2018’s pop scene was absolutely abysmal. Dare I say, it’s worse than 2016’s. And that is a very low bar to fall under. Like, imagine the bar being at sea level. 2018 took a dive in the ocean. It’s not quite Challenger Deep levels yet, but it’s getting there.
And a lot of the songs aren’t interestingly bad. They’re just dull. Everything was a constant 4/10 throughout the year. Interchangeable trap songs came and went like the tides. Regular and predictable. Junk in, junk out. But some of the junk managed to have enough friction to cling to the pile.
Let’s get to that junk, shall we?
I’m going to start off the list with a strange move: I’m bundling #10, #9, and #8 together.
THE WEEKND – CALL OUT MY NAME (YE: #78)
LOATHE – I LIKE ME BETTER (#35)
CAMEL CARBURETOR – NEVER BE THE SAME (YE: #18)
So why did I bundle these three together? It’s because they all have one single thing wrong with them, with the rest of the song being mediocre to passable. This is emblematic of the 2018 pop scene, as so many songs end up the 4-6/10 range, going in one ear and out the other with nothing sticking with you.
Let’s start with the least offensive, Call Out My Name. The one thing I despise is the final chorus, where the sound quality has a stroke and it sounds like I’m listening to a broken Game Boy. Who the hell thought that the auditory equivalent of Z͎̲̦̠͕̦̮A҉̨̨̭̯̤͎̤L̡̞͎̳͔̼̜͟͡ͅG̴̢̳͎͓̀O̶̢͖͕̫͙̱ ̸҉̫̗̣͖͙͕̥T̹̦̟̬͚͝E̖̘̯̪͘͝X͉̝͙̭͕͙̰̹͖T͔̟̳͓̺̣̙ would be a good idea to put at the climax of your pop song?!
Then there’s I Like Me Better. Most of it is standard minimalist stuff, the kind of shit you get from indie pop acts who could only afford 2 or 3 sound effects since the rest of their income goes right into paying their overpriced rent. The offensive bit is the drop, which I can only describe as the sound made when you wipe your wet finger across glass. I’m convinced it was actually made like that. Oh, and the title is grammatically incorrect. It should be “I Like Myself Better”. Look up binding theory.
The worst of the trio is Never Be The Same. And you all know what I’m going to talk about. The infamous prechorus.
Aside from the fact that she pronounces “heroin” wrong, and the fact that morphine and heroin are forms of the same drug, her vocals are just so scratchy and weak! Plus the instrumentation lowers itself to put all the focus on Camila. Such a horrible decision.
So, this was a news story in the music world. For like, two weeks. Then everyone forgot about it. But let’s talk about it.
WEIRDBEARD – KILLSHOT (YE: N/A, CANADA PEAK: 1)
Well done to my country for letting this debut at #1 before immediately dying. Anyway, onto the song itself. This is a clear dis track towards Machine Gun Kelly (MGK). Let me quickly recap the whitest rap beef ever.
So in 2012, 22-year-old MGK made a tweet saying Eminem’s daughter, who was 16 at the time, looked “hot”. Sleazy, right? Six years later, (yes, six years! Talk about a grudge!) Eminem called out MGK on his track Not Alike on his trainwreck (planewreck?) of an album, Kamikaze. Then MGK released a dis track, Rap Devil, which honestly wasn’t that bad. It’s corny, yeah, as to be expected from the guy who made Bad Things. But it’s fine. It’s passable. 7/10.
Then this happened and holy shit, Eminem. Why did you do this? Yeah, you have good bars and such (albeit with weird tangents about cereal and taking fake-shots at P Diddy for some reason) but…you realised how much you legitimised MGK with this, right? Instead of treating him like a little troll like you should have, you made a full-on song saying why he sucks.
Basically, you treated him like an equal. Other artists that Em has dissed include Ja Rule and MARIAH CAREY. If you’re part of a triumvirate with those two, that’s pretty notable. MGK caused enough of a stink for you to respond to him.
Well done, Marshall. Well fucking done.
