After 2011 and 2012 ended up being decent to good years, 2013 continues that trend by being another decent year. This was when EDM has become the dominant music genre that’s getting the clubs moving while more indie songs made their way onto the charts. Hip-hop has started moving into the darker sounds of trap, bro country started becoming a thing to the detriment of country music itself, piano ballads became all the rage, and let’s not forget the ever-growing number of songs embracing a retro sound. 2013 had some of the most variety out of the entire decade. It was also the same year I got into the blog game, but you already know that. So let’s take a look at the worst hits that 2013 had to offer. But first, let’s go through a few dishonorable mentions, shall we?
DISHONORABLE MENTIONS I
The song that generated a ton of controversy when it came out, which was overblown in some ways. Don’t get me wrong: Blurred Lines is a self-absorbed sleaze-fest where Robin Thicke and company are trying to have sex with another man’s girlfriend and they definitely come off very pushy, stating that they know she wants it and that they hate the blurred lines. These are also the same geniuses who thinks “what rhymes with hug me” is such clever writing. T.I. shows up for an underwhelming verse that doesn’t help the song. The best thing about this is the production, which was upbeat and distracted people from the sleazy writing. Here’s my thing: there was a LOT worse songs released that year when it comes to misogyny, a few that I’ll talk about later on this list. Hell, this wasn’t even the worst song that Robin Thicke himself released, especially when he did that 2 Chainz/Kendrick Lamar collaboration Give It 2 U. Well, at least we got that Weird Al parody from all of this.
In 2013, Billboard made the decision to implement YouTube data into how they calculate the Hot 100. During this time, an Internet meme involving people dancing like morons was at its peak involving the song Harlem Shake by Baauer, which stayed at the top of the Hot 100 for five weeks and it does not deserve any of that success. Most of the song is just a crescendo and a drop featuring an annoying synth line, generic trap drums, and what sounds like a deep lion belch. Yeah, this is one meme that is best left forgotten and everyone involved should be embarrassed by.
This was the hardest song to cut from the main list because this was one of those songs that’s done significant damage to country music. And of course, it’s from Florida Georgia Line, one of the worst country acts of the decade. The original Cruise was just another generic country song about a lady who makes these two wanna roll their windows down and cruise. Then came the remix, which added a processed gunk of synths and 808 beats that overwhelms the twangy guitars, gratuitous Auto-Tuned vocals, and a feature from Nelly who’s trying so hard to be cool with the country crowd, but it’s forced as hell. This is one of many country/rap fusions that doesn’t work and it won’t be the last time that country songs flirt with rap influences in both this list and future lists.
So Selena Gomez released her debut solo album Stars Dance and it has not aged well at all. The big single from it is Come & Get It, which was one of the earliest songs I’ve ever done a review on. The production of this song was insufferable, matching Bollywood-style percussion with a buzzing dubstep beat that sounds like a swarm of killer bees. Adding to that is the stuttering in the chorus. It’s also the least subtle song about sex where Selena is giving a dude permission to do the dirty deed. People said the song might be about Bieber, which she denies. Whatever the case, this song is brought down by its sound and how shrill it can get.
And while we’re on the topic of Justin Bieber, Beauty And A Beat is one of those Bieber songs that’s been mostly forgotten and for good reason. Outside of the dumb title, the production is a dated mess of awkward electro-pop synths that transition into one another awkwardly, Bieber is a non-presence in his own song, the lyrics are laughably bad (this motherfucker seriously said, “we gonna party like it’s 3012 tonight.”), and Nicki Minaj shows up with even worse lyrics like, “buns out, wiener, but I gotta keep an eye out for Selener.” There is no beauty to be found within this beast. Let it remain forgotten through history.
Now onto the list.
Number 10 goes to a song that I initially didn’t think much about. But when I recently gave it another listen, I realized how fucked up it truly was.
