The Top 10 Worst Songs of the Decade By Hareem Qureshi

The year is 2020, and ever since the new year I’ve been reflecting on the previous decade. Every decade as of late has been defined by it’s music, from flapper jazz to psychedelic rock to new wave, music is always transforming, giving birth to new genres and artists and movements. This decade saw the rise of trap music, and was defined by Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish. Beyonce, Rihanna, and Drake turned albums into events. With all that into consideration, one must wonder, what were the worst songs of the 2010s? After all, eras are also remembered for the things that didn’t age so well. For every beloved classic like I Will Survive you have unanimously despised songs like Muskrat Love. To research this topic, I even made a poll with many hated songs from the past ten years, and had my fellow Oakland Mills students vote on it, but, alas, the results were too even. When you have a lot of options, a lot of voters, and a lot of different tastes in music, you end up with three-way, four-way, and even six-way ties, with one song receiving more votes, than all the others — and I assure you, we’ll get to that song eventually — so, I have decided to be the mediator in this conflict, selecting for myself, which songs were the worst of the decade. For what it’s worth, don’t sweat it if you like any of the songs on the list, this is all in good fun and everyone’s taste is different. 

10. International Love – Pitbull

You look at the text and squint. “Pitbull makes his own songs?,” you ask. Yes, contrary to popular belief, he does. The rapper may feature on other people’s tracks so often that his own music is basically an urban legend at this point, but it’s real. Pitbull’s solo work is what mothers use to scare their children from staying out alone at night. Pitbull’s solo work is what the Russian Government uses to torture captured spies. International Love is the sort of mindless club pop that dominated the early 2010s, a time when Pitbull was everywhere. Well, okay, that’s a lie. He wasn’t everywhere. That weird whooping sound he makes at the beginning of all his verses sure were, though. This dud is supposedly about Pitbull’s diverse preferences, yet the song called International Love could only bother to mention cities in America. Add onto that the fact that Pitbull is the Rita Ora of rap, in that he has no personality, and spends 5% of his career making actual music, and you have a recipe for unabashedly lifeless, cliche club fodder.  In the new decade, this song, along with Pitbull, is one of the many things we should leave behind. 

9. Little Things – One Direction  

Now that One Direction has disbanded and the directioner frenzy has become a thing of the past, I think it’s safe to say that the hatred towards the boy band was somewhat unwarranted. Sure, they weren’t Beethoven or Amadeus, changing the way the world thought about music altogether, but isn’t that okay? Bubblegum pop isn’t inherently bad, after all. One Direction was a victim of what I like to call boy band syndrome, or the overwhelming urge to hate and destroy anything that tween girls are obsessed with, a la Twilight. That being said, I can still understand how the group could get on one’s nerves, especially with this three minute and thirty eight second negging session set to music. Much like their breakout hit, What Makes You Beautiful, One Direction wants their fans to let go of their insecurities. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? It wasn’t. Until they started naming them. From eye wrinkles to back dimples, One Direction has made it their mission to point out your every. last. flaw. But it’s okay, right? Because they find it beautiful. Uh, no, actually it’s not okay. I was having trouble putting my aversion to this song into words until I found this amazing review on hitfix.com. 

“Yeah, it’s sweet, but, you know what, dude? We don’t need for you to point out that it’s those things that make you love us. We just want you to pretend they don’t exist and that you don’t see them. Now all you’ve done is make us more self-conscious. Just like how your bald spot and your hairy back are two of the little things that make you all the more lovable to us.” The blogger wrote. In defense of the saccharine mess, you could say that the band just wants to make the hypothetical girl they’re singing to feel better about herself, except, they aren’t. If you pay attention, the verses detail all of the things that One Direction loves about the girl, and then the chorus goes, “I won’t ever let these little things slip out of my mouth.” So, in other words, they aren’t even going to encourage the girl they’re singing about! They’re just going to keep it to themselves and let their girl continue to wallow in her own misery! I can’t decide which is worse, flattering a girl by telling her you’ve noticed all her insecurities, or not saying anything at all… 

8. How To Love – Lil Wayne 

So, what could be worse than Little Things? Little Things but this time by Lil Wayne. You see, in the era of Drake, rappers singing slow, sentimental songs isn’t very hard to imagine, but in 2011, this came right out of left field. Lil Wayne of all people, decided to do his best “guy singing his post-breakup poetry at an open mic to an audience of friends and family who are progressively drowning in second hand embarrassment” impression, attempting to comfort an insecure girl with eloquent, artful, subtle lyrics like “But you, can’t have a man look at you for five seconds without you being insecure.”, and “But I admire your poppin’ bottles”. But my personal favorite example of this masterful lyricism is “Mm, for a second you were here, now you over there.” Not since Lord Byron has anyone displayed such tactful usage of the english language. Step aside, Bob Dylan. A new singer songwriter reigns supreme. Also, say what you will about Drake’s singing, Lil Wayne sounds like what you’d get if Mr. Crocker from Fairly Odd Parents was a singer. 

