Well, I’ll say this: 2019 was a hell of a lot better than 2018. Then again, after last year, there’s nowhere else to go but up. Pop music made a resurgence after a lackluster 2018, hip-hop and trap are still going strong and dominating, country music is still at an identity crisis, and TikTok has pretty much become the new Vine in making new viral hits every week. The bad songs didn’t really piss me off that much since most of them were more mediocre than straight-up terrible. Even in terms of the good songs, there weren’t that many that I would call great or future classics. Overall, 2019 was a pretty middle-of-the-road year that didn’t generate that much strong feelings from me, especially compared to other years. We’re a few weeks away from 2020, so let’s celebrate the end of the 2010s decade by looking at the best and worst that 2019 has to offer, starting with the worst because, well, it’s just a tradition now with these lists of mine. These are the ten worst songs of 2019.
Before we begin, here are the first 5 dishonorable mentions.
DISHONORABLE MENTIONS I
This year, Ed Sheeran released an album of collaborations with various artists in the industry to mixed results with the Justin Bieber collaboration I Don’t Care being one of the weaker tracks. The title of the track tells you everything you need to know because this sounds like it was made by people who don’t give a shit about putting in effort. The production is a clusterfuck of stiff non-melodies fighting to be the main melody in a gentrified attempt at dancehall music and both artists are phoning in their performances. Another thing that kills this song is the ego of these two famous superstars claiming to be above the fray at a big party that they’re in, that they don’t care as long as their ladies are with them. What a load of horseshit. Also, why make this song into a duet when they’re not singing to one another? It just sets off all kinds of weird vibes. Maybe they just didn’t care. That would explain a lot.
Lil Baby and Gunna have to be two of the most worthless rappers out now. They’re just lesser versions of Travis Scott, Young Thug, and other popular trap rappers out there with nothing new to offer. And they’re not even good at what they do, if Drip Too Hard is any indication. A by-the-numbers trap record full of empty flexing and luxury materialism that’s honestly boring, with Lil Baby talking about not reading comments and Gunna having boogers in his face, which I get is slang for jewelry, but it still sounds gross however way you put it. The only thing it has going for it is the flows, but even that can’t raise the song above mediocrity. And I’m going to go back to forgetting about this song’s existence like with every other Lil Baby and Gunna song.
I’ve expressed my disappointment with Ariana Grande more than once this year thanks to the Thank U, Next album not being her strongest work. Songs like Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored dragged that album down. Aside from the lightweight production and a somewhat catchy hook, my main issues with this song comes in the writing, where Ariana Grande wants to get with a dude, but he has a girlfriend, which she insists that he breaks up with. Look, I don’t like it when guys talk about taking other dudes’ girlfriends, why would I be cool with that same scenario, but the genders reversed? It’s just tacky on her (Ariana Grande) part. And you wanna know the best part? She’s never even met the guy. So you know you want this dude even though you don’t even know him. Bruh, this is that Savage Garden song all over again. That’s what kills this song for me, the content of it makes it an unpleasant listen. Ariana Grande, you are better than this.
If there’s anything to learn from Lil Dicky’s Earth (which would have topped the list had it made the YE chart), it’s that doing the right thing and making a good song are complete separate things. Another example of this is You Need To Calm Down, where Taylor Swift compares the criticisms she receive on Twitter to the plights of the LGBT+ community while declaring her support for that community. Yeah, this is peak white feminism right here where Taylor is the center of the world and it comes off as tone-deaf. She also did that faux-rapping thing again because that worked out SO well on Ready For It and was never cringey. I already did a Target Practice ripping this one apart, so check that out for the full story. If there’s anyone who needs to calm down, Taylor, it’s you.
By now, nearly everyone has torn into this one and now, it’s been mostly forgotten. Mo Bamba is named after Mohamed Bamba of the Orlando Magic, who happens to be a childhood friend of Sheck Wes. Speaking for myself, if I had a friend who made a song that’s dragged by a guy stretching words out to the limit over a cheap beat and limited content that you’ve already heard in other rap songs, I would cut that friend forever because this is shit. The song doesn’t pick up energy until halfway through when Sheck starts yelling and even then, it doesn’t last that long as the dude goes back to the same shit he was doing. This is amateurish crap. Let’s leave this behind to be forgotten.