Oh boy. You are not going to like this one. I only know one other person who actively dislikes this song, everyone else seems to love it. But I’m not afraid to be contrarian when it comes to music, so…here goes.
CHILDISH GAMBINO – THIS IS AMERICA (YE: 51)
Remember, I’m talking about the song itself. Ignore the video.
And without the video, this song means absolutely nothing. It means jackshit. It’s vague and kinda seems like it’s a black empowerment anthem, but it’s hard to tell. This song breaks the cardinal rule: show, don’t tell. The video is fantastic and shows what Gambino is trying to convey: that there is an epidemic of gun violence amongst African Americans in the USA, but the song simply tells you that “there is a problem”. This is the best comparison I can think of:
It’s just that. It’s blank and nondescript. The song isn’t telling you what the bad thing is, it’s only telling you that things are bad. It’s incomplete. It’s only part of the picture. And again, remember: I’m only talking about the song. The full piece is fantastic. But this is like ordering a burger and only getting a piece of lettuce. You want the whole package.
I’m repeating myself over and over but that’s the big problem: it really is incomplete without the video. No more, no less.
SEIS ARTISTAS NO CONOZCO – TE BOTE (#81)
This one is a bit harder to unpack than the others, because it’s in Spanish. Pero, yo tomé tres semestres de español en universidad.
Firstly, the beat. It’s literally just the beat to Unforgettable by French Montana and Swae Lee (you know, that song that you forgot, pun not intended, but is better than you thought it was?) but with the deep bass piano replaced with treble accents that really don’t fit. Oh, and everything else removed.
But anyway, the real reason this is so high is for two reasons: the horrible misogynistic lyrics and the insane runtime. SEVEN MINUTES?! Why would you listen to this for seven minutes? It doesn’t evolve at all, like other famously long songs such as American Pie (or almost any prog song). This ain’t no Sicko Mode, there’s no beat switches or anything.
And then there’s the lyrics. Dios mio.
Well, it’s a breakup song. The title literally means “I kicked you out”. But that’s the tip of the iceberg. I think I’ll just list off lyrics.
“I sent you to hell…and I nailed your friend.” Classy!
“With you, putting on a condom is a must.” I feel like that should be the case with any sexual partner but whatever. Enjoy your gonorrhea, I guess.
Other memorable moments include Casper referring to his new girlfriend as simply “ass”, and Ozuna saying his new girlfriend “screams in his ear”. Uh, okay.
But to me, this is the real kicker:
“I gave you a hard burial” …did you kill this lady?! Is this some sort of twisted, fucked up eulogy? What the hell?! Is this some idiom that doesn’t translate well? Fuck, I hope so.
The way that all six of these meatheads treat this woman in their eulogy and/or kiss-off anthem makes me think that their attitudes when they were with her weren’t much classier or nicer.
In other words, I have no sympathy for them. The worst sin you can commit in a kiss-off anthem is making me side against you. I wish we got to hear this woman’s side of the story!
If you want a better analysis, go read my friend HydraFlare47’s review of this song on his worst list:
So…that’s the conclusion I have. Oh, I forgot to mention that Ozuna sucks. His voice is nasal and whiny, he almost sounds like Squidward on helium.
You knew this was coming.
XXXTINCT – MOONLIGHT (#88)
I don’t want to talk about X as a person. He was a shitty person who beat his girlfriend and a gay man and then was killed before he could face justice or turn his life around. The end.
Of course, X is the talk of the town on everyone’s worst lists. How SAD! is the worst thing ever, and how X was this, and X was that…
I don’t care. This is about the music, not the people.
And Moonlight is so much worse than SAD!. The beat sounds like fifteen different presets on baby’s first Casio were all combined without regard to rhyme or rhythm. Speaking of fifteen, that’s probably the number of minutes it took to make this trash. One verse, one bridge, two choruses. Nothing else. That’s it. And X’s delivery on said bridge is abysmal. He is at his whiniest and you can’t hear a single word come out clearly. It’s mumble rap on crack.
