Saturday, October 12, 2019

the top ten worst hit songs of 2011

So something every music critic loves to do is craft a 'narrative' surrounding the sound of a specific year, especially with the benefit of hindsight allowing one to track trends or make predictions of what was to come, write a little history along the way.

2011 is not one of those years where that comes easily. On the surface you could make the argument this is where the club boom hit over-saturation and began collapsing in upon itself, with the success stories this year telling what was to come. But while this year would foretell the success of some individual acts and trends - you can argue the popular seeds of bro-country were planted this year, as was Adele's decade-long run and a fondness for retro tones that would eventually be co-opted by artists looking for identity outside their own - hi, Bruno Mars, who got his major push this year - it also feels weirdly ossified in time. For one, 2011 was a year of massive pop diva competition, where most would see their careers fly in wildly different directions by the decade's end or implode entirely. You could argue that 2011 was also the year of Young Money as Lil Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj began notching consistent crossover success... and many could argue that was a mixed blessing at best. And that's not even counting the string of acts that would achieve chart success in 2011 and little else - and what's bizarre is that they weren't part of any one consistent trend or level of quality, which means even in hindsight you can't really draw clear predictions on where anyone was going to go. And here's the strangest thing: for the most part that diversity played to the year's strengths, and wound up just having less bad hits than many years ahead - years like 2013 and 2017 might have hit greater heights, but they also had far deeper lows. Like with 2012, most of the bad stuff in 2011 was more annoying and badly made than offensive, but unlike that year it was a struggle for me to even pin down the worst of what we got... but I did pull something together anyway. You all know the rules, the songs had to debut on this year-end Hot 100 chart, so let's untangle the worst of this messy year, starting with...

10. So as I said, the seeds of bro-country really began to sprout in 2011, for better but mostly for worse. And let me repeat something I've said since I started covering bro-country in depth: to me, it's more a stylistic subgenre rather than an outright insult. You get a decent enough groove or enough charisma and avoid rapping altogether, you can get a good song or even great song. But on the flip side, more often you get this.

10. 'Dirt Road Anthem' by Jason Aldean ft. Ludacris
(Year-End Position: #43)

To this day, this is Jason Aldean's biggest hit on the Hot 100: a sluggish, antisocial slog only briefly invigorated by Ludacris being way better than he needs to be, and yet whose presence seems to have inspired Aldean to rap, which begat a slew of torrid decisions throughout the rest of the decade! Seriously, he snagged a top 10 hit that kept him in the limelight for years to come, and when you realize it was this, you have to wonder what could have happened to country if we had shot this in the crib. And it's genuinely jarring to see how many parts of this song just don't work: it calls itself an anthem but the vibe is generally relaxed and lethargic - probably courtesy of the open beer sitting in the dash on the hook, but hey, considering how drunk you need to be to appreciate most bro-country, I'm not surprised! But the weird thing is that even in the lane of swaggering, macho stoicism that's been Aldean's template for over a decade now, his first verse curdles all of it, bringing the sullen, antisocial posturing that doesn't match Ludacris whatsoever or the hook! And the production really doesn't help matters, because in the grand tradition of assembling songs in post the scratching layered over Ludacris' verse doesn't match with anything, emphasizing a weirdly quicker tempo that feels imported from a different song. Now in all due fairness, both Ludacris and Aldean would go on to make worse music, but 'Dirt Road Anthem' is a mind-melting car wreck, and the fact that beer on Aldean's dash didn't have him pulled over permanently... yeah, that didn't work out so well for us.

9. Of all the songs on my list, this is the one where I struggled the most where to place it. At one point it literally topped this list because it felt skin-crawlingly gross and even with the talent on-board, it really is a lot worse than many remember it to be. Eventually it got bailed out because there's enough raw talent around it to keep it from being a complete disaster... but talent can still play down to this level, as you'll see here.

