Most people are quick to say that 2020 has been a complete fucking disaster. So much shit has been happening this year that it might as well conclude with either a meteor strike or an alien invasion. A global pandemic has pretty much crippled the entire world and destabilized whole economies despite ignoramuses pretending that everything is still normal and that it was all a hoax. Wildfires have gotten so bad that at one point, in some parts of the U.S. West Coast, the whole goddamn sky was orange. We damn near got into a third world war at the beginning of the year thanks to our current lame-duck president. The U.S. presidential election was between two old senile white men with the loser, the proto-fascist, has been trying to overthrow the election results alleging widespread fraud. There’s a level of civil unrest that hasn’t been seen since the 1960s. We’ve lost a lot of our icons (Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sean Connery, Alex Trebek, etc.) and some young rising stars (Pop Smoke). People have compared 2020 to 2016 as it had the same feeling of existential dread and uncertainty about the future. But what about the music? Surprisingly, the music scene was actually one of the few bright spots of 2020. Hell, I think it’s safe to say that 2020 is a good year for music despite artists unable to tour due to you-know-what. This was the year where TikTok continues to grow as a tastemaker. Most of the songs that became hits got there with help from the app. I will talk about the good in the other list, but now, let’s count down the top ten worst hit songs that 2020 had to offer. So let’s begin with some dishonorable mentions.
DISHONORABLE MENTIONS I
Am I the only one who wants to see Drake and Future thrown into a rocket headed straight for the moon? These two have been all over the 2010s delivering straight-up mediocrity for the most part and in 2020, they gave us Life Is Good, which takes a rejected Drake song and fuses it with a rejected Future song to make this washed-out, desaturated Frankenstein’s monster. Both men sound half-asleep with Future drowns himself in more Auto-Tune than the lean he admitted to not using and Drake admitting that he hasn’t done his taxes, which could come back and bite him in the ass later on, and dismissing his numerous missteps as “slipping once” like someone who just fell flat on their face and got up like it was nothing despite the nosebleed and the giant gash on their forehead. I had hoped that 2020 was where we would leave these two douchebags behind, but that’s not happening anytime soon, so buckle up.
This year was so long that I damn near forgot that this shit existed. I had thought Roxanne by Arizona Zervas was a lock for the main list. Since then, much worse songs came to fruition, but that doesn’t mean that Arizona Zervas didn’t deliver a miserable track where he talks about a rich girl who’s into partying, money, Whole Foods, and cocaine, and would laugh off any dude who doesn’t drive a foreign car. And while he talks about how shallow this woman is, he’s actively pursuing a relationship with her, making him just as shallow as her without a hint of self-awareness. It’d be one thing if it was just the bad writing, but Roxanne also sounds terrible with its watered-out production and lackluster bars and vocals smothered in Auto-Tune. I think it’s safe to say that the Police made a better Roxanne song in every way that will be remembered more than this shit and that was released in the late 70s.
Spoilers: we’re gonna be talking about Justin Bieber a lot here. 2020 is where the man doubled down on making some of his worst music to date. I’ve done an entire Target Practice on Intentions, so I’ll reiterate what I’ve said there. The writing is so embarrassing, where Bieber spends time complimenting his wife with lines like “heart full of equity, you’re an asset,” and “shout out to your mom and dad for making you, standing ovation, they did a great job raising you.” Seriously, what human being talks like that? Even the poetic types would laugh this cheeseball shit out of the room. And Quavo is here because he wants that pop feature money. Bieber still hasn’t found a personality and the production is easily as weak. Whatever the Biebs’ intentions were with this song, it doesn’t make for anything good and again, we’re gonna hear more from this guy.