On a surface level, Let Her Go by Passenger doesn’t seem like something to have any strong emotions over until you take a deeper look at the writing, which is about not knowing what you have until it’s gone, which isn’t exactly new territory. But here’s where the song fails: in this situation, Passenger is speaking to a friend who had broken up with his girlfriend and he’s being the worst friend ever by saying the fake deep, pseudo-poetry jam version of “get over it.” How else do you explain him saying, “everything you touch surely dies?” It makes me think that he was happy this friend broke up with this girl because now, he can swoop in and get with her. Kind of a dick move there, dude. That aside, the music is audio Nyquil, sounding like a typically bland milquetoast ballad and Passenger sings like he has sinus issues. This is one song that I have no problem letting go of and everyone else should as well.
Taylor Swift’s fourth album Red was a transition period for her where she moved further and further away from the pop country sound and goes into straight-up pop music. This didn’t work out well as you can see with my number 9 pick.
With I Knew You Were Trouble, Taylor Swift became a goddamn idiot. She said that she knew this dude was trouble when he walked in her life, yet she went ahead and pursued a relationship with him because no one cares about thinking logically. Hell, when things ended badly for them, I wouldn’t be surprised if her reaction was similar to that of the Shocked Pikachu meme. This is like burning your hand on a hot stove when you know it’s hot. This wouldn’t have even been a thing if Taylor Swift decided to act on her first instinct. But because she didn’t and she ended up having her heart broken AGAIN, I have zero sympathy for her. She’s smarter than this. And then there’s the sloppily-mixed dubstep production that rings hollow and makes the song more obnoxious. In terms of the worst Taylor Swift songs, this is easily Top 10 because instead of showing an artistic progression, it’s showing an artistic regression.
With dance music moving away from the club boom and into EDM, artists who benefitted the most from the former era had to adapt or be left behind. This included Pitbull, who didn’t do a good job at adapting. Thus, the number 8 song on this list.
For the second time, Pitbull makes the worst list and for some of the same reasons. This time, he’s on here with Feel This Moment with Christina Aguilera, a song where nothing in it works nor do they go together well. The production is a mess of a weaksauce crescendo and drop with a synth line blatantly ripped from Take On Me by A-ha, a synthpop classic from the 80s. And just like with Back In Time, this song doesn’t do anything with that sample and throws it into this cluttered junk because people recognize the melody. Christina Aguilera’s chorus does not match Pitbull’s generic braggadocio rhymes like they weren’t in the same studio when recording this song. Hell, there isn’t any real passion put into these performances and you don’t get that feeling of appreciating the moment. This is more like two artists half-assing their way to another check.
When you’re a former kid star, transitioning into adulthood is not an easy task and you can point to countless examples of them either burning out or going out of control to pathetic levels. The latter situation occurred with the artist behind the number 7 song on this list.
This is not the first time Miley Cyrus attempted to show the world how mature she was. In 2010, she released Can’t Be Tamed, which everyone flat-out rejected because of how laughable it was. Three years later and with Hannah Montana long off the air and public conscience, she decided to lean into gentrifying hip-hop culture with constant twerking, an unwatchable VMAs performance, and of course, songs like We Can’t Stop. The production is courtesy of Mike Will Made-It, who’s produced a few more songs that I’ll talk about and he gave this song this lifeless corpse of a beat. And just as lifeless is Miley’s vocal delivery. Because of this, when you hear this song about partying and doing drugs, it sounds more like they’re miserable rather than having any sort of fun. The fact that this song is called We Can’t Stop makes me believe that it was a secret plea for help because Miley couldn’t escape the hedonistic trap she’s in. This was part of what is ultimately her ongoing identity crisis as she’s gone through several phases over the years: the white girl ratchetness of Bangerz, the loose psychedelic nightmare that was Miley Cyruz + Her Dead Petz, the Younger Now album that leans more into country/rock sounds, and now I hear she’s going to mix all of those sounds for her next album. Either way, I’m not excited for it and I hope that I don’t have to hear songs like We Can’t Stop ever again.
After his first two albums ended up being disappointing, I was hoping that this artist would bring something better with his third. Then he released the first single and it’s the number 6 song on this list.
