Hello, and welcome back to Ranting About Music’s Listmas! Today, we’re counting down the top five worst hits of the year, the lowest of the low. So, who made the cut?
5. One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful
Despite pushing a new album this year, Beiber wasn’t the runaway teen idol success of 2012. That honor would go to British walking mannequins One Direction, who made it big in the US with “What Makes You Beautiful”. I kind of want the Beibs back.
This song’s made my teeth curl since the first time I heard it. The I-IV-V chord progression/”dun, dun dun, dun dun, dun dun dun” riff is lazier and dumber than the Four Chords of Pop, and the atrocious, hyper-clipped, headache-inducing production is one of the biggest casualties in the loudness war I’ve ever heard. But what really put “What Makes You Beautiful” over the edge for me were the lyrics. On the surface, “What Makes You Beautiful” is just another Good Self-Esteem Song with the main lyric “You don’t know you’re beautiful, that’s what makes you beautiful”. But instead of just letting the subject lie, and have the audience assume the girl’s humble, One Erection drive the point that she’s really insecure, and keep pushing that they’re the ones right. It sounds like something a pick-up artist would use: less for her benefit, and more for theirs. Did these guys come from Britain with a return policy?
4. fun. – Some Nights
It’s been a big year for indie-popsters fun., who amassed not just one, but two runaway hits this year. And I considered both of them: Top 10 mainstay “Some Nights” and number one “We Are Young” for this list. It was a really hard choice to make, but…yeah, I’m gonna go with “Some Nights”.
“Some Nights” had the potential to be a really cool song, and some parts of it (the drumbeat and guitar riffing) are still kind of great. But that makes it a more frustrating listen, because that glimmer of hope only magnifies the obnoxious parts of the song, namely Nate Ruess talking bits. Ruess’ two monologues during “Some Nights” are so overwrought and filled with misguided self importance that thought I was listening to 30 Seconds to Mars. Add in some claustrophobic arrangements, more AutoTune than anyone needs, some oblique and pretentious lyrics, and a nice dose of “Cecilia”, and “Some Nights” comes out as a mess.
3. Big Sean ft. Nicki Minaj – Dance (A$$)
I know this song came out in the tail end of last year, but because it had most of its success in 2012, made the list this year. I thought about Radio Ranting it in January or February, but I couldn’t find a way to stop myself from devolving into a sputtering rage whenever I thought about it too hard. It’s just such a bad song from the get-go: The hook consisting of “ass” repeated infinitely, the putrid beat, the godawful MC Hammer sample, a career low in Nicki Minaj’s guest verses, and Big Sean’s blunt misogyny…”Dance (A$$)” is one of the most dislikeable songs I’ve ever heard.
So why is it only at number three?
The more I look at it, the more I get the idea that there’s some smirking perversion to “A$$”, like it was designed to be ridiculously bad. That obviously doesn’t make it a better song, but the refuge in audacity shows a deeper point: “A$$” is so vile that it highlights the ugly aspects of its sub-genre, and is a joke on other “Shake that ass” jams by stripping them of bullshit. Or, it could be entirely serious on the surface, in which case “A$$” can kiss mine.
2. Train – 50 Ways To Say Goodbye
What in the actual fuck, Train?
Give me a second, I need to get this story straight. Train’s had some insane lyrics before: “I’m so obsessed/My heart is bound to beat right out my untrimmed chest” from “Hey Soul Sister”, which made the 2010 Worst-Of, and the entirety of “Drive By” which barely missed this year’s Worst-Of. But neither of those come close to “50 Ways to Say Goodbye”, which might have one of the most bizarre set-ups for a pop song I’ve heard. The first verse is about how the singer was broken up with, basic enough. But then, in an effort to save face with his friends, he makes up eleven different ways that she died, including: plane crash, tanning bed mishap, fell and couldn’t get up, run over by “a crappy purple Scion”, death by shark, and eaten by a goddamn lion.
The saddest part is that the song’s insanity isn’t restricted to the lyrics. For reasons only they can decipher, Train back up their normally acoustic band sound with a mariachi band playing a horn line I swear I’ve heard before. On top of that, “50 Ways to Say Goodbye” ganks the melody from “Phantom of the Opera” because hell, why not add to the batshit levels of WTF the song’s already got going for it. And I know I’m nitpicking at this point, but the song doesn’t even mention 50 ways to say goodbye.
1. Jason Mraz – I Won’t Give Up
I know there’s been a lot of negativity on this list, but as I’ve run this site for the last three years, I’ve found that I don’t hate most artists. Even songs like “Rack City”, I’ll listen to, review, then whenever it comes on again, I just think about it like “Oh, you”, and move on with my day.
Then there’s Jason Mraz. I can’t stand this guy. I can’t stand him from the bottom of his TOMS to the top of his knit beanie. He’s the paragon of “College Douchebro with Guitar”; he lacks the jam-band vibe to Dave Matthews, and John Mayers’ guitar chops. And every single time I heard “I Won’t Give Up” over this past year, I’ve wanted to grab this douchebag’s acoustic guitar, and club him over the head with it. It’s musically lazy, the melody’s clunky, and it’s laughably insincere. There’s no sign of any struggle, or any grief in the lyrics, so when Mraz belts all choked up that he won’t give up, there’s nothing at stake. Hell, it doesn’t even sound like he’s going through any anguish or trial; “I Won’t Give Up” is all bright and shiny chords without any sense of hardship. If any of that was there, I’d be a little more accepting of this schlock, but as it stands, Mraz sounds like a smug twerp with a guitar trying to woo the girls at the coffeeshop.
And that’s all for the worst! Did I miss your pick? Let me know in comments!
Ranting About Music Listmas Schedule
Dec. 16th: Worst Hits (10-6)
Dec. 17th: Worst Hits (5-1)
Dec. 18th: Best Hits (10-6)
Dec. 19th: Best Hits (5-1)
Dec. 20th: Best New Music
Dec. 21st: Best Albums
Dec. 22nd: Odds ‘n Ends