5. Selena Gomez ft. A$AP Rocky – “Good For You”
Selena Gomez has made a career out of adaptability. While that normally goes in her favor, it also means she’s sunk when a song can’t connect, such as with “Good For You”. This minimal, cloudy track aims for smolder, but ends in slumber. Gomez works best with material that sounds grounded, either with a capable hook or emotional center; she’s not the kind of artist who can skit by on ~aesthetic~. It’s dull, repetitive, and a flatfooted A$AP Rocky verse (no clue why it’s not in the video) only makes things worse. I get that “Good For You” mines the same vein as “The Heart Wants What It Wants”, but that song had momentum and actual presence. If you want to hear what “Good For You” should sound like, check out “Music to Watch Boys To”, a narcotized come-on where the artist is breathing smoke, not lost in it.
4. Silento – “Watch Me”
I was going to leave this one-off, you know? It’s more meme than song, and you see videos of people whipping and/or nae naeing, and hating on “Watch Me” almost makes you feel like a grump. “Sure, it’s not a good song.” you rationalize, “But at least people are having fun with it.”
Then I actually listened to “Watch Me” again.
Look, if I’m ever somewhere and “Watch Me” comes on in context, I’ll shut up and dance. I will whip. I will nae nae. I will do the stanky leg. I will yule then superman like it’s Homecoming 2007 again. I will even dab if appropriate. And I will enjoy myself. But, I will still know that “Watch Me” by Silento–he whose voice is like styrofoam on styrofoam brought to life, and whose only originality is to cobble all these dances together with a beat that had to come from a DAW’s presets–is still one of the worst songs of the year it came out. I thought it was impossible to do both, but “Watch Me” is just bad enough to pull it off. And beside, I feel like I’m allowed to be a grump; it’s all there in the site name.
3. Shawn Mendes – “Stitches”
Again, Vine is entertaining, but fucking terrible for brokering artists. Seventeen year old Vine star (a term that definitively proves there’s a level of Internet Famous even lamer than “YouTube celebrity”) Shawn Mendes is basically a cut-rate Bieber: he possess all of Bieber’s mopey, faux-tortured delivery, but without the vocal talent, performance chops, or ability to find the little melodies that makes Justin memorable. He just sounds like a kid who can kind of sing, and is in way over his head with truly terrible material; “Stitches” is the end result of locking someone in a room for twenty minutes with a guitar, a picture of someone they’re thirsty for, and a rhyming dictionary and telling them to get cracking (“Before/sore”, “knife/life”, “under/lover”, “kisses/stitches”, “thread/head”, “thread/dead”). With Justin aging out and One Direction going on hiatus, get ready to meet your new teen pop overlord. Those stitches should suture his mouth shut.
2. Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth – “See You Again”
In a year where our hits were either decent songs or at least fun, “See You Again” dared to be neither. Instead of a heartfelt tribute to Paul Walker, “See You Again” is a cloying, wooden cash-in of a ballad. Nothing about it works: this pedestrian beat’s straight out of a Hallmark special, Puth is trying entirely too hard to wring something out of this turd, and Wiz Khalifa is just not the guy to tap for a song with any sort of emotional depth (Ludacris–not typically an emotional rapper, but certainly a capable one–was actually close to Walker, and why he wasn’t asked to write something is beyond me). The whole thing just feels cheap both musically and emotionally, and while “See You Again” isn’t the worst song of 2015, it’s certainly the year’s biggest brick. It’s reminder of how long it’s been since “Black and Yellow”, and as Charlie Puth’s first major exposure, this song’s a misfire. Tell me we never see this kid again.
1. Charlie Puth featuring Meghan Trainor – “Marvin Gaye”
This poor song never had a chance. It wouldn’t matter if Paul McCartney and Pharrell coproduced it, Kelly Clarkson sang the chorus, and Kendrick did a verse, there is just no overcoming “Let’s Marvin Gaye and get it on” as an opening lyric. The song’s myriad other of poor choices: reheating “Stand by Me”, Puth’s yelpy vocals, “It’s a karma sutra show and tell”, the awkward beat drop during Meghan “trap queen” Trainor’s sung verse, and total lack of sensuality on what I assume was meant to be a sex jam only sink it further. I’m normally for doo-wop/girl group revivalism, but “Marvin Gaye” has all the quality of a Glee cover, right down to the whitebread plasticity and dead-eyed performances. If you’re looking for that healing, listen to some Marvin Gaye, some Luther Vandross, or a little Anita; that will definitely set this party off right.
Listmas 2015 Schedule
December 16th: Favorite Albums
December 17th: Worst Hits (10-6)
December 18th: Worst Hits (5-1)
December 19th: Best Hits (10-6)
December 20th: Best Hits (5-1)
December 21st: Favorite Songs
December 22nd: Year in Rant: Odds and Ends