While music discussion and analysis is a fruitful and engaging way to better understand the medium and broaden your horizons, I’ve found nothing brings people together quite like slagging off songs we can all universally despise. So I bring you the ten worst songs I’ve been subjected to this year, all are from the radio because they have the added bonus of actually being forced upon you for weeks on end.
- “The Greatest” – Sia ft. Kendrick Lamar
The unfortunate truth about 2016 Sia is that, she doesn’t have to try anymore, no matter what she puts out the mainstream music outlets will hail her as this higher being thanks to her “artsy” image and the fact she writes her own songs. Nevermind that an overwhelming amount of her output this year has been rubbish, culminating in this dull, faux-inspirational and inconspicuously pro-Clinton anthem. “Oh, oh I’ve got stamina” she declares over the same rehashed tropical-flavoured instrumentation we heard in “Cheap Thrills” with accompanying lyrics that are phoned in even by her low standards. Oh yeah and there’s a shit Kendrick Lamar verse on here as if he needed that on his resume.
- “Wherever I Go” – Onerepublic
This song is insane, which is something I can usually vibe with, but Onerepublic aren’t a name that comes to mind when you think of dissonance and there’s a reason for that. This song is a disjointed descent into the depths of Ryan Tedder’s obvious writer’s block as the yelpy falsetto-driven chorus assaults your ear canals at every opportunity. The song builds and bursts randomly with very little in the way of tangible structure. The inconsistent production and instrumentation top off this ridiculous song with layers of beaming pianos and meek percussion.
- “Rockabye” – Clean Bandit, Anne Marie, Sean Paul
There’s this theory sociological theory known as cultural capital, it refers to the social hierarchy of cultural aspects is used in conjunction with actual capital to dictate a person’s class. While we also learned that the lines between high and low cultural values are blurred in modern society I believe quite confidently that the new Clean Bandit single has very low cultural capital. Attempting to tell a story of admirable single-motherhood through the veneer of an insipid House beat and a Sean Paul feature, Clean Bandit have some clear issues with topic framing. Then there’s that awful hook that samples the popular lullaby from which the song is named, but by that point you’ve already stopped caring.
- “Alarm” – Anne Marie
Some more Anne Marie and this time we have her inescapable single “Alarm”. Upon initial listens I didn’t hate this song, certainly didn’t enjoy it, but no I didn’t hate it. Everything deplorable about this song is hidden beneath a layer of tolerable mediocrity. You can thank the mainstream radio for scraping away at that layer to reveal the failure underneath. Much of the problem is with Anne herself who is an utterly unconvincing performer who comes off as irritating and bratty instead of the intended empowered sound. The production makes and ill-fated attempt at EDM with the chorus drop and worsens Anne’s already thin voice with cheap, grating vocal effects.
- “Hello Friday” – Flo Rida ft. Jason Derulo
You know you have a disaster on your hands when you’re listening to a Flo Rida song and genuinely believe that he is better than this. Yes even Flo Rida is better than this. This feels like the kind of song exclusively written and distributed by our corporate overlords to lessen the civil unrest amongst the working population. This track sounds like it was banged out in under an hour by everyone involved, especially Derulo who is a more than capable Pop star at this point and sounds so slack on this track. There are hundreds, HUNDREDS of better odes to everyone’s favourite weekday.
- “Don’t Wanna Know” – Maroon 5 ft. Kendrick Lamar
I still get excited to hear another Maroon 5 song, because no matter how many atrocious singles they put out, they still released “Makes Me Wonder” all those years ago. This isn’t a Maroon 5 song; this is a half-assed Adam Levine performance over a basic trop-house beat with a Kendrick Lamar feature that is over in a heartbeat. You can’t even get blitzed and dance to this song there is so little energy and the hook is just pathetic. I acknowledge the bright moments in Maroon 5’s catalogue but unlike what seems to be a majority of the general public I’m not going to give them a pass on bullshit like this.
- “No Money” – Gatlantis
There should be a quota for the amount of outright unpleasant sounds that can be in a song before they are automatically disqualified from public distribution. This would prevent shit like this from getting out into the mainstream. The child vocals on this are insufferable and reach painfully high-pitches as they sail of the bright synths of the drop. The story about standing up to bullying told through the lyrics of the song is also so childish and basic that even with a tolerable delivery I’d probably still hate this.
- “M.I.L.F. $” – Fergie
They had to know this was going to be a catastrophe when they released this, I have a sneaking suspicion the record company and Fergie herself hoped this would sell purely on shock value. Fortunately, this nihilistic presumption did not pay off and even with the mountain of shock it procured upon release it sold and charted badly. The song fails at the most basic levels with its bludgeoning beat, Fergie’s repetitious delivery and the abhorrent lyrics. It’s the subtleties that really make this classically bad though, Fergie spelling out like three words on the second verse and then her attempts to redeem herself by belting out the bridge which both sounds awful and totally out of place.
- “Treat You Better” – Shawn Mendes
I actually had hope for Shawn Mendes at the start, even with his obnoxiously whiny voice there was still potential for a decent Pop artist there, as his first single “Something Big” highlighted. His songwriters have utterly failed him this year though and the fedora tipping anthem of the year “Treat You Better” is the result. That’s right lads, Mr. Mendes is coming to snatch up your girl with his moral superiority. Nevermind the fact that these morals should actually prevent him from lusting over some girl that’s in a presumably bad relationship. All this fedora-fuelled rambling is backed by a limp guitar line and culminates in the single most horrible vocal in 2016 as Shawn properly spits the dummy as her cries “bedda than he can”. Terrible, just terrible.
- “Me Too” – Meghan Trainor
I hate Meghan Trainor to the point where it’s not even just critique anymore, I hate her smug self-righteousness, her idiotic hypocrisy and of course her complete lack of musical inclination. She is a serviceable singer and that’s where the talent ends, the rest of her music is just virtue-signalling and overtly transparent attempts to reel in insecure women. What makes this song particularly bad is that it’s written for the people like me, “if I was you, I’d wanna be me too”, she enunciates awkwardly, taunting me with her completely undeserved successes. The beat itself sounds like something Will.I.Am would have churned out in the late 2000’s with these cheap stabs of bass contrasting terribly with the doo-wop styled pre-choruses. There’s a special place in hell waiting for Meghan Trainor and all those who continue to ensure her success.