Sunday, December 25, 2016

the top ten worst hit songs of 2016

I'm going to try and maintain a level composure for as long as possible with this list. I know so many of you will want me to get good and furious - after all, it's the Worst Hits of 2016, this is when you're supposed to deliver the killing blow with righteous fury. This is your chance to exile the dregs to whatever just punishment they deserve, take a blowtorch to the rectum of a year that so many music critics have already branded as one of the worst in recent memory, certainly this decade. And if you look at the year-end Hot 100...

Well, here's the thing: due to my stipulation that I can only choose songs from that list, and the fact that I have my weekly show Billboard BREAKDOWN discussing all of these changes in detail, I've been acutely aware of this disaster for months now - I've seen it happen in slow motion. The calls of '2016 is the worst' picked up in the summer and exploded this fall - not helped by cultural forces beyond the charts themselves - but it becomes disheartening when you've been coping with it week after week and you can explain in excruciating detail why this happened. What it reminds me of most are the charts in the very early 90s - replacing Paula Abdul ripoffs for Rihanna ripoffs, an embrace of tepid tropical or adult contemporary sounds in pop that stank of non-effort, and when there were new acts on the horizon they looked to have no sustainable future in sight - or at the very least you hoped they didn't. Hell, even country in the early 90s was on the upswing thanks to the neotraditional sound like the Americana revival today, but whereas we could look to shifting trends in hip-hop and rock to revitalize that decade going forward... well, in rap we somehow managed to get the dregs of an otherwise promising year and the most 'rock' getting airplay was twenty one pilots and X Ambassadors. As I said, every critic has already told you this year was dreck, now it's time to go deeper and count out the worst of the worst. Fair warning, this is going to get ugly, so let's start with Dishonourable Mentions!

It should really be a crime to make a song about cunnilingus this unsexy - oh, you think it's got potential with the bassline and Joe Jonas trying to bring some loose funk to the pre-chorus, but by the time we get to the hook it's the metaphorical sand between the rose pedals, a migraine encapsulated in every shrill underweight squeal from Jonas' falsetto. The entire chorus is a trainwreck, not helped by the guitar, bass, and synth all trying to compete with variants of the same melody line and a hook that when its not trying to croon over this wave of noise becomes the sort of braying shout that inevitably became a staple of Spring Break in 2016. Or to put it another way, this is the sort of song that their go-to sex reference is a brief relationship between P. Diddy and Naomi Campbell in 2002 - I guess it's breezy, but only until the waves come up, get salt in everything, and send this back into the ocean with the tide - next!

I was on the fence between whether this or 'One Dance' would have hit this list, but despite far worse production, 'One Dance' is a trifle - it is emptiness personified, beyond the doofy hook there's nothing there. What 'Pop Style' represents is waste at frankly a criminal level - Drake gets Jay Z, but only has him speak two bars. He gets Kanye, who to his credit stays on topic and slaps back with a verse seemingly designed to bait controversy... and then on the album cut Drake was so terrified of being upstaged he cut both of their performances for another lousy verse. And to be fair he does get shown up here - 'got so many chains they call me Chaining Tatum', are you really trying your hardest here, Drake? Hell, even the hook stinks of non-effort - I actually kind of liked the eerie pianos and ghostly backing vocals until it flattens into this clunky, bass-heavy drone where Drake can't even be bothered to try - there's no sense of paranoia or atmosphere, just laziness all around from the forced hard rhyming to Drake's half-drugged delivery... and on the topic of utterly tedious songs...

If I'm going to blame Lana Del Rey for anything in a year where she didn't even drop an album, it's going to be for popularizing and glamorizing empty relationship melodrama, with this being one of the bigger snoozers of the pack. And yet it falls short even of that standard, because there's nothing glamorous about this, not even seedy in a way that has flavor or texture. Just dead-eyed pianos, an utterly forgettable female vocalist, and gnash's bars that lack charisma or any sort of distinguishing character outside of a pair of badly chosen Hedley references! And what gets especially toxic is that there's no clear narrative to the story here: Olivia O'Brien is convinced he's pining over some other girl, but gnash doesn't even mention that - in fact he spends the majority of his verse not communicating, the first girl leaving him after he rejected more commitment even if that was what he wants and now he's rejecting his new girl and my GOD, at least when I was listening to emo high school melodrama it had a goddamn pulse and some anxious energy. This is a Xanax suppository of a song that can't earn its drama - at least 'We Don't Talk Anymore', which had far worse production and far less compelling lyrics and is the far weaker version of 'Somebody That I Used To Know' that nobody wanted at least ended things and made it clear they were moving on! But speaking of utterly contemptible behavior...