This will come off as a mild take for some, but for someone who was dominating the charts for an entire decade, Drake has delivered a discography that’s uneven at best. Shimmering lights of greatness in an ocean of tracks that ranged from passable to trash and Started From The Bottom is definitely trash. Everything about this song screams low effort and not in a good way, either. There’s the production, which is nothing but a dreary piano sample and limp drums. I heard that Canadian production is supposed to be atmospheric and minimal, but this feels half-finished. All of this leaves room for Drake talking about his come up. Setting aside my belief that this dude didn’t start anywhere at the bottom (he was on Degrassi as a teen, for goodness sake), even if I believe that he came from nothing, Drake does a piss-poor job at telling his story here since he’s not telling us anything we either haven’t heard in a bunch of his other songs or anything we give a shit about. What’s the point in mentioning that you wear all of your chains in your own home where nobody can see them? This isn’t a song that anyone can be inspired by, this is a song made to boost a fragile ego who claims to not care about what anyone thinks. I may have my doubts about Drake starting from the bottom, but there’s no doubting that this song is a bottom low for him.
Before we continue, here are the final dishonorable mentions.
DISHONORABLE MENTIONS II
With Pour It Up, it seems Rihanna’s bad 2012 spilled over into the next year. Straight out of Unapologetic, it’s a by-the-numbers strip club song that’s anchored by another hazy trap beat from Mike Will Made-It and Rihanna phoning it in performance-wise. Like most songs of its ilk, it does not sound like anyone is having fun despite all of the drinking and money being thrown in the air. I’m more bored with this song than angry. It sucks major ass cheeks, but Rihanna has made worse songs through her career.
And I thought We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together was childish, but this takes the cake. For a song called 22 that’s supposed to celebrate being that age, it sounds more like what a 14 year old thinks turning 22 is like. The production to this shit is so sugarcoated that it would sound at home on Radio Disney. The writing includes dressing up like hipsters to make fun of ex-boyfriends, throwing shots at the “cool kids” who don’t listen to her music, and falling for dudes who are bad news because Taylor Swift needs more material for her music. Also, being 22 isn’t as glamorous as this song would have you believe since this is the age when most people would have graduated from college and have to deal with finding a well-paying job and a place to live while dealing with paying off student loan debt and other overwhelming responsibilities. Guess it’s easy to have no worries when you sell millions of records before you’re able to legally drink. This song can blow me.
Okay, so I know next to nothing about Norwegian humor, but isn’t a joke supposed to be, you know, funny? Like Harlem Shake, The Fox, performed by Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis, blew up as an Internet meme and wounded up on the charts. There really isn’t much to say about this song. The premise of the song is based around asking what kind of noise a fox makes, a question about as dumb as when Insane Clown Posse asked how magnets worked on Miracles. We then get some horrendous EDM production and vocals that makes me want to stab my eyes with a fucking butter knife. Also, I’m pretty sure foxes don’t make whatever sounds these dudes are making on the drop. On a somewhat related note, here’s a compilation video of foxes being adorable creatures because why not.
So will.i.am released #willpower (yes, the hashtag is part of the title) and it was a poorly-cooked gumbo of dated electro-dance production and scattered ideas that lacked cohesion and focus. One of the singles from that album was #thatpower, hashtag included just so that it could be trending on Twitter anytime someone mentions it. Setting aside that embarrassing gimmick that thankfully didn’t last long, #thatpower encapsulates all of #willpower’s issues. You got a chorus where Bieber has no idea what he’s supposed to be singing about, like he recorded this in a different studio, a drop that lacks power as it sounds like every other drop in a will.i.am produced song, and as for will.i.am himself, he says absolutely nothing of worth. I’ve seen someone compare this to Power by Kanye West. WHERE?! HOW?! People are really just making advanced-level yoga stretches to prop up whatever mediocrity is thrown at their faces.
Another surprising omission from the main list comes from 2 Chainz in I’m Different, a song that I did a Target Practice on a long time ago, whose title is a lie in every conceivable way you can think of. All this dude is doing is going through all of the rap cliches you can think of: bragging about money, sex (especially with someone else’s girlfriend), and brand name material items while delivering uninspired and unfunny punchlines. Hell, 2 Chainz actually makes a reference to Some Cut by Trillville. Also, there’s the production, courtesy of DJ Mustard, who gave this song a creeping piano line, slimy synths, and gang vocals that doesn’t match with whatever vibe the song is supposed to be. What’s supposed to make this song any different from any other bargain-bin luxury rap song? It’s more of the same shit.
