Welcome to Day 2 of Listmas 2013, where we’re starting our look at the worst hit songs of 2013! Before we begin, a few quick notes on this and it’s sibling “best hits” list: these are the capital H Hits of the year, as deemed by the official Billboard list, so if you’re mad that, like, anything off the new MGMT record isn’t here, that’s why. Second of all, like last year, I’m going to try to keep this year’s list to the songs that were hits this year, not just the high-ranking carryovers from 2012.
Thirdly, and this is more of a sidenote than anything, but this was a weird list to put together this year. In past years, there was a skew toward an easier time with the worst or the best, but this year, I kind of struggled with both–this was a fairly “eh” year for the charts. For the most part, we’ve weeded out the LMFAOs and Far East Movements of the pop charts, and they’ve been replaced by something…blander. But, don’t worry, there was plenty to roll your eyes at in 2013, starting with…
Dishonorable Mention (11.): Darius Rucker – “Wagon Wheel” (#54)
Question number one when making “worst ____” is does it go on the list because it pisses me off the most, or because it’s the worst? I generally err toward the latter, but could not in good consciousness leave “Wagon Wheel” unmentioned. If you’re a Darius Rucker fan–well, first of all, your existence means I owe someone a bit of money–but know that my issue is less with him, and more with the material at hand. “Wagon Wheel”, the song by walking Cracker Barrel ad Old Crow Medicine Show, is one of maybe five songs that I will unconditionally and irrevocably hate from here until the end of time. Like, seriously, my idea of Hell is a jukebox with nothing but this faux-yeehaw, squeaky clean, middle adulthood escape fantasy on it. Rucker’s cover is a serviceable take on the original, but still worse because he added an entire fucking minute onto the song, meaning that I have to listen to it that much longer. Chuck this thing in the Mississippi River, and never let it get found again.
10. Baauer – “Harlem Shake” (#4)
Let me say this upfront: “Harlem Shake”‘s placement here isn’t a reflection on the meme it spawned.
In fact, before I started listening to the Hot 100 for this list, I even forgot “Harlem Shake” existed. But, as soon as I heard that “CON LO TERRORISTA” shout again for the first time in half a year, I felt a wave of nausea as everything in me said “never again”; eight months later, and I am still Harlem Hungover. Even as EDM, “Harlem Shake” isn’t stellar: it blows its load far too early (everything you need to hear is in those first 30 seconds), and it never builds or shifts any over its runtime. It just builds toward one admittedly kinda cool drop, and then spends forever and a day flopping around, like someone in its videos.
9. Imagine Dragons – “Demons” (#62)
In 2012, Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney made a comment that mainstream rock was in the can because people were ok with the biggest band in the world being shit (full disclosure: he was talking about Nickelback). As of 2013, mainstream rock seems to be in the can because people are ok with the biggest band in the world not wanting to be a rock band. I mentioned this in my review for “Radioactive”, but Imagine Dragons sound more like the idea of a band than an actual one. The less polite way of saying this is that they are painfully generic, and that’s never come back to bite them like it does on “Demons”. “Demons” is a black hole of a song that comes across as a faded Xerox of Coldplay at their most maudlin; it leaves exactly nil as a lasting impression. The chorus is limp, the melodies are weak, and the lyrics are completely forgettable–this sounds closer to Katy Perry snoozefest “Unconditionally” than a rock song. Who’d have thought a song called “Demons” would be so light?
8. Taylor Swift – “22” (#71)
I need to talk to someone in charge, because I don’t think I got the same 22 that Taylor Swift did. My friends and I ditched the cool kids’ scene because their bar has a cover, and IHOP for breakfast at midnight is deceptively expensive. When I look back at being 22, I think of large chunks of it being fun, but those fun times were a result of everything not being shit for once, not this cooing Thought Catalog schlock. The music even has that overly chipper, “I have all the answers” bland warmness to it; with the dopey I-IV-V chord progression and big, bright synth in the chorus, it sounds more like the opening theme for a Disney channel show than anything else–this just sounds like someone’s saccharine idea of Fun instead of actual fun. But, it’s the first time that Taylor Swift explicitly talks about wanting to bed someone, so there’s that.
7. Pitbull ft. Christina Aguilera – “Feel This Moment” (#36)
I can’t believe we’re still giving faceless “I’m so great” club pop the go ahead in 2013. “Feel This Moment” drew the short straw for being on this list, but it doubles as a stand in for “Pour It Up”, “Scream & Shout”, “I Cry”, and songs like “Work, Bitch” that didn’t make the year-end cut. It’s empty headed, graceless, and not even that much fun to dance along to; this is just DJ filler for when everyone’s hitting the bar. Pitbull’s his typical moronic “let’s keep the party going!” self, and Christina, desperate to be part of a hit, belts the hook devoid of all personality and presence. “Feel This Moment”‘s only defining characteristic is a lazy, bastardized “Take on Me” sample that isn’t even rage worthy, making this a tired song in a dead horse genre. It’s over, club pop. It’s not us, it’s you. Leave the charts, take the cannoli. Pack your knives, and go. Run. Run away, and never return. Shit, who am I kidding? I might as well RSVP this slot for “Timber” next year.
6. Passenger – “Let Her Go” (#97)
I’m actually a little impressed that “Let Her Go” managed to bag a spot on the year-end list, mostly because it saves me the trouble of having to wait another whole year to make fun of this whiny, inert piece of tear-soaked acoustic guitar rock. Break up songs admittedly have an uphill climb, but “Let Her Go” is just pathetic–Passenger sounds like Kenny G could probably beat him up for his lunch money. In addition to being poorly written/sung/made, it’s so clearly reaching for this mind-shattering gravitas and importance (see: the fade out where Passenger mumbles “And you let her go…” one last time in utter silence) that it has no possible way of getting. It’s just too…waffling as a song to work; the lyrics are sad and weepy, but the music is upbeat and downright cutesy. Please God, let this be a one hit wonder.
December 16th: Favorite Albums
December 17th: 10-6 Worst Hits of the Year
December 18th: 5-1 Worst Hits of the Year
December 19th: 10-6 Best Hits of the Year
December 20th: 5-1 Best Hits of the Year
December 21st: The Gibby Fifty–My 50 Favorite Songs of the Year
December 22nd: Odds and Ends