Top 10 worst singles of 2016

Camila Gonzalez, Reporter

This is probably the last list about 2016 that will be published. Due to scheduling and sickness, this list is coming out late. But more than anything, this list took a long time because I didn’t really want to write it. I didn’t know what to say about this year. I was bored and there weren’t ten that were objectively bad enough to be on this list. But I had to try because it’s February of 2017 and I’m still stuck in 2016.  Publishing this list will be my real New Year’s celebration.

10. No – Meghan Trainor

This is an artist I have never liked and never expect to like. I don’t know anyone who does like her. I don’t understand how she continues to be successful. She charted in 2016 with “No.” This is one of many Trainor tracks that likely had good intentions but was so poorly executed that any positive message was lost. It reminds me most of “Dear Future Husband” because she spent that song telling her imaginary future husband that she’s still going to have a job and won’t be home cooking for him (because she doesn’t know what decade she’s living in). Similarly, “No” is about rejecting any question from some guy she meets at a club (he apparently asked her sign, because she actually is living in a different decade). We are given no context for her reaction. The guy could be extremely rude or even stalking her, but we don’t know that. I guess she wants us to assume all the boys really do chase her “boom boom” but they are not all welcome. The weirdest part is that it begins as a different song. The intro sounds like her usual doo-wop revival routine, but then Trainor decides to start talk-singing instead. The song tries to be catchy but the production just clangs and clashes with itself almost to the point of incoherence. That production is no. Her voice is no. This song is no.

9. Closer – The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey

This song is bad. Okay, all of these songs are bad, but this one is a special kind of bad. It’s bad not only in the sense that it is actively bad but it is also devoid of good. Those are two very distinct kinds of bad combined in one song. I’ll start with the artists. The Chainsmokers first gained recognition with “#Selfie,” a song that barely qualified as a song and was hated by most people with ears. They redeemed themselves with “Roses,” a track I’ll discuss in my Best list. Their following singles were just…okay. Because of this, I can’t really have a strong opinion on them. But when it comes to Halsey, my opinion is strong and very unpopular. I heard about her through word of mouth from emo friends who praised her music as flawless. Maybe it was because people spoke so highly of her, but I did not like what I heard once I finally got around to listening to her music. The pretentious “New Americana” put the worst taste in my mouth with its naively entitled lyrics, but my biggest issue with her is her voice. It’s the same issue I had with Sia. She sounds like she has a cold. Along with that, her voice often cracks and breaks, making her sound like a boy going through puberty. So when I heard she had a real pop hit, I was both disappointed and a tad scared. Let’s actually talk about the song. Both vocalists do not provide tolerable vocals. She’s trying too hard and he’s not trying hard enough. The male vocalist in one of the Chainsmokers. (Not the one who looks like a frat boy whose daddy pays for everything, but the one who looks like a frat boy whose daddy pays for everything.) Part of me can appreciate the lyrics because they try to tell a story and even incorporate specific details, but they didn’t exactly do that throughout the entire track (“…play that Blink-182 song…” You know, that one Blink-182 song that I don’t know the name of even though we “beat [it] to death in Tuscon.”). But The Chainsmokers are producers, not singer/songwriters. Surely the drop will save this song. If you were expecting that, you will be disappointed. The “drop,” if one can even call it that, is just a bunch of beeping noises. There is nothing good here. And I know it’s not very interesting to say things like “this is bad” and “this isn’t good,” but this brings me to my biggest issue with this song. I don’t hate it. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously am aware of the bad and I’m not saying I like it. But it just doesn’t evoke the reaction it should. I should be angry at this song for the insane amounts of not-good-ness, but it’s honestly just okay. I almost didn’t include it on the list because I don’t really have any feelings toward it. But then I realized that this song belongs on “Worst” lists. In a world where things make sense and I hate this song as much as I should this would be number one on this list. It is the worst song of the year, it’s just not the song that I hate the most.

8. One Call Away – Charlie Puth

I really hate this guy. I hate his voice, his half-shaved eyebrow, his career. And I especially hate this song. Not only is it another harmless mid-tempo love song, which Billboard has had in oversupply all year, but it’s also lyrically disappointing. Charlie Puth strikes me as one of those “real” pop stars. The kind that actually plays an instrument or two and writes songs. But it’s like when I was in second grade and I “wrote songs.” They obviously weren’t good but people didn’t say that because I was just a kid so I didn’t know any better. Puth is one of those second graders. He even claims that he’s better than superman, which is a rather childlike sentiment. That’s what put this song on the list instead of letting it be an honorable mention. “Superman’s got nothing on me.” Stop lying.

7. Starving – Hailee Steinfeld, Grey, and Zedd

This song does nothing to justify its existence. It had an uphill battle with me personally because I have a bias against Hailee Steinfeld after “Love Myself” and her role in Pitch Perfect 2. But the lyrics from this track told me she wouldn’t win said battle. “Don’t need no butterflies when you give me the whole zoo.” I assume that’s a compliment but…what does that mean? I’ve never heard anyone say they like someone so much they have lions in their stomach. Or rhinos. Or sloths. Is this supposed to be romantic? “By the way, you do things to my body.” Um….okay? What things? Is this a compliment? “But Camila,” you’re saying to your computer because you’ve forgotten how reading works, “lyrics don’t matter because it’s a dance song.” I understand that. But the problem is that it fails as a dance song. From what I understand, dance music is supposed to sound good. That’s what makes you dance to it. Personally, the vocally processed whale deaths we hear at the end of the chorus don’t make me want to do anything other than change the station.

