Unpopular opinion time: 2011 was a pretty weak year for music. I’m not saying it was a bad year, exactly, but of the three years I’ve covered so far, it’s the one I’d want to return to the least. The club boom of the past few years was being phased out, but not much came in to replace it, leaving us with a lot of mediocrity. Granted, there were enough legitimately amazing songs that became hits this year to keep it from becoming too unbearable. But with that being said, here’s the worst that this mediocre year had to offer, starting with some dishonorable mentions.
DHM. Stereo Hearts- Gym Class Heroes ft. Adam Levine
YE Position: 36
I can’t exactly find much wrong with this song, which kept it off the list, but if I ranked these songs by how little I wanted to hear them ever again, this would be in the top two.
DHM. She Ain’t You- Chris Brown
YE Position: 89
This song is redeemed slightly by the bright, catchy production (which I’m pretty sure is sampled, but I don’t feel like checking), but aside from that, this is trash. And that mostly comes down to the subject matter, where Chris Brown wants to go back to his ex, while showing exactly how he views these two women, from the fact that said women are different and individuals being a shocking revelation to him, to him describing how he wishes he could just “trade in” his current girlfriend. Just… god, what a terrible person. But, considering some of his past actions, I guess you could call this progress. Good job, you piece of shit!
DHM. Just Can’t Get Enough- The Black Eyed Peas
YE Position: 10
This song doesn’t exist and you can’t convince me otherwise. It was the tenth biggest song of the year, I’ve probably heard it countless times, but… all I remember is a bad interpolation of Kanye West’s “Heartless” and that’s it.
Wait, what are we talking about again? Oh, that’s right, Luke Bryan.
DHM. Country Girl (Shake It For Me)- Luke Bryan
YE Position: 81
Ah yes, Luke Bryan’s first hit song, and… look, the title sort of speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Some decent production and singing can’t save the unbelievably asinine nature of the lyrics. This song has the line “shake it for the crickets and the critters and the squirrels”, like, who thought this was a good idea? And I especially love how the video tries to turn the song into female empowerment. It’s just hilariously pathetic and worthless all around.
And we go from one song that conveys all its awfulness in the title…
DHM. Tonight (I’m Fucking You)- Enrique Iglesias ft. Ludacris
YE Position: 16
This is mostly here just for the title, but some credit has to go to the sleazy, compressed production. Eh, at least it has a pretty decent Ludacris guest verse, even if he has the line “lemme see them pants”. Like, my dude, the song is called “Tonight I’m Fucking You” I don’t you don’t need to censor yourself.
DHM. Crazy Girl- Eli Young Band
YE Position: 76
I know this may seem like an outlier, but trust me it earned its spot. The production is a muddy mess of instruments trying to sound romantic, and the lyrics. Ugh. For a song about how much you supposedly love this girl, you sure do spend a lot of time insulting her. “Yeah, I obviously love you. You idiot. You freaking dumbass. You braindead slut”.
DHM. Pretty Girl Rock- Keri Hilson
YE Position: 70
I mean this sound fine enough, even if the drums are a little too stiff, but these lyrics are too much. I could just say I hate them for the blatant and excruciating narcissism, but that’s not entirely it. These lyrics maybe could’ve worked with a more forceful and charismatic singer, but Keri Hilson doesn’t really have any personality, so it just falls flat at convincing the listener. And Keri just comes across as self-centered and delusional as a result.
Also wait hold up is that a goddamn confederate flag in the music video? What the fuck?
DHM. Rocketeer- Far East Movement ft. Ryan Tedder
YE Position: 58
Y’know, say what you want about Like A G6, at least it had a unique sound. This is just some of the most generic pop rap in a year full of generic pop rap. All three verses are too short to leave any impact, and Ryan Tedder is stretching his falsetto to a painful extent. Yeah, there’s a reason Far East Movement are remembered as the one-hit wonders behind Like A G6. Their second hit just wasn’t worth it.
DHM. Motivation- Kelly Rowland ft. Lil Wayne/
In The Dark- Dev
YE Position: 53/83
These share a spot for one reason: both try to be sexy, but just end up sounding creepy and unnerving. If I had to pick one, though, I’d keep Motivation on the list. At least In The Dark has that catchy sax riff. Motivation is just awful from start to finish.