9. 'Look At Me Now' by Chris Brown ft. Busta Rhymes & Lil Wayne

(Year-End Position: #21)

The most scathing indictment of 2011 is the "redemption" arc of Chris Brown, where thanks to a lot of big name collaborations and handlers who knew his diehard fanbase would continue paying money for this abusive stain, he saw a disgusting amount of success this year. The fact he's only going to clinch one spot on this list is genuinely surprising to me, but good production and tolerable hooks can't save you forever, especially when he thinks this is a good time to showcase his unchecked arrogance and horrible rapping! And between the slimy synth beat that basically sounds unfinished, especially over the verses, and Brown's obsession with his penis - I dearly apologize for putting that image in all of your heads, but this is a safe space, you don't have to say 'hi' to it - it easily earns its spot here. The only reason it's not higher is because Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne show up with fast flows and decent wordplay, but remember when I said talent playing down to a level? Yeah, this is true for both Busta and Wayne, because in the former case it's not like Busta Rhymes says anything or lands a real punchline with his verse - and you can clearly tell it was emailed in because the mix blending is flat garbage - and there's the homophobic slur dropped right in the middle of Wayne's verse - it might have more punchlines and one of the few good Wayne verses we were going to get this decade, but I'm not excusing that. But in the end, it's bravado that feels utterly hollow, and built to prop up the non-charisma of Chris Brown for the 2010s - you did that, America, congratu-fucking-lations...

8. So a comparison I've made to Katy Perry's Teenage Dream era is to Come On Over by Shania Twain - massive smash albums top-heavy with singles but peaks that neither artist would ever really match again, which became all the more true throughout the rest of this decade. But 2011 was Katy Perry arguably near her best, and many of her singles were good to great this year... but not all of them.

8. 'E.T.' by Katy Perry ft. Kanye West

(Year-End Position: #4)

It's tough to assign blame for 'E.T.', because it's really a disaster from top to bottom and nobody gets out unscathed. For one the production is a cacophonous mess - you'd think Dr. Luke and Max Martin working together would be able to land upon a hook beyond a half dozen buzzsaw tones crashing into each other against a blur of hi-hats, incessant Black Eyed Peas-esque beeping, and a percussion line cribbed from 'We Will Rock You', but no! I guess the intention might have been to create something so claustrophobic that Perry sounds like she's being drowned in alien noise and it's foreboding, but there's no comprehension of atmosphere or an understanding that you need a real personality to anchor a song like this - Ellie Goulding would have 'Lights' become a hit just a year later and its alien creepiness was way more convincing. Whereas this headache personified thinks Katy Perry stuttering through her hook with utterly mangled references to being the tragic victim of some alien vampire is workable... especially when that alien seems to be referenced by Kanye West. And let's not mince words: Kanye's guest verses in this era were pretty much incoherent garbage from the jump - hell, most of his verses on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy stray into that territory too - and 'E.T.' is one of his worst examples. 'Bathe my ape in her your Milky Way', which apparently is a sneakers reference but leaves me thinking that Kanye wants to put his foot in her vagina! And if you think that's off the table, Kanye's next verse is all about the alien sex, where he disrobes her, probes her, abducts her, and then because he did so, he tells her what to do - charming! This is your "musical genius", music critics, Kanye talking about alien sex through a half-dozen filters and people think he's so clever - or to quote him, he's called a 'big headed astronaut because Yeezy gets ass a lot'. We're talking about a guy to rhyme 'rockets on deck', he says 'pockets on Shrek' - for no reason, because even with the meme of Shrek nobody has ever cared about his pockets! And if everything I described doesn't convince you this belongs here... yeah, you might be as far out as everything about this exploding Death Star, next!

7. This was another song that nearly topped my list - in fact, if you go back to when I first wrote a version of this list in 2011, this was my #1. And I get now that it's an odd pick - it's basically been forgotten, it's not really worth hating... and yet...