Of all the Drake songs that charted this year... well, if 'Child's Play' had stuck around long enough, it'd probably make the list, but in its absence I'll settle for this shoddily-produced assault to decency that really should have been more controversial than it was. Yes, I get that it's technically a DJ Khaled song, but given that all he contributes is the intro and outro, not even the production, but really, Drake dominates the track - or tries to, I find it hard to consider his passive-aggressive concern trolling as anything close to dominant. And from the first verse, the titular parallels, and the line 'like your boy from Compton says / you know this dick ain't free', you can tell this is a dig at Kendrick Lamar and Drake taking her like so many other girls. Of course, when Kendrick made the 'For Free' interlude he was taunting America - Drake isn't quite on that level so he resorts to bars saying this girl's stomach is 'on flat flat' and that he's just double-checking on her and not putting pressure, even when a few lines later we get the unspoken threat 'you know what it was when you signed up', charming. And all of this is paired with a muted and yet brittle melody that doesn't remotely match the blocky bass beat and sandy touches of percussion that goes nowhere - which is a perfect way to describe the complacent non-progression of this song. Ugh, next!

And on the topic of artists associated with DJ Khaled... I think that a lot of people pretty much forgot this track existed or at the very least were willing to give it a pass thanks to a bouncier vibe with decent synth layering and brighter cymbals in an otherwise dreary summer. But all of that ignores the fact that Kent Jones is just a terrible frontman, on a song about scoring with foreign girls somehow having less class and tact than Jason Derulo! This song interpolates a Barry White song and yet somehow none of it translates off that prechorus as Kent Jones brushes aside this girl's concerns that she's got a guy because hey, he doesn't speak English, what can he do? You know, I'm fairly certain a fist to the jaw and a boot to the nuts is universal across multiple languages, but the larger fact is the utterly dismissive tone of the writing, where the girl is trying to entice him... and yet the lesson he wants to teach is that locations don't matter and he's going to continue nailing a string of girls with lines like 'she gives me desktop til I overload' and 'she from Africa, but she fuck me like she Haitian'... and I'm not sure I've got the mental fortitude to unpack that. Look, nobody has heard anything from Kent Jones since - appears that big DJ Khaled cosign doesn't get you far - and yet this song, which thinks a grade school foreign greetings lesson passes for a pickup line, still stinks - next.

I've already thoroughly torn through this song with The LP Club when we discussed Daya's mess of a debut titled after this song, the ultimate try-hard pop record of 2016, but that doesn't mean this badly made junk is escaping the chopping block. And look, I've stood up for plenty of songs with strong feminist subtext in the past, but if you're going to make an anthem, you definitely need a singer with more gravitas and swell than Daya, especially considering how little Daya is willing to compromise to take that position. Like Meghan Trainor she seems to default to archaic gender roles that were outdated thirty years ago and say that 'Snow White had it right' using the seven dwarves to do her chores... say, didn't Snow White eat a poison apple, fall into a deep sleep, and still had to get saved by the kiss of a prince anyway? And doesn't Daya on the bridge try to jack a line from Beyonce's 'Pretty Hurts' and yet only comes across as reinforcing her insecurity, half because she doesn't have Beyonce's confidence and half because it comes as a desperate attempt to reassert that the observer still thinks she's pretty? That's probably the most frustrating part of this song: it's entirely defined by what Daya doesn't want to be - allegedly - while not providing her much identity of her own. It's only saved from being higher on the list because in terms of badly framed feminist tracts, the wiry and yet sandy melodic interplay on the hook actually has a little swing to it in comparison to how stiff the rest of the song is - and because we'll be seeing Daya a little later on this list.

I'm actually a little stunned this didn't make the top ten proper, considering how thoroughly worthless I consider both artists attached to this, from the gaudy flattened tropical synths against the fake snaps and handclaps, awful vocal filters, to one of the worst drops of 2016 that has no depth or punch. I'll say this for Halsey, she's trying to inject some personality into this, but Andrew Taggart has nothing close to charisma or personality behind the microphone and sounds wretched as he tries and fails to compete. But what's always been insulting about this dreck is the self-serving ego of the songwriting, with Taggart playing a miserable and utterly unlikeable guy finally getting the chance to screw the rich girl who dumped him in university a few years later, because after all, they're never getting older. And here's the thing: thinking about this song in isolation it might have worked... until you go through The Chainsmokers' collected work and see their noxious pattern of placing their female singers in positions of desperate submission, which turns my stomach. It screams of the mercenary calculation of a song like this, all to serve frontmen who have come to represent the very worst of modern pop music - again, I'm stunned this didn't make the list proper.

