2016 was a real bad year for popular music, so bad that this list could’ve easily been extended to a top 20, but I don’t want to feel like a cynical guy that hates all things that are fun. Here’s the problem, though: there wasn’t fun in pop music this year anywhere, I couldn’t find it.
Sure, there were a few fun songs, but it was like a competition to make the least sounding pop song and see how well it could do based on pure hype of the artists involved. To me the real terror of 2016 was not the man with the orange face, it was the pop music with no taste. The only requirement this year was to merely release a song with little to no effort and streaming will carry it forward. I’m not kidding when I say one of the producers of ‘Work’ didn’t even think the beat of the song was finished before it was sent over to Rihanna, and look how big that became.
That song isn’t the list, however, and about that list, there are some requirements here for what makes the cut. The songs on this list had to be hits and chart in the UK, if they didn’t, then that might be why you don’t see them on this list.
10. Fast Car – Jonas Blue (ft. Dakota)
There are two cover songs on the worst list and it could’ve been three if Fall Out Boy’s Ghostbusters cover became a hit. Oh boy, that was a regrettable decision on their part.
I can appreciate it when an artist or band can cover a song and change it completely and make their own, even if I don’t like it. There’s no denying that this cover sounds a lot different to the classic by Tracy Chapman. Does it sound good? Well, not really. This cover is just another tropical house song that’s surrounded by countless other tropical house songs that flood radio stations.
There’s barely anything in the verses except for Dakota’s breathy vocals and I really don’t think they fit the vibe of what the song is going for. Now, in the original, the verses are also quiet, Tracy sounds restrained as she’s looking for hope, but we get the triumph in the chorus as she finally feels like she could be someone. Here, we’re waiting for the chorus to come so we can finally get to the hook. What do you do until then? You can’t exactly dance, there’s nothing there. There’s a huge difference in tone here, and although Jonas Blue turns the original guitar riff into a fairly decent hook, it’s not really enough to make this song any good.
You could make the case that there are far worse songs that have been popular this year than this one, but as I mentioned before, there’s a trend of tropical house/dancehall that aren’t really dancehall songs that constantly make their way into the charts. It’s becoming stale and this one is another one of those, with even more boring vocals this time.
9. Don’t Wanna Know – Maroon 5 (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Oh hold on a minute, I haven’t mentioned 2016’s obsession with making reggae songs that aren’t reggae yet. These reggae infused songs sound even less reggae when The Adam Levine Band are doing it.
I’m honestly a little shocked that more people don’t hate on Maroon 5. There have been times when people obsessed over hating on Nickelback, Pitbull, Nicki Minaj and many others but nothing about The Adam Levine Experience. Sugar was probably their best song in years and it sounded like utter shite.
My bias against Adam and the Maroons is because I strongly dislike Adam Levine’s falsetto. And by God does he overuse it in this song. Why sing in such a high voice over this kind of beat? It’s a pretty light and summery beat, and as I’ve said already, very reggae, but the annoying kind of reggae. The kind of reggae that people think is what reggae sounds like, but it’s just pop bands botching the style.
If you have to write a song about how much you don’t want to know who is taking a girl home and ‘loving her’ then my guess is that you do actually want to know.
One last thing, Adam and the Machine, please don’t force your reggae onto all of us, ever again.
8. 7 Years – Lukas Graham
When this song came out, I thought it was likely to make my best pop songs list. Now here it is, on the worst. This song grew old really fast.
The song itself is about growing old too, wondering whether you’ll be lonely when you’re older and following parent’s advice. However, I find much of the way he writes this song to be rather questionable. “By 11 smoking herb and drinking burning liquor” really dude? You were smoking and drinking at 11 years old?
Hey, it’s okay though, we’ve got some more wise advice from the folks: “Once I was 11 years old my daddy told me go get yourself a wife or you’ll be lonely”. Marriage at 11? Can you do that in Denmark? It’s not bad advice, you might be lonely if you don’t get married. It’s the not the advice he needed though, his dad should’ve been telling him “hey son, you might wanna stop smoking weed and drinking alcohol”.
Then there’s the “LUKAS GRAHAM” scream in the middle of the song, which seems so narcissistic to me. “Our songs have been sold, we’ve travelled around the world and we’re still roaming”. Is this song about you growing old and being scared you’ll be lonely or about telling us that you’re successful because I’m finding it hard to tell.
Lukas Graham executed this all poorly. Their twinkly, sentimental, soppy piano melody ain’t reaching me.
7. Dancing On My Own – Calum Scott
Seriously? This was a hit this year? At best, this is a pop cover song you’d find on YouTube, only the difference here is that it wasn’t uploaded days after the pop song was released to ensure maximum viewing, but instead it’s been released six years later. You’re gonna forget the name Callum Scott quicker than you can say Jamie Lawson or Conor Maynard.
I’ve never understood the appeal of completely stripping down a pop song to just an acoustic guitar or a piano. Why take away all that energy? Especially with a song like Dancing On My Own, which seems to have grown more popular and likeable as the years have gone on.
He sings in this tone that’s trying to force you to feel sorry for him, and I’ve gotta say I think it’s worked. I do feel sorry for Britain’s Got Talent finalists because no one remembers who they are in a few years, sorry dude.
6. Don’t Mind – Kent Jones
I suppose this song is pretty fun, but I still don’t think it’s good. I think the only reason this became popular is because the chorus has the word “hello” in different languages, and konnichiwa is a pretty fun word to say.
This song is basically another song about how the singer is bragging about having sex with a lot of girls, only this time he’s telling us he has sex with all kinds of girls. Spanish? Si. French? Oui. Haitian? Errrrrr…. Yes! Kent Jones doesn’t exclude any girls when it comes to sex; good job, dude. Have you had sex with girls of every nationality? No? Well that’s why Kent Jones is better than you, my friend.
He also samples Barry White’s ‘Practice What You Preach’, and I don’t know what it is about sampling actual ‘sexy’ sounding songs and using them in ‘not sexy’ sounding songs, but it keeps happening. It’s not like he has a very good voice either, so there’s not much positive to take away from this song. I doubt Kent Jones is sticking around anyway, another flash in the pan act.