7. Swish Swish – Katy Perry ft. Nicki Minaj 

This is a story about a song which seemed to promise so much and yet delivered so little. Katy Perry’s failed diss track, Swish Swish. Katy Perry, while never being a groundbreaking artist, was at her best when she was having fun. T.G.I.F. and Hot and Cold are not perfect songs by any means, and while many dislike those songs they’re at least fun. They carry a sense of humor. Few pop starlets can pull off silly frivolity like Perry, so seeing her bitterly attempt to send up pop rival Taylor Swift is jarring, to say the least. The feud between Swift and Perry was built up for so long and the fact that it culminated in Swish Swish, a track so devoid in appeal is like watching the finale to Game of Thrones – Too much waiting and no payoff. The lyrics aren’t funny or catty or even good insults. Perry attempts to get to Taylor Swift with lines like “You’re ‘bout as cute as an old coupon.”, uhm, burn? I guess? Not to mention she started the grand attack with this exquisite lyricism. “They know what is what but they don’t know what is what.”, a line that makes me wonder if the song was secretly written by Lil Wayne. You can’t dance to the song, feel empowered by the song, or even enjoy the cattiness of the song. The fact that the woman behind Fireworks has been reduced to this is almost sad.

6. We Can’t Stop – Miley Cyrus 

Similarly, We Can’t Stop was also a major let down. One of many former child stars who resorted to extreme measures to shed her family friendly image, Cyrus released We Can’t Stop, the most passionless, dry, dull party song ever conceived. Cyrus’s entire image change and controversy can be summed up in a similar way to the song — an unoriginal attempt at shock value. The supposed party jam was mainly blown up due to the controversial music video, and that’s about as edgy as it gets. There’s no oomph to the song, it’s a lifeless, sad little tune that would’ve been completely forgettable if it weren’t for the video and the string of edgy Cyrus scandals. If I had to choose one over the other in terms of which one was the worse, I’d probably go with We Can’t Stop, Mainly because it plays into the “I’m not a kid anymore here let me demonstrate by being increasingly reckless” culture which I feel is problematic and even exploitative, seeing as the entire world watched and joked as a then twenty-year-old Cyrus engaged in more and more self destructive behavior, but I digress.

5. All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor 

Out of all the songs that were discussed in my research for this article Meghan Trainor’s breakout hit and follow up were among those brought up the most, and I get it. They received some of the most votes on my poll, and frequented many other ‘worst of the decade’ lists, for good reason. They’re infuriatingly immature. Meghan Trainor’s vain lyricism and demanding undertones make her come off like the Amy Schumer of music. Trainor’s debut single All About That Bass is yet another tone deaf attempt at empowerment and battling beauty standards, this time with all the sophistication and nuanced perspective of Joe Exotic. You see, Trainor wants plus size girls to stop feeling about themselves– because guys are still into them — and stop comparing themselves to skinny women. Isn’t that nice, hypothetical plus size woman? God help you if men don’t find you attractive, though, or else there’s no hope for you ever attaining confidence or happiness. At least that’s how the song makes you feel, anyways. The song and music video goes out of it’s way to belittle skinny people too, as if skinny people never deal with body shaming. It doesn’t help that the song is packaged in kitchy, doo wop instrumentation, either. d Meghan Trainor’s status as queen of wine moms across the country. I can even picture her making a long facebook post about how she’s not like other girls as I write this.  

4. Imma Be – The Black Eyed Peas 

Throughout the 2000s and the early 2010s, the Black Eyed Peas reigned supreme, for better or for worse. Thanks to them we have Will.I.Am’s awful solo career, Fergie’s national anthem performance, and this awful, awful, awful excuse for a song. Imma Be is about, well, I’m sure the song is about something, if you squint, anyways. Legend has it that those who search for the meaning of the song have never returned. It’s hard to decipher anything from a phrase as cryptic as “Imma Be”, after all. This electro belch of a song uses the phrase “Imma Be” roughly 106 times. How? By repeating it over and over until you lose iq points. The Imma-Imma-Imma Be’s are already bad enough, but here’s the thing? Imma Be … What? What are you trying to tell us? The most hilarious line in the song isn’t any of the Imma Be’s, however. It’s when Fergie asserts that she and her bandmates are here tos stay “until infinity.” Now it’s 2020, and we saw how that worked out for them. Much like that yellow trench coat I used to wear to school back in junior year, this song is a cringe worthy artefact from an embarrassingly simpler time.

3. Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell & T.I. 

Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit Blurred Lines is an especially punchable record. To quote Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield, “I want to hurt this song. I want to wound it emotionally.” The song caught the ire of music fans the world over to sampling Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up, but as a teenager younger than those tickle me elmo toys, I can’t convincingly pretend to be offended about it. If anything, that sample is only remotely good thing about the song, and that’s being charitable. Blurred Lines is the sort of dudebro anthem you’d get if you forced those guys who graduated college but still go to dorm parties to make a song. Everything from Robin Thicke’s hiccupy approach to singing the word ‘wanna’ to the fact that they got Pharrell Williams to collaborate with them and all he does is say ‘woo’, to the decidedly creepy undertones to the lyrics, this song makes you want to get a job at buzzfeed and write about toxic masculinity. Thicke attempts to charm listeners with all the raw energy and charisma of that one guy who crashed my brother’s halloween party to beg for a ride home despite not knowing him that one time, with compliments like “you’re far from plastic.” Yeah, thanks? I guess? 

2. Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift 

I want to premise this by saying I really don’t hate Taylor Swift the same way others do. I’m not a fan, but I don’t despise her the way the rest of pop culture does. When it comes to the Taylor hate, I’ve certainly understood part of it, but not all of it. A lot of Swift’s songs aren’t good, she has a lot of petty lyrics, and she takes feuds with other celebrities so personally in a way most public figures are trained to avoid. That being said, I don’t feel like her dating lots of guys and then writing songs about them is heinous the way tabloids would have you believe. It’s her life, after all, and she’s no different from any other famous singer in that regard. I even think Swift is a good writer, occasionally anyways. I think Out of the Woods and Style were well written pieces that tell a good story. And to top it all off, these days I’m more wary when it comes to making fun of celebrities online. Jokes about them and their songs are usually all in good fun but people can get genuinely hurt by mass hate online, so I’m not, any means, doing this because of some hate bandwagon. 

Look What You Made Me Do is legitimately awful.In this song, Taylor Swift is the epitome of a Karen, and is likely asking to see someone’s manager as I type this. You see, Swift wanted to get back at Kanye West and Kim Kardashian with cold, cold hearted jabs like “I don’t like you.” That’ll show ‘em! You see, Ms Swift got smarter and harder in response to all her struggles, despite making the same mistakes she always makes in her public feuds — acting thin skinned and taking things far too seriously. Swift’s writing can be good, but when she’s upset and looking to settle old scores it’s like she wrote the entire thing in fifteen minutes, with tame lyrics like “don’t like your tilted stage.” What Swift fails to realize is that so many people prefer her rivals because they’re fun. Pick your fighter, an openly catty reality show star and her armchair philosopher husband? Or ‘Slaylor’? Swift says that Kardashian and West’s names are on her list, “in red, underlined.”, but what will she do? Look out world, Taylor Swift is after you! Every time Swift threatens her enemies saying “you’ll all get yours”, she comes across like Team Rocket from Pokemon blasting off again, or Swiper the Fox saying “oh man!” as she retreats. By the time the chorus kicks in the song completely nosedives into cringe territory, as she chants “look what you made me do”. Do what? What did she do? Who knows, but one thing’s for sure, every time you play that poor excuse for a chorus, a fairy loses its wings. 

1. Eenie Meenie – Justin  Bieber ft. Sean Kingston

Ah yes, Justin Bieber. Nothing inspired unfiltered rage like the infamous canadian teeny bopper. Looking back on that era, did a fifteen year old kid really deserve so much hate? No, obviously not. Like I said before, however, there’s something about boys with mop haircuts wooing teenage girls that really gets the internet’s blood boiling. It’s almost funny thinking about it now, in the era of Yummy, where Bieber can put out songs, get married, and even make a documentary about it and not one person cares. His fanbase is a far cry from the hardcore tweens they used to be, but back in 2010, Biebs was getting everyone riled up — fans and haters alike. I mentioned before that the results of my poll were spread too thin, and this song was the one exception, having received the most votes, and for good reason. Here you have the poor kid being forced to sing about his “shawty” (Cue Taio Cruz memories that you thought you had long since forgotten.) with about as much confidence as I had auditioning for my school’s production Winnie the Pooh: The Musical back in third grade. The song is a collaboration with forgettable singer Sean Kingston, a man who I promise you does in fact exist, and is not an Akon stunt double. I’m pretty sure he isn’t, anyways. The song receiving the most votes meant it was a given that it would appear on the list, but you might be wondering why it’s at number one. Well, in all honesty, I don’t have any clever or witty way to say this. It’s because the phrase “Shawty’s an eenie meenie minie mo lover” broke me. I used to be full of hopes and dreams and optimism and then I heard this song, it’s been downhill ever since. As if Justin Bieber wasn’t childish enough, he had to harken back to a kindergarten game for his romantic party song. This song is about as romantic and inspiring as the time my brother let his friends dare him to eat wet bread, and this the worst song of the decade. 

There you have it folks, let’s hope that the 2020’s are kinder to our eardrums.

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