And now on to that list...

10. There's a part of me that's a little bittersweet with this entry, almost to the point where I was inclined to be merciful. Hell, it was only a few days ago when we got the announcement that the member who despite having the least talent has had the most success and thus pulled a Nicole Scherzinger and left the group. And yet, it's not without its tedious, near vomit-inducing parting gift. But hey, if you're left puking and need to step out of the office early, at least Fifth Harmony knows where you can get work done... or, well...

10. 'Work From Home' by Fifth Harmony ft. Ty Dolla $ign (Billboard Year-End Chart Position #16)

Look, Fifth Harmony might have improved with 7/27, but 'Worth It' only just missed the list last year and 'Work From Home' is considerably worse. A popping synth line, bass beat, and a set of squeals straight from DJ Mustard's reject pile that leads to a set of twinkling keys that build a little more more depth against breathing sounds that make me think someone didn't have the guts to add gang vocals. And when you add Fifth Harmony singing with the flat affection of someone who would need sensuality explained to them and a chorus that's utterly devoid of life, it makes for a song about skipping work for sex feel more like work! And of course Fifth Harmony don't actually harmonize, but I've come to expect that - what raised more alarm bells were all the flubbed rhymes and Fifth Harmony thinking it's okay to send NSFW pics to get their paramour fired - because after all, he's the boss at home - and then for her to turn the bed into an ocean... fellas, porn is not real life, nobody squirts that much! And to compound that image, add Ty Dolla $ign - who drops a completely forgettable verse about Fifth Harmony twerking and him screwing them where honestly even he sounds like he's punching time, and even then it's not enough to disguise Camilla's horribly autotuned vocals layered over the final chorus. I don't expect Fifth Harmony will make better music now that she's finally gone, but at least now they've got a chance. As for me... god, I need a vacation.

9. I've always said that if you want to have a very clear shot of getting onto this list, the worst thing you could do is disappoint me. And that's how this artist landed near the top of my worst list in 2012 - which yes, I'll revisit and turn to video eventually, but I don't see that song dropping. And it absolutely breaks my heart that her big comeback was this... and yet, even if it wasn't her, this is inexcusable.

9. 'Just Like Fire' by Pink (Billboard Year-End Chart Position #33)

I've gone on the record a number of times that I'm a Pink fan. Her work from 2001-2008 was a shot of bratty yet intelligent pop rock that easily held its own, and 'So What' is one of my favourite hit songs of the decade. And yet in 2012 everything seemed to fall apart on the overproduced mess that was The Truth About Love, the album I thought killed her career. But instead she took a few years off, did an album with the guy from City & Color, and then did about the worst thing possible: put together a soundtrack hit for the sequel to Disney's live-action Alice In Wonderland. And whatever they were paying her was clearly not enough for her to care, because this is one of the most soulless and empty pop comebacks to drop this year - and yet where Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani and Katy Perry struggled, Pink somehow succeeded with one of the worst hits of her career. Gutless acoustics that try to recall the sour energy that worked on her hit 'Sober' before breaking into the bland percussion-over-melody formula that has crippled so many otherwise good pop songs in the past three years - seriously, I hear more trap snares than electric guitar and that's just wrong. And that's not even getting to the screechy segment in the hooks or the lyrics that evoke fire as the main metaphor but can't bring any of that madness to the instrumental, plus that rap bridge that's reminds me less of her aggressive delivery on a song like 'Humble Neighborhoods' and more like Taylor Swift's rap bridge on 'Shake It Off' - you know, when she sold out too! Nothing close to fire went into this gutless waste of time for a terrible movie - reminds me more of a stiff breeze full of ash, signaling the death of a career that deserved a better end - next!