7. 'Don't Wanna Go Home' by Jason Derulo

(Year-End Position: #87)

Really, what has even been Jason Derulo's career in the 2010s? I think by now he's taken his questionable taste and talent in music towards film - he's going to be in the Cats musical, that's happening - now that the hits have finally dried up, but 2011 was a weirdly off year for him. This was the biggest hit from his sophomore album, a project that in comparison with his debut and Tattoos and Talk Dirty surprisingly tanked pretty badly, and yet if it was running off the strength of this single, I get why. This is a song that wants to replicate the J.R. Rotem formula through a frankenstein-esque blend of samples - in this case grabbing from Robin S.'s 'Show Me Love', an interpolation of 'Get Low' by Lil Jon, and most appallingly, 'The Banana Boat Song' by Harry Belafonte, a song that - no jokes here - I've really loved since my childhood! And the fact that this shambling, badly mixed, soulless abomination was the result is gross, the sort of 'club banger' that's reserved for desperate last call panic and somehow skips over the fact a blonde woman in Jason Derulo's lap is passing out! If that's not a sign everyone should go home rather than indulge this pulsating, overlayered rip-off of Chris Brown's worst era to come, with increasingly tinny synths and Derulo's vamping that comes across weirdly petulant, I don't know what is! But again, what I find so obscene about this song is how it interpolates what's basically an old Jamaican work song that I'd argue is timeless... into one of the most painfully dated and grating slices of dance-pop I would hear this year! And what's stunning is that even using that sample this year isn't original, because when Lil Wayne and Cory Gunz put together '6 Foot, 7 Foot', released six months earlier and also making the year-end list, they flipped the same sample and made it work! If that's not the scathing indictment of how utterly soulless this trash is... yeah, everyone should clear out.

6. This song is widely considered one of the worst of 2011 and I think some people might be surprised by how relatively low it is on this list, especially given the number it would do on this artist's career for the rest of the 2010s, especially stateside. And I'm not even sure I've got the same level of hatred towards this as I do other songs on this list... but sometimes you just have to acknowledge the disaster in its wake, and why Enrique Iglesias may have burned his English-language career to the ground, and not even just his...

6. 'Tonight (I'm Fucking You)' by Enrique Iglesias ft. Ludacris & DJ Frank E

(Year-End Position: #16)

So here's another honest truth about me: I used to be a pretty big Enrique Iglesias fan. He had a good command of groove and smoothness, he had a warm breezy vibe I tended to like, he made pretty good Latin pop throughout the 2000s... and yet none of his club boom pivot in the 2010s felt right. It wasn't organic, it wasn't smooth, it was pushy in a way that didn't match his style at all, it was an ugliness that didn't resonate. And this is by far the worst example: there are people in the R&B mold who can pull off the intense, sexually dominant, 'we're fucking tonight, let's go' approach, but that's never been Enrique, and him trying sleazy pickup maneuvers on the second verse that can't even approach making sense like 'if I never lied, then baby you'd be the truth' is baffling. Even Ludacris sounds uncomfortable here - he's one of two bright moments on this song as he takes the same Lil Jon interpolation Derulo did and doesn't realize you can see a woman's pants from any angle, but the lines at the end of his verse imply he's stuck with her, and that's not even close to the vibe to make this work! The other element I can see working here is the prechorus build, but the drop is a cacophony of gummy beeps, terribly layered backing croons, and a blocky gallop that doesn't mesh with anything - I don't know who this DJ Frank E is, but he sure as hell didn't salvage this! And what's so much worse is that you can argue this song nearly killed the careers of Ludacris and Enrique, albeit in different ways. Ludacris might be focusing more on acting, but his music has not found consistent mainstream traction since - a damn shame, we could have used him in the 2010s! And yeah, Enrique would get two more minor English hits with 'Dirty Dancer' and 'Finally Found You' - two songs I guarantee the majority of you forgot existed - but the majority of his work since has been in Spanish; maybe once you tell girls you're going to fuck them and don't do it well, they don't want to hear you talking in a language they understand anymore. Both of these men should have known better and they've paid dearly for this mistake, let's move on.