Mild-spoilers: the next two songs that I’ll be talking about are all country songs, or at least supposed to be country songs, and they both share similarities to the Cruise remix. All three have done considerable damage to country music and have made attempts to appeal to a different audience. And as you’ll see, it didn’t go well. Exhibit A: the number 5 song on this list.
Boys Round Here feels the most like a corporate creation because I refuse to believe that any creativity went into it. The writing pretty much goes through a checklist of country music cliches; beer, trucks, women, dirt roads, the whole nine yards. And then there’s the obvious attempts to appeal to rap audiences with Blake Shelton using a rap-like flow and mentioning the dougie three years after it was a thing. I know country music fans generally don’t keep up with rap trends, but you could have saved yourself the embarrassment by doing a quick Google search. The Pistol Annies, a country music trio featuring Blake’s ex-wife Miranda Lambert, are on this song and they’re nothing more than glorified backing vocals. Big waste of talent there. It’s almost like they didn’t want the ladies to show up the men in this bro country turd. And while we’re on the subject of bro country turds, …
From embarrassingly cringe to straight-up unlistenable, here’s Luke Bryan at number 4.
I think That’s My Kind Of Night makes a good case for itself of being one of the worst bro country songs of all time. It’s a perfect representation of the worst aspects of that subgenre. The production has those ugly gooey synths and drum machines that smothers all the guitars in a flavorless gunk. Luke Bryan is at his most obnoxious here thanks to his Auto-Tuned braying and macho posturing that paints him as a punchable dickhole. And then there’s the lyrics which contains so much pandering and forced rap references, talking about a diamond-plated tailgate and listening to a mixtape that has Conway Twitty and T-Pain on it. Not to mention drunk sex on a river bank because that sounds so appealing. Then again, I shouldn’t be surprised as this song was written by the same guy who wrote Honky Tonk Badonkadonk. Seriously. This, plus Music Row’s galaxy brain decision making, is part of the reason why country music as a whole is in such a sorry-ass state these days.
There’s nothing wrong with making mindless music. Not all music needs to be thought-provoking, especially in dance music. But I always believed that there is a fine line between mindless fun and plain mindless and the number 3 song on this list is plain mindless.
Oh, yeah. This song makes me want to scream and shout, alright. Mainly about how shitty it is. Scream & Shout is one of numerous Black Eyed Peas rejects where will.i.am collaborates with Britney Spears, whose talents are severely wasted here. She’s tasked with delivering one of the worst hooks of 2013 where she demands, in a fake British accent, that when you’re in the club, you’re gonna turn this shit up. Three things. One, nice Freudian slip in calling this song shit. Two, how can I turn up the music if I’m in the club? That’s the DJ’s job. And three, even if I was a DJ, I sure as hell am not gonna turn this shit up nor am I ever gonna play it. There’s also the non-effort being put forth by both Britney and will.i.am as they go through nondescript party cliches in a blasé way, topped off with a “it’s Britney, bitch” sample. Also, the music is sterile garbage thanks to grainy synths and a stiff beat with no color to it. There’s much better EDM-adjacent party music you can go listen to that has a pulse, texture, and energy. Let this pile of white noise remain on mute indefinitely.
I’m not a prude. I’m not entirely against pushing the boundaries of taste, or more specifically, what the establishment considers good taste. But like I mentioned in the last list, this can go too far, reaching a point of tastelessness where even the people who defend tastelessness wouldn’t lift a finger to defend it. This easily applies to my number 2 pick on this list, which is just plain deplorable.