8. And on the topic of disappointments that had real potential before squandering all of it...

8. 'Really Really' by Kevin Gates (Billboard Year-End Chart Position #92)

So here's a question, does anyone actually remember Kevin Gates? I say that because he had two hits this year and a fair amount of buzz that seemed to evaporate once Islah dropped along with any semblance of talent or originality - also possibly having something to do with the fact he was banging his cousin for two years, but you never know. A prime example of personality triumphing over any else, I was originally backing this guy when I covered 'I Don't Get Tired', but while '2 Phones' was just asinine with a goofy hook, 'Really Really' was inexcusable. Aside from the annoying as hell multitracking over this dull, bass-heavy organ line, this is all about Kevin Gates trying to convince us he's all about that life - 'really really'. And you know, you say it like that, I'm immediately skeptical, especially when you assert your diamonds shine because they are real diamonds - lots of things are shiny, dude - that he can sing - which the hook proves as woefully msiguided - him treating your girl like nothing special, eating out Jhene Aiko's ass, and like his relationship with your girl like a 'flaking relationship, no eczema'. And tell me if I'm wrong here, but does anyone or anything want to consider any of that or Kevin Gates when talking about sex? Throw in all the dropped rhymes and the headache-inducing chorus and the fact that this guy actually had some potential, and you have a song I can barely get through in one sitting. At least I can't see us getting any more from Kevin Gates, and right now, I'm fine with that.

7. There are only a few artists that inspire the sort of dispassionate loathing that any note from their songs sends a tremble of rage down my spine. Normally it's because I've reviewed one of their albums and I know exactly how bad it can get - or in this particular case team up with a colleague because neither of us were getting through it alone. And this isn't even the worst song from the record, but that doesn't mean we don't have a repeat offender for this list!

7. 'One Call Away' by Charlie Puth (Billboard Year-End Chart Position #43)

I've said plenty of harsh things about Charlie Puth when Jon from ARTV and I teamed up to review his critically panned album Nine Track Mind, but in case you need a reminder, here's my piece on 'One Call Away': it's rancid, basic garbage propped up by a singer who thinks that by resurrected Pat Boone's gutless lack of soul he'll get all the girls swooning. This song in particular relies on the fundamental principle that if you - the audience - feel weak and insecure, Charlie Puth will step up to save you and sweep you off your feet - after all, Superman has nothing on him! So it seems like after crapping on my favourite boy band with his cheap excuses in 'Marvin Gaye' he resorts to taking a dump on one of my favourite superheroes - and after Batman v. Superman, hadn't he suffered enough - and it's also where this song falls apart completely. A song like this, so stripped back and basic in its composition and production and structure and writing, it relies almost entirely on the presence of the singer, and Charlie Puth has none. No bass in his voice, no believable belting, his falsetto is painfully thin, and unlike Superman who could hear anyone around the world in trouble, Puth is just one call away. I get the impression he's just pining by the phone, waiting for someone - anyone - to call - and given how miserably Nine Track Mind was received, he's going to be waiting a long, long time.

6. I'm a little shocked how few times I've seen this track on year-end worst lists thus far. I mean, my particular contempt for Kevin Gates aside, none of these picks should be that surprising, there's inevitably going to be overlap. But I get the impression that a lot of people have tried to forget this song exists by any means necessary, or have made excuse after excuse to protect it. So let me remove some of those excuses once and for all.

6. 'Wicked' by Future (Billboard Year-End Chart Position #97)

When people will eventually look back at the career of Future, they'll note three distinct periods of his career. The first, everything up to 2014, where he was an utterly talentless rapper with no interesting content, a poor ear for beats, and a singing voice that lived and died on autotune; the second, 2015 when he channeled his rage and depression at getting dumped by Ciara into some passably nihilistic club bangers on the coattails of Drake, and 2016 onwards, where even that well ran dry. And let's make this clear, despite a few hits this was not a good year for Future, where copycats like Desiigner took the #1 first and overexposure seriously set in. And of course there was this, an awful waste of time and effort that only barely scraped the bottom of the year-end list and yet finds new ways to piss me off every time! An incomprehensible hook blurred into autotuned mush, rhymes and meter dropped almost at random - less than a third of this track bothers to rhyme - a trap beat against a cloudy haze of synth that does nothing remotely interesting, and, lest we forget, Future complaining about girls on Instagram bad-mouthing him and that he has 'Taliban-gang status'. All of this intended to emphasize that he's 'wicked' which he pronounces half yawning... and no, I don't buy it and I'm not giving him a pass. This isn't wicked, it's pissy posturing and whining that lacks any sort of bite, grit, or originality. It's lazy and even by the standards of the mumble-rap genre that Future has popularized, it sounds like unfinished garbage. And since Future plainly doesn't care, why should I -next!