5. ...we gave the New Boyz a second hit. Why did we do this, America, why?

5. 'Backseat' by New Boyz ft. Dev & The Cataracs

(Year-End Position: #84)

So this was the second single pushed from the New Boyz sophomore album - they would follow this with the somehow even worse 'Better With The Lights Off' with Chris Brown which thankfully missed the year-end charts, but this scraped through courtesy of a hook from production duo The Cataracts and Dev, who would have her one solo hit this year with 'In The Dark' after riding the hook of 'Like A G6' - that's a pedigree of extremely limited talent, people! So it should be no surprise that 'Backseat' is a clunky, overproduced annoyance with no redeeming factors - although I do find it ironic that many of the crushing warps of bass and synth are not that far removed from what the PC Music crew are pushing now, and about as badly mixed too! But the problems go beyond that: Dev has very little in the way of personality or presence and the New Boyz somehow have even less, with flows jacked from Ludacris and Lil Wayne respectively, and wordplay that seems co-opted from songs that are just as disposable - the shallow annoyance is becoming fractal! And yet I can't even say it executes the sleaze all that well - yes, we all know the terrible line, 'I heard you had a baby, you want a New Boy in you', which would put this on the list on principle, but the hook doesn't even scan properly - I get the backseat driver double entendre, but backseat drivers are annoying and about the furthest thing from sexy, which is what you expect from two kids who talk about taking this girl trick or treating and unironically reference LMFAO! Again, just like in 2010 this is taking cheap shots at a duo that basically flamed out after this, but considering the three car pileup of this song, I think my analysis is the jaws of life.

4. So this song in particular is an odd case: normally I emphasize whenever I make a 'worst hits' list that disappointments tend to place higher because you had expectations, but what happens when you have an artist who goes in the opposite direction, goes on to make much better music with time and has no desire to ever return to this sound? Well, it manufactures a little distance from the song and curbs some of my rampant disgust... until you go back and relisten to it and find it all come rushing back.

4. 'The Lazy Song' by Bruno Mars

(Year-End Position: #26)

I have no earthly clue why Bruno Mars thought pushing this as a single was a good idea, especially when he had 'The Other Side' with Cee-Lo and B.o.B in their prime on the album and that should have been a smash hit! But on the other hand, I get why 'The Lazy Song' worked - it appeals to the lowest and dumbest brand of College Humour that even that site would have excoriated, and yet for this dippity-doo brand of crappiness to succeed doesn't surprise me at all! It caters to the same vacant nonsense that gave Jason Mraz a second wind around this time, with somehow even worse lyrics all about masturbating, staring at fans, learning how to dougie, and waking up the next day to do P90X and have great sex with a nice girl. Look, I know college bros for whom this is their life, but did we really need another song pandering to that overprivileged demographic, that treats getting a college degree as 'messing around' - hell, in the cultural climate of 2019 with the avalanche of student debt I can't imagine anyone with self-awareness buying into this! And that's one reason why even despite the criticisms of what Todd in the Shadows described as 'white guy with acoustic guitar' music, I can't throw the label aside, because even though Bruno Mars is not white, this song is emblematic of everything lazy, mindless, and detestable about the genre! Granted, it's not really a label as relevant anymore given the collapse of most adult-alternative music after the 2000s and how streaming playlists have turned easy-listening monogenre pop into a different clusterfuck... but dear god it's applicable here. Because at the end of the day, who wants to think about Bruno Mars strutting in his birthday suit and letting everything hang loose against jaunty whistles and cheap acoustic strumming - and then hear him describe it as such! Again, thank God he's moved on to better sounds - it might be shamelessly retro and lacking unique personality, but at least it's not this.

3. It took me a while to truly come to dislike this song. Because back in 2011, when I first heard it, I wasn't a fan but it didn't bother me. And yet for this decade it's only gotten consistently worse, to the point where it surpassed many songs I'd consider easier picks for higher on this list. Yet the more I listened to this, the more I realized it wasn't an absence of good qualities that made this so unlistenable - there was just plenty of bad to go around!