I tried to warn y’all. This is what happens when you let Post Malone become a thing, you’ll eventually get a bunch of mediocre white boys riding his wave to the charts. We’ve already talked about Arizona Zervas and now, we have Trevor Daniel with Falling. This song leans HEAVY into the Post Malone sound thanks to the desaturated trap drums, watery guitars, the Auto-Tuned warbling, and Trevor Daniel falling (no pun intended) for a girl after his heart was broken by his ex. A song about falling in love does not fit this particular sound at all, it creates a miserable atmosphere where there shouldn’t be one. This is more mediocre sadboi music for the hipster crowd that doesn’t have enough nuance or personality to stand out from the rest. Next.
You want to see an example of modern country songs being nothing more than just twangy pop songs? Just look at 10,000 Hours, the collaboration between Dan+Shay and Justin Bieber that waters down all of the production’s country elements into the most basic, safe, saccharine, Mormon mom music on this side of Nashville. The chorus rewords the one from 500 Miles by the Pretenders and pairs it with lyrics that might as well be out of a middle schooler’s Valentine’s Day poem. Bieber’s presence makes the song worse as he has no chemistry with Dan+Shay and sucks out any personality that this song had. It’s a bad boy band song that wouldn’t sound out of place if it was performed by NSYNC if they were together. What I’m saying is that I wouldn’t spend a single second listening to this again.
Now onto the list.
I’ll be honest with you: I struggled with my number 10 pick. A lot of people say that it isn’t that bad and doesn’t deserve that much backlash. And for a while, I agreed with them. Then, as the year progressed, my feelings on this song has only soured even more because of what it ultimately represented.
I have no issues with escapism. It’s something that’s needed every now and then to keep our sanity, especially in the times we’re living in. But there is a point where escapism becomes complete detachment from reality, which is exactly what Sunday Best by Surfaces represents for me. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it has other issues going against it, like the production, which smothers a somewhat decent piano and guitar loop with overwhelming percussion that amounts to a raging migraine. Along with that is Surfaces themselves, who sound like two fratboys stoned out of their minds as they go on about how life is good for them and they want to spread positive vibes, which in itself is not a bad idea. This type of song should be motivating, but it doesn’t. Most of it is just “bad things happen and there’s nothing you can do about them, just look at the bright side of things.” It reminds me of Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin in that it enforces a level of toxic positivity that doesn’t address legit issues that can’t just be waived away and it makes these two look like they’re stuck in their own bubble. Maybe I’m reading too much into this song, but in a year of complete chaos, this is not the message that I needed to hear.
Well, that last entry is bound to be controversial for some folks. So let’s move on to number 9, which represents something I’m sure we all detest: cynical market manipulation.
At some point, a conversation needs to be held about how much the music-buying public let Drake get away with and where the line is drawn for them because this can’t keep going on forever. Aubrey saw how TikTok was making songs blow up, so he decides to get in on the trend and make a song tailored to be used on the app. That gives us Toosie Slide, a thinly-veiled, creatively-bankrupt Michael Jackson tribute with one of the cheapest beats that anyone on a ham-sandwich budget can afford from the internet. I’m not even joking about the Michael Jackson tribute because aside from the numerous references in the lyrics, the Toosie Slide dance (yes, there IS a dance attached to this song) is just another variation of the moonwalk. Again, creative bankruptcy. This song is also another example of Drake just not caring anymore thanks to the sloppily-mixed vocals with Auto-Tune that sounds like a robot trying to process what human emotions are, and him trying to be both hardcore for the thugs and sensual with the ladies at the same time, resulting in a nightmare of tonal clashes. Slide this one into the annals of embarrassment where it belongs.
I like the fact that we have more women in rap getting some attention, even if I don’t connect to everything they put out. In a male-dominated field like rap, the female perspective is well-needed with some variety. You can’t let Nicki Minaj carry the torch alone, especially when she’s not putting out good music these days. Of course, not everyone can be a winner, which brings us to the number 8 song on this list.