5. Okay, there's an art to minimalism, to relying on only a few elements to make an artistic statement. If you're only using a few things to create your mood and atmosphere, they need to be top of the line and they need to fit together seamlessly - one thing out of place and it all falls apart. That's one reason why I tend to be hard on stripped back acoustic songs, or piano ballads - it's the bare minimum of setup, and that means everything else from performance to the lyrics to the composition needs to be at its best. And then you get the cases where it goes for minimalism because it's got no budget, no energy, no cohesive message or impact, no talent...

5. 'Gold' by Kiiara (Billboard Year-End Chart Position #52)

See, one of the reasons people hated Iggy Azalea so much - beyond everything she said and did - was that her gangsta posturing and accent was so recognizable as phony. In reality it's not like Rick Ross was any more of a gangsta, but he's at least been somewhat convincing in the role. Newcomer Kiiara, on the other hand, has not convinced anyone of anything at anytime anywhere, much less that she's a gold-wearing femme fatale that leaves bodies on the pavement! Seriously, am I hearing amateur hour here - not just in the stripped back production with the low synth and popping sound in a mix drowned in reverb that of course brings in pitch-shifted vocals, but the most recognizable part of the song is a scrambled splatter of words that was probably fixed in post! I've had YouTube Poops of me that are more melodic and compelling - at least they would evolve the instrumentation a bit instead of this utterly underweight and colorless fragment holding together three and a half minutes of nothing. And then we get to the utterly confused nature of the content - you know, if you're such a man-eater, Kiiara, why do you spend chunks of the song complaining that he was never emotionally available for you, when in reality you were just going to screw his brother with the personality of a leaky faucet? But let's get real, this song exists for the same reason Iggy Azalea briefly was popular: for sheltered white girls who don't know any better to pretend they're hard. And I'll be the one to say it: Iggy Azalea did this better. There's a reason Kiiara has had no more hits, and let's keep it that way.

4. I've already talked a bit about this artist already, and I don't think it's going to surprise anyone that she landed twice on this list. And I can already see the defenders saying that it's unfair, she's young, she doesn't know any better, there's a place for that adolescent perspective... well, let me make my rebuttal.

4. 'Hide Away' by Daya (Billboard Year-End Chart Position #84)

So you know those artists who are so obviously unready for primetime that it instantly sours your first impression? I don't think I've ever felt that so strongly as I have with Daya in 2016, because in a world where Lorde is at the top and Alessia Cara is somewhere near the middle, Daya is among the wannabes. And while she cemented that position with 'Sit Still Look Pretty', I've always considered 'Hide Away' far worse. The desaturated keys, the cheap preset beat shoved right to the front of the mix that sounds painfully fake, the jagged synth that only seems to emphasize Daya's lack of vocal polish, and that's before we get to the lyrics. And look, I get that adolescent impulse when everyone else seems to have a partner and you don't, but what you don't do is spend an entire song prospectively negging both the guys and girls in the picture in a way that shows you don't have the furthest comprehension what you want! And it's kind of funny how you can read the song in two completely different ways that are bogus: either guys like girls who think they're funny or talk them up - because who doesn't - or guys like squealing airheads that put out and treat girls like dirt in response, so way to slut-shame and mischaracterize guys, because I can state emphatically the majority of us don't care for high school gossip! But it gets worse, because if you're so desperate for a good boy - because you're such a good girl and ugh the moralism in this song makes me want to puke - why do you then want to lead him on a chase, only for him to save your life like Superman? I'd say Charlie Puth is the perfect partner for Daya here, but I also get the impression neither of them would know what to do with each other's parts and they'd end up writing godawful songs about it - trust me, nobody wants that!

3. It's been a running joke on multiple channels - I think Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop started it originally - that there's a certain phrase that's positioned before mentioning this guy and this song. And I think ultimately it's been taken out of context, because this is not intended by me to mock these types of warnings, which do indeed have some limited usages in the right context. Of course the general idea is that when ready you confront what you're facing ahead of you, but the point of this warning in particular is intended for those social justice-leaning types: if you really want to speak up about the appropriation of black culture by white artists who don't know what the hell they're doing, you need to actually take a stand and fight the real enemy. In other words, TRIGGER WARNING: it's Post Malone.

