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20 Pop Songs That Make Absolutely No Sense Anymore

Time marches on—and some of our favorite pop songs stay stuck in the past. These are the tunes that would have today's kids texting, "LOL—wut?"

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Long before 411 or cell phones, Jim Croce’s wistful tale of trying to reach an ex through the lady at the switchboard was about as high-tech as romance got. But nowadays, aside from calling 911, we use the operator about as often as the Yellow Pages. (The what pages?)

Play: “Operator” by Jim Croce

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“Back in the USSR”

This White Album rocker now sounds like an up-tempo history lesson. It’s been a long time since we heard about the Soviet Union, unless it’s in an ESPN film about Olympic hockey history. Read up on the record albums that are worth a fortune today––the Beatles made the list, and you might just have one of the others laying around.

Play: “Back in the USSR” by The Beatles

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“Sweet Little Sixteen”

The legendary Chuck Berry was the master of describing teenage life in detail. But any reference to the TV show American Bandstand dates even the greatest rock and roll tune. Chuck Berry is also featured on our must-read list of the best-ever Christmas songs––ranked. It’s never too early to get into the spirit!

Play: “Sweet Little Sixteen” by Chuck Berry

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“Western Union” 

This ditty had an infectious doo-do-do hook that stuck in your brain instantly. And in 1967 “15 cents a word” might have been a bargain for a telegram—but when was the last time you or anyone you know sent one? Suffice to say, Western Union is no longer a household name.

Play: “Western Union” by The Five Americans

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05-pop-songs-no-sense-495091114-Lenscap-PhotographyLenscap Photography/shutterstock

“Paperback Writer”

You hear all the time that print is dead. If songs were books, Paul McCartney’s aspiring writer’s tale (inspired by the Beach Boys) would be a dog-eared, well-worn item on your bookshelf.

Play: “Paperback Writer” by The Beatles

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“Please Mr. Postman”

Technology sure has changed relationships. The girl in the song pleads for a letter from her boyfriend—but to be honest that sounds a lot more romantic than waiting for a text.

Play: “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes

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This dreamy 1962 instrumental came out to commemorate the launch of the first communications satellite. Now there are enough of them to fill an iPod of any capacity.

Play: “Telstar” by The Tornados

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“Telephone Line”

Cell phones have made this 1970s pop hit a relic, unless you still have that kitchen wall phone with a mile-long curly cord. That’s what we thought.

Play: “Telephone Line” by Electric Light Orchestra

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“The Letter”

“Give me a ticket for an airplane / Ain’t got time to take a fast train.” The singer has to find a way to contact his girl. And Skype is still 30 years away.

Play: “The Letter” by The Box Tops

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“Route 66”

America’s most historic highway has pretty much been replaced by I-40—which doesn’t sound as snappy, wouldn’t have that swing, and is much harder to rhyme. Check out these other pop songs that were ruined by proper grammar.

Play: “Route 66” by Nat King Cole

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Beechwood 4-5789 (The Marvelettes)

Once upon a time the phone book (remember those?) was full of those lettered exchanges like Beechwood, Wyman, Porter. I always wondered who you had to be to get your name on that many numbers.

Play: “Beechwood 4-5789” by The Marvelettes

12 / 20

“Message in a Bottle”

The memorable lyric refrain tells us that Sting is “sending out an SOS,” which is still valid if you’re a Morse Code lover. But that message in a bottle is still out there, floating somewhere in the ocean.

Play: “Message in a Bottle” by the Police

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Return to Sender (Elvis Presley)

He may have been The King, but even Elvis got turned down in song every once in a while. With the world going from snail mail to cell towers, the title was the 1962 equivalent of “Call Failed.” Check out these little known facts about the greatest songs of all time (Elvis makes the list).

Play: “Return to Sender” by Elvis Presley

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San Francisco (Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair) (Scott McKenzie)

This melodious relic from the “Summer of Love”—readers under 40 can Google it—was a fashion tip for any hippie visiting the Bay Area. Today, not so much.

Play: “San Francisco (Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie

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15-pop-songs-no-sense-231698812-Guy-J.-SagiGuy J. Sagi/shutterstock

Convoy (C.W. McCall)

It spent six weeks at No. 1 on the charts, and to listen to it today, it’s a bizarre word salad of the CB radio chatter favored by truckers of the ’70s set to a country beat. And you can still hear it on the video game Grand Theft Auto V.

Play: “Convoy” by C.W. McCall

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Sunday Paper (Joe Jackson)

This jumping tune by Jackson extols the joys of everyone’s favorite stack of weekend information—at least until the Internet spoiled all that.

Play: “Sunday Paper” by Joe Jackson

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Sweet Hitch-Hiker (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

This 1972 hit by John Fogerty’s group still gets your feet tapping and your body moving. But would any sensible person stick out their thumb on the roadside anymore?

Play: “Sweet Hitch-Hiker” by Creedence Clearwater Revival 

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Twentieth Century Fox (The Doors)

A groovy tune about a slinky Hollywood lady, but from a century that’s come and gone. The woman in the title would be about 70 by now.

Play: “Twentieth Century Fox” by The Doors

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33, 45, 78 (Record Time) (Kathy Mattea)

This country hit from 1992 was, and is, a touching tune about long-lasting love. But for those of you under 30, did you catch the clever vinyl reference? If not, those are the RPMs (speeds) for playing records of different sizes. Now you know.

Play: “33, 45, 78 (Record Time)” by Kathy Mattea

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“Honeymoon on a Rocket Ship”

Snow was a Nashville legend who, as we’ve learned in CMT’s Sun Records, was fleeced out of owning a piece of Elvis. As for this 1953 hit, I don’t even think the folks at NASA call them “rocket ships” anymore.

Play: “Honeymoon on a Rocket Ship” by Hank Snow