Picking the worst songs of the year is serious business. It’s like I always say: Saying something is the best is a matter of opinion, but declaring something the worst requires evidence. You can’t just go with the songs that you’re sick of hearing or find mildly irritating. You must dig through all the garbage released in a given year and determine what is demonstrably terrible. These songs must clear rooms, ruin days, and cause physical discomfort. And it takes hard work, patience, fortitude, and partial deafness to help withstand the steady onslaught of bad you must endure to find those songs.
But I’ve done it! These are the worst songs of 2017, ranked in order from infuriatingly insipid to apocalypse-level awful. For your convenience, I have also compiled the worst playlist of the year to go with it, so you can listen along while reading the list. You’re welcome! I’m sorry!
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10. Will Smith, “Get Lit”
Garish, clanging, stupid, obnoxious, interminable — this patois-powered EDM monstrosity by the Fresh Prince is the Suicide Squad of songs.
9. Missio, “Middle Fingers”
Imagine the lyrics of snotty punk anthem transposed on to music written by an algorithm to slot comfortably on a “chill” playlist, and sung by a narcotized sociopath who has just discovered David Foster Wallace. Now, drive to the nearest bank and throw a trashcan through the front window.
8. Bush, “Mad Love”
This should probably rank higher, but a guy who had to watch the mother of his children settle down with Blake Shelton deserves a little sympathy.
7. Katy Perry feat. Migos, “Bon Appetit”
The disastrous SNL performance proved it — Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping wasn’t a comedy, it was a prescient documentary about the launch of the year’s most unintentionally hilarious pop album, Witness. (This song gets the sh*t emoji.)
6. Neal McCoy, “Take A Knee My Ass”
Yes, this song is jingoistic, simple-minded trash. But the execution is just so, well, half-assed. Where’s the bombast, Neal? Why do you sound like a Billy Joel tribute act in the verses? Does Toby Keith have to do all the work around here?
5. Arcade Fire, “Infinite Content”
The bad news is that Arcade Fire put out their worst album this year, and this painfully repetitive and callow song — which the band had the audacity to include twice (!) on Everything Now — was the worst of the worst. The good news is that the world quickly forgot this LP even existed, because each and every day we are all inundated with … infinite content. Maybe your enemy is actually your friend, Arcade Fire.
4. AJR, “I’m Not Famous”
Congrats Generation Z, you now have your own “Hey Leonardo.” Nice job raising (lowering?) the bar by adding a twist of “Thift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
3. Ed Sheeran, “Shape Of You”
The contrarian in me is always tempted to defend Ed Sheeran, because it’s way too easy to take shots at this guy. You risk nothing by mocking Ed Sheeran; it’s a position that you’ll never have to defend. It just seems cheap to hate this guy, and that bothers me.
Then I hear the part in “Shape Of You” where he says, “And last night you were in my room / And now my bedsheets smell like you.” And now I want to push him into a locker.
2. Theory Of A Deadman, “Rx (Medicate)”
The opioid crisis is ravaging America’s underclass, and C-list modern-rock meat-grinders Theory Of A Deadman have compounded the problem by writing this glib message song. “Twenty more dead on the evening news / Think to myself: ‘Really, what’s the use?’ / I’m just like you, I was born to lose.” Does it matter if your heart is in the right place when your head doesn’t have a brain in the right place?
1. Jake Paul, “It’s Everyday, Bro”
Part of me feels like it’s cheating to name a song by a semi-professional musician the worst song of the year. Jake Paul is an ex-Disney Channel star who currently oversees a stable of YouTube doofuses like himself who command something like 45 gazillion followers on various social media platforms. Is it fair to hold a person who creates unlistenable crap because he is profoundly untalented to the same standards as Ed Sheeran and Theory Of A Deadman, bonafide professionals who apply tremendous craft to the art of making unlistenable crap?
It’s a difficult question but I’ve decided that the answer is … yes why not this kid is the devil after all. Plus, he may or may not have signed a huge deal with Atlantic Records this fall, so now is as good a time as any to identify our current musical antichrist “with the Disney Channel flow” so that he can be handled accordingly.