3. 'White Iverson' by Post Malone (Billboard Year-End Chart Position #65)

I've been waiting a full year to cover this godawful dreck, and since there's no way in hell I'm covering Stoney, let's take out the trash. Post Malone is 2016's Vanilla Ice crossed with Jack Johnson, an artist with godawful rhymes and content trying to assert street cred he does not have over instrumentation with no personality or energy - it's a shot of pure heroin to the eye socket and liquid cement dumped in each ear. And given that there is no shortage of underground rappers using this reverb-drenched autotuned style, I'm coming to the easy conclusion that he got popular because he was just white enough to imitate the style without coming across as threatening. But that's assuming for me he raises any reaction beyond bloodcurdling rage, because if you can dig past the auditory sludge he dares to call music, his bars are terrible even by the standards of mumble rap. Forget the fact that from his flow I seriously doubt he snorts cocaine, but we're supposed to recognize him from his nosebleeds and stream of basketball references where of course he flubs rhymes as he claims to be the 'white Iverson'? Allen Iverson could at least bring some hustle and intensity where you could understand why he skipped practice which spurred the famous rant, whereas this reeks of the non-effort you get from a hasbeen celebrity phoning it in on the court. In a just world Post Malone will never get to that point, but as it is this has the tepid reek of privileged non-effort - call it vibe music all you want, but America, you chose this over Anderson .Paak, and I sincerely hope you're proud of yourself - because you shouldn't be.

2. Oh, I bet a lot of you were assuming this would be my #1. I think for a lot of critics it's the obvious choice, a lot of people were heralding this as one of the worst songs of the year since the album was released. But at the end of the day, I get the impression this was the song that killed her career, the second step down a change in direction that not even her diehard fans wanted, because no follow-up hit from that sophomore charted. And as such I'm inclined to be modestly charitable, given that I won't have to deal with her again - and so quickly after she topped my worst list in the top two slots last year! And really, for as abysmal as this track is, I didn't see the possibility of cultural damage the same way her hits last year - or my number #1 this year - could do, mostly because she turned inward to stare lovingly into the mirror...

2. 'Me Too' by Meghan Trainor (Billboard Year-End Chart Position #62)

If you've seen my lists before, you should all know I don't have an intrinsic problem with ego in modern pop music. It needs to feel genuine, which this is, and at least from an outsider's perspective, you need to be able to see where someone might be coming from, which with this you can. But just putting it out there, maybe it's not a good idea whatsoever to spend an entire song rubbing your audience's face in it, especially when the arrogance far exceeds the talent! At least when hip-hop artists or rock stars made their thunderous anthems to themselves, there was swell and bombast and at least a hope that the audience, if not able to relate, could get swept in that cathartic rush. Meghan Trainor has no power or swell thanks to an utterly flat delivery on the hook, and from her lyrics, absolutely no self-awareness, which can basically be summed up in this godawful couplet: 'my life's a movie, Tom Cruise / so bless me baby, achoo' - only the second sneezing reference we've seen on this list! But we don't even need to go that far - the first verse barely holds to the meter, forces rhymes, and it's all against this blubbery bass fragment that sounds like's left-overs. Hell, the entire song sounds like something the Black Eyed Peas would have rejected in 2011 with the mechanical vocals, squeals, and pitch-shifting, and thus whenever the guitar tries to come in, especially on the bridge, it feels staggeringly out of place, a remnant of Meghan Trainor's old sound where sure, she never sounded that good but better than this. And look, even, even plumbing the depths of idiocy with songs like 'The Time (Dirty Bit)' or 'My Humps' or when he helped with Fergie's solo work like 'Fergalicious' to which this has more than a passing resemblance, he was smart enough to never insult the audience! That's just basic stuff nd it's the reason seemingly everyone knew this song was awful, it's in the hook: 'if I was you, I'd rather be me too'. Well, Miss Trainor, given this will probably be the last time I see you on the Hot 100 for some time, and I can state this definitively: I do not want to be you, and if my suspicions are correct, you won't want to be you anytime soon.

1. But at the end of the day this top spot has to go to the song that enrages me the most, not just the one with the least good, not just the one that will inflict the most cultural damage, but the one that will linger like a toxic fungus and with future hits ensures that he's not going away, no how much sane, thinking adults might want him to just leave. And when you tack on the fact that I once was rooting for this kid and he had genuine potential... yeah, there was no way this slot was going to anyone besides Shawn Mendes.

