It’s been a pretty interesting year for music, as some great bands have released all-time best albums. Oh, and then there was a lot of garbage. 2013 assaulted our ears with some brutally awful songs, and in this feature we’ll shame the ten worst.
What would happen if that “500 Miles” song by the Proclaimers and the absolute cheapest early '00s house anthem had sex and made an ugly, chubby baby? You’d have Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” One of the worst trends of the year was the tendency to cram horrible forced techno breakdowns in songs that didn’t need them, and this track epitomizes it. The lyrics for this song are incorrigibly stupid and it’s so one-note and not dynamic that it seems to last a lot longer than its 4:09 running time. Oh, and the melody was written by the guy from Incubus, just to cement its poopy pedigree.
What do you do after "Jackass" ends and you have no marketable skills to make an honest living with? Well, if you’re Bam Margera, you launch a rap career under the name “F*ckface Unstoppable” and put out sub-Bloodhound Gang jams filled with curse words. His debut track “Bend My Dick” is a turd sandwich made of everything awful about modern music: untalented white guys rapping, unwanted dubstep breakdowns, auto-tuning and more. Margera’s such a bad rapper he makes the Insane Clown Posse look like Eric B and Rakim.
When people who shouldn’t rap try to rap, it’s always a recipe for disaster. 2013 saw one of the most egregious missteps in music history with Holotka, a terrifyingly autotuned woman from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, who moved to Atlanta to start a rap career. Her debut video “Bad Ass Bitch” is one of the most embarrassing things ever put on wax. She’s obviously trying to put together some kind of sex symbol thing but it’s not working in any human way.
Kanye’s attempt to reclaim the Confederate flag in his Yeezus merchandise looks positively enlightened next to this cringeworthy joint from reasonably smart country singer Brad Paisley and washed-up MC LL Cool J. The track opens with our protagonist walking into a Starbucks with a Confederate flag shirt on and getting the side-eye from the colored barista, at which point Paisley has to explain that he’s “just a Skynyrd fan.” It goes downhill from there, hitting bottom at the point where LL raps, with no hint of irony, “If you don’t judge my gold chains / I’ll forget the iron chains.” Not the same thing, dude.
It wouldn’t be bad music in 2013 if we didn’t get a visit from Patrice Wilson at Ark Music Factory. The man who brought us Rebecca Black’s “Friday” is still kicking out the jams with an interchangeable cast of tweenage girl singers. “Chinese Food” doubles down on the idiotic lyrics and casual racism, with a goofy suburban blonde girl singing about how much she loves fried rice, noodles and chow mein. But the part that elevates it into truly legendary awful song status is Wilson’s rap in the middle of the track, where he rhymes “broccoli” with “Monopoly.”
When Avril Lavigne married Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, it opened the door for a musical collaboration so heinous that it would shake the globe. Two titans of awful super-corporate post-grunge came together, and the result was “Let Me Go.” If you looked up “generic power ballad” in the dictionary, it would play this song at you before it threw up. From the first notes of mournful minor-key piano to Kroeger’s massively processed vocals and Lavigne’s emo yodeling, every second of this track is like listening to oatmeal.
It’s not just the major labels that knocked out the awful jams this year. Tons of wanna-be stars floated tracks that were just as bad, if not worse. One of the most perplexing wanna-be musicians of 2013 was Birmingham-based rapper-singer D4NNY, who released a string of songs this year, each one worse and weirder than the last. “Goodbye” was probably his nadir, where the pencil-thin young man dropped an auto-tuned emo farewell to all of his friends and haters. Amazingly, he actually released more songs after this.
Amazingly enough, “Bound 2” was the track on Yeezus that got the most critical praise, with music wonks comparing it to his earlier, sample-based production. That’s pretty sad, because the track is virtually unlistenable. Ye raps with some of his laziest flow ever over a patchy musical background that cobbles together weirdly-EQd bits from Brenda Lee and the Ponderosa Twins Plus One. Let’s not even talk about the insanely absurd video, which features a topless Kim Kardashian with her nipples airbrushed out.
If there’s one thing you don’t need for a music career in the modern era, it’s musical talent. How else to explain Patricia Krentcil, the leathery fortysomething New Jersey resident who earned the moniker “Tan Mom” after she brought her five-year-old daughter to a tanning salon in 2013. Because there’s a market for everything, some producer brought Tan Mom into the studio to create a horrific track called “Life of the Party,” where she slurs her way through lyrics about going to rehab and … tanning. Of course.
2013 was a good year for racism in America, and by “good year” I mean “awful year.” One of the most explicitly racist tracks in a year full of them was “Asian Girlz” by Los Angeles bro-rock band Day Above Ground. The track, which sounds like Maroon 5 on the worst day of their life, is a non-stop cavalcade of Asian stereotypes, dropping lines about fried rice, ninjas, nail salons and “creamy yellow thighs.” After the song dropped, the band quickly found themselves at the center of a crap hurricane, with LA clubs canceling their shows left and right.