Now onto the main list.
I always do my best to go into things with an open mind and that’s no different with trap, even if I’m left underwhelmed for the most part. This year, I tried to give one of the more eccentric personalities in trap another chance, Young Thug. But his most recent project only reinforced why I was never a fan in the first place, which brings us to the number 10 song on the list.
The London is one of those songs that could have been decent, but man, does it miss the mark. Travis Scott gives a typical chorus that sounds like he was half-asleep and while I don’t dislike the production, it’s nothing that special. But then there’s Young Thug, whose sledgehammer-to-the-nuts high-pitched squawking ruins the entire mood of the song. People are really calling this dude a legend and I’m not seeing it at all. The dude’s voice is just insufferable. It’s not like the lyrics make up for it because they’re just as bad.
STD, I run my ward, fuck a fed and his daughter
Got your broad in the garage eatin' semen (Woo)
J Cole is honestly the best part of the song and even he sucked. While Auto-Tuned out, he’s talking about how he could hit your girl, but you can’t hit his and this awkwardly forced rhyme scheme.
Nigga you done never heard
I left a flock of rappers dead and burned
A verse from me is like eleven birds
I did the math it's like 2000 dollars every word
Either way you cut it, this song is bad. Neither artists involved looked good and it’s a pain to listen to. So let’s just move on.
Hi, Halsey. You’re at number 9.
This was the third biggest song of the year. Seriously. Of all the songs that Halsey has ever made, Without Me isn’t the worst one, but it’s still problematic in different ways. The reverb-heavy production feels like a shot of Novocain to the brain in its dour drowsiness and that description could be said about Halsey’s vocal performance. There’s also a bridge that interpolates Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me A River for some random reason. This is another addition to the numerous Halsey songs about bad relationships, this on in particular is aimed at G-Eazy, who she dated for a while and collaborated on Him & I and like most Halsey songs, the writing brings it down. It’s a case where both parties are clearly toxic for one another, but neither one wants to be held accountable. I feel no sympathy towards her pain since she put herself through this. The only praise that I can give this song is that it’s slightly better than Nightmare, which has a title that perfectly describes its quality, but that’s a conversation for another day. We got a list to go through.
This year, Disney heartthrobs the Jonas Brothers reunited and they gained their biggest hit in Sucker, which is not on the list. Another song that’s not going to be on this list due to missing the YE list is Cool, which is one of the worst songs I’ve heard this year, possibly this decade. Well, I just found its new substitute that’s filling the number 8 spot.
Boy, is this an embarrassment. I mean, nothing’s ever going to top Cool in that department, but Only Human does come close. Musically, it sounds like a bunch of white executives’ idea of what reggae music sounds like thanks to that preset keyboard melody and fake horns. It’s stiff, cheap, soulless, and devoid of any flavor like eating a saltine cracker by itself. This is pretty close to what the JoBros sounded like in their Disney heydays. And then there’s the lyrics. Oh, boy. These lyrics. They are a treat.
It's only human, you know that it's real
So why would you fight or try to deny the way that you feel?
Oh, babe, you can't fool me, your body's got other plans
So stop pretending you're shy, just come on and
Dance, dance, dance, dance, oh
This chorus sounds like a jackass who doesn’t know about personal boundaries. It’s like this song is trying to be sexy, but they don’t want to be too explicit and offend the soccer moms that would listen to it. These three dudes are in their late 20s and early 30s, they don’t need to do this since they don’t answer to the Big Mouse anymore.
And from that, we move on from the JoBros to our number 7, which is country trash.
Question: who the fuck wants to hear a Chase Rice record these days? For those not in the know, Chase Rice is another generic bro country artist who has nothing unique to offer and should have been left behind in 2014. Apparently, Nashville thought the airwaves could use more of that and thus, we have Eyes On You, which is one of the worst country songs of the year. With the fake snaps, dreary piano, and oily guitars, the music generates an unpleasant, sterile sound that kills any romance that this song attempts to create. Speaking on unpleasant, the writing. It’s this meathead gawking at his girl, no matter where they are in the world. Yeah, that doesn’t sound creepy at all and it doesn’t make you look like a lion staring at a gazelle while licking it lips. Not helping is that he’s doing the whole half-talking thing that other mediocre country artists have been doing, which amps the creepiness up to eleven. This is a checklist of bro country cliches with awful production and even worse writing. How anyone could listen to this synthetic abomination, I will never know.
