) Nina Mankin

"The Most Unwanted Song" is an "avant-garde" novelty song created by artists Komar and Melamid and composer Dave Soldier in 1997. The song was designed to incorporate lyrical and musical elements that were annoying to most people. These elements included bagpipes, cowboy music, an opera singer rapping, and a children's choir that urged listeners to go shopping at Walmart.[1]

The song, along with its counterpart "The Most Wanted Song" on the CD The People's Choice: Music was originally sold at the Dia's bookstore[2] and released in 2001 by Soldier's record label, Mulatta Records.[3] In 2019, The People's Choice: Music was remastered and reissued on vinyl, CD and cassette by Needlejuice Records.[4]


Beginning in 1994, Russian-born American graphic artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid created a series of "most wanted" and "least wanted" paintings ("Выбор народа"), based on visual aspects found to be most "wanted" and "unwanted" by people as measured in an opinion poll conducted by a professional polling company. These paintings were included in the book Painting by Numbers: Komar and Melamid's Scientific Guide to Art, published in 1997.[5]

The artists were approached by a gallery owner to make a CD for him (ultimately, the Dia Art Foundation helped to release the CD) and they approached American composer and performer Dave Soldier (a.k.a. David Sulzer, neuroscientist) with whom they were working on an opera, "Naked Revolution" for The Kitchen in New York City. Soldier suggested adapting the concept of Komar and Melamid's The People's Choice painting series, to create a musical project, titled The People's Choice: Music, which again used the opinions of the public, as measured by polling surveys, to determine which elements of the medium were 'most wanted' and 'least wanted'. The polls were written by Soldier and taken via the Dia Foundation in the spring of 1996.[1][2]

According to Soldier's poll, the survey of approximately 500 Dia visitors revealed that the themes, instruments and other aspects that people least wanted to hear included cowboy music, bagpipes, accordions, opera, rap music, children's voices, tubas, drum machines and advertising jingles. They then incorporated all of these elements into a 22-minute-long song, titled "The Most Unwanted Song".[6]

To create the song, Soldier, Komar and Melamid collaborated with lyricist Nina Mankin. Komar and Melamid debuted the song at a 1997 New York City performance, where they together played a bass drum, and were joined by Soldier (who played a banjo), soprano Dina Emerson, a large group of musicians conducted by Norman Yamada and a children's choir.[6]

Vocals and lyrics

The main vocals of the song are provided by Emerson, whose high-pitched, operatic rapping features both references to Wittgenstein and casual swearing.[1] Emerson's rap is largely cowboy-themed.[1]

In addition to the rapping, a children's choir sings about various holidays (Christmas, Yom Kippur, Ramadan and Labor Day, among others), ending each verse with the line "Do all your shopping at Walmart!"[1]

Near the end of the song, Mankin shouts political phrases through a bullhorn.[1]

"The Most Wanted Song"

For The People's Choice: Music CD, "The Most Unwanted Song" was paired with "The Most Wanted Song", which incorporated musical elements that were "wanted" by listeners, again as determined by a public opinion survey. Instruments such as saxophone, electric guitar, bass, piano and drums, and lyrics about love were "most wanted" by the survey respondents, and are included in the song, which has been described as "Celine Dion-esque".[7]

The vocals for "The Most Wanted Song" are provided by Ada Dyer and Ronnie Gent; Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid is featured on guitar.[2]

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