People have given Lil Wayne WAY too many passes over the years. He was at his peak creatively from the mid-to-late 2000s and even that era had some major misfires. Ever since Rebirth, Wayne has dropped some of the worst music he’s ever made and that’s continued with I Am Not A Human Being II, which contained the single Love Me. This song is nothing but constant misery, starting with the production. It’s more of that bleak, swampy sludge courtesy of Mike Will Made-It that generates a constant feeling of uncomfortable dread. Both Future and Drake deliver the chorus with the enthusiasm of a dying tortoise as while the former is slurring his way through, the latter claims that he doesn’t care about haters “as long as my bitches love me.” This is immediately followed up by Lil Wayne saying, “pussy ass nigga stop hating,” while delivering some terribly Auto-Tuned lyrics. And while we’re on that subject, let’s talk about the lyrics. Here’s the thing: misogyny is not a hip-hop exclusive problem, it’s prevalent in any industry/culture where men hold the highest positions in power. That being said, Love Me IS VERY telling of how Lil Wayne views women.
And these hoes love me like Satan, man!
Yeah, fuck with me and get bodied
And all she eat is dick
She's on a strict diet
She said, "I never wanna make you mad.
I just wanna make you proud."
I said, "Baby just make me cum,
Then don't make a sound."
These hoes got pussies like craters
Can't treat these hoes like ladies, man!
Yeah, all my bitches love me
And I love all my bitches
But it's like as soon as I cum
I come to my senses
I mean, look at this. None of this sounds like a healthy relationship, it all sounds abusive. To Wayne, these women are nothing more than cum dumpsters for him to empty his load into and he doesn’t even sound that enthusiastic about it, either. It’s nihilistic hedonism that has no appeal to it. Even those with dark, twisted fetishes would find this a turn-off. The fact that this song became successful is very telling of the society we live in. And this isn’t even the worst thing Lil Wayne did in 2013. In that same year, he appeared on a song with Future called Karate Chop where he had a line comparing beating up the pussy to the horrific lynching of 14 year old Emmett Till, which kickstarted the Civil Rights Movement. Stay classy, Lil Wayne. Stay classy.
But that’s nothing compared to what would become my number one, a song that became infamous due to controversy surrounding it. And the fact that this controversy helped it succeed is still sickening to this day.
On the surface, U.O.E.N.O. seems like your average run-of-the-mill rap song. But when you dig deeper, you’ll find something even worse. The production is really lackluster thanks to a thin synth line and a trap beat that has no punch to it. It tries to create a hazy, mellow sound, but ends up being boring. The title is supposed to say “you don’t even know it,” but it’s slurred to incoherence so that it can be fit into an acronym. It’s also a lie as the entire song is these three gentlemen bragging about all the luxury items they have and done, namedropping so many brand names that these brands should get a paycheck every time they’re mentioned. Rocko, despite gaining his biggest hit, is a non-presence in his own song, Future brings more of that Auto-Tuned incoherence, and as for Rick Ross? Well, here’s where we finally get to the big controversy. After saying he’ll die for his Reeboks, this is what Ross said afterwards.
Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain't even know it
I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain't even know it
………………………… Soooooooo this is date rape. Plain and simple. He put a drug in a woman’s drink without her knowing and took her home to “enjoy that” without her knowing a.k.a. no consent was involved. There’s no other interpretation of this scenario that would make any good logical sense. When the controversy around this line blew up, Rick Ross handled it poorly, denying that it was about rape at first, but then later on, he apologized for it. But by that time, it was too little, too late as Reebok dropped him like a bad habit and his verse was eventually removed in order to gain more radio play. And this isn’t supposed to be a line to shock people like Eminem would do. No, this dude delivered this line deadass serious and thought it was just another dope brag. It’s very telling of these rappers’ mindsets where drugging women and having sex with them without their knowledge is written off as just another day at the office and it’s also telling that people made this a hit despite the controversy. Seven years later, U.O.E.N.O. has done considerable damage to the careers of everyone involved. Though Future would still have a thriving career, Rocko never gained another charting single again (though he is profiting off of Future’s success thanks to a lawsuit against him) and outside of a few appearances here and there, Rick Ross never saw a lot of charting success. All of this is why U.O.E.N.O. is the worst hit song of 2013.
And those were the worst songs of 2013. In two weeks, I’ll be doing the Worst Songs of 2014.
SONG OF THE WEEK
Run Away With Me-Carly Rae Jepsen