There’s really nothing else to this song besides its garbage beat and garbage performance. It’s a shell, and unlike This Is America, the video doesn’t complete the whole. It’s just lazy and shitty.
Like this entry.
Again, you have to have known this was coming.
6IX9INE AND 9ICKI 6INAJ – FEFE (#31)
Where do I even start with this one…
Firstly, the beat is not only crap, but it doesn’t fit. 6ix9ine is at his best when he’s aggressive and commanding, shouting how he’s going to kill you twenty different ways to Sunday. That’s why I have no ill will towards songs like KEKE or even GUMMO. They work as flexing songs. They accomplish what they came to do.
This on the other hand, does not. It only makes me want to puke because the thought of 6ix9ine (a pedophile, mind you) having slow sex is absolutely disgusting. And who better to complement him on this than Ms “Boobs boobs boobs boobs lotta boobs” herself?
I find it oddly hilarious that Nicki needs to latch her wagon to 6ix9ine’s star in order to get anything close to a hit. She released an album this year. Guess how many top 10 singles it had? Just one. At #10. And then it crashed and burned immediately afterwards. Face it Nicki, your time in the spotlight is over. Cardi B has easily usurped you as the only relevant female rapper. At least you beat out Iggy Azalea, right? Oh wait, she had a #1 hit. And you didn’t.
That got a bit off track, back to the song in question. The hook begins with “pussy got that wet wet, got that drip drip, got that Super Soaker”. We have nowhere to go but up. And if a woman is cumming so quickly and with such force that it rivals a fucking Super Soaker, that is not something to be proud of.
Also, to my astonishment, a “fefe” is an actual term and not just what 6ix9ine found in his alphabet soup. It apparently means an artificial vagina made by prisoners; in other words, a makeshift fleshlight.
So the lyric “she a Fefe, her name Kiki” implies that this ‘woman’ is actually just a sex doll. So maybe that’s how she can squirt so much; she isn’t real! What a self-own. The other lyrics which involve the ‘woman’ eating, fighting, and clapping her ass imply that 6ix9ine may have created a killer sex robot. I feel like we should all start stocking up for the fefepocalypse.
This was originally my number one. Then I realised…is it really that bad? Well, it clearly is, it’s #2 on my worst list. But I’m no music historian. If I was analysing this song on its cultural impact, it would surely be #1. But I’m only analysing the song itself, so it’s #2. It’s a bit more fitting too, because this song is utter SHIT.
BEBE REXHA AND FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE – MEANT TO BE (#3)
The third biggest song of 2018. It peaked at #2. And it only got there because it cheated.
I say it cheated because it was driven by the country industry hammering it into every single fucking thing they control. AND IT WAS THE BIGGEST COUNTRY SONG IN THE UNITED STATES FOR FIFTY WEEKS. Almost a full fucking year at #1. The longest running #1s on the Hot 100 only stayed there for 16 weeks. Less than a third.
“But Felix,” you say, not knowing my real name, “it’s a country song!” NO IT FUCKING ISN’T. THERE IS NOTHING COUNTRY ABOUT THIS. This song is more trap than country. The obvious telltale sign is the fucking rattling hihats. You won’t see that in country. You could remove the vocals from the chorus and put a rapper on that beat, nobody would be able to tell the difference.
This song’s spiritual predecessor is Body Like A Back Road. While that song is undeniably awful and also not country (and the previous record holder for most weeks at #1 on the country charts…), you can at least laugh at the horrible lyrics and the horrible premise. This, on the other hand, is so bland and milquetoast in those categories, that you can’t have any fun with this, it’s just such a nothing of a song. It doesn’t even have the “so bad it’s good” factor going for it!
I think Meant To Be and Body Like A Back Road belong in their own new genre, which I call “none-try”. It’s like country, but with none of the soul, none of the emotion, none of the songwriting, none of the instrumentation, and none of the talent. It’s just nothing. It’s a full-fledged piece unlike This Is America or Moonlight, and that arguably makes Meant To Be worse than those two. It’s just so…nothing. And it was the third biggest song of 2018. Why?