I’ve tried getting into Doja Cat. I even listened to that album she put out late last year and so far, nothing is grabbing me. She has the personality, but it’s not enough for me to like a song from her. Say So is her big hit and it’s just a generic pop song riding the retro throwback wave. Plus, it was produced by a certain abuser/rapist who should have been blacklisted from the industry long ago and there’s a remix with Nicki Minaj that’s even worse. But neither it or the original are making the list. Instead, we’re gonna talk about Juicy. The production doesn’t do much as the melody is this creeping music box alongside your standard trap beat. It also happens to be produced by the same asshole who produced Say So. Doja Cat is trying so hard to sell this playful, sexy song that has food puns, but the bars that she’s delivering here are basic as hell and her singing is all levels of weak. It’s just empty quirkiness that tries too hard to be arousing and cute. Oh, and I also forgot to mention that the remix features Tyga, who gives us lines like “I’m a big dog tryna eat the kitty cat” and “juicy and it’s tighter than a virgin like Madonna say,” which I’m pretty sure she never said. I got nothing else for this thing. Let’s move on.
Number 7 goes to an artist who nearly topped my Worst list of last year and he’s gotten himself another hit as a followup. Now one might think that this could be an opportunity for improvement, right? Well…
I’ll say this: this isn’t as bad as Someone You Loved. Then again, that’s an incredibly LOW bar to be had and Before You Go only clears it by an inch. Instead of a basic piano backdrop, this song opts for a basic acoustic guitar loop and muted drums that goes for a big sound, but it winds up flaccid in the end since it has no punch to it. Lewis Capaldi needs better producers and he also needs a better singing coach because his vocals are still awful. He’s still trying to belt beyond his range and it comes off painful. It’s one thing to deliver a performance full of passion and emotion, but when not done right without any control, it can be unlistenable. There’s no way he could perform these songs live like this, otherwise, his voice would give out before the show is even over. But now, we need to talk about the writing. Capaldi wrote this song about the suicide of his aunt and it’s a textbook example of how not to write a song with this subject matter. The framing of the song makes Capaldi look selfish and unsympathetic. I get that there’s a lot of complicated emotions after a suicide, but the way Before You Go executes its premise was piss poor, to say the least. If Lewis Capaldi is gonna stick around, can he at least make more interesting music away from this crap? He’s supposedly funny on Twitter, why not reflect that on the music? Is that too much to ask for?
It’s very interesting to see the backlash to what became my number 6 pick. I admit I didn’t know why since I haven’t listened to it in a long time, but then I read/watched a couple of reviews and even a few worst songs lists and I finally got the picture. I went back and listened to the song for reference and, well, let’s talk about it.
Now, I’ve been mostly out of the loop when it comes to Gabby Barrett. I Hope is not on the list due to her supposed conservative views (she also shares the same last name as the Supreme Court Justice who’s the complete opposite of the late great RBG). I’m going to be focused on the song itself and oh, boy, is this a treat. I Hope is a revenge fantasy ala Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood, but this time around, it’s Gabby hoping that her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend cheats on her after they (Gabby and the ex) broke up due to him cheating. As bad as Before He Cheats was, it at least had decent production and I can understand a bit why someone would sympathize with Carrie in that situation. I Hope doesn’t get that same courtesy from me as Gabby comes off as childish and vindictive. Yeah, the boyfriend is a scumbag for cheating, but she’s no better for wishing the same thing to happen to him. Nothing even happens, all of this is based on what she hopes happens, so we don’t know if the ex did find a new girlfriend and what their relationship status is. This is just someone’s Livejournal ramblings and it’s made worse by the production, which sounds cheap and over-compressed thanks to the fake drums overpowering all the country elements, and the singing from Gabby, which is buried in so much reverb and Auto-Tune. And THEN there’s the remix with Charlie Puth. Instead of a new verse where he portrays the ex-boyfriend, he performs the second verse and chorus and flips the gender roles so that it portrays him hoping that his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend cheats on her. Talk about missing the goddamn point, and it’s one of his worst performances since his Nine Track Mind days. I hope I never have to hear this dreck again for as long as I live.
Before we continue, here are the final 5 dishonorable mentions.
