The Top Ten Worst Songs of 2014

Well, another year is coming to a close, which means it’s time to say goodbye to many things. Of course, I will be more than happy to say goodbye to some of those things, including various pieces of music, many of which I wish had never transmitted themselves through sound waves into my brain. I will unfortunately never get to un-hear these pieces of crap, but I can take my vengeance on them by making a list of the ten very worst.

Now, if you’ve been following Knife Ink Reviews for a while, you know that my very first post was my Top Ten Worst Songs of 2013 list, so needless to say these lists hold a very special place in my rotten little heart. Not only does this mark the end of the year, this also marks the approximate 1 year birthday of Knife Ink Reviews, and what better way to celebrate than to recreate the list that started it all?

Some ground rules. 1 – only songs from Billboard’s year end Top 100 list, and 2 – Only songs that were released in or only made the charts this year, in 2014. There are plenty of songs, like “Wrecking Ball” and the like, that have stuck with us since the year they were released. They don’t count. Sorry.

All right then, let me just take a listen to some songs, I’ll be right back. How bad could it be?

[TWO HOURS LATER]

Those were possibly the two most painful hours of my life. Let’s just get this over with.


10. “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry

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Katy Perry escaped my list last year, and she wasn’t going to make my list this year, until my history professor explained to us the misrepresentation of Cleopatra, and while the music video for “Dark Horse” doesn’t necessarily mention Cleopatra, it’s still pretty obvious that’s what they were going for. Anyway, the misrepresentation and blatant sexualization of Cleopatra is really getting tiring and is unfair as she was actually an extremely capable leader, more so than many men of her time. So there.

In actuality, though, this song annoys me because, like most Katy Perry songs, it gets stuck in your head, but unlike some Katy Perry songs it lacks the dumb enjoyability that I’ve managed to find in several of her singles. They may not be good songs, but I can understand the appeal to “Hot N’ Cold” and “Last Friday Night” – they’re stupid, but they’re fun, catchy, and when they get stuck in your head they just want to have a good time, like a little kid poking you over and over begging you to take him to the park or something. When “Dark Horse” gets stuck in your head, it wants to drill itself into your brain. It’s a disgusting earworm that latches onto your brain cells and sucks the life out of them. It has a dull, plodding beat that’s not at all fun and really the song doesn’t make much sense and the music video’s even worse. I just don’t get you, Katy Perry. Who – who are you?


9. “Chandelier” by Sia

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Get out your torches and pitchforks, I don’t care. I just don’t see the appeal to Sia. She has a voice so grating it makes me feel like my brain is exploding. On the chorus of “Chandelier” she sounds like a wolf in extreme pain. She is literally howling the word “chandelier,” and I certainly wouldn’t be able to make out that word if it wasn’t the title.

I had to look up lyrics for this song because I couldn’t understand a word Sia was singing. She has a way of mushing words when she sings, making them virtually unrecognizable. And that’s not an accent or anything, because I’ve watched interviews with her and I was able to understand her fine; it’s just the way she sings. Maybe it floats your boat, but I find it annoying.

I’ve seen a lot of comparisons between “Chandelier” and “Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo because they have similar subject matters – coping with life, getting through day by day by drinking, partying, etc. I like “Habits” better because it actually sounds like someone who’s going through a tough time. I had to look at the lyrics to “Chandelier” closely to realize that it wasn’t an empowerment ballad, which is what it sounds like. Maybe Sia was going for the juxtaposition between the song’s subject matter and its tone, but I doubt it. In any case, I can actually understand what Tove Lo is saying, which gets her points.

“Chandelier” seems to try and make a point and loses it, and while I do appreciate that it’s not about merely getting high in a club and partying all night, it lacks focus and because of that, it turns into a song that has virtually no identity at all. Besides the screaming wolf.


8. “Rude” by MAGIC!

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This song got really annoying really fast. I’m not sure what else to say about it. I suppose I could launch the usual criticisms at it – that it’s a rather poor take on “cod reggae,” that it’s slightly sexist, that it doesn’t really make much sense as the narrator claims he’s going to marry the girl anyway but still keeps asking for the dad’s permission – but it’s all been done before, and I find that what bothers me the most about this song is the fact that it stayed relevant for so long, that there are very, very few positive things about it but it still gets played a lot and yeah I just don’t ever want to hear it again.

Oh, and worst band name ever. Ick.


7. “Say Something” by A Great Big World ft. Christina Aguilera

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I’m not going to make any friends for this one, either.

I can’t stand music like this – harmonically uninteresting, lyrically bland, falsely profound snore ballads that could be written by literally anyone. I could have written this song. You could have written this song.

