Let’s end this.
5. Maroon 5 – “Maps”
Is “Maps” even a real song?
I mean, I know I’ve heard it before, and I could even sing that flimsy guitar riff, but it feels like half the song’s missing. The verse sounds like it’s supposed to be building toward something that never comes, and instead, we get a completely flat-footed chorus. It utterly refuses to commit to a melody, just a few snatches of notes on “following, following, following” that don’t really stick, sung in the most dispassionate way. It fails the bare minimum that the universe asks from Maroon 5; I listen to “Maps”, and I cannot tell if Adam Levine is propositioning someone for sex. I found a live performance of it (Adam, kill that shirt), and “Maps” somehow sounds worse and slighter on real instruments. The chorus is even more ineffectual with live drums, and the band slogs through the song like it’s hour three of an eight hour day. This was a lead single. Little disappointed but relieved we’re not hearing a Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover, though. Heads would roll.
4. Iggy Azalea ft. Rita Ora – “Black Widow”
Iggy Azalea’s fame this year seemed pre-ordained. Not in the sense that she was destined for greatness, but insomuch that “Fancy” appeared, and the music industry basically shrugged and said, “Yep, that’s the one we’re gonna push on everyone this year. Sure, why not?” In his excellent “How Hip-Hop Failed Black America” series, Questlove describes modern hip-hop as being simultaneously everywhere and no where, and that description fits Azalea’s ascension to a tee. She doesn’t have the stacked resume of features like early Nicki, she lacks Lil Wayne’s patented pop weirdness, and she possesses neither Drake’s versatility nor Kendrick’s technical chops. She doesn’t bring anything to the table, and no where is that more apparent than “Black Widow”, her pop filler collaboration with Rita Ora. Everything about the song sounds second rate: the beat’s a mostly unflattering combination of “Fancy” and “Dark Horse”, Ora’s hook tries harder than it could ever pay off, and Azalea’s verses are forgettable with a mucky flow. Azalea might be our new pop rapper, but she doesn’t sound like she wants the title. She doesn’t sound like anything at all.
3. Florida Georgia Line ft. Luke Bryan – “This Is How We Roll”
Is it possible to be influenced by every genre, take the worst parts of each one, and come up with something more unpleasant as a result? Because that’s how Florida Georgia Line rolls.
FML FGL takes county at its most shallow, hip-hop at its most lyrically repetitive and disastrous, rock pushed to its absolute dumbest, pop at its most automatic, liquefies it, overprocesses each one’s elements beyond recognition, and then uses the unholy bile to fuel their tour bus. I never thought I’d miss the not-singing the duo did on “Cruise”, but then Georgia here (or Florida, whichever) decides to actually try to rap. It’s bad enough to make me actually long for a Pitbull verse. The production’s a clattering, claustrophobic mess: all clipped drums and guitars mixed like a nightmare. Bless Luke Bryan’s big ol’ heart for trying here, but “This Is How We Roll” is too much of a graceless, lumbering behemoth for even him to smooth over. Invoking Nickelback is the pop music equivalent of Godwin’s Law, but Florida Georgia Line might be the only working group dumb enough, uncreative enough, and just outright unpleasant enough to earn the comparison. No wonder Taylor Swift bailed on country.
2. MAGIC! – “Rude”
If this list was solely about what pissed me off most, “Rude” would be be a clear victor, because I have never not hated this song. From the first upstroke of that GarageBand guitar to the final yelp-y whine of “Why ya gotta be so ruuuuuuude?”, this song was a shit listen in July, and it’s a shit listen in December. I beat this dead horse past the point where Katy Perry would recognize it in an earlier write-up, but I’m still astounded at how fake “Rude” sounds; it’s like a Kidz Bop version of itself. And no one actually thinks the dad is the villain here, right? MAGIC! (gag) lead singer Nasri doesn’t actually say this poor girl wants to marry him, and he conveniently leaves out any reason why the dad should be okay with them getting married. Shit, I wouldn’t be okay if the guy that wrote “Rude” wanted to marry my daughter, either.
I admit I sometimes get nostalgic for ghosts of Listmas past, but that’s definitely not the case with MAGIC; I’m ready for these guys to sound as dated as ebola scares and Brazil World Cup jokes the second that ball drops in Times Square in a few weeks.
1. Jason Derulo ft. Snoop Dogg – “Wiggle”
Vine is probably the defining social media platform of 2014. A Vine is six seconds long. Perhaps not incidentally, six very specific seconds are all you need to argue “Wiggle”‘s status as the worst song of the year. From :045-:051, you get the song’s putrid set up, the pause, the punch line, and that godawful hook all condensed into one abhorrent experience that, if Vined, you could loop for all of eternity. I almost wish the song was just those six seconds for its entire runtime–at least maybe you could block it out eventually–because this entire thing is actively terrible. No one thought Jason Derulo could be any worse than when he tried to be seductive, but then he tried to be seductive while being funny. It somehow goes worse than you’d think. Snoop Dogg’s well aware of his lifetime pass, and that this was easy money, but his verse here makes “California Gurls” look like at least “Drop It Like It’s Hot”. This song’s just bad on every conceivable level; the production adds cartoon effects on Derulo’s failed punchlines, and, as mentioned, the hook would be better if it was replaced with the sound of styrofoam sqeaking. It was Summer of Ass, and leave it to Jason Derulo to make a song that’s complete shit. Why couldn’t this chump’s career be over in six seconds?
And with that unpleasantness behind us, let’s move onto better stuff tomorrow!
December 16th: Worst Hits of the Year (10-6)
December 17th: Worst Hits of the Year (5-1)
December 18th: Best Hits of the Year (10-6)
December 19th: Best Hits of the Year (5-1)
December 20th: Favorite Albums of the Year
December 21st: The Gibby Fifty–50 Favorite Songs
December 22nd: Odds and Ends