DISHONORABLE MENTIONS II
Uhh, music-buying public? We don’t need to have Jason Derulo around anymore. You know that, right? I thought the Cats movie from late last year was the perfect opportunity to kill his career for good. Apparently not, as he’s big on TikTok and has made a comeback thanks to Savage Love, where he stole a flaccid reggaeton instrumental from New Zealand producer Jawsh 685 and didn’t credit him until the song got big. Major dick move there. All of that for a simp anthem where he can’t get over this girl. It also has some of his worst vocal performances to date. His falsetto sounds like his character in Cats was castrated with no anesthesia. The only savage thing about this song is how incredibly weaksauce it is. Gag me with a wooden spoon.
Just when I was willing to give the Black Eyed Peas another chance after putting out a decent album in 2018, they fumbled the bag big time. Initially, I didn’t think Ritmo was that bad, but as time went by, the flaws of the track were too overwhelming for me to ignore. The most obvious flaw of the track is the cheap reggaeton production that heavily relies upon the obvious Rhythm Of The Night sample. It reeks of creative laziness on will.i.am’s part and that also applies to the lyrics, which are some of the worst from this group since The E.N.D./The Beginning. J Balvin is on here and he’s tasked with doing a lot of heavy lifting, which isn’t enough to lift this track to any decent levels. Ritmo is one of the Peas’ miscalculated attempts at reggaeton on their recent album that a lot of people hated. Yeah, I think we’re better off without this group going forward.
In another one of Nashville’s brilliant decisions in their coke-induced bender, Jason Aldean has been given another hit this year with Got What I Got. When I was listening to this song, I immediately got Burnin’ It Down vibes in terms of the production, which is going for that icky pseudo-R&B sound in the preprogrammed drum machines and sludgy guitars that just gives off an unpleasant vibe. Jason Aldean has the presence of roadkill and the content is no better as he states that there’s nothing he wants more than to spend time with his girl, that he doesn’t miss his old life. He’s trying to sell a sentiment that he doesn’t have the range or skillset to pull off believably and the song winds up flat as a result. It’s not the worst Jason Aldean song, but it ain’t worth your time, either. Skip it.
Staying on the country music side, One Margarita is Luke Bryan trying to make a beach song ala Kenny Chesney. And as you can see, it didn’t work. The tragic thing is that the production actually sounded decent for Luke Bryan, picking up more acoustic textures with some organ. That is until you get those ugly guitars on the chorus which kills the song’s vibe. There’s also the Auto-Tuned singing, which sounds awful. This mish-mash of sound makes an effortless beach song sound like a ton of work, which is what you don’t want for a song to be played at beaches. You might as well stick to Kenny Chesney for your dose of beach music.
A song called Suicidal with Juice WRLD featured on it. This doesn’t inspire any confidence. For the record, Juice was fully involved in the recording of this song before he passed, so this is not an instance of grave robbery. However, this song is still problematic for different reasons. Production-wise, it has the drowsy, lifeless trap production and both YNW Melly and Juice WRLD are both Auto-Tuned to death. But what puts this song in the shit list is the writing. Here, we have a toxic relationship that fell through and YNW Melly is so heartbroken about it that he thought about killing himself. Are we seriously doing this again? Threatening suicide in order to manipulate and get back at someone for how a relationship worked? It’s bad-faith gaslighting however way you look at it and is indicative of an abuser. Every day, I’m more convinced that letting this dude rot in a prison cell is for the betterment of society because this is awful.
With the pandemic, there’s been a rise of so-called quarantine music this year and the majority of them will not age well when this is all over. Even songs that were made before things got really bad were thrown into this category, which brings us to the number 5 song.
