Let’s get to it!
5. Miley Cyrus – “We Can’t Stop” (#17)
You can’t spell “worst of 2013” without “Miley Cyrus”. Metaphorically. Anyway, Miley revived her career with “We Can’t Stop”, a warped dirge of a party anthem if I’ve ever heard one. “We Can’t Stop” sounds less like a crazy party, and more like a thinly veiled cry for an intervention; there’s no joy or even sense of happiness or relief to the song’s sweaty bodies, red cups, and Molly. I know Cyrus is trying to push as many buttons as she can, but “We Can’t Stop” reveals more cynicism than she wants you to see: it’s not fun because it’s a sham, and she knows it. She’s not partying for the hell of it, she’s partying because she needs to stay in the news, and if that means writing tuneless, cold pop songs like “We Can’t Stop”, then that’s the price she has to pay. At least it worked for her; for better or worse, 2013 is going to be remembered as the Year of Cyrus. If you want a picture of the future looking at 2013, imagine a white girl twerking with her tongue out–forever.
4. Florida Georgia Line ft. Nelly – “Cruise” (#9)
I know that hip-hop and country intersect way more than people give them credit, but for fuck’s sake, can we stop combining them in the worst ways possible? I am so over this sleeper-hit; the original was on the charts last year, but then the remix with Nelly blew up this summer, probably because Nelly didn’t want Christina Aguilera to be alone in the “early to mid 00s star that fell from grace gets a hit feature” category. Hell, Nelly doesn’t even add that much to the song; he apes in the background of the chorus like it’s 2002 again, and his own verse is just forgettable. There’s messy music, and then there’s “Cruise”, a mess of Southern deep fried AutoTune, two tastes that taste awful together. I don’t get how this one happened.
3. will.i.am ft. Justin Bieber – “#thatPOWER“ (#95)
Holy hell, riffing on this one is too easy. We have one of the worst producers/artists of the year, featuring the most hated pop star currently working, on a song that has a hashtag, and, knowingly or not, loosely references a Kanye West song. Shit like this is why I think will.i.am is a pop version of Nicholas Cage: he will take any idea that sounds awful on paper, and carry it out in all of its awful, audacious execution. For the record, Bieber’s hook on “#thatPOWER” (snerk) isn’t that bad, and I actually find his presence here satisfying. Bieber treats “#thatPOWER” (double snerk) like it’s the birthday party for the dorky kid in class that his mom had to guilt him into attending: he does not want to be here, and he knows that any association he has with this song or will.i.am isn’t going to make him look good. Just watch the video–they hologram him in, and even then, he shuffles around with minimal commitment. When Justin Bieber doesn’t give a fuck about your song, that’s how you know it’s a waste.
2. Robin Thicke ft. T.I. and Pharrell – “Blurred Lines” (#1. Enjoy that.)
You can’t spell “worst of 2013” with Miley Cyrus, but you can come significantly closer with “Robin Thicke”. I don’t know, maybe it works in German. The worst thing about “Blurred Lines” is that it’s not even top ten worst list material as a composition; it’s not a half bad song if you just shut up and dance to it. The revulsion a lot of people, myself included, have for the song comes entirely from it’s leery, pushy, “you don’t have a say in this” bullshit confidence born of Axe Body Spray and a string of drunk, shady one night stands. Even then, I don’t think it would have left as bad a taste in everyone’s mouth if Thicke had issued some insincere half-apology about not meaning to offend anyone, but he kept insisting that there was nothing wrong with it, and that it was even a feminist movement. In other words, we kept trying to tell Robin Thicke no, and he kept telling us, “I know you want it”. Thicke wasn’t a chart player before “Blurred Lines”, and even with a lot of hype, it’s follow-up didn’t do much, so I very much doubt we’ll be hearing from him again. Dbag.
And now, here it is….
1. Ylvis – “The Fox” (#73)
Alright, stay with me on this one. Yeah, “The Fox” is bad–it became a hit because it was bad. But, it’s actually a lot worse than you think. Let’s look back, for a second.
Let’s turn the clock all the back to the matron of viral music videos: Rebecca Black. “Friday” was terrible, but it was home movie or jr. high talent show terrible, like, here’s something that you look back on a few years later and laugh about (Black actually did this recently). That was what made it entertaining; she wasn’t trying to be explicitly funny, she was just a kid who was making a video with a dubious company. “Gangnam Style”, the other viral success, caught on because underneath goofy exterior and wacky video, Psy released a deadly serious dance track complete with “Don’t give a shit, and just have fun” dance with it. It was an invitation to have a blast.
“The Fox”, meanwhile, has none of either song’s charms or unexpected surprises. Like, the first time I watched “The Fox” after someone posted it on Facebook, my first thought was, “They planned for this”. It’s the same thing as Sharknado: someone knew that people like watching bad shit, and deliberately made/marketed the laziest, don’t give a fuck, shit as a way to make a quick buck. “The Fox” isn’t the afterbirth of a viral video because it’s too weird, or because there’s some social commentary that isn’t translating, it’s just a waste of time. They dress in fur suits and make funny noises–be sure to click!
It’s not just that “The Fox” is a one note joke, it’s a badly told one-note joke because Ylvis know they’re too cool for this and don’t commit. For example, Jimmy Fallon’s “The Doors Sing ‘Reading Rainbow'” has it’s entire joke in the title, but it’s still a great watch because Fallon himself gets into it. He thinks, at least for that video, that Jim Morrison mumbling the Reading Rainbow theme song is the best thing ever, while Ylvis slather their video in shit-eating grins that are sneer at the listener instead of with them. “The Fox” is a cynical, downright mean-spirited piece of gimmicky click-bait, and my pick for the worst hit of 2013. Goodbye, and good riddance.