DHM. Cheers (Drink To That)- Rihanna
YE Position: 77
Not the worst song Rihanna’s ever made, but certainly the most boring and uninspired
DHM. Hold It Against Me- Britney Spears
YE Position: 63
I honestly could’ve put any of Britney’s three hits this year in this slot, they’re all pretty similar. The only reason I gave the edge to this one in particular is because of the awkward tonal shifts between the verses and the chorus- from heavy and sleazy to airy and lightweight. It just doesn’t flow smoothly enough. Oh, and that cursed fucking bridge. No wonder her career flamed out into irrelevance in the years to come shortly after.
DHM. Price Tag- Jessie J ft. BoB
YE Position: 93
So if you couldn’t already tell, the message of this song is “money doesn’t buy happiness”. And I agree with that. But it’s nothing new. And when Jessie J tries to paint herself as the only one standing up to a materialistic culture, that’s where the problems come in. It’s easy to say money doesn’t matter when you have enough of it, but try telling that to any minimum-wage worker struggling to pay rent. And then there’s the lines about how the music industry is all “low blows and video hoes”, and nothing makes me stop taking you seriously quite like some “wrong generation” bullshit. So as social commentary, this works about as well as Chained To The Rhythm did. Still, the inoffensive production and decent guest verse from B.O.B managed to keep this off the list.
HM. I’m On One- DJ Khaled ft. Drake, Lil Wayne & Rick Ross
YE Position: 47
This is mostly here for that terrible synth, but it’s not like the verses are much better. Especially with these two lines:
“have you ever made love to the woman of your dreams
In a room full of money out in London, then she screams?”
No. I haven’t. Because that is probably the most oddly specific flex I’ve ever heard.
“Put an end to your world, like the Mayans”
But a pretty solid hook and verse courtesy of Drake saved this song from making the list proper. And speaking of that, I think it’s time we get into that.
For a little context, I’d like to introduce you to Fast Lane by Bad Meets Evil- the collaboration between Eminem and Royce Da 5’9. And despite a few…questionable lyrics, I honestly love this song. The bars are pretty great (with a few obvious exceptions). But more importantly, it’s just filled to the brim with energy and intensity. However, this did not become the big hit off that project, no, instead we got this.
10. Lighters- Bad Meets Evil ft. Bruno Mars
YE Position: 34
Zzzzz… wha? Oh sorry, I must’ve fallen asleep there. Get it? Because this song is so
B O R I N G?
Haha, I know. Comedy genius right here. No, but seriously, this is the worst possible sound an Eminem song could have. Maybe that’s why Revival was such a terrible album. It was basically just Lighters 16 times along with 1 failed attempt at racial commentary. But back to this lifeless piece of shit. Bruno’s hook is passable enough, but something about the melody just rubs me the wrong way. And of course the production is limp and gutless, to the point where it manages to suck any intensity Eminem or Royce bring to the table.
And for a song supposedly about enjoying your success, the tone set in the verses is surprisingly bitter and harsh. And that goes for both Em and Royce’s deliveries, and the actual lyrics themselves.
“Had a dream, I was king. I woke up, still king”
Ok, admittedly, that line’s pretty-
“this rap game’s nipple is mine for the milking”
So of course you follow it up with that.
“Pardon me if I’m a cocky prick, but you cocks are slick”
Haha, dicks. Hey guys, aren’t dick jokes so funny? Isn’t this just peak comedy right here?
“I came up 5’9, but I feel like I’m 6’8”
We all know the only reason you went with “6’8” is because it rhymed with the last line. And for some reason that really bothers me.
Royce’s part has far fewer embarrassing lines, but it still has this.
“You’re goin’ down on somethin’ you don’t wanna see, like a hairy box”
Failing at everything you wanted to accomplish AND disappointing me? What a way to kick off the top 10.
It’s kinda weird that out of all the disney stars turned singers, Selena Gomez has had the longest successful career. She had her first hit- Naturally- in 2010, and it’s a surprisingly great song.
So of course the song she released immediately after was complete shit.
9. Who Says- Selena Gomez & The Scene
YE Position: 78
For the most part, this isn’t a bad song- on a musical level at least. Yeah, the violins are a little too sappy and the na na na’s on the prechorus are pretty annoying, but no, most of my problems come down to the content. Well, looks like it’s time to nitpick lyrics again.
“You made me insecure
told me I wasn’t good enough
but who are you to judge
When you’re a diamond in the rough?”
What? You do realize you just complimented whoever’s putting you down, right?
“I’m sure you’ve got some things
You’d like to change about yourself
But when it comes to me
I wouldn’t wanna be anybody else”
You’re insecure, but I’m not. I’m very secure, everyone. Please believe me.