3. 'Tonight, Tonight' by Hot Chelle Rae

(Year-End Position: #32)

Going back to the history of Hot Chelle Rae - a group built on nepotism and a group propelled to success thanks to a Glee connection, you've got an act that's built for disposability. And in and of itself, that's not a terrible thing: a lot of pop music is, and one reason I like pop as much as I do is finding the gems that take the inherent short lifespan of the genre and become timeless. Hot Chelle Rae, meanwhile, was working a badly produced Radio Disney formula about four years out of date, tried to embrace a smattering of post-modern irony that shows zero understanding of how to do that, and had a second single featuring New Boyz - the fractal crappiness is multiplying exponentially! But I'm actually making the claim that 'Tonight, Tonight' is a bad song, not just one with no redeeming qualities, and that goes to the whole 'post-modern' thing I referenced: I've talked about this before but something I've gotten really sick of is the critic bait of bands throwing together pop culture references with zero connective tissue and pretending that passes as an artistic statement, and Hot Chelle Rae try something like that with the off-beat non sequiteur nature of their storytelling. The most memorable moments on the song are trying to draw attention to its own tossed-off disposability, like the comparison of his ex to Zack Galifianakis, because watch how far they'll fake it - and that highlights a fundamental lie at the base of it: it's a song that wants to say it's conned an unthinking industry so even the white kids can dance along, when in reality it's the definition of privilege to get its success! Also, the synths are incredibly tinny, the melody line is beyond basic, and the mugging of everyone involved makes my skin craw. It's an artistic lie, and the greatest irony of all is that this group didn't have any more real hits - for good riddance.

2. But going back to nepotism the ever-fertile topic of dicks flopping everywhere...

2. 'Sexy and I Know It' by LMFAO

(Year-End Position: #57)

If we want to talk about the dregs of the club boom, we have to talk about the short-lived and incredibly obnoxious career of LMFAO, a group that had family connections to the founder of Motown Barry Gordy and got a few number one hits out of it. And if we're being honest, there's not a lot to analyze or even contextualize with a group like this - an utter lack of dimensionality doesn't have to be a weakness if your one strength connects, look at Lil Jon. The problem is that after 'Party Rock Anthem', LMFAO had nothing but shrill, braying synths, cheap percussion, a surprising lack of groove, and some of the most asinine lyrics to drop in this era. Again, like 'Tonight, Tonight', 'Sexy and I Know It' is trying to be ironic and shocking with its non-taste but says nothing with it, music that tries to revel and comment on its empty shittiness and winds up a complete headache as a result. It's a bad Family Guy joke of a song, and when you realize the layers of emptiness surrounding a song like this, I have to paraphrase Jeff Winger from the first season of Community, 'they've got no shoes and no shirt, so how have they not died from lack of service'? The irony is that LMFAO would fade dramatically as the club boom collapsed, with little in the way of hits to hold up - they performed with Madonna at the Super Bowl ever so briefly, and then went on indefinite hiatus, and even revisiting this song to place it on this list, I don't think anyone is looking for that return any time soon.

But before we get to our #1 pick - which might surprise some of you, given what we've gone through - a few Dishonourable Mentions...

The Far East Movement try to leverage Ryan Tedder for a second hit, and it's boringly crappy like you'd otherwise expect, with the insubstantial nature of his production and shrill delivery matching the Far East Movement having absolutely nothing to say. You know it's a bad sign when the group references their only other hit on this song in the second verse, that's all I'm saying.