6. Basically everything Lukas Graham released

Let’s start with their breakout hit “7 Years.” As a lyric-focused critic, this song was made for me to hate. I probably should have dedicated an entire review to this song alone but I’ll try to condense all of my comments here: Why didn’t you already have friends when you were seven? It’s not hard to make friends when you’re young because most kids don’t know how to be mean yet. And do you seriously expect me to believe that you were smoking and drinking at eleven? Oh, and what kind of parent tells their kid to find a spouse at that age? Maybe that’s how it works in Denmark, the home country of this band. That’s right, this is a band. Lukas Graham Forchhammer is the lead singer of the band Lukas Graham who have two albums, both of which are called Lukas Graham. And near the end of the song, an announcer shouts “Lukas Graaahhhhaaaam” in case you forgot about the Lukasing of all the Grahams. And yet in the song he claims that fame “always seemed to bore me.” Also he says, “My woman brought children for me,” which is one of the most backwards lyrics I’ve heard all year. She brought them? Like did she kidnap them from a park or buy them on the black market? And she did it for you? You commanded the wench to reproduce for you? Grahambelievable.

But wait, there’s more. Let’s talk about “Mama Said.” I’ve noticed that many critics leave bad but upbeat songs off their “Worst” lists because at least they’re a change of place from the low energy downers that have infected the charts for the past couple of years. I understand that, but “different” does not mean “redeemable.” The lyrics are an improvement on “7 Years,” which can be said for most songs that exist. He talks about growing up poor and actually contradicts their previous single by saying, “I said that I wanted to deal in Hollywood. I told I might be singing on TV.” Yeah, fame always bored him. Aside from that, my real issue is simply with the sound of the song. You may think the singing kids are cute, but I find it obnoxious. I tend to not like high voices, but these kids are screaming. I work at a childcare center, so I really don’t need to hear screaming kids any more than I already do. But the kids alone aren’t that bad. Add the high piano notes and the noise coming from Lukas Graham Forchhammer’s face, and this song deserves its place here. Especially because he decides to simply scream the chorus when there’s one minute left of the song.

Apart from those tracks, basically any other Lukas Graham song that sounds like a Lukas Graham song automatically has a spot here. Even if it didn’t come out in 2016.

5. Bad Things – Machine Gun Kelly feat. Camila Cabello

I never hear people talk about Fastball. Like most people who do know them, I’ve only heard their two biggest hits. Even though “The Way” is more widely remembered, I’ve always liked “Out of My Head” more. There’s something unique and beautiful about both the instrumentation and the lyrics. Something about this song makes me smile every time. This makes Machine Gun Kelly’s first pop hit so disheartening. The chorus samples the melody from the Fastball track, but instead of the modest vocals of Tony Scalzo, we get former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello. When I hear a Fifth Harmony song, all of the girls sound the same to me. You could tell me one girl was singing the song and I would more easily believe that than believe that it was a job for five women. However, I’ve heard people who can tell the difference say that Cabello is the worst singer of the group. After hearing “Bad Things,” I can finally see what they’re talking about. Sometimes I hear singers and I wonder why they have a career in music when they have no talent whatsoever. She is my new go-to example of that. It sounds like she can’t sing and the producers tried to process it into oblivion in order to fix it, but it also sounds like that didn’t work. Honestly, the chorus is the only reason this song is on the list. The sample and vocals are the real bad things here, so Kelly’s mediocre verses are overshadowed in the worst possible way.

4. Genghis Khan – Miike Snow

I get this song. I really do. It’s portraying an overly jealous man and very clearly satirizing that kind of person. I get the joke, but it isn’t funny. I’ve hated it for most of the year but when I talked about it with others I learned that not many people shared my opinion. And that is the opinion that this song is extremely annoying. I hate this man’s voice. I’ll admit that I tend to not like higher voices, but his whining makes it sound like he’s just complaining about thinking that his lady friend is cheating on him instead of making fun of people who do that. Being too dedicated to a joke can ruin it, especially if the joke wasn’t funny in the first place. There are better ways to address this topic. And the worst part is very clearly the chorus: “I get a little bit Genghis Khan, don’t want you to get it on with nobody else but me.” I thought “let’s Marvin Gaye and get it on” was bad last year, but Miike Snow managed to top it. At least Charlie Puth’s reference had a punchline. It was a bad punchline that spat on the grave of a great artist, but a punchline nonetheless. But this? After some research, I learned that soon after his marriage, Genghis Khan’s wife was kidnapped and he saved her. But that’s not jealousy. Also, I doubt average listeners will know that information off the tops of their heads. This sounds like a rough draft of the song that should have been scrapped and completely rewritten if not entirely abandoned.