And while we’re on the subject of godawful country or at least attempts at one, here’s my number 6 pick.
I don’t know what’s the worst Marshmello song. Friends made a good case for itself last year and so has this year’s Light It Up with Chris Brown and Tyga (yeah, that happened), but those two disasters have some competition in One Thing Right, which is a mixture of the worst elements of modern country music and Marshmello’s music discography. If you’ve read my Target Practice on this song, you already know how I feel about this song. For those that don’t know, I’ll reiterate those points here: musically, the song is hot garbage thanks to the thin guitars, fake snaps, and a godawful, sloppily-mixed drop from Marshmello that’s ripped from other songs he’s made. Kane Brown’s voice is smothered by a ton of Auto-Tune, removing any personality he has. The writing portrays a jackass who’s good for nothing, but claims that the one thing he’s done right is the lady he chose to be with. A more appropriate title for this freeway pile-up is Multiple Things Wrong because that’s what it has.
Before we continue, here are the final 5 dishonorable mentions.
DISHONORABLE MENTIONS II
This is another perfect example of throwing random shit in the blender and it comes out a mess. What coked-out executive hack thought that throwing Bruno Mars on a song with Gucci Mane and Kodak Black was a good idea? Especially when they don’t fit at all with this awkward glob. The production doesn’t know whether it wants to be classy or trashy, especially with the dull beat going alongside the elegant keys. Bruno Mars phoned it in from start to finish while Gucci Mane brings more empty flexing and Kodak Black continues being a human-shaped turd while talking about his piss. The only reason Zeze missed the cut is due to the production being not that bad and the guest features doing a LOT of heavy lifting. Wake Up In The Sky, however, doesn’t have that luxury and is best left in the skies away from people.
Another case of art reflecting reality WAY too similarly. YNW Melly’s Murder On My Mind is a song about shooting and killing a friend. Mind you that as I’m typing this, this dude is currently in jail awaiting trial for the double murder of two of his friends. Again, when keeping it real goes VERY wrong. It also doesn’t help that the song sucks as well with the Auto-Tuned flows, sloppy production, and more empty flexing and gunplay. Mixed Personalities with Kanye is a worse song, but thankfully, that didn’t become a hit. On a random note, do you want to know what YNW Melly’s last name is? Demons. Seriously. With a last name like that, can you really be surprised that he killed someone? Anyone saying “Free YNW Melly” is a fucking idiot. Let his criminal ass rot in prison and keep him away from the charts.
Time to talk about Lil Baby… again. Can you tell that I’m excited to talk about this guy? Anyways, Close Friends. Backed by a swampy, bass-heavy beat, Lil Baby sings horribly about a girl he started dating, but then changed when he became famous. This kind of romantic story doesn’t really work since he doesn’t learn anything or change his ways, he admits he would do the same thing again. In other words, it’s a waste of time from an empty song.
It feels wrong for me to mention this one because there’s not much to talk about with Baby Shark. This is a repetitive children’s song about a family of sharks set to a preset dance beat that blew up online. The only reason it’s being mentioned is because this does not belong on the pop charts. Hell, it doesn’t even belong on Radio Disney. This is the Harlem Shake/The Fox of 2019 and hopefully, like those two songs, this one will be forgotten as time goes by.
The final dishonorable mention goes to A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie with Swervin. A limp-dick Auto-Tuned sex song with the subtlety of a concrete block to the face and a harp smothered by an overwhelming trap beat. There’s also the unwanted presence of Snitch9ine, whose constipated screech kills whatever mood the song was trying to set, almost like it a forced addition to the track. This should have been thrown into the Trash Bin immediately like 6ix9ine’s career.
Number 5 goes to a song that people will look back on in the future and question if everyone was drunk on their ass when they made it a hit.
