It’s September and there has yet to be a song on the Hot 100 that I can definitively call great this year. There are no “Uptown Funk”s, no “Get Lucky”s, no “FourFiveSeconds” destroying the charts; the summer was dominated by total garbage that wasn’t fun or catchy or even poppy; the beginning of the year seemed promising, but most hits since then have either been too boring and uneventful to merit real conversation, or too stupid and lazy for me to even want to talk about. The top 20 bored me to tears.
Yeah, this year sucks. But luckily there have been some songs this year worth discussing! None of them are good (OK, almost none), but hey, why not talk about the horrible year of pop music that has been 2016? After all, amidst the bland sea of mediocrity, you can always be sure to fish up something so utterly offensive in some way that you just have to write about it! Not everything can be boring.
1. Don’t Let Me Down – The Chainsmokers
Wherein the talentless hacks who released that pile of garbage “#selfie” back in 2013 triumphantly return to obliterate our senses with a “song” that’s essentially two mediocre hooks mashed together in a trash compacter with some chick named Daya, producing an utterly wretched, unlistenable turd of a song with no melody to speak of, completely worthless lyrics, and a drop that sounds like “#selfie”‘s synthesizer “hook” (these quotation marks confusing enough yet?), except somehow worse, being as it’s just two grotesque notes repeated ad nauseam until you want to jump off a bridge and hit your head 17 times on the way down. Fuck off.
2. This Is What You Came For –
Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna
Rihanna is one of pop music’s most distinctive and iconic voices. Calvin Harris has produced one good song in his career. This song is a failure. Fairly cut-and-dry, yeah? Oh, and I hate this song because Harris has the audacity to use Rihanna’s voice on the hook to go “yoo-ooo-ooo-oou” like nobody’ll care that fucking Rihanna has been reduced to the chick who goes “yoo-ooo-ooo-oou” on hooks. Does that make any sense? I don’t care. This blows.
3. Can’t Stop The Feeling! – Justin Timberlake
The exclamation point in the title is the most exciting thing about this song unless you’re a dad in his mid-forties. Best part is widely agreed upon to be the pre-chorus, and even calling that a “best part” feels wrong. A Justin Timberlake song without Timbaland makes about as much sense as a Future song without Metro Boomin: if an artist has a signature sound, why lose it? TimberLAME!
4. Ride – Twenty One Pilots
Worst vocal hook of the year, bar fucking none. Good lord, what is that boy doing with his voice? The “owowooo” thing I could probably forgive on its own, but following it up with “faaawlin” and “RAYEAYEAAAYDE” is unforgivable. The chorus is overwrought too, all irritating stretched syllables and grating synths. And the fake-ass reggae beat is an ugly pastiche as well; who wants to hear something so ungainly and un-pop on the pop radio? Next.
5. One Dance – Drake
Look, I know If YOu’re Reading This It’s TOO Late was a track dump; it’s OK, I can forgive that. The Meek Mill beef ended up well for you, “Hotline Bling” is an absolute delight no matter how many times I spin it, and “Back To Back Freestyle” was pretty dope! I’ve been defending you for years, saying that after Nothing Was The Same you were destined to do something really great. Your R&B side would come out full force and you’d do something mind-blowing.
But dude, this sucks. Views sucks. I can’t defend this weak-as-water excuse for singing, this dopey beat, these eye-roll worthy lyrics. Please start trying again. Make another “Hotline Bling”.
6. Pillowtalk – Zayn
My two cents on this non-song: it’s boring, it barely exists at all, it’s a shallow rip-off of guys like the Weeknd who actually had to work and develop their sound before coming up, and it starts and stops so abruptly, with choruses that are so indistinct, that I’d submit to you that this isn’t a song. I mean, if I scrolled to a random part, I couldn’t tell you where I was; none of the lyrics stand out, nor any musical idea. As it stands it’s an absolute slog, distinctly un-sexy and dull. People who think this is sensual or hot probably have the most boring sex imaginable.
7. 7 Years – Lukas Graham
The very fine reviewer Todd In the Shadows already pointed out how shit this is, so I’ll keep it quick and clean: terrible, egomaniacal lyrics that just scream preening douchebag, as well as pretension thinly veiled as emotion; overwrought instrumentation; a break in the middle to indulge in a crowd crying out Lukas Graham’s name (FUCK YOU); and garbage singing fit for a hair metal ballad. Organic instruments do not a good song make. Fuck this song.
8. I Took A Pill In Ibiza (SeeB Remix) – Mike Posner
Mike Posner had a hit in 2016. It’s OK. The lyrics, while self-deprecating in a way that probably should annoy me (a little too self-aware, methinks), are delivered simply as “My life is good but I’m unhappy” and nothing more. Completely unpretentious. I admire that. And this remix has undoubtedly the best drop in an EDM song of 2016 thus far; you can take pills to this. Or dance. It sounds like a good time. Good song.
9. Panda – Desiigner
Good shit here, but I actually like the version on The Life of Pablo better; it layers the beats in a way that accentuates both song’s strengths: “Father Stretch My Hands'” soul sample and “Panda”‘s indelible opening bars. But this is still awesome: dig those weird r-rolling noises Desiigner does throughout the song, and the sleepy but active beat backing his excellent flow. Quotable, too; “I got broads in Atlanta” is as good a punchline to a nonexistant joke as Yeezy’s come up with this year. And who cares about Future-biting when the song is so good? Best rap song in the top 20 this year.
10. Stressed Out – Twenty One Pilots
Agreeable lyrics, certainly, and some clever ones here and there; silly little synth line on the hook that I enjoy every time I hear it (despite the hook itself being so odd); and an OK chorus. It’s… fine. I guess. Not much of note, in all honesty. Why are these guys stars again?
11. Cold Water – Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber and MØ
Nice little reverb-y guitar line running through te song; what’s unfortunate is that Justin Bieber does a Cudi-tastic job of douching up the song with his disingenuous, flat inflections and voice. I like the clatter of drums that sound like they’re rushing into the drop like a raindrop from a cloud; what’s unfortunate is that the drop kind of sucks because it isn’t particularly exciting or memorable (theme of 2016, I see.) Really excellent bridge with MØ doing a great job actually showing a bit of emotion in the face of the featureless drop; what’s unfortunate is that it’s immediately followed by the lame drop and Bieber’s douche-singing. Could have been really good, I think. As it stands it’s decent.
12. Cheap Thrills – Sia ft. Sean Paul
“Cheap Thrills” sounds like a rejected Rihanna song. It is.
13. Work From Home – Fifth Harmony ft. Ty Dolla $ign
Horrendous, especially during the ugly, dinky chorus; why they had to repeat “work work work work work work” is beyond me, but it sounds like ass. [Insert joke about Rihanna’s “Work” here] Reminds me of almost any given Jason DeRulo song; pathetic, lazy, grotesquely sexualized in a purposely non-sexual way, terribly produced, and unbearably sung. Lyrics are so bad I could throw all them up on here and they’d speak for the song as a whole. Gross.
14. Work – Rihanna ft. Drake
Erm… I actually like this one. “Workworworworwo” is a pretty catchy hook in all honesty, and though I hated the phony accent at first, I did warm up to it eventually. Drake’s verse is useless (who’d have guessed), but dammit, that beat and that chorus are fun. You can dance to it. I’m having fun. I’m not that cynical. Have fun!