2016 is finally over. We have endured the endless ‘2016 Was the Worst Year Ever’ memes, and the even more obnoxious ‘2016 Wasn’t Nearly as Bad as the Year ____’ memes. But is is definitely over. And as we let out a sigh of relief and release David Attenborough from his cyrogenic pod, we can set about picking amongst the bones of a year that was costly for everyone. None moreso, than a follower of pop music.
Compiling this list was difficult because so few songs drew any reaction from me at all, be it vitriol or high praise. However, there are always at least a few really bad songs to pick from. So without further ado let us cast a wary ear over the very worst that the year had to offer.
10. Ride – Twenty One Pilots
Twenty One Pilots make me feel old. The kids love em. They’re the reincarnation of Linkin Park. Shrill, angsty music that teenagers can annoy their parents with. In a way I’m glad teens listen to this. They are a lot better, musically, than all the Nu-Metal crap that made up my adolescence. I just find them supremely annoying.
The singer goes for this reggae vocal twang but it doesn’t work. He sounds like Mr Sulu.
The beats are big, really big, which I can respect, but they are so prominent that it gives the song this weird drum n’ bass feel. This clashes with everything else in the band. You have very slight keyboards, reggae rhythms and a playful vocal style. Then these enormous drums which overpower everything. It can work, they have a song called ‘Lane Boy’ which is sort of fun.
But ‘Ride’ lays their limitations bear. Either play rough drum music, or play polished alt-pop. When you mix the two you get a total mess.There is nothing that is memorable or fun about this song. It sounds like a jungle song that a trashy emo band decided to remix. This one is no goØd.
9. Don’t Let Me Down – The Chainsmokers Ft. Daya
This is that rare song that is rendered unlistenable by a single element so toxic, it stinks up the whole thing. Daya has a great hook on the track, a dark tone is set by guitar and a gradual drum build, only to get to a chorus that makes me want to give up on life and move to Suffolk.
Can you hear that horrible sounding, industrial buzzing sound? It really shows that EDM hasn’t learnt anything since Benny Benassi’s ‘Satisfaction’. Do people enjoy the sound of random droning sounds?
Once upon a time, teenagers saved up to buy a cheap Fender just so they could play the riff from ‘Smoke on the Water’. Are the kids of today yearning for a good sequencer so they can learn how to play the main hook from ‘Don’t Let Me Down’?
I’m all for instrumental breaks in dance music, as this can provide the moments of intensity that EDM requires. Take for example ‘Blame’ by Calvin Harris, which has awesome breakdowns which releases the friction built up in the pre-chorus.
Just don’t make your instrumental hook a flat and cheap-sounding loop. Is it even an instrument? Is it a sample of some piece of industrial apparatus like a kango breaker? Whatever it is it sank the track and made for painful listening.
8. By Your Side – Jonas Blue ft. RAYE
Here is another song that starts pretty well before doing a proverbial shit with it’s clothes on. I have a shameless love of big House-y keyboards ever since Duke Dumont showed me the way. However, like all things in life, there’s only so far your love for something can be stretched.
I was on board for perhaps the first 30 seconds before every hackneyed cliché of dance music descended on ‘By Your Side’ like baby boomers into the sale at Cotton Traders.
It starts in the pre-chorus where Generic McFemale-Guest-On-A-House-Track gives us possibly the most unremarkable set of lyrics since George Formby wrote ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’.
She’s waited up all night, she’s waited all her life, now she won’t let you leave. Okay then. Not exactly Wuthering Heights. But it isn’t even a viable House lyric; not exactly a genre renowned for it’s depth in the first place.
From there we get the chorus itself in which, following the trend towards droning monotony throughout the past year, the title is repeated, pitch-shifted and elongated in a bid to paper over the crap beat and cheesy strings. It sounds dreadful, and Jonas Blue can do better.
7. I Would Like – Zara Larsson
Continuing the theme of pop songs which start well and then go awry, in steps Zara Larsson. It’s a shame that a song as amazing as ‘Lush Life’ was followed up with this crap.
When you’re a hip young thing, and even you can’t make a lyric like “I would like / to get under your sexy body” work, then there’s an issue. That clunker aside, the hooky intro and nice build lead to a chorus that frustrates rather than elates. Hopefully she can return in greater style, because Zara has serious chops.
6. Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid) – Fall Out Boy
That a remake of Ghostbusters was the most political movie of the year is pretty sad in itself. Though not as sad as the legions of man-babies who used the movie as an excuse to spew misogynistic bile all over Twitter, lead by that fucking melt Milo Yiannopoulos.
However it was a bang average film with a bang average soundtrack, except for the few standout moments, like the comedy. And no I’m not talking about the film here. The funniest thing to come out of this project was the horribly embarrassing cover of Ray Parker Jr.’s iconic theme by, ya bois, Fall Out Boy. Remember them?