This song’s entire existence is a joke. When you first listen to it, you’d think it was a parody of bad hip-hop songs. Man, I wish that was the case. Thotiana is another bargain-bin strip club song with the cheapest beat from a West Coast producer pack. And then there’s Blueface himself, who’s purposely rapping off-beat in an attempt to sound unique, but ends up sounding sloppy and incompetent. The way he clumsily forces so many words into the rhyme scheme kills whatever groove this song was trying to create. Throughout the entire song, Blueface boasts about how much of a player he is and none of what he’s saying is believable thanks to this off-kilter flow and delivery that makes him sound like a joke. This is the overall big issue with this song, it lacks cohesion. Everyone involved in its creation just half-assed their way through and had no care about how it would sound to the average listener. If the music buying-public has any sense, Blueface will remain a one-hit wonder. Then again, things don’t always go the way I expect them to. It’s just more wishful thinking on my part.
My number 4 can be summarized in one three-word statement: DAMN IT, DRAKE!!
Of all the people that Drake could possibly give a boost to this year, why on this green Earth did he choose Chris Brown? CHRIS FUCKING BROWN!! A man who’s had WAY more success than he deserves with the quality of his music going further and further down the toilet and not to mention all the various coked-out scandals and crimes he’s been involved in. Anyways, No Guidance. A case can be made for this being one of the worst R&B songs of the entire decade. The production aims for that quiet storm sound with the airy keys and the sparse beat, but it winds up being lifeless and devoid of melody and texture. Also, it has a uncredited sample from a song called Before I Die by Che Ecru. Drake and Chris Brown have no chemistry whatsoever as they’re both trying to holler at a girl in the club with the former’s drowsy crooning and the latter’s Auto-Tuned braying. The lyrics contain a lot of flexing, ego boosting, and straight-up gaslighting chicks into having sex. How does any woman find anything in this song flattering, especially when it comes from both a domestic abuser/petulant shitlord and a self-centered dickpiston who should be more focused on being an active father to his child than being texting BFFs with underaged celebrities. Yeah, really. There’s also THIS line from Aubrey.
Flew the coop at 17, no guidance
Fucking yikes. Considering the age we’re in, why isn’t this man getting more backlash than he’s receiving right now? Hopefully, this will be the start of Drake’s downfall and I hope we can leave Chris Brown’s bullshit behind in the 2010s. We’re going to be in a new decade and that would be a good fresh start.
Oh, boy. Talk about bad timing. So the number 3 spot goes to an artist who just died recently and… let me just state that I have nothing against this guy as a person since I don’t know him like that. Everything I’m going to say will be focused on the song itself and not the artist in question, so I’m not going to be that harsh as originally planned in respects to his family and friends. But just because an artist passed, that doesn’t mean their music doesn’t automatically suck anymore.
Look, there’s a multitude of reasons why Robbery doesn’t work, but let’s start with the main obvious flaw: Juice WRLD’s nails-on-the-chalkboard voice. My goodness, this is some high school talent show levels of bad singing. Someone listened to this first-take, off-key screeching and thought, “this is perfect for mass release.” You’d have to have no sense of shame or any sense of embarrassment to be fine with vomiting this into the airwaves. The light pianos and muddy trap beat tries to give this song gravitas, but that’s quickly undone by the horrible singing. And just as horrible is the writing, which is more of Juice WRLD whining about an ex-girlfriend and it has the same childish, toxic goop of entitlement as Lucid Dreams, only with even worse lyrics.
She told me put my heart in the bag (In the bag)
And nobody gets hurt (No hurt)
Now I'm running from her love, I'm not fast (Fast)
So I'm making it worse (Making it worse)
One thing my dad told me was, "Never let your woman know when you're insecure"
So I put Gucci on the fur
And I put my wrist on iceberg
One thing my heart tells me is
"Flex on a ho every time they're insecure"
I guess you came through, I'm running from you
Is your love for real? (For real? For real?)
Is your love really true?
Phone home, I need to phone home
I'm throwing rocks at your window, I need to go home
I don't wanna leave
I just wanna be with you
You, you, you
Come on, bro. How does anyone take this shit seriously? This is Simple Plan for a new generation. At this point, I can’t even be mad at this. All I can do is just laugh at the incompetence and childishness of it all. It’d be one thing if this song was intended as a joke, but that’s not the case with how genuinely sincere Juice is being on here. Also, by now, there’s no point to getting mad over a dead person. It’s a waste of energy. What I am mad about, however, are three things: the people around Juice who didn’t get him the help he needed for his drug problems, the people who prematurely call this dude a legend (even though he’s barely been famous for two years, I would give both of his albums a failing grade, and I can count the number of good songs he has in one hand), and the possibility of Interscope milking the hell out of this guy for posthumous releases like another certain artist who died last year. Let’s just move on.