2011 was widely cited as the year The Black Eyed Peas took the brunt of the backlash they'd been building up throughout the club boom, and this is not usually the song that gets the majority of attention. But going back to it, it's alarming how bad 'Just Can't Get Enough' really is. The stuttered percussion sounds like a crumpled mess trying to imitate Kanye's formula, especially with that crumpling lo-fi sound, the vocal filters strip away any semblance of human personality - which doesn't match with Fergie pulling lines on her first verse from a Vietnamese prostitute on her first verse - and while the hook might be pretty with the strings and Fergie trying for a more sensitive delivery, the song will contort all over itself on the verses before switching into a fast-paced breakdown for the finale that matches with nothing! So yeah, this is a mess that trips over any good elements, and while we're on that subject...

I do feel a little bad that Keri Hilson became most known for this single inside her brief window of relevance, another song that could have played for empowerment anthem territory if it didn't epically miss the point. This song is often criticized because the verse structure is incredibly clumsy and the stuttering percussion plays off the pianos really awkwardly, and that's before the g-funk synths are drizzled over it, but it's the exact same problem that Daya faced when she made 'Sit Still, Look Pretty': less 'you're beautiful' and more 'I'm beautiful', so it comes across like an ego trip. Of course, the great irony of this song is that Keri Hilson actually didn't write it - Ne-Yo did, and it has the sort of male-coded, one-dimensional egotism and presumption that has coloured a lot of his worst songs. So yeah, total misfire, it's not surprising the pretty girl rock didn't catch on.

And on the topic of men dictating the self-esteem anthems of the fairer sex, we have 'How To Love' from Lil Wayne, his attempt at an acoustic ballad that tries to double down on how this girl is so insecure and how she could never quite figure out how to love... until he tells her. And there are two major problems with this song: the percussion consistently sounds like ass with the snare mixed way too close to the front, chopping any acoustic rhythm into fragments; and I don't remotely buy this coming from Lil Wayne slurred-over drawl. I get maybe having a moment of sincerity, him trying to lean into the same lane Drake has, but for as stilted as his references to the 'crooks' on this song, I can't help but think of tracks like 'Love Me' that would drop two years alter and this comes across as a lot more manipulative. So yeah, questionable intentions at the time, aged pretty badly, but do you want to know what sucked even then?

There are too many acts in country music who lean on the conceit of 'oh, this girl is crazy and she just needs a strong, sturdy man to love her back in line' - very few songs are as blunt about it as this is, delivered by perpetual second-stringers The Eli Young Band. Aside from the fact the song has a really awkward structure, it feels condescending as all hell, especially with the attempt to make it better with his confession of love on the hook. And what's exasperating is that this was very nearly their biggest hit - and that even respectable artists like Luke Combs try and play to this territory even to this day. But on the topic of songs aging badly...

This was a song I hated in 2011, and while I briefly came around on it later in the decade, in 2019 I think I can acknowledge that not only has Foster The People utterly squandered any potential they might have, but 'Pumped Up Kicks' is terrible. The good groove is inconsistent, the delivery is wispy as all hell, the whistle is insufferable, the solo is a nonentity, Mark Foster's delivery grates on my nerves, and let's not forget, this is a jaunty song intentionally written from the perspective of a school shooter! Now Foster got in hot water for this even in 2011, where he tried to blow off criticisms by saying that he was 'spreading awareness', and forget how bafflingly myopic that seems now, but even then, when you realize there's no real commentary being presented beyond this kid is a dumbass playing with his dad's gun, it's genuinely jarring, especially with such a lightweight tone, the hook being the rote revenge fantasy, and it not even feeling representative of what school shootings actually entail! And that's not even getting into all the cowboy iconography - which if Foster was framing this as a commentary on masculine archetypes he completely missed the boat - and... look, I'm not saying you can't make even irreverent songs about school shootings, but if your go-to example is this faux-indie fart in the wind, you can do a lot better.

This song almost made my list because the synth drop sounds like a badly maintained fax machine passing gas, especially given how it comes off of a potentially interesting sample flip of 'Time Of My Life' from Dirty Dancing, but the truth is with the decay of that movie's reputation this decade and the song honestly feeling a little overplayed on those 80s playlists, the sharp whiplash in quality between 'the time' and the 'dirty bit' has shrunk considerably. It's still a desecration of a classic song that was probably worth taking out the Black Eyed Peas' career for several years, but it's one that hasn't lasted; The Beginning became their end.