Then for some reason the focus switches to empowering the listener. Which I’d be fine with if the “you” pronoun wasn’t used throughout the first verse to refer to the people making her life worse. Also, this line on the hook:
“Who says you’re the only one that’s hurting?
Trust me, that’s the price of beauty”
Yeah no. This actually clashes with the song’s message of self-love. “You have to go through pain to become beautiful” fuck off with that. Even fucking Scars To Your Beautiful had the sense to condemn that mindset.
The 2nd verse is actually pretty good. I actually completely relate to it. Probably the only thing saving this song from being higher. Don’t have anything good to say about this bridge, though.
“Who says you’re not star potential?
Who says you’re not presidential?
Who says you can’t be in movies?
Listen to me, listen to me
Who says you don’t pass the test?
Who says you can’t be the best?”
Now you’re just listing off positive accomplishments.
“Would you tell me who said that?
Yeah, who said?”
What the fuck are you gonna do, hunt them down? “Yes, please give me the name, address and a brief description of the person who said that to you”.
Part of me does feel a little bad for tearing this song apart, as it apparently means a lot to Selena Gomez and was written based on her life experiences. But the writing is also convoluted and sloppy as hell, with one irredeemable line in the chorus, so this made the list regardless. <Insert joke about me saying the song isn’t perfect here>.
Boy, this sure is a song that exists.
8. No Hands- Waka Flocka Flame ft. Wale & Roscoe Dash
YE Position: 45
Maybe I shouldn’t have put this on the list. I have literally nothing of value to say about it.
The horns on the chorus are too loud and blaring to be enjoyable, in addition to just being plopped on top of the mix. The rest of the production isn’t worth caring about.
And what about the three rappers? Well, Waka’s verse sucks because of his sluggish braying delivery. Wale and Roscoe Dash are both serviceable at best, but their flows are just really uninteresting.
So, uh, yeah… bad song. I don’t like it.
Did you know that Kidz Bop had a hit song? Well, they actually didn’t, but this next song is pretty much the same thing.
7. Tonight Tonight- Hot Chelle Rae
YE Position: 32
It baffles me that this was even a hit in the first place. I mean, this sounds like the theme to a rejected Disney channel sitcom, not an actual single that got radio airplay. I’m actually finding it difficult to even critique this it’s so bland. The production is some of the most sterile shit imaginable, the lyrics are basically every single party cliche that doesn’t have a naughty word, and the lead singer has this terrible flat monotone to his delivery. Especially when he says “la la la, whatever”. Like, did anybody involved even care? But there are a couple lines that do stand out.
“Woke up with a strange tattoo
Not sure how I got it not a dollar in my pocket
And it kind of looks like just like you
Mixed with Zach Galifianakis”
Uhhhhhh… okay then.
“Woah, all you singletons
Oh, even the white kids”
Bitch what the fuck is that supposed to mean?!
I’ve seen some people be a lot harsher towards this song, even going as far as to put it at the top of their worst lists. And while I do kind of see why, ultimately it’s too tepid and inoffensive to get worked up over. But don’t worry, I’ll definitely get pissed off at this next song!
Shut the fuck up Chris Brown
6. Look At Me Now- Chris Brown ft. Busta Rhymes & Lil Wayne
YE Position: 21
Let’s start with this hellscape of a beat. This feels unfinished. The verses are empty except for that stupid whistling that bounces up and down at a nauseating pace and some percussion I think. The chorus is even worse, with a nasal garish synth bleeding over everything.
Chris Brown rapping. I should just leave it at that, you’d get the message. He doesn’t sound threatening or imposing at all (which is especially bad since it’s Chris fucking Brown, the violent abuser). And he ends his second verse by telling everyone to “say hi to his dick”. Busta Rhymes then hijacks his verse and… ok his part is kind of awesome, not gonna lie. Wayne’s verse is just mediocre, but he’s still miles ahead of Chris Brown.
Chris tried to make himself cool after two years of being hated by everyone, and all he did was make his features look better in comparison. And I’m happy about that. Say hi to your own dick, scumbag.
When thinking back to popular acts in the early 2010s, most people won’t remember this duo.
That’s probably for the best
5. Backseat- New Boyz ft. Dev
YE Position: 84
If it weren’t for the hook, which is actually alright despite the obnoxious vocal pitch-shifting and painful production (which we’ll get to in a minute), thanks to a catchy melody and… fine enough vocals from Dev, this would rank much higher on the list, because oh my fucking god.