Mild-spoilers: the Top 2 songs are ones that are going to be in everyone’s lists at some position, even at number one. The number two spot was a song that I was way too kind to. Allow me to remedy that.
Initially, I thought Someone You Loved was just another boring piano ballad that people will forget about after hearing it, but it got worse with each repeated listen and I find newer things that are wrong with it every single time. First off, the music is basic as fuck, it’s just the same four-chord piano progression that doesn’t evolve or changes. Once you’ve heard it, you already know how the rest of the song is gonna go. Something else I noticed after multiple listens: Lewis Capaldi is a TERRIBLE singer. He sounds like a post grunge singer singing a piano ballad and it gets even worse in the chorus where he starts belting it out and you can tell that he has limits in his range. It’d be one thing to show passion and heartbreak, but the dude sings like he’s in the restroom after having too many chili cheeseburgers. That kind of singing can’t be good on the vocal chords. And as for the writing? Well, it’s about a guy drunk off his ass who’s yearning for his ex-girlfriend to come back to his life because he was getting used to being someone she loved. That’s it. Not much compelling detail, just a guy wallowing in his self-pity who views his ex like a therapist who’s supposed to listen to his constant crying. It’s selfish and I feel no sympathy for this guy at all. The fact that this became such a huge international hit and it topped the US Hot 100 for three weeks is baffling to me. Never underestimate the power of boring whiny piano ballads, I guess. It is possible to make a good piano ballad as history suggests, but this particular one doesn’t cut it. It’s not good at all. I can see why Todd In The Shadows hates it so much and he called it the worst number one hit of the 2010s.
You know how my Worst lists for 2017 and 2018 were topped by songs that were unlistenable and repugnant? Well, my number one for 2019 is a different kind of bad and one that hurts a lot: disappointment. Because it comes from an artist who I really like and I don’t want to put them at this spot. But some uncomfortable truths have to be said and it’s better for it to be let out rather than it be contained. Allow me to say this for the second time: Ariana Grande, you are better than this.
You wanna know something funny? This was the seventh biggest song of the year. Something that isn’t funny? How awful 7 Rings is. Why? Just… why? Even though I am a fan of Ariana Grande, that doesn’t mean that I think everything she put out was good. No, I’m not blind and naive. From Hands On Me to the title track on Sweetener to even Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored, she’s made some serious duds, but none of them prepared me for 7 Rings. Ariana Grande has been accused of cultural appropriation with this song, which I could see, but this song has bigger issues than that. It’s a meandering mess musically from the stilted trap percussion to the glossy synths. It’s not fun to listen to, the only mood it generates is constant misery. Ariana Grande is a great vocalist, but here, she mainly stays in her lower register and even attempts to rap. And none of this works at all, especially when she uses that breathy flow that sounds like she has asthma. Then, we get to the writing, which consists of Ariana Grande attempting to do the brag rap thing. Here’s the thing; the key to making that kind of song work is both intimidation and confidence. There’s nothing intimidating about 5’0 twig-thin Ariana Grande and she sounds more bored than confident, like she’s blasé to the material things she’s got, making it seem like she’s talking down on the listener. This type of song was made for well-off, pampered, trust-fund white girls from extremely rich families. Also, she does two interpolations: first, she butchers a song from The Sound Of Music (which should not happen), and then, in the bridge, she quotes the Notorious B.I.G. song Gimme The Loot, missing the point of that whole goddamn song. Hey, young Arianators who’ve never listened to a rap song past 2010, you DO know that Gimme The Loot is about armed robbery, right? Not spoiled rich white girls getting the bag. Just putting that out there. I’m so frustrated with this song because I know what Ariana Grande is capable of and of her pop music peers, she’s been one of the most consistent ones in terms of overall quality. For her to make a song this bad that’s WAY below her talent and it becomes her biggest hit to date hurts me. This is why 7 Rings, to me, is the worst hit song of 2019 not named Earth.
And those were the worst songs that 2019 had to offer. Next week, I’ll release the best songs list for this year.
SONG OF THE WEEK
Tiiied-J.I.D. ft 6LACK & Ella Mai