Music — it just keeps getting worse and worse every year. I realize that’s something that old people say, but when Justin Bieber is the biggest name in your industry, your industry is horrible. 2012 brought a tidal wave of horrible music to the airwaves, and it was hard to select just ten songs that were the worst of the worst.
10. Nicki Minaj – "Stupid Hoe"
Don’t get it twisted — we’re not Nicki Minaj haters. We think she’s got some talent and fire. But “Stupid Hoe” is just a seizure-inducing nightmare of a song. Over a jittery Diamond Kuts beat seemingly composed of public-domain sound effects, Minaj lets loose on her critics, with special vitriol given to long-time foe, Lil’ Kim.
The problem is, the whole enterprise is just hollow and empty, with the repetitive chorus digging into your brain like an icepick on "The Walking Dead." The song’s only a little over three minutes long but it feels like it lasts forever.
9. Gifted But Twisted – "Six Pack"
Is it racist to say that white people need to stop rapping right now? One of the most embarrassing songs of 2012 came from Redondo Beach four-piece Gifted But Twisted, who put their gangly, horrific singer behind the mic for “Six Pack,” a corny-ass party anthem about drinking beers and working out. Pairing distorted pop-punk guitars with tootling keyboards and some of the most idiotic lyrics 2012 produced, every aspect of this track is horrible. I defy you to listen to it all the way through.
8. Rihanna feat. Chris Brown – "Birthday Cake (Remix)"
Have you ever wanted to listen to Rihanna say the word “cake” like a million times in a row? Then this is the song for you. Teaming the Barbadian star with her former domestic abuser proved successful for the label, and this grotesque remix is vulgar and obnoxious, with Brown’s first lines being about how he wants to f-word RiRi, all things forgotten. Even if these two didn’t have the most dysfunctional relationship in the world, this song would still be the worst. When you factor that in, though, it’s like the pee icing on top of a cake made out of poop.
7. The Offspring – "Cruising California (Bumping In My Trunk)"
I kind of feel bad for bands that were successful in the '90s and are still trying to make it today. The Offspring were a Orange County punk band who found unexpected stardom with “Pretty Fly For A White Guy” in 1998. The track was an early attempt at cross-platform cash-in, but it also marked their last moment of relevancy.
But now they’re back with “Cruising California (Bumping In My Trunk),” a song so embarrassing that it’s almost unbelievable. Auto-tuned vocals, rap-rock choruses and the same sample from “California Love” that every song about California has to use now. It’s dad-rock of the worst order.
6. Gym Class Heroes – "Stereo Hearts"
How do you make an already terrible band worse? Invite the guy from Maroon 5 to guest on a track. The Gym Class Heroes have been engaged in pumping out dull pop-rap-rock for a few years now, but this year’s “Stereo Hearts” takes a labored metaphor ("What if my heart was a stereo?") and wraps it in a boring, clunky beat with lots of sappy love-song strings and a a Bieber-esque chorus. How many times does lead singer Travie McCoy say, “It’s ya boy Travie?” And what kind of name is “Travie,” anyways?
5. Train – "50 Ways to Say Goodbye"
Train has already earned a permanent place in bad music hell with “Hey Soul Sister,” but they’re aiming for the throne again with this year’s “50 Ways to Say Goodbye.” From the inept mariachi-inflected guitar line that nags its way through the song to the inane lyrics, this song grates from the first line.
And then the chorus kicks in, which somehow melds corny Meat Loaf-esque arena rock with Mexican-style horns. It takes a deep effort to make music this effortlessly bad. Just the way lead singer Pat Monahan pronounces “Superman” will make you want to throw yourself off a building.
4. Ryan Rox – "Lose Control"
For all of the famous people making garbage music, there are thousands of non-famous people who think they can get famous. All it takes in 2012 is a generic electro beat and repeating the same lyrics over and over again. One of the most odious attempts at pop stardom to hit iTunes this year was “Lose Control” by a young fellow named Ryan Rox. Wearing what appears to be a pink tube top, the New Mexico-based Rox “raps” some seriously inept lines about partying and doing cocaine over a tinny synth beat. He’s got about as much emotion as somebody leaving you voice mail.
3. Flo Rida – "Whistle"
Nobody’s ever going to accuse Flo Rida of being a lyrical genius, but his latest smash hit proved that nobody cares, either. Anchored by the most generic beat possible in 2012, it throws in a whistling hook that could be sampled from the Andy Griffith show.
The song, of course, isn’t about whistling — it’s about oral sex, but why hide that in double entendre when you’re comfortable rapping lines like, “You’re my perfect bitch?” Scariest part: This song took seven people to write and thirteen people to produce. What were they all doing?
2. Far East Movement ft. Justin Bieber – "Live My Life"
What could make the purveyors of musical garbage like “Like a G6” more obnoxious? Mix in a little Justin Bieber. We’re not serious Bieber haters around here — it’s music for teenage girls, after all, and they need something to make their lives meaningful.
But this all-star team-up of horribleness was all over the airwaves in 2012, and it gets worse with each listen. The tradition of bringing pop stars to sing your hooks is an inescapable part of hip-hop now, but snagging Bieber automatically demolishes any semblance of credibility you had. Not that Far East Movement had any in the first place.
Next: Most Shocking Music Scandals Ever
1. Double Take – "Hot Problems"
The Rebecca Black phenomenon of 2011 had long-lasting repercussions this year, as young girls all over the world learned the wrong lesson from the video. One of the most hilarious grabs at stardom came from two girls from San Luis Obispo, California, named Drew Garrett and Lauren Wiley, who dubbed themselves “Double Take” and released “Hot Problems” to the Internet in April.
The track, which is completely inept in every way, quickly won the derision of millions. What could make the tone-deafness of Rebecca Black worse? Two girls singing out of tune at the same time. The idiotic lyrics don’t help matters at all.