This song deeply irritates me because, like most slow pop ballads, it passes itself off as something really moving and thoughtful when in reality it lacks substance. Its lyrics are generic and unclear, it’s slow and plodding, it’s harmonically boring, and I hate it I hate it I hate it.


6. “Summer” by Calvin Harris

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I can’t speak for other places, but where I live, this song was everywhere. It got played long past summertime, that’s for sure. So part of why I dislike this song is very much the same as why I dislike “Rude” – I just got sick of hearing it.

For me, though, there’s another huge reason why this song irritates me, and that’s Calvin Harris’s voice. He sounds like he has a cold, but more than that, he just sounds so uninterested in what he’s singing. He has no passion for this song whatsoever. I may not like Sia’s voice but I do have to give her credit for at least caring about what she sings. Calvin Harris sounds like he’s half-singing, half-mumbling, totally not invested in the performance. Now, that’s not an assessment of him as a person; I have no idea what he’s like in real life. I’m just describing what he sounds like to me, on the song.


5. “Talk Dirty” by Jason Derulo ft. 2 Chainz

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Okay, I’ll admit it. I put this song on the list somewhat out of obligation. Really, this song was #6 on the chart this year and I have a sense of duty to the human race which tells me that if I am making a Top Ten Worst Songs of 2014 list, I must put “Talk Dirty” on it. It is just something that must be done.

In reality, I do like one small, tiny, tiny thing about this song, and that’s the funky Latin-style riff in the chorus. I think it’s fun and catchy. The rest of the song is the dumbest thing to hit the charts with the exception of…well, you’ll see in a minute.

Jason Derulo, besides being essentially talentless, comes across in his songs as an incredibly gross individual and someone I really would not want to hang around. The “it’s just dumb dance music” excuse has been used for far too long when it comes to sexist, insensitive shit in our music, but, in fact, may be the most fitting description for this song. If I am insulted by anything in “Talk Dirty,” it’s that it’s the most brain-dead thing on this list (besides…well, you’ll see in a minute). It’s just dumb. The end.


4. “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

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“Shake It Off” is, without any fraction of a doubt, Taylor Swift’s worst song. The very worst she’s ever released. Now, I’ve never been a Taylor Swift fan, but after hearing this song over and over again, watching the music video over and over again, I began to long for the days when Taylor Swift just sang about boys named Drew and never ever ever getting back together.

What’s more, “Shake it Off” made me realize something about Taylor Swift. While she may not be the most talented artist ever, she does (or did) possess lyric vision. Her songs, while they did sound like seventh grade textbook poetry most of the time, were identifiable and very much Taylor Swift. Identity is huge in today’s music world, and Taylor Swift seemed to have a firm grasp on it, much more than other artists (*COUGH* Miley Cyrus *COUGH*).

“Shake It Off” could have been sung by anyone. Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, any of them could have done it. There’s nothing that makes this song Taylor Swift, except for her extreme aversion to haters, which is by far the most irritating and actually quite insulting part of her personality which I just can’t let slide. We apologize profusely, Taylor Swift, for your “haters” and also for your fucking net worth of $200 million. We’re really sorry.


3. “Wiggle” by Jason Derulo ft. Snoop Dog

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“Wiggle” was the song I kept referencing in my “Talk Dirty” explanation. I didn’t even know this was possible, but it’s about ten times more idiotic than “Talk Dirty” and lacks the funky Latin-style riff that made “Talk Dirty” slightly redeemable. My reaction to the main riff in “Wiggle” was, I kid you not, almost exactly the same as Todd In The Shadows’s. Upon hearing this riff, Todd said:

That’s a goddamn recorder.

I feel ya, Todd. I feel ya.

“Wiggle” is even more disgusting and perverted than “Talk Dirty” and its lyrics – again, I didn’t even know this was possible, but its lyrics are even dumber than those of “Talk Dirty.” I don’t even want to think about how many of my brain cells died after listening to this “song.”

To give you an idea of how awful “Wiggle” is, let me say this: it is so bad, it is the only song Postmodern Jukebox could not rescue. (I mean, their version is better but it’s so stupid it still doesn’t work.) Yeah. It’s that bad.


2. “Maps” by Maroon 5

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So far, none of the songs on this list have really insulted me beyond being brain-dead or irritating to listen to. These top two songs genuinely insult me because of their subject matter, dreadful lyrics, and in some ways, the artists singing them.

So, with that said, hi, Maroon 5. How’s it been?