1. 'Treat You Better' by Shawn Mendes (Billboard Year-End Chart Position #28)

It's rare when you find a song where not only is everything toxic and wrong, it also keep revealing new elements to stun you with their wrongness! The fact that 'Treat You Better' is such an obvious desaturated retread musically of 'Stitches' put me in the mind that Shawn Mendes might as well be a new Nickelback, Canadian and all, but for as turgid and foul as Nickelback could be, even at their most sludgy and bland or when they were ripping off themselves like 'Someday' was for 'This Is How You Remind Me', they at least had chugging swell and a certain swagger and charisma that I could somewhat respect. Shawn Mendes seemed to have this when he started, but by the time he released his turd of a sophomore album Illuminate, that was gone in favor of cheap, atrociously writen, horribly performed dreck, cribbing from the One Direction school of preying on his teenage fanbase's insecurities to win their hearts - except worse, because at least at their worst One Direction had energy and at least were trying to have fun! 'Treat You Better' doesn't even have the decency to do that: it's turgid and dank with the hammering percussion crushing the acoustics to convey some sort of urgency, which could work in a song where Mendes is trying to steal someone's girlfriend, but lyrically it's not framed like that: Mendes is trying to set himself up to look sensitive, because after all, he's such a nice guy! But it goes so much worse than that, because Shawn Mendes can't even hold the facade together - 'why are we wasting time / on all your wasted crying /when you should be with me instead', even if you buy the video's bullshit trying to frame him as rescuing this girl from an abusive situation - and if you're relying on the video to explain the text of your song you have failed a songwriter - does this sound like someone who is genuinely sensitive and wants to comfort you after being abused, or someone who is possessive and thinking with his dick? And what's more infuriating is that there's no evidence whatsoever that this girl even wants Mendes - she hasn't given him a sign, otherwise why would he be asking on the bridge - we're just getting his unwelcome interjections into someone else's relationship. But what's really sick and twisted about this comes in the second verse, as Shawn says 'tell me what you want to do' - he's giving her the illusion of choice, he's not sweeping her off her feet to rescue her from a bad situation. But here's the rub: there's absolutely no evidence Shawn Mendes has any respect for this girl's choices, because if he had, he'd never have made such a toxic, intrusive song like this in the first place! Throw in Shawn Mendes' delivery at his pissiest and a final chorus line that has been roundly mocked all around the internet, at the end of the day I'm just left feeling sickened - and not just because of the song, but because this track on YouTube has half a billion views. Yep, the parting gift from Vine has somehow been normalized, the mewling message from Shawn Mendes and Teddy Geiger to girls that you deserve guys who want to play mind games when you're not theirs and disregard your feelings when you are. Americans, does that sound familiar? Not an exact parallel - again, this kid's Canadian - but at the end of the day it's sniveling, craven, devoid of charm and absolutely worthless - and it doesn't seem to be going away. Shawn Mendes says he can stop time - but he can't stop Ed Sheeran and Hozier from coming back and rendering him as irrelevant as his failed pop star cowriter. In other words, 2017 can't come fast enough.


  1. I'm going to have to disagree with you here. You forgot to mention that White Iverson is SO GODDAMN BORING that it's downright rage fuel. Also, if Me Too is the obvious #1, then why the hell has it not been #1 on anyone's worst list yet? Also, Treat You Better has topped 2 lists, both yours and Into The Flames'.

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    2. Me Too has been #1 on several worst lists, you probably just haven't looked hard enough.

      And are you that same obnoxious Anonymous guy who was giving Mark such a hard time for his best list last year? I really hope you aren't...

    3. TF? No, I've never even heard what he called #1 in 2015, "The Hills"'s Eminem remix until 2017. Also, I did remember ARTV, who put Me Too at No. 1.

    4. @Scott: Would you believe it if I said that the obnoxious visitor last year was me? Because it was. I really regret it. - WonkeyDude98

  2. Not saying i like her but the reason kiiara didn't have more hits is because she didn't have more singles,only 1,she is not really trying to be popular,she never was but we made her song did,tecnically it is our fault that this was a hit

  3. 10. Okay, I may disagree, but I'm one of 1.5 critics that unironically like Fifth Harmony.
    9. knife me
    8. Okay, this song is only a 5/10 from me.
    7. KNIFE ME
    4. Bad, but not godawful
    3. *places glock in mouth*

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