Let’s start with the production. What is even going on here. There’s a flat beeping synth that just jumps up and down the scale, handclaps that are way too loud and actively beating up the drums, another loud grinding synth, and some screeching sound. There’s too many clashing sounds going on that I have no idea how anyone could possibly dance to this.
And then we have the New Boyz themselves. Not only can they barely rap, but they also sound like complete douchebags. Lovely. And trust me, I didn’t want to do an in-depth lyrical analysis of a song where the lyrics aren’t really the focus, but I kind of have to in this case.
“Camaro, long stick, she just tryna fuck comfortably”
Are- are you supposed to be the Camaro? Because all I’m getting from that is the mental image of a girl riding a stick shift.
“She like my orange Camaro, she said let’s ride up and trick-or-treat”
Ok, let’s assume that in the last line, New Boy 1 was the Camaro. What the fuck does that make this line? I’m not even gonna touch that one.
“Like damn girl, damn girl, you fucks’n with the man, girl (x2)”
And this right here is just padding.
But that verse was just a warm-up, because here comes the second guy.
“I noticed you because your friends is freakin’ star-struck”
So you noticed her because her friends were hot? I don’t think that’s how it works.
“And you got more of that, how you say it? Shy swag”
S h y s w a g
“Oh you a good girl? It’s cool I play pretend too”
Wait for it-
“Heard you had a baby, you want a New Boy in you?”
That has to be the worst pick up line of all time. I mean I know its a play on their name, but the implication is still there, and it’s horrifying. “Hey what up girl I’m gonna fucking impregnate you”. Seriously, what is wrong with you?
While this isn’t as bad as You’re A Jerk or maybe even Tie Me Down, it still makes me glad that these guys split up a year later, never to be heard from again.
Also, fun fact, New Boyz and Hot Chelle Rae made a song together!
Y’know what? Say what you want about Luke Bryan, at least his song wasn’t mind-numbingly boring with an extra layer of condescension and smug superiority.
In other words, fuck Jason Aldean.
4. Dirt Road Anthem- Jason Aldean
YE Position: 43
In case I hadn’t made this clear: I hate this guy. He’s a shell of a performer who’s managed to sustain a career for over ten years thanks to industry promotion and radio overplay. And while he’s made a few good songs, most of what he churns out ranges from boring filler to revolting garbage. Guess which category this falls into.
This is Jason Aldean’s biggest ever hit, for… some reason. Also the worst. Let’s start with the lyrics.
“You better mind your business man, watch your mouth
Before I come knock that loud mouth out”
Hahaha ok. This just comes out of nowhere. He goes from reminiscing about his childhood immediately to beating up people who gossip. Is there some stuff you’re tryna hide buddy?
“I’m tired of talkin man, y’all ain’t listenin
Them old dirt roads are what y’all’re (???) missin”
You can’t force people to feel nostalgic, especially about dirt roads they’ve never even been on. There are so many ways to write a good song about your past, and this ain’t it.
“I sit back and think about them good ol’ days
The way we were raised in our southern ways
And we liked cornbread and biscuits
And if it’s broke round here, we’d fix it
I can take y’all where you need to go
Down to my hood back in them woods
We do it different round here, that’s right
But we do it real good, and we do it all night”
Y’know what? Why continue when I could just sum up my feelings towards these lyrics with one image:
(yes, I know Jason Aldean isn’t technically a boomer, I don’t care)
And the problems don’t end in the “back in my day” bullshit. Jason Aldean rapping on the verses was definitely a mistake, and his singing is, as always, decent, but lacking any emotion or personality. And then the production is a mess of leaden, muddy guitars and drums that are a complete non-presence. Overall, this is just the musical equivalent of getting lectured by your grandpa. And Jason Aldean was only 34 when he made this like what the fuck. Kids these days, am I right?
Remember the Maroon 5 super bowl halftime show? Didn’t it suck? I can’t say for sure, considering how much the radio loves them, but I think it could’ve ended their careers. Wouldn’t be the first time a bad halftime performance killed off a group’s career. Just look at what happened to the black eyed peas.
Or maybe that had more to do with this song.
3. The Time (Dirty Bit)- The Black Eyed Peas
YE Position: 37
You might think this is only here for the butchered sample. No, not really. The transition into the ugly, fuzzy drop is jarring, but more because it’s out of place and mishandled, not because it’s “sacrilege of a classic song” or anything. But even if the sample doesn’t fit well at all, that might be a good thing because everything around it is so much worse.
