The 8 Ball 12.15.12: The Top 8 Worst Singles of 2012
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Music Zone! I’m your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, I will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You’re free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is “wrong” is just silly. With that in mind, let’s get right in to it!
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Caveat: In the digital age, what is and is not a single can be a bit of a blurry line. With services like iTunes or Spotify allowing listeners to take any track they want from albums and ignore the rest, it can be argued that the single is on its way out as a music industry standard. In all honesty, there is some truth to that. Still, the single still exists in its traditional form. You cannot just rely on Billboard charts because of the influence of digital services, and radio play can follow suit to veer off course. Thus I relied on the most solid sources I could find whether (in order of priority) it was an artist or label’s official site, Amazon, Wikipedia and then others; there will be some fuzziness so a bit of leeway is appreciated. Finally, I was looking at actual singers, not “music” by Courtney Stodden, Paris Hilton, Coco or one of a dozen glamour models decided to squeal out in an attempt at a vanity music career.
Neon Hitch – “F U Betta”
One Direction – “Little Things”
What can you say about a theme song for a movie that is so bad, the movie doesn’t even include it on the soundtrack? “Back in Time,” as recorded by Mister Worldwide himself for Men in Black III, was released as a promotional single to support the film but didn’t actually get an album release until Global Warming was inflicted on the masses in November. The song at least deserves a tiny amount of credit for standing out from the rest of the Miami rapper’s increasingly-generic catalog of songs by virtue of a sample from the 1956 Mickey & Sylvia hit “Love Is Strange.” That being said, it doesn’t stand out in a good way as the sample doesn’t mix well with what Pitbull’s Miami-based club sound. The track shows a complete lack of lyrical depth and creativity, as he slightly alters Will Smith’s “Black suit” line from the last two Men in Black themes and mixes in plenty of his usual content about globe-hopping. “Back in Time” as a song is indicative of the problem with Pitbull’s work as a main artist; he slathers his tracks in so much production that he doesn’t consider it necessary to put any substance into the work and it shows.
Justin Bieber, the boy that launched millions of tween girl into screaming and sent an equal number of non-tweens into fits of irritation, released his second full-length LP Believe in 2012. The album was supposed to be his “adult” album in that he was trying to break out from the teenage mold that he so firmly established himself as with My World. And to be fair, it is not the worst album in the world. But the first single, “Boyfriend,” was not a good first step for him. Let’s establish what is so wrong about this song, because it’s not just on this list because of the name and popularity of its singer. Bieber, whether you like him or hate him, has a talented voice. We can rage about his teeny-bopper musical style, but the kid can sing. So why does he spend a good portion of this song pseudo-rapping with less energy than Lil Wayne at his laziest? Bieber is trying to sound grown-up here, but he ends up just sounding stupid. The production work by Mike Posner and Mason Levy is irritating in the extreme and every attempt is made to smother what little decent singing is done on the track. This was Bieber’s attempt to break out of the mold that had been built around him and he did so, but not in a good way.
There is very little I can say about this song in a positive light. Ludacris spent most of the time following 2010’s Battle of the Sexes establishing his film career before coming back with this, the lead single from his upcoming album Ludaversal. There is an immediate negative association with this song from the music video, which seems to be copying the terrible found footage comedy Project X; not the wisest move, to be sure. That being said, this is about the music and not the video; unfortunately the song is actually worse than the video. It is a banal four and a half minute experience in which Ludacris shows that his flow has dropped off considerably in the last three years. The lyrics are incredibly generic trash, with such “gems” as “I’ll bang out that headboard so much we’ll make the bed ache.” And that’s not even getting into the chorus, which is irritating to the point of making me wish for Justin Bieber’s rap skills by comparison. Ludacris’ second and third singles off the LP are improvements on this one but that is fairly faint praise, because I couldn’t imagine him coming out with much worse.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. There was a point in time where I really loved the Offspring, but that point has long since come and gone. This song, the second single off Days Go By, marked the end of any optimism I had left for the Dexter Holland-fronted group. The group noted that it was more of a joke song and that’s all well and good, but even comedy music has to have musical value. This has Holland doing a Ke$ha-like speak-rap over a generic and poppy rock-lite track. This sounds exactly like what it is: the Offspring trying to recapture the fun, feel-good humor of the alt-rock of the 1990s while fitting within the chart-friendly sounds of the 2010s. It fails on both respects and exposes the band as completely out of touch with what makes them appealing as a musical act. There’s nothing wrong with playing to your strengths and keeping away from your weaker points as a musical group; Holland and company could well learn that lesson.