I really hate Maroon 5. I’m not sure any of the other members besides Adam Levine are even relevant – I certainly don’t know anybody else’s name, and he’s the one who gets featured predominantly in their videos – so most of this is going to be targeted at Adam Levine.

First of all, let me start off by saying that Adam Levine has my least favorite singing voice on this list and possibly of all time. I just can’t stand the way he sounds. I know that’s personal preference, but I don’t know how to describe it, he sounds like a jerk when he sings and his songs, this one in particular, really do a good job of reinforcing that jerkiness.

In the music video for “Maps,” Adam Levine’s girlfriend gets hit by a car and the song is all about how much he does for her, how she messed up and dishonored him, how he’s remained loyal and faithful to her even when she’s treated him like dirt. Oh, and she dies at the end.

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1. “Loyal” by Chris Brown ft. I don’t care let’s just get this overwith

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You know, for some things, I need to explain why they’re bad or why I don’t like them. For other things, I would hope, I would pray, I would beg, that people would be able to figure it out on their own. So I’ll just do this.

Remember when Chris Brown violently beat up a nineteen year old girl?

Here are some of the lyrics in his song “Loyal.”

These hoes ain’t loyal
These hoes ain’t loyal
Yeah, yeah, let me see

and

When I call her, she gon’ leave
And I bet that bottom dollar she gon’ cheat

Doesn’t that sound an awful lot like what Chris Brown accused Rihanna of before he…oh, never mind. I’m sure he’s grown up and moved past that in his life or whatever.

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Things I Need to Clear Up

No, These Are Not Good Songs

“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea – okay, it’s not really a good song, but I can’t bring myself to passionately hate it.

“All About That Bass” – again, I can’t bring myself to hate it, though it has numerous faults. (Making a swipe at eating disorders is not cool.)

“All Of Me” – boring, generic, and bland, but John Legend is a really good singer.

“Timber” Pitbull ft. Ke$ha – Oh wait I’m supposed to hate Ke$ha and Pitbull, right? (*YAWNS*)

“Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake – …I kind of like it?

“Boom Clap” by Charli XCX – I can at least get behind this song, even if it is incredibly annoying.

“Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj – Oops, I forgot to care.

Stay tuned for the Best of 2014!

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A Look At Billboard – Week of 7/11/14

All right, so you’ve probably noticed that the title of this post isn’t “Billboard Top 10” as it usually is. That’s because I’ve decided to become even more annoying with these Billboard posts and basically just jump around Billboard’s list and talk about whatever I find, mainly because I’m sick of talking about the same songs over and over again, or having nothing to say about a certain song. Hopefully I will be able to address new songs and new artists I haven’t before, as well as refresh certain views on artists I have talked about before.

Speaking of which, let’s start with a little band called Maroon 5.

9. “Maps” by Maroon 5

There are many things in this world I hate, and one of those things is Maroon 5. But I’ve realized recently that hate might really be geared towards the main face of the band, Adam Levine. You see, I’ve heard bands that create the same bland, boring songs over and over again (*cough* Coldplay), but there are very few bands whose lead singer’s voice closely resembles an autotuned injured wolf. Every time Adam Levine goes into the falsest of autotuned falsettos, I kind of want to punch something.

“Maps” is no different from any other Maroon 5 song – boring, bland, and incredibly annoying. Because of this, I find that in order to even tell one song apart from the other I have to watch the music videos, which is unfortunate, because Maroon 5’s music videos are just…awful.

The music video for “Maps” features a woman whom Adam Levine apparently had a relationship with getting hit by a car, and we have to watch people bring her bloody, dismembered body into the emergency room, and then Adam Levine sings a song that is, of course, all about him and how she treated him terribly.

Wow. Adam Levine, you are a reprehensible human being. Please stop trying to make music.

All right, moving onto #5.

Who the hell is Sam Smith?

5. “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith

First of all, Sam Smith, if that is his real name, should probably have changed it to something a little more memorable. I mean, you don’t get much more boring than that. Sam Smith. This poor guy is going to be gone by next month. Unless, of course, his music is good enough to keep him in the spotlight.

Which, it isn’t, really, but I will cut “Stay With Me” a little bit of slack because while I don’t think it’s good, I don’t really think it’s bad, necessarily. I like the layers of harmony on the chorus, I like the one itsy bitsy chord that, for a brief moment in time, verges away from the four chords of pop. The song would be improved if Sam Smith didn’t sound like he was singing with a pillow over his face, but I honestly can’t bring myself to hate this one too much. I don’t see it sticking around, but my predictions have been wrong before.

7. “Summer” by Calvin Harris

I’m not at all familiar with Calvin Harris, so I have to ask: does he sound like he has the flu on all of his songs?

