Alright, let’s get to it!
5. G-Eazy feat. Bebe Rexha – “Me, Myself, and I” (#19) / gnash feat. Olivia O’Brien – “i hate u, i love u” (#38)
I didn’t really like VIEWS (more like SNIEWS, amirite?), but listening to knobs like G-Eazy and gnash make me think maybe we’re taking Aubrey for granted, who use twists on his style to significantly lower returns. G-Eazy is the less overt of the two on “Me, Myself, and I” (sadly, not a Beyonce cover), throwing in Drakeian “Yeah”s and using early-to-mid-era Drake cadences that emphasize just how good a job he’s doing staying on the beat. He raps about wanting to be alone to work and how he’s coping with success, and…it’s all just so unmemorable. For a guy who raps that “While y’all follow, we just make trends,” the G in G-Eazy should stand for generic; he’s a blank slate of a rapper and a black hole of charisma on a song that somehow feels like it’s 18 minutes long instead of 4.
The other plodding, fake-deep, introspective rap track with the hook by a jazzy singer and bars from a dude who looks like Macklemore after getting attacked by Alex Turner tumblr gifs is gnash’s “i hate u, i love u.” If G-Eazy looked at Drake’s flow and thought “Oh, that sounds easy, let’s try it,” then gnash looked at his whole persona and went “Okay, but do I actually have to try?” “i hate u, i love u” sounds like someone was told to make a Take Care track from the memory of hearing it once, and they had to keep every line they wrote. How else do you explain corny shit like “If I pulled a you on you, you wouldn’t like that shit,” or “Wedding bells were just alarms/Caution tape around my heart,” or “Now all my drinks and my feelings are fucking mixed” making it out of the first draft? gnash’s mumblecore delivery where he raps every line without conviction only makes them sound pettier and less interesting, like a dude who wants to tell you about his relationship problems, but only after he baits you into asking. Which, y’know, I’m not.
What both these clowns miss is that Drake’s ear for beats is like, 60% of his appeal. You can’t put someone as prone to flatfooted raps and clumsy punchlines as he is on just any track; you’ve gotta give him a sound that makes him obsessing over his fake problems sound profound instead of insufferable (at least most of the time). But G-Eazy and gnash trying their thing over Great Value 40 and Diet Boi1da tracks only highlights their weaknesses. Avoid these two altogether; if you’re hearing this, it’s too late.
4. Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello – “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (#86)
Shawn Mendes is not the problem here.
I mean, he’s still a problem, but for someone as chronically inept as Mendes, the move from being the problem to a problem counts as progress. The problem with “I Know What You Did Last Summer” is how much it flails as a song. Its aggro-acoustic strumming is noodling instead of impassioned, the verses crumble under the story they’re supposed to tell, and the hooks all sound like they were written for different songs–it fails Songwriting 101. Everything else: Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello’s super oversinging, the audacity to crib from Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Mendes and Cabello’s total lack of chemistry, and Mendes’s Diet Timberlake act on the chorus just contribute to this thing’s death by 1,000 cuts. I don’t know why Cabello and Mendes needed to reference a movie as old as they are, but what I do know is that no one needs to remember I Know What You Did Last Summer, either version.
3. Tory Lanez – “Say It” (#74)
There was so much trap and trap-esque rap/R&B on the year-end chart. Future, Bryson Tiller, Post Malone, Desiigner…even Usher got in on it, and once Usher Raymond IV hops on something, you know it’s officially a mainstream trend. And, whenever there’s a trend, someone has to do it worst; there’s gonna be a guy who’s transparently trying to get those spins from once you’ve worn out the other hits. For 2016 pop-trap, that guy was Tory Lanez, and that song was “Say It.” Wanna hear dull bass drops, by-numbers rattling snares, and AutoTune so gratuitously squeaky that it made me care about bad AutoTune again, something I didn’t think anyone listening to pop in 2016 was still capable of? Well, it landed on the year-ender, so apparently you do! Congrats Tory Lanez: you’re officially worse at trap than the guy who thought this was a good look.
2. Justin Bieber and kinda Ed Sheeran – “Love Yourself” (#1)
Last fall when Bieber was in the prerelease cycle for Purpose, many people were saying that Justin Bieber could–choke, gasp!–actually be good. He flipped his surprise turn on “Where Are U Now?” into actual momentum with Purpose‘s first single “What Do You Mean?” and the oh-my-God-he-might-do-it hype peaked with his next single “Sorry.” Not only was this a quality trio of songs, but each one almost seemed contrite (or in “Sorry”‘s case, contrite if you looked at it sideways), like they were ready to leave Bieber’s past as an unrepentant, arrogant shitkicker behind.
And then came “Love Yourself.”
Written with Ed Sheeran, the king of bitchy kiss-offs, “Love Yourself” wraps all of Bieber’s passive-aggressiveness in fake soulful guitar strums (complete with audible dead strums so you know he’s feelin this music, y’all), a backing choir of snippy exes, and one unbearable trumpet. The crux of “Love Yourself” is that Biebz has this ex who was like, such a bitch that he couldn’t bring her around his friends, and even his mom didn’t like her, but she’s still hitting him up and trying to use his name to get places because, y’know, she’s just like that, and he wasn’t really gonna say anything, but if she’s gonna keep being like this maybe she should go love herself or something, he doesn’t know. Sheeran has some leeway with this level of venomousness because he still looks capable of taking an L; he’s famous, but not so famous that he doesn’t have room to punch up. For Bieber, who only has room to punch down, “Love Yourself” is a bad look. There just isn’t a believable way for someone as famously disaffected as Bieber to sell the wounded vulnerability needed to take the high ground in a break-up without looking like even more of a shitheel, especially in a song where he makes a big show of how much he’s moved on from your crazy ass, and whose singer-songwriter affections telegraph that this is supposed to be biographical. Go fuck yourself, kid.
1. Lukas Graham – “7 Years” (#12)
You know it, I know it, everyone knows it.
No really, everyone knows it. I Radio Ranted “7 Years” back in back in March, and since then, it’s racked up an astounding 14 comments, all of which unanimously read as “fuck this song.” What is it about “7 Years” that everyone hates? Is it Lukas Forchammer’s yelpy, over enunciation of every single word? Is it “7 Years”‘s Hallmark special soundtrack of instrumentation that sounds so pleased with its own innocence? Is it the nonsensical lyrics about toking up and pounding booze at 11 years old while your dad tells your 5th grade ass to go wife somebody? Is it the way the song comes with its own self-worshiping “Lukas Graaaaaham [audience cheers]”? Is it that the line about dude’s wife having kids just so he can sing his songs at them isn’t even one of the worst lyrics here? Is it the fact that “7 Years,” pretentious as fuck already, has the Danish stones to start and end with the sound of a fucking movie projector?
“7 Years” isn’t only terrible, it’s bad in a way that feels distinctly alien from everything else on this list. It’s the sort of song that never had the chance to be good. And, for that, it is my (and probably your) worst hit song of the year.
Alright, with that exorcism over, it’s time to look at the best tomorrow. See you then!
12/14: Favorite Albums
12/15: Worst Hits of the Year (10-6)
12/16: Worst Hits of the Year (5-1)
12/17: Best Hits of the Year (10-6)
12/18: Best Hits of the Year (5-1)
12/19: The Gibby 50 and Over/Underrated Albums
12/20: The Year in Rant: Odds and Ends