And now to our final entry...

1. So I've spent a longer time than most finalizing my picks for this list, mostly because as I said, this year didn't have an outright offensive song that had to seize the #1, although there are absolutely a few that are close. And while I've always thought this song was atrocious, even back in 2011, I'm a little surprised that it's my #1 now. But as I've always said: to gain considerable placements on this list, disappointment is a factor - and for the most notable chart success of the return of this duo to be this song, even if the better single eventually eclipsed its position in everyone's mind... yeah, time to put this fire out.

1. 'Lighters' by Bad Meets Evil ft. Bruno Mars

(Year-End Position: #34)

If you want a scathing indictment of how the Recovery era of Eminem has aged really badly, it's 'Lighters', a pop crossover from the Bad Meets Evil reunion that had no business being released by anyone. Apparently this was not actually intended for Hell: The Sequel at all, instead being planned for Royce's album, but when Eminem heard this beat, he was so inspired he wrote a verse - yes, this beat. I'd say that whoever mixed it afterwards apparently didn't care that his vocal fidelity doesn't match that of Royce or Bruno Mars at all, but then you discover that Em was apparently involved in the mixing of this song - so this was intentional and makes it so much worse, because you can't even say this was a corporate calculation to get Bruno's hook that doesn't tonally match with anything here, especially in the content! Granted, I blame Eminem a lot more for this - this was the stage of his career where he began prioritizing speed and technical wordplay over coherence and song structure, which is why his flow feels so damn jerky and spasmodic, but the problem comes in the content. The petulant anger and intensity doesn't match with anything, and that's before Eminem goes on about how he wants to milk the rap game's nipples, or how he doesn't understand how palindromes work, or how his obsession with his dick means the majority of this list is an engorged phallic symbol! But for as much as Eminem wants to flex his success, he continues to try and frame himself as an underdog and not only does that feel tonally incoherent, at this point in 2011 it's not even true! Now Royce you'd think would be better - a little more reserved, he's not going to include lines about stabbing people on a lighters-in-the-air celebratory song - but his emotionality is just as muddy here, where there are parts where he's talking about supporting his family and now flexing as Em's right hand man, and then a string of bitter poop references culminating in how he doesn't want to go down on women with a bush. Not the only pussy reference he crams in here, as he tries to sketch out a dramatic arc of early success, then failure, then success again, but the lack of connective phrases or a well-structured rhyme scheme to work alongside it makes it really messy to parse out, not helped when he clumsily references Bruno Mars mooning the crowd at the VMAs... and we're supposed to take his hook seriously now? Again, the song is a disaster of bad ideas, bad mixing, and production that doesn't work at all for the shambling composite this song winds up being, and when you consider all the talent and budget behind these guys and you wind up with this? At the end of the day, I find this damn near unlistenable - there is no time and place in which this song as a whole works for me, and given how that has remained the same for nearly a decade... it's the worst hit song of 2011. And given how 'Fast Lane' has overtaken it in the cultural conversation... I don't think anyone misses this either.


  1. Definitely don't think E.T. belongs on this list, I think it's a damn good song though admittedly Kanye's verse does sound a bit out of place. I can think of worse hit songs that should've been on this list instead, like New Boyz "Better with the Lights Off" (featuring your boy Chris Brown!) even since Rap Critic ranted about how terrible that song was it's been on my radar and my go-to example for bad music from 2011.

    1. Did you not read that it missed the year-end the list?

  2. Also Just Can't Get Enough is one of my favorite songs from 2011, I know it's got flaws but I love it, it's a "beautiful hot mess" to quote Lindsay Ellis.

  3. no way in hell should "Lighters" be number one, I think you are 100% dead wrong about this era of Eminem aging badly, I really dig this song in spite of it's occasionally shaky lyrics, I think it's damn fine.