11. “Latch” by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith

Bland. And Sam Smith’s voice goes from muffled to annoying.

28. “Me And My Broken Heart” by Rixton

Who the hell is Rixton??! What is happening to Billboard?

I actually think I could get into this song, if I were in a good mood. It uses a chord progression (or almost uses it) that I haven’t heard in a while and is welcome, although I wish they could have used it like Al Stewart did in “The Palace of Versailles.” Which is, like, the best song ever.

2. “Rude” by MAGIC!

I very much appreciate the reggae beat. Now, if only I could erase the premise and the lyrics of this song (neither of which are very good) every time I hear it, it might be a little more enjoyable. Still, I can’t pretend like I hate it.

Oh, yeah, and MAGIC! is possibly the dumbest name for a band.

Ever.

15. “Break Free” by Ariana Grande ft. Zedd

Ariana Grande wasn’t too successful with her huge hit “Problem,” in my opinion, but she’s talented enough to redeem herself. Although teaming up with Zedd, who did the abomination of a song “Clarity,” doesn’t give me much hope.

(After listen)

…Boooring. Moving on.

14. “Classic” by MKTO

Eh…it’s okay, I guess. I certainly don’t hate it. I do wish it actually sounded more “classic.”

16. “Amnesia” by 5 Seconds of Summer

First observation: if you want to be a successful, chart-topping music group, naming your band “5 Seconds of Summer” probably isn’t the smartest idea.

Second observation: I think I’ve heard this song ten million times, under different names by different artists.

Third observation: 5 seconds of summer is probably all 5 Seconds of Summer is going to get on Billboard, relatively speaking.

20. “Boom Clap” by Charli XCX

This song is literally the most annoyingly dangerous thing in the universe. I almost didn’t put it on this list because I knew once I typed the title it would start playing in my head and never ever leave. I’m serious. It’s an absolute parasite of a song. It will suck out your major thought processes and leave you with nothing but a loud, obnoxious pop song playing in your head for eternity. Don’t listen to this song if you haven’t done so yet. Escape it while you can.

17. “Chandelier” by Sia

I can’t understand a single word she’s singing. She sounds drunk.

38. “Come With Me Now” by KONGOS

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about! Accordions! Guitar solos! ROCK! Actual rock chords and beats and vocals! YES!! ME LIKE!

Other observations…

I’m glad to see Coldplay’s song has dropped so low. I’m also sad to see that the Michael Jackson/Justin Timberlake song has as well. 😦 Much sadness.

Does Ed Sheeran only release songs with one-word titles?

Jason Derulo really has a song called “Trumpets,” which I assume is composed of the leftover sound bites from “Talk Dirty.”

There’s a new Iggy Azalea song at #97 right now. Why do I have a feeling it’s going to be higher?

A Look At Billboard Top 10 – Week of 5/25/14

Wow, finally things have changed!

As of right now, Pharrell’s song “Happy,” which sat at No. 1 for weeks, has dropped to No. 4 and has been replaced with…

…John Legend’s “All Of Me.”

…..

………..

…I just don’t know what to say. I mean…really? That song? You guys picked the blandest, most boring-as-hell, underwritten song out there?

Um, whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Anyway, let’s see what’s new on the list. And from now on, I’m only doing the top ten, simply because I don’t feel like going through the top twenty. I just don’t. Have mercy on me.

All right, let’s see what we have here…

Anything in bold is me before I listen to the song, normal type is after.

No. 2 – “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX. I’ve never heard of it. Be right back after a listen…

Well, that was a miserable 3 minutes and 24 seconds of my life. How do I describe this? It was like an endless ear raping. And it only lasted three minutes and 24 seconds. Just the same monotonous, shallow, horrible chorus over and over again, with verses that were either equally intelligent or completely unintelligible. No. 2. Huh. Billboard, you’re really starting to suck.

No. 3 – “Problem” by Ariana Grande. Oh, good! Ariana Grande. I like her. She’s actually quite talented. Let’s see what she’s got for us here.

Well, she took a leaf from Jason DeRulo’s book and added in the irresistibly catchy horn, but other than that, I’m sad to say that I don’t see anything particularly special about this song. It’s not even close to her best work, and it’s kind of annoying. Still, it’s better than the two that come before it, that’s for sure.

No. 4 – “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. I’ve already spoken about this one many, many times. It’s wearing out its welcome, but it’s still a good song.

No. 5 – “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. I’ve already spoken about this one too. I’m going to do something absolutely shameful and quote myself.

“Turn Down For What” is not a song, but a conglomeration of the various noises emitted by autotuned robot chipmunks. It is unbearable.