FOB, as in, FOBbed off the Ghostbusters theme to some useless wankers, were occasionally fun. Songs like ‘Sugar We’re Going Down’ and ‘Thnks fr th Mmrs’ were a huge part of indie rock when I was growing up.
However more often than not, their songs were tin-eared, smartie-addled dreck; rock music for kids, and kids with poor taste at that.
If you thought their comeback ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’ was adolescent, cringe-inducing trash then you have no idea.
They take one of the most iconic riffs of all time and manage to take it down with such force and speed, it’s like some kind of blundering close-quarters-combat technique.
The high-point of the song comes at 2.47 where Patrick Stump enthuses:”Bustin’ makes me feel so good”.
5. Hymn For The Weekend – Coldplay
I’ll be honest, even I am getting tired of people hating on Coldplay. ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’ proved to be a proper grower, and I regret that on release I slagged it off. It shows a band capable of capturing a new sound.
However I’ll have to except present company, because I hate this song. I’m fairly sure the energy I’ve exerted loathing this song is the only thing that’s carried me through the year.
“I’m feeling drunk and high” Chris Martin squawks, in his signature, mucus-infused nightmare of a singing voice. But it isn’t just the delivery that sucks, it’s the false-heartedness.
Chris Martin is not drunk. He’s not high. Nor has he ever been. Perhaps the man strawpedoes a Bacardi Breezer before going on stage, but he simply does not embody that lyric whatsoever.
Jagger could sing that line. Bono, circa Achtung Baby, could have sung that line. Not Martin. His idea of a hot Friday night is BBC Four and a mug of ovaltine.
4. Everything Released By Shawn Mendes
This lad and his music may be the shittest breakout since July 1914. Painfully pubescent tales of teenage romance, sung in a nasally whine and played on acoustic guitar, may be my least preferred style of music.
Worst of all, it’s always total dream boats singing this type of stuff. Who the hell is turning you down Shawn? Are you hitting on quakers?
It’s the over-sincerity with which Mendes delivers this crap that bothers me. He wants so badly to be earnest even though his music is completely featureless and could literally be sung by any white male with sad eyes born in the late nineties.
He may be young, but that’s no excuse. Kate Bush penned ‘The Man With the Child in His Eyes’ when she was sixteen. Pull your finger out!
3. Don’t Wanna Know – Maroon 5 Feat. Kendrick Lamar
I’ve talked about this already, which you can read if you care. This song is terrible for three reasons. Firstly: because it’s terrible. Secondly: because it was written by a band I once really rated. Thirdly: it epitomises and furthers a growing trend towards monotony in pop music.
Massive static choruses that go nowhere, painful singing, and a misunderstanding and misuse of tropical flavours which produces something reductive rather than minimalist. This is chart-bating dross.
2. Fight Song – Rachel Platten
The keen observers among you will note this song was actually released in 2015, however, it was still kicking about the charts in early 2016, so I’m going for it. In the end I found this song too offensive to not moan about.
The fun of music is that there is no right or wrong opinion. Everything is relative to the listener, and some of us (many of us) prefer the work of 5ive to say, The Beatles’ White Album, even though the latter is one of the most critically acclaimed works of all time.
However, if you like this song, then you need to get your brain checked. I’m sorry but I’m not willing to bend on this one.
We all love a song that gives us strength and courage, that gets the old blood pumping in times of difficulty. We all have our own song like this and it varies from person to person. The classic is of course:
How can anyone feel empowered by the lyric ‘This is my fight song / Take back my life song / Prove I’m alright song’? It’s so lame! She rhymes ‘song’ three times.
The whole thing is so pandering and weak. This is no anthem. This isn’t a prize-fighter that’s got your back. It has all the grit, strength and purpose of an immunocompromised nine year old.
1. Me Too – Meghan Trainor
If you actually like the music of Meghan Trainor I want to meet you. I want to sit you down and go through some scenarios to work out what’s going on with you. Like a Voight-Kampff test.
This song is almost impossibly bad, and while there is some argument that the delivery is sarcastic, it ultimately isn’t is it. This stinks to high heaven.
‘Hark at me and my success!’ cries Meghan Trainor on ‘Me Too’. Jay-Z can pull that off. Meghan Trainor cannot, because no one in the world wants to be her. Choice lyric: “What’s that icy thang hangin’ ’round my neck?
Lyrical dogshit is accompanied by truly horrid production and style. The rubbery, droning bassline, obnoxious distortion effects, and by the way, who thought a sped-up snippet of Trainor, or some other knob, singing “Turn dee bass up!” was a good idea?!
This is easily one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I would rather grow a whole new appendix, have it go septic, and then get it wrenched out of me by Les Battersby in hospital scrubs, than hear this song again.