9/11 pretty much changed America. There was a sense of fear and paranoia that lingered over us and at the same time, there was a sense of patriotism. It was clear that things will never be the same. I don’t want to waste time with this intro because I’m lazy, so I’ll keep it short: in terms of music, 2002 is what I believe to be the best year for the 2000s. The good songs were really great, a lot of songs are leaning more towards an urban sound, music made for adolescence have been pushed out of the charts, but like every year, there were still bad songs. Let’s get started.
You all know Just A Friend by Biz Markie, right? A lighthearted tune about the love of your life cheating on you? Well, Mario took that song and did a remake for his first single Just A Friend 2002. But this time around, it’s about being friendzoned. Ol’ Mario here is trying to get with a chick, but she sees him as just a friend. And of course, he gets frustrated because he wants to be more than friends. Dude, read the signs. She’s not interested in you. All of your whining isn’t going to make her want to bone you. The instrumentation isn’t bad and neither is the vocals, but it’s this sense of entitlement in the writing that kills this song for me. In the words of an old band, you can’t always get what you want.
Most of you remember my Target Practice on this song. If not, here it is. Superman (It’s Not Easy) is a song where Five For Fighting depicts himself as Superman, the emo version who doesn’t like the fact that he has extraordinary powers that he could use to save people. Let me remind you that Superman is supposed to be the symbol of hope and this song is the complete opposite of that. It reaches the point of self-parody, one that isn’t even that funny. Even in a metaphorical sense, it’s still a whiny, self-loathing pity party. None of this is helped by the instrumentation, which sounds like a depressing Hallmark Channel movie and a singer whose voice sounds like a dog being euthanized. Is there anything else related to Superman that could be more dour and grim than this?
Guess we’re not done with the whining. Remember back when I talked about there being two types of post grunge? Guess which category Puddle Of Mudd falls into? Yeah, I never liked this band’s music as it’s no different from the other post-grunge bands of the time, especially Blurry. The instrumentation is sludgy and discordant like a lot of bad post-grunge and it’s not fun to listen to. And that thin synth line isn’t helping. The lead singer is a non-presence you’re bound to forget. And we haven’t even gotten into the writing yet, which is basically another self-pity party. He hates the world because it’s all gloomy and dark and he wants somebody to be his light. Like I said, it’s a pity party and I’m left feeling nothing by the end of it. This is one of those songs that just sucks the emotion out of you until you’re pretty much nothing. Puddle Of Mudd, such an appropriate name for a band who makes muddy music. The next song is a more upbeat tune, but it’s also crap for different reasons as you’ll find out.
In the latest edition of Obscure Songs That I Have Little To No Memory Of, here’s Oops (Oh My) from R&B singer Tweet. This was one of those songs that I remember the sound of, but didn’t know the name of. This production is a mess, combining warping vocal melodies that constantly change pitch with tropical percussion, extremely thin keys, and a guitar that barely does anything to give this song any texture. It’s a botched attempt at an exotic other-worldly sound and it’s so distracting. This is some of Timbaland’s weaker production work. Tweet herself is just… okay. Not bad, not good, just okay. She’d might sound great in a better song, but this song isn’t doing her any favors. Oops (Oh My) is yet another song about masturbation. Seriously. I’ve said this once, I’ll say it again: I don’t want to hear a song about somebody fapping. Keep that shit to yourself. Missy Elliott is also on this song, but barely. Timbaland, Missy, you have to do better than this because you’re capable of doing better.
One of the first movies that I saw in theaters was Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, a film that paved the way for the comic book movie boom and has been a part of my childhood. While the film itself holds up for the most part, some parts of it haven’t like the music. Who in the Nine Realms of Asgard thought it was a good idea to have Chad “The Ogre” Kroeger make this song? Hero is the Fight Song of 2002, it’s a good example of what not to do when making a song for a superhero movie. It’s a cliched attempt at an uplifting anthem that bores more than it uplifts and ends up being depressing thanks to its dreary instrumentation that wouldn’t sound outta place in a Nickelback song and, of course, the vocals. Both Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott sound like they’re in pain with Scott sounding like he’s singing a depressing country song and Kroeger being, well, Kroeger. More on him in a bit. When Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin costume isn’t the worst part of the Spider-Man movie, you done fucked up.
The Bedingfield siblings. Daniel and Natasha. Outside of one song from the latter, nothing good came from these two and Daniel was the worst out of them both. He was just insufferable. Case in point, Gotta Get Thru This. The beat was clearly made with the first synth line and drum loop that was selected in some cheap preset. This song was apparently recorded in Daniel’s bedroom and you can tell. His vocals are just plain shit with it being nasal and the effects makes it sound like he’s singing through a tube. Meanwhile, he’s trying to get over a break-up, but it’s clear he’s not over it thanks to his constant whining (there seems to be a theme going on) and repeating to himself that he has gotta get through this isn’t going to fix anything. I don’t believe you, man. At least with King Of Wishful Thinking, there was some sense of optimism and some solid production, luxuries that Gotta Get Thru This doesn’t have.