This is an example of a song that has an interesting idea, but the execution let it down big time. If The World Was Ending is about two people who find comfort with one another as an earthquake occurs. So how do you fuck up an idea like that? Well, it’s simple. Come up with the most basic, minimal piano loop, play it real slow, and have that be your backing music. That’s what Finneas did when he produced this thing. Even Billie Eilish couldn’t make this minimalist bore work. There’s also the vocals, where JP Saxe sings like someone punched him in the nose and broke it, but he fares a lot better than Julia goddamn Michaels, who always sounds in pain when she sings. It’s clear that she has a limited range, but she pushes out of that limit to very bad results. Even the writing doesn’t work. In this situation, these two broke up and they’re using a natural disaster as an excuse to hook up. There’s no conflict or tension, which is especially egregious concerning they mention the end of the fucking world and they just pretend everything is normal. That’s part of why this song is so damn boring, because ultimately, nothing is really at stake, just two horny people who don’t have a single care in the world, however much world is left. And the fact that this song got so popular during the pandemic is very telling.
My patience with the act behind the number 4 pick has ran thin a while ago and yet, suburban Karens keep them relevant. So I’m gonna repeat what I said in one of my Target Practices: Why the hell is Maroon 5 still around?
Every time I see Maroon 5 on the charts, my frustrated groan gets louder and louder. This is a band that ran out of ideas long ago and they only exist just to fill up air-time. Just when I and many other people thought that their Super Bowl performance was the perfect opportunity for them to fade into obscurity, they released Memories, a tribute song that’s supposedly dedicated to everyone who are no longer here. I’m not against the idea itself, but this particular song is just a laundry list of vague, cliched writing that doesn’t land on an emotional level. And that’s not the worst part of the song. No, it’s the sound. Adam Levine’s screeching falsetto remains as annoying as it has been in previous Maroon 5 singles and is made worse by copious reverb. Meanwhile, the production mainly consists of this minimal glob that interpolates a classical music piece called Canon In D, which has one of the most overused progressions in popular music and has been played damn near everywhere. Just when you thought that Adam Levine and company wouldn’t stoop any lower, they literally ripped off a melody that pretty much everyone has ripped off and is part of our cultural osmosis without us even knowing consciously. Just a reminder that Maroon 5 have another album in the works. Fucking Christ, when will it end?
And speaking of an act whose career should have been shot down a long time ago, here’s Sam Hunt at number 3.
At this point, what else is there to say about Sam Hunt that’s new? The dude is one of the worst “country” acts out there who clearly doesn’t want to be a country singer, but Nashville keeps promoting him. This is why we have Body Like A Back Road become one of the biggest hits of the last decade in spite of its pure incompetence. Three years later, Sam Hunt puts out an album and he hasn’t improved one bit as an artist. Exhibit A: Hard To Forget. This is definitely a specimen of a song. The first thing you’ll notice about the song is the production and how it samples There Stands The Glass, a 1950s country classic from Webb Pierce, and loops it alongside a leaden trap beat while all of the guitars and bangos are watered-down to an unrecognizable goop. It’s the type of sound you hear when drunk out of your damn mind and comes with splitting hangovers. Sam Hunt is still the same smug meathead that he’s always portrayed himself in his music. This is also reflected in the content, which is basically the same as Break Up In A Small Town where he broke up with a girl and he can’t get over it as everything he sees reminds him of her. Dude, you two are no longer together. Get over it. I wish the existence of Sam Hunt’s music would be forgotten, but with Nashville’s power and influence, I have a feeling that this will be hard to forget, not matter how hard we try.
It’s very rare that you get a song that’s this universally despised by everyone. Even the stans have a hard time defending my number 2 pick (no matter how hard they try) and they only bought/stream the song out of stan obligation. They knew that this wasn’t going to have staying power because of how much of an embarrassment it was. Yet it gained enough points to make the YE chart and thus, it has a spot on this list.