3. Adventure of a Lifetime – Coldplay

I reviewed this track earlier in the year, so you should read it when you’re done here to get my full thoughts. In short, I hate the disco beat. Also, Chris Martin may be trying to sing a party song but he sounds like he’s woken up the day after a party and he has to clean up the house while dealing with a hangover. I don’t understand how someone could always sound so sad. This song may have worked for another artist, but not Coldplay. You go to them when you need a soundtrack for crying in your bedroom, not when you want to party.

2. 40 0z. Dream – Good Charlotte

Over the years, many bands change genres. The band in the third spot on this list, for example, is there because of their stylistic changes. The same can be said for this band. I was never a big fan of Good Charlotte, but I liked songs like “I Don’t Wanna Be in Love” and “The Anthem” as a young emo. They were never musical geniuses, but their music was at least fun to listen to. This song, however, is a different story. They sounded like they were trying to be a different band. I think they were going for a happy, summer sound, but the singer’s voice whines through the bafflingly stupid lyrics about his mom taking selfies and rappers singing (because I guess this band is shocked by the existence of Drake). Apparently, last night, he had a 40 oz. dream, whatever that means. For all I know, that doesn’t mean anything. It probably doesn’t. All I need to know is that it sounds dumb. And in 2016, dumb and annoying is more than enough to make you the second worst song of the year.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid) – Fall Out Boy feat. Missy Elliot

My anger toward this song has lessened since I reviewed the Ghostbusters remake soundtrack. It’s overbearing, but it’s not as bad as “American Beauty/American Psycho,” an honorable mention on last year’s list. It was one of the worst songs on the soundtrack but there are bigger fish to fry. Also, can we all reflect on how sad it is when G-Eazy is the best part of your soundtrack? That’s just depressing.

Treat You Better – Shawn Mendes

“But I’m such a NICE GUY! Why don’t women want me? Women only date jerks! Your boyfriend is a jerk! LOVE ME!”

Hideaway/Sit Still, Look Pretty – Daya

Immature naivety and terrible songwriting combine to make the poor man’s Alessia Cara who was already the poor man’s Lorde. Dear God, I miss Lorde. Actually, that is being far too nice to Alessia Cara. She’s the disease-ridden, impoverished and malnourished man’s Lorde and Daya is the on-the-verge-of-death-man’s Alessia Cara.

Spirits – The Strumbellas

Offensively boring time filler that was devoid of good but didn’t technically do anything bad.

We Don’t Talk Anymore – Charlie Puth feat. Selena Gomez

Puth doesn’t understand how breakups work, expecting the same amount of interaction with his former partner that they had when they were together. A duet between these two was a terrible idea because they have two of the weakest voices in pop music.

1. Me Too – Meghan Trainor

And we’ve come full circle. Let me begin by saying this was a popular choice for the worst song of 2016 among critics. I thought about this for awhile because I don’t want it to look like I’m just going along with what other people say. But I realized that these lists are about honesty. And this is honestly the worst song I’ve heard all year. When I hear people talk about this song, they usually take issue with the self-centered lyrics because it is literally a song about how you, as a person who isn’t Meghan Trainor, want to be Meghan Trainor. And if she were someone other than Meghan Trainor, she would also want to be Meghan Trainor. Yes, this song is proof that there is someone more self-centered than Lukas Graham frontman Lukas Graham Forchhammer. But it’s never really bothered me. That may be partially because I don’t know anyone who would ever want to be Meghan Trainor and it’s kind of sad to imagine her curled up in bed at night trying to convince herself that people want to be her because she has such little self-confidence she has to fabricate an alternate reality in which people actually care about her as a person. If that’s accurate, she is free to do some bragging. I have two main issues and they’re pretty big ones. The first is that this song just sounds awful. I know I throw the word “production” around a lot, but this is hands down the worst production I’ve heard all year. It passes off weird fart noises as a bass line and is impossible to dance to (if it’s trying to be a dance song). I had to find out who produced this monstrosity. I assumed they would have made many other famously terrible songs. And I wasn’t wrong. Remember “Wiggle” by Jason Derulo? You can thank Ricky Reed for that, Trainor’s entire 2016 album, and “This is How We Roll” by Florida Georgia Line. But, oddly enough, he’s produced more good songs than bad. He produced several songs from Twenty One Pilots’ Blurryface album, “Secrets” by Mary Lambert, a few Lunchmoney Lewis tracks, Phantogram’s “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” and “Talk Dirty” (which is the least terrible a Jason Derulo track has ever sounded). Reed’s diverse catalog aside, “Me Too” is the worst of his work that I’ve heard. But even with all these bad qualities, there was one small thing that marked this song as the worst of the year several months before I started writing this list: “If I was you, I’d wanna be me too.” Was. Let’s have a quick grammar lesson. This sentence is written in the subjunctive tense because it poses a hypothetical, therefore it should read: “If I were you, I’d wanna be me too.” Nevermind the difference between “wanna” and “want to,” the subjunctive mistake is the felon here. It is the awful bow on the worst song of a terrible year. If you were me, you’d want this list to be over too.