In the late 90s/early 2000s, Ja Rule was just the fucking worst. He was the personification of watered-down gangsta rap music made for the masses and during his peak popularity, he was inescapable. Along with providing more of the same hardcore gangster shit that DMX has done better, his most popular songs are all about how “thugs need love, too,” prime example being Always On Time. All of Ja Rule’s “love” songs follow the exact same formula: you have the more innocent-sounding sweet R&B hook from Ashanti, which is then contrasted by Ja Rule rapping about hardcore sex and how gangster he is. And this song has some VERY disturbing implications, like the song might be about a relationship between a pimp and a prostitute. I’m actually debating with myself about reviewing this song in a Target Practice because there’s some good material I can get out of it, but I don’t want to copy Rap Critic (who does a great job at reviewing the song). So, yeah. Ja Rule. Fuck him.
Time to once again talk about one of my favorite punching bags, Cash Money Records. This time, we have a song from Big Tymers, the duo consisting of producer Mannie Fresh and Cash Money CEO Brian “Baby” Williams, or Birdman. Their music was pretty much interchangeable with a lot of the music that Cash Money were making at the time. This leads us to Still Fly. The beat is the best part of the song, but it’s wasted on crap. Birdman and Mannie Fresh are not good rappers, especially Birdman who has no business being in front of a microphone. This song is about the same thing that this dude always talk about: money and the things he bought with that money. I have never heard a Birdman song or verse that didn’t mention money in some way. You know what’s worse than Birdman rapping? How about Birdman singing on the hook? After hearing that monotone-performed hook, you’ll want to wish torture upon the person who thought it was a good idea. At approximately 5 minutes, the song drags on and on. Birdman, you want people to put some respeck on your name and music like this is part of the reason why they won’t.
When I decided to do these lists for the 2000s, I knew some things were inevitable and one of them is that it’s impossible for me to do a Worst Songs list without saving a spot for Nickelback. Nothing else needs to be said about this band, they’re just the absolute worst. It’d be a crime not to have them on a Worst Songs list. And how appropriate that their first appearance on one of these lists is for their first big hit How You Remind Me. This is classic Nickelback (and I use the term classic very loosely); the ugly, loud, sludgy instrumentation that represents some of the worst of post-grunge and rock. And of course, it’s from a band whose front-man sounds like a lion getting punched in the dick repeatedly by Goku in Super Saiyan God mode, plus, Kaio-ken x10. This kind of singing can’t be good for the throat. The writing is even worse as it’s about Chad Kroeger’s ex-girlfriend and it stinks of bitterness and arrogance on Chad’s part. From the way I see it, dude is basically the shittiest boyfriend in the world and present himself in a bad light. I have no sympathy for the dude and his ex should consider herself lucky she’s not with this douchebag. You want to know something sad? This piece of shit is the number one song of 2002 according to Billboard. Yep. Nickelback is number one above Usher, Linkin Park, Eminem, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Mary J Blige, Aaliyah, etc. This makes me sad, but not as sad as the disappointment that is the number one song on this list.
Before we get to number one, here are some dishonorable mentions.
- Jennifer Lopez ft Ja Rule-Ain’t It Funny
- Creed-My Sacrifice/One Last Breath
- Cam’Ron ft Juelz Santana-Oh Boy
- DJ Sammy ft Yanou and Do-Heaven
- NSYNC ft Nelly-Girlfriend
- LeAnn Rimes-Can’t Fight The Moonlight
- Mary J Blige ft Ja Rule-Rainy Dayz
- Brandy-What About Us
- Fat Joe ft R. Kelly-We Thuggin’
And finally, the worst song of 2002 IS………..
You know? I had a difficult time deciding who had the worst song, Nickelback or No Doubt. I went with the latter because it hurts more when a good artist or band makes a bad song. You ever had that best friend that you would ride or die for who did something that damaged your relationship? That was how I felt when I first heard Hey Baby. No Doubt, WHY?! Why did you make this soulless sellout crap? My biggest issue with this song is the production. There’s a bunch of beeping synthesizers and laser sound effects (that are more apparent in the chorus) that repeat through the entire song that got on my nerves quick and it doesn’t mix well with the ska instrumentation. It’s ragga music done wrong and it ages the song even more. Do you really want me to talk about the content? They’re partying with groupies, what else is there to talk about? Gwen Stefani herself is just phoning it in and she started to get annoying every time the chorus comes around. By the way, that chorus can go fuck itself. It sounds like it’s teasing the listener every second like NA, NA NA, NA, NA NA, NA!! NA NA, NA NA!! That, combined with the production, turns the song into irritating noise. Bounty Killer sounds bored as he’s only on this song to add some Caribbean cred to this whitewashed crud. This sounds less like a No Doubt song and more like a Gwen Stefani song, which makes this prophetic about Gwen’s own solo career. Congratulations to Hey Baby for being the worst song of 2002. No Doubt…
So those were the ten worst songs of 2002. Next month, BACK TO THE 2000s continues with the Worst Songs of 2003.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
U Remind Me-Usher
Hood Gone Love It-Jay Rock ft Kendrick Lamar
Lean On-Major Lazer & DJ Snake ft MØ
Basket Case-Green Day