This is a remix of a song off of Rihanna’s 2011 album Talk That Talk, which was one of the most irritating albums of that year. The original version of this song is only seventy-nine seconds and features Rihanna offering what most of Talk That Talk contains: unsubtle and awkward metaphors for sexual activity sung over an overproduced dance-pop track. But at barely over a minute, it is done so quickly that you barely even have time to roll your eyes at lyrics like “he wanna lick the icing off” and “Can’t wait to blow my candles out.” In order to release it as a single, Rihanna teamed up with the one and only Chris Brown for a song that touched off a wave of controversy. I don’t care about the controversy; I’m just looking at the song here and Brown’s explicit contribution only serves to make the track worse. Rihanna’s bad lyrics are still there, including twice where she just repeats the word “cake” fifteen times or “I’m-a make you my bitch.” But when you add in Brown crooning crap like “Doggy want the kitty” then it becomes absolutely unbearable. Tripe like this is why Rihanna’s intensely mediocre LP Unapologetic, released last month, seems good by comparison.
Kreayshawn’s popularity as an artist, even as middling as it is, astounds me. Once the novelty of “white girl rapping” wears off–which with most people happens in the first twenty seconds of hearing her–there is pretty much nothing of value to her music. This song, the second single off her debut album Somethin’ ‘Bout Kreay, is a perfect example of that. There’s just nothing to enjoy about this track whether you look at Kreay’s ridiculous food metaphors, the bargain-basement production values from Free School and Jonas Jeberg or the half-awake, uninspired guest verse contributed by 2 Chainz. What’s sad is that this isn’t even the worst song off Somethin’ ‘Bout Kreay; it is merely the worst that was released on its own in order to promote the album. I quite seriously cannot fathom what defense people can offer for this song; on the plus side I suppose, Kreay can only go up from here, right?
LMFAO are a blight upon the musical world. Now don’t get me wrong; I bopped my head a bit along to “Party Rock Anthem.” It wasn’t a good song but it was a fun one. Unfortunately every successive single from the two-person group has been consistently worse. “Champagne Showers” was just plain bad, “Sexy and I Know It” was embarrassing and this one, the only single from the group this year, is the worst possible example of where club music can go wrong. It tries to be fun but instead just comes off as idiotic. And we are expected to cut it slack because “it’s just a club song.” That was perfectly acceptable when club music stayed within the clubs and off the airwaves. Now that it wants to be a force within the commercial pop machine, it gets judged on its own merits and there are few if any merits to this song. In fact, even as a club song this sucks; it has jarring transitions from point to point within the song along with completely generic effects thrown in, almost as if Redfoo and SkyBlu know that they need to drown the airhead lyrics in something distracting. There may be some hope left for this group, but they get no goodwill from me at this point.
I don’t hate Nicki Minaj. It would probably be easier if I did, but I don’t. Instead, I just wish that she would take the talent that she has and stick to that, instead of being as bizarre as possible in every possible situation. Nicki Minaj is Lady Gaga taken to the extreme. Gaga’s outfits and behavior is strange, but her music is still accessible pop music. Minaj feels the need to inject that weirdness into her music. Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded was a painful record to listen to, but the worst by far was this piece of anti-music right here. “Stupid Hoe” features Nicki trying on near-unintelligible accents and vocal affectations as she spits out the worst rhymes that she can imagine, all leading up to that ever-so-classy chorus “You a stupid ho/You a, you a stupid ho.” Really, this is what we’ve come to musically? I have a lot of complaints about some elements of music in 2012, but I can’t even complain about this song. I just pity it, because it needs to be put out of its misery.
MUSIC VIDEO A-GO-GO
One of the songs I wanted to include last week but didn’t quite make the cut was Adele’s theme to Skyfall. The music video for it is of course top-notch as well, focusing on the movie. Since it was officially listed (to no one’s surprise) in the list of eligible songs for Best Original Song, I thought this would be a good opportunity to include it. Enjoy:
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don’t forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.