Decades from now, music historians will look back upon Yummy as the single worst decision Justin Bieber has ever made in his entire career. This man really tried to game the system with this, urging fans to mass-stream the song on-loop so that it could debut at number one on the Hot 100. The funny part is that the song only debuted at number 2 right below The Box by Roddy Ricch. That is easily a Top 5 L for 2020. And THIS is the song he put all of that marketing effort into? The production is this lightweight, clicking beat that might as well serve as stock background music. Bieber has the presence and sensuality of a slice of toast with no butter as he sings about how much he loves to eat out his wife’s box, saying she’s got that “yummy-yum.” Sweet buttery Jesus on a Sunday morning. There wasn’t a single person in the studio who listened to this and said, “this is a bad idea.” Calling your girl’s pussy that “yummy-yum” is so mind-numbingly childish that one might think that this was an elaborate joke, but that’s not what Bieber intended. He intended this song to be a sex jam, but thanks to his flat, bland performance and the godawful lyrics, it falls flat on its face. No way is this going to be lighting up any bedrooms. Imagine you’re trying to have sex and this song starts playing. You and your partner will be too busy laughing at the absurdity of this song that you both lose your will to do the business. This is one of the most embarrassing things a pop star could ever create and if it were made by any artist with half of Bieber’s success, this would have been a career killer. I guess when you reach a certain level of fame, you become too big to fail. So what could possibly be worse?
This is another year where my number one was an easy choice for me. It came out last year, but it hit its commercial peak in 2020 and garnered enough points to make this Year End list. I was waiting in dread for something worse to come out this year and I scanned through the Year End list, but nothing has come close to the sheer awfulness that is my number one. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get into some more fuckboi music.
Let me re-introduce you to blackbear, one of the most obnoxious personalities in today’s music scene. Every song from this man portrays a punchable dickface who’s wrapped in his little bubble of privilege and hypocrisy. He broke onto the scene with do re mi, a song where he dumps his girlfriend for being vapid and shallow, even though he’s equally as vapid and shallow as he portrays her. I regrettably missed this song when I made my Worst Songs of 2017 list and I will not be making that same mistake twice this time around with what would become blackbear’s biggest hit hot girl bummer. Where to begin? For starters, yes, he did rip off that title from Megan Thee Stallion’s Hot Girl Summer as much as he denies it. You wanna know something sad? hot girl bummer charted higher than Hot Girl Summer. Everything about that statement feels wrong and I haven’t even gotten to the song proper. The production is ass cheeks, taking a basic guitar loop, music box, and cheap synths for this drowsy lifeless sound for blackbear to defecate all over the place. Speaking of defecation, blackbear cannot sing nor rap to save his own life as he sounds like every other generic white artist cribbing from rap and trap sounds. I’ve already talk about the lyrics when I eviscerated this crap in a Target Practice earlier this year. Much similar to do re mi, hot girl bummer is blackbear criticizing girls who party all the time and get wasted while he’s doing the exact same thing. The dude comes off hypocritical and straight-up misogynistic with the way he constantly goes after women. And this isn’t even his worst song. On the pitiful album that this is on (titled everything means nothing because why not be pretentious), there’s a song called why are girls?. Seriously. Even if I can ignore all of that and look at it as just a dumb party song for the drunk fratboys, there’s still one major flaw holding it back: ultimately, this song is miserable. It takes the musty incel ramblings of manosphere blogs and injects them with the pretentious non-energy of a Zack Snyder movie, reveling in all of the overblown nihilism while having absolutely nothing to say. If you’re gonna be an asshole in a song, at least be clever and charismatic like a good villain. Those traits are not present with blackbear, who’s just a reactionary asshole. Half of the chorus is him saying “fuck you” to multiple people and that he hates your friends and they hate him, too. There’s nothing fun about this song; it’s spiteful, it’s bitter, it stews upon its own misery and wants to drag everyone else down with it. That is hot girl bummer, the worst hit song of 2020. A true bummer, indeed, in more ways than one.
And those were the worst songs that 2020 had to offer. Next week is Christmas Day and as a gift for all of you, I’ll be releasing my Best Songs of 2020 list on that day.
SONG OF THE WEEK
Here And Now-Letters To Cleo