I already mentioned the production, but I’m gonna do it again. The mix is incredibly barren, with just the alternating fuzzy, glitchy synth and the uncomfortable squealing synth rising that just keeps going up. It makes me feel like my skin is dissolving. As for the verses? Well, none of them are good. At all. But I’ll let Will and Fergie off the hook.
Because Apl’s verse gives me more than enough to work with.
“A-all these girls like my swagger, they callin me Mick Jagger”
Why the fuck was rhyming “swagger” with “Mick Jagger” an actual trend?
“We ain’t messin with no maggots”
You better not do it.
“Messin with the baddest”
You’re on thin fuckin ice, Mr Apple.
“Mirror mirror on the wall
Who’s the baddest of them all?”
“I’m the mack daddy, y’all”
Calling yourself the “mack daddy” to look cool in 2011
“Ladies, download your ap,
I’m the party application, rockin just like that”
You want the ladies to “download you”. Uhhh… ok. Hopefully they don’t download any viruses as well.
After this, the Black Eyed Peas’ only other hit was that one song I put in the dishonorable mentions that doesn’t exist. What a great ending to their careers!
Well, you all knew this was coming.
2. Sexy And I Know It- LMFAO
YE Position: 57
Just like the last song, what is there to even say at this point? After the massive success of Party Rock Anthem, LMFAO needed something to capitalize on that popularity (which was a shame since that was their only not terrible song), so they chose this because pandering. If it weren’t for the title, this would never have gotten as big as it did, I guarantee it.
And before you say it, yes, I know it’s meant to be a joke. The joke is that they’re not actually sexy, and… that’s it. No payoff, just a setup. Unless you count the “wiggle wiggle wiggle yeah” part, which I don’t. And beyond that ONE joke, there’s really nothing worth remembering. The production is especially grating, with that one clunky synth loop that keeps drilling itself into your skull. It actually reminds me a lot of Birthday Cake, now that I think about it. Yeah, just wait til I get to 2012, that song’ll be getting a Te Bote-style review.
But back on the subject of Sexy And I Know It, fuck Sexy And I Know It. Completely irredeemable, one of the worst songs to hit #1 of the 2010s, and we’ve still got one song left to go.
Let’s talk about the club boom. From 2008 to 2011, the pop music scene was dominated by dance club music. And like with every music trend, we got some good and some bad. But as I mentioned in the beginning, 2011 was when the club boom started to die down. Some people would point to Adele as the main cause of this, and I’d probably agree. But I feel like my #1 choice for this list had to have played a part in all this. And the worst part is, it came from two of the biggest figureheads of the movement, teaming up, and creating a song I can barely believe exists.
Pitbull, T-Pain, what happened?
1. Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)- Pitbull ft. T-Pain
YE Position: 39
Let’s just make one thing clear: I do not hate either of these people. They’ve both made a decent number of songs I’ve liked, and I’ll even be highlighting that in my next list. And of course, both of them are at their best when they’re loose and fun with production to match. Well, needless to say, that’s not the case here.
Let’s start with the main offender- the production. This sounds fuzzy and unrefined, while also being too dark, pounding and blaring to work in a club environment. Oh, and the melody is just two notes droning over and over. And it’s at odds with the awkward, popping percussion. Unpleasant sound, aborted melody, clashing instruments. Just a nightmare on all front.
Now for our lead artists. Pitbull’s always been sleazy, but usually he can balance that with a sense of fun. Not here. His contributions to the hook feel like some guy’s drunken advances, and his verses are like said drunk guy proceeding to throw up everywhere. There’s nothing cohesive or right about his verses. A rhyme scheme is there, but none of the rhyming words are in the right places. Just look at this.
“Dade county, self paid, self made, millionaire
I used to play around the world, now I’m around the world, gettin paid”
Like, what is that? But T-Pain doesn’t fare any better. He sounds like all his personality was forcibly removed, so now he’s just a shell of autotune. His hook is also incredibly excruciating to listen to, as it just keeps going for like three fourths of the song. But is all that worth placing this song at #1 over Sexy And I Know It or The Time (Dirty Bit)? While I’d actually say I hate those other two songs more, Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor) is the perfect representative of the worst side of the club boom, as well as a massive heap of wasted potential that gets absolutely nothing right. Atrocious song, I can see why everyone (including Pitbull and T-Pain) has let this fade into obscurity, and I’d be just fine with keeping it that way.
That’s my worst list, stay tuned for the best of 2011, I’ll see you all then. Bye.