Before we get to my #1, let’s go through some dishonourable mentions.
MARSHIE FT. THE ROCKABYE LADY – FRI(E)NDS (#26)
This is just obnoxious in every sense of the word.
NICKY JAM & J BALVIN – X (#90)
Consider this my #11. I would bundle it with 10, 9, and 8 but I don’t want almost half of the list to be one entry. And the horrible element in question is obviously that wheedling synth.
DRECK – I’M UPSET (#86)
Just listen to The Story of Adidon instead,
XXXPIRED – SAD! (#17)
The beat is good. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
A MATCH MADE IN HELL – ROLL IN PEACE (YE: N/A)
“I ain’t gonna do this n**** shit because I’m too good for features”
HAILEE STEINFELD ET AL: LET ME GO (CAN #58)
This is here for the drop. Everything else is amazing though.
MIGOS, CARDI B, AND NICKI MINAJ – MOTORSPORT (#34)
Behold, the most lyrically inept chorus of all time.
“Motorsport, put that thing in sport” – Not only did you rhyme “motorsport” with “sport”, what does “put that thing in sport” mean?
“Pop her like a cork” – Ew.
“You a dork” – You can swear, dude. This isn’t Kidz Bop.
DEMI LOVATO – TELL ME YOU LOVE ME (YE: N/A)
If this was anywhere close to a hit, it would be #1, solely for the line “You ain’t nobody until you got somebody.”
Hey, Demi, as an asexual and aromantic person,
And now, for our number one.
This was originally going to be the #7. I t was trash, but I didn’t really think it was worse than the half-baked mess that is This Is America. But after I gave it more thought, I realised that this is quite possibly one of the most sonically abominable songs to ever assault my eardrums. So I put it at number two.
Then I realised, “I think I’m a bit too over my head when I’m talking about something as grand as the entirety of country music” so I bumped Meant To Be down. And thus, this song was left at the top, the worst piece of music I have heard all throughout this year, from any artist from any time period.
Fuck you, Max.
MAX FT. GNASH – LIGHTS DOWN LOW (#66)
Dear. Fucking. Lord.
Every single thing about this song is absolutely abysmal.
Let’s begin with the songwriting. There’s bad lyricism and then there’s this.
“Can I swim in your divine?”
“We’re just reckless kids trying to find an island in the flood”
“Now I’m feeling you breathing slow”
Those are all lyrics from the clearly damaged mind of MAX. Those are metaphors a high-school literature teacher would be ashamed of. And his delivery is this faux-sexy whisper that only makes me feel like my personal space is being violently invaded, until we get to the prechorus, where he begins caterwauling in an awful vibrato.
And then there’s the other guy. Imagine all the worst, most basic aspects of MGK and G-Eazy combined, from their corny lyrics to the fact that neither of them have probably ever seen a black person before. You get gnash.
“I found me an angel, I can see it in your halo”
“Have you ever sent an ‘I Love You’?”
“So maybe we can make a ‘we’ of ‘me’ and ‘you'” (way to rip off Jeremih, dude)
And of course, the worst opener to a guest verse since “I ain’t do this N**** shit, I’m too good for features”: “Moonlight, moodlight, moves like J-Lo”. WHAT.
And the lyrics are only half the problem. The instrumental is driven by what I can only describe is someone violently plucking guitar strings like a bow and arrow. And it goes. ON. FOR. THE. ENTIRE. FUCKING. SONG. And the rest of the instrumental, which only comes in on the chorus, isn’t much better. Generic airy synth here. Preset snaps there. Single, spaced out drum hits over there. Cut, print, ship to pop radio because God knows nobody is streaming this. But possibly the worst part of the chorus instrumental is the canned “WOO!”. I want to set that person on fire.
I can only hope this is the last we see of both these two hacks. Then again, I would say the same thing about this song’s spiritual predecessor, “I hate u I love u” which was a hit in 2016… starring none other than gnash himself. These sentient slices of white bread just might be here to stay.
The future is bleak.