I’ll keep quoting myself until the song’s taken off the list. So there.

No. 6 – “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry. GO AWAY. GO AWAY. GO AWAY.

No. 7 – “Talk Dirty” by Jason Derulo. Man, maybe the charts aren’t so different after all.

No. 8 – “Not A Bad Thing” by Justin Timberlake. Okay, I take everything back. Nothing has changed. There is absolutely nothing new on this list. Billboard sucks. The most boring song ever written is at No. 1, autotuned chipmunks dominate the No. 5 spot, Katy Perry still controls half the country’s minds and Justin Timberlake is still making bad music. Forget it. This is stupid. I’m never doing one of these agai –

No. 9 – “Love Never Felt So Good” by…Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Wait, what? Michael Jackson? What? What is this? *Goes to Wikipedia page to find out what this is* No way! They released a new Michael Jackson song? And had Justin Timberlake sing on it? Could this possibly mean that Justin is actually going to show off some…talent for once? And in a freaking Michael Jackson song? Oh my gosh, I’ve got to listen to this right now! *Hurriedly goes to YouTube*

God bless you, Billboard.

Okay, I’m not a Michael Jackson fanatic or anything, but compared to the other songs on this list, this is golden. Say what you want about the music or the man, but Michael Jackson was a phenomenal singer, and listening to this song reminded me of just that. Throw in a catchy beat, some nice chords, and a good Justin Timberlake and you have what I consider to be a pretty decent song. The fact that Justin can hold his own against Michael Jackson is PROOF of my theory that Justin is way more talented than he’s willing to let any of us believe. Well, you don’t fool me, Justin. I can see right through you.

Well, I’m pumped! Who’s at the No. 10 spot?

No. 1o – “A Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay. The thrill is gone.

Well, what do you know, ten seconds in and it sounds like EVERY OTHER COLDPLAY SONG IN THE FREAKING UNIVERSE.

Actually, this song is a perfect representation of why I don’t like Coldplay very much. They’re not the worst thing out there for sure, but they’re nowhere near as good as people think they are. Just look at the title of this song. “A Sky Full of Stars.” How original. Next they’ll be releasing singles called “An Ocean Full of Water” or “A Dog Food Container Full of Dog Food.” The song itself starts like pretty much every Coldplay song starts – piano entrance, bland lyric here, bland lyric there, uninteresting four chords of pop. Not even worth a full listen. I’m going back to the Michael Jackson song now.

Well, there you have it. Billboard slowly getting worse. Or possibly better. Only time will tell.

………I couldn’t help it.

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Music Review – Al Stewart

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We’re going back in time, folks.

Al Stewart has been one of my favorite artists for a very long time and it’s a little sad he isn’t better known. For those who are familiar with music from the 70’s, he’s the guy who wrote the song/album “Year of the Cat” and “Time Passages.” Both of which are really good albums, but he’s made more. A lot more.

What appeals to me about Al Stewart is, of course, highly personal. As a soon-to-be history major, I rejoice at any historical reference made in songs, books, movies, etc. Al Stewart is a history buff and many of his songs are about just that – history. It’s extremely refreshing to listen to songs that are about things that actually happened, and not just vague love ballads. I mean, I love vague love ballads as much as the next person, but we have plenty of them. Plenty. What we need are more songs about the French Revolution, the Winter of 1708-1709 in Western Europe, female pilot Amy Johnson, the League of Nations, English Naval Commander Lord Grenville, immigration to the United States in the late 19th – early 20th centuries, and 29th US president Warren G. Harding. And yes, Al Stewart has written songs about all of those things.

My inner history geek persona is salivating right now.

Did I mention he’s British?

And Al is short for Alistair?

And Jimmy Page played on one of Al’s earliest albums, pre-Led Zeppelin?

And that he’s a wine collector?

And that even though he hasn’t enjoyed as much fame as many other artists he still continues to make music, simply because he enjoys it?

Al Stewart is probably the most consistently good lyricist I’ve heard, especially for the amount of work he’s done. You could literally take 90% of his songs and read them as poems, and they’d be absolutely lovely. They’re very word-heavy and vocabulary-rich, but not in an overwhelming or convoluted way.

For first-time listeners, I would recommend starting with the albums Year of the Cat and Time Passages, since that’s classic Al Stewart and they’re both just fantastic albums. But I also really love 24 Carrots, which is probably his best album in terms of how it works as a whole, and Modern Times.

Have a listen! He really is one of my favorites.


For the extra curious, here’s a link to Al Stewart’s website and Wikipedia Page.