At the end of every year, it seems like our society is allowing more and more room for hot garbage to fill our pop charts. We say this not as haters of pop music—we are not one of those finger-waggy assholes who thinks that Katy Perry, for example, does not make "real" music because she doesn't write and produce all her own songs. We love pop music. But our overall culture is going to hell in a handbasket, and the art we produce reflects that culture. What are Raelynn's "God Made Girls" or One Direction's "Story of My Life" if not early alarm bells for the impending total downfall of Western Civilization? We must take heed, and act accordingly. The Jezebel staff has compiled a list of the absolute worst of this year's sonic offenders, so that you may be fully informed and ready for when our entire society crumbles into a million little non-biodegradeable plastic pieces.
A few notes: The staff had a hard time agreeing on the worst Iggy Azalea song of 2014 so we settled on two and decided it was inherently known that Iggy Azalea's catalog is trash (give or take a Charli XCX here and there). Yes, we are aware that a couple of them came out in 2013, but we are basing those on when they actually hit, aka permeated our culture and infected our brains on the most massive scale. Additionally, these are not ranked, because there is no way to truly quantify the disdain we feel for these fucking terrible bouts with noise some people consider "song." Please read these as though they are all listed as "Number One Worst Song of 2014."
One Direction, "Story of My Life"
Kate Dries: My hatred of this song is inextricably linked to its horrendous video, which (fun fact) appears if you google the word "saccharine." But even without the video, the chorus is what gets me: these disgustingly sweet words ("The story of my life/I take her home/I drive all night/To keep her warm/And time is frozen (the story of, the story of)/The story of my lifeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee") happen to be set to the worst melody I've ever heard. It's a real feat of songwriting.
Raylynn, "God Made Girls"
Erin Gloria Ryan: I'd be way more into this saccharine patriarchy jam if all of the wonderful traits of girls were attributed to Cthulhu, the one true and terrible god.
Iggy Azalea & Rita Ora, "Black Widow"
Isha Aran: This will go down as the year we really, truly and earnestly tried to make Rita Ora A Thing, and nothing represents all the time and effort dedicated to launching her career better than "Black Widow." This is one of those kitchen sink songs—the producers seem to have dumped every single pop song gimmick onto this track from the circa 2003 Casio keyboard electric marimbas to the overused claps perforating the beat. It's a confusing and anticlimactic track that neither Rita Ora's full voice nor Iggy Azalea's croaky drawl could save, despite boasting lyrics that sounds like they were ripped straight from the pages of a very relatable broken-hearted teen's diary.
Meghan Trainor, "All About That Bass"
Madeleine Davies: "All About the Bass" is a supposed body acceptance anthem in which Meghan Trainor points out that any body can be beautiful just so long as it looks exactly like Meghan Trainor's. That sweet message, coupled with the "I'm bringing booty back" line (you're really going to take credit for that, Meghan?), makes this one of the worst songs of 2014 and of the last decade.
Pitbull f. Kesha, "Timber"
Madeleine: This is the 2014 equivalent of "Cotton Eye Joe" in that it feels like it was recorded exclusively to be played at regional hockey games.
Maroon 5, "Animals"
Isha: "Animals," or "Ode to Period Sex and maybe Serial Killing (???) in E Minor" is by far the creepiest song of the year, possibly the decade. And it's not just because bloodhound Adam Levine sexes his wife Behati Prinsloo in a cascade of blood in the music video. Well yes, but with lyrics like "Baby, I'm preying on you tonight /Hunt you down eat you alive" and "But don't deny the animal that comes alive when I'm inside you," deciding which part of this song is the worst is a hefty undertaking. The song itself is a cross between Warrant's "Cherry Pie," every Maroon 5 song in existence, and the brimstone-infused shrieks of the eternally-damned residents of the Amityville House. "Animals" seriously makes "The Bad Touch," the other animal sex song (which I just realized is by the Bloodhound Gang—that CANNOT be a coincidence) sound like a soulful and sultry Marvin Gaye song.
Abigail Breslin, "You Suck"
Madeleine: You never appreciate a Taylor Swift song until Abigail Breslin tries to write a Taylor Swift song. "You Suck," Breslin's first major foray into music, is a rudimentary and furious confessional about a shitty ex-boyfriend that includes lines like "I hate your dumb tattoo/I wish you'd fly to the moon." Plus, it's about Mikey Clifford, who everyone knows is the least bangable member of 5 Seconds of Summer.
Taylor Swift, "Welcome to New York"
Rebecca Rose: This one hurts so much to say because I love my TayTay so much (the only album I bought this year was 1989). But "Welcome to New York" is a terrible song. True story: I hate this song so much I actually forgot that I hated it. My brain performed some scientific exorcism on my memories and I couldn't even remember that the first time I heard it I thought TayTay had been possessed by Lizard People operatives trying to make her look bad and derail her career. I have no idea how exactly her public image fits into the Lizard People's plans for global domination but it's the only rational conclusion for how that shit song came to exist on her otherwise flawlessly perfect album. Sorry TayTay. Please don't kick me out of your fan club.
The Chainsmokers, "Selfie"
Julianne Escobedo Shepherd: Not just a shittily reductive, probably misogynist, and weirdly conservative take on LA party girls and the "MILLENNIAL LIFESTYLE" by two dorks who look like they're really into reading GOOP, but also the joyless, dickriding EDM party beat betrayed The Chainsmokers' absolute thirst for fame among the frat bro/corporate raver set. It worked!
Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj, "Bang Bang"
Clover Hope: "BANG BANG" IS A SONG SUNG COMPLETELY IN ALL CAPS. THIS SONG'S DECIBEL LEVEL IS SET AT: MY MOM YELLING NONSENSICAL REQUESTS FROM THE TOP OF THE STAIRS. THIS SONG'S SLOGAN IS: "SOMEBODY, ANYBODY SCREAM! ESPECIALLY IF YOUR NAME IS JESSIE J OR ARIANA GRANDE! "THIS SONG IS A THREE-MINUTE E! HEADLINE WHOSE TOLERABILITY IS SALVAGED ROUGHLY 25 % BY NICKI'S VERSE.
T.I. f. Igloo Australia, "No Mediocre"
Clover: T.I. made an ironically-titled (trolling even) oxymoron in which he preaches about high standards, as we all know he has because he signed white rap savior Iggy Azalea to his label. "I never fuck a bitch if she don't do her hair, no more/ And you don't get no dick if there's a bush down there," he raps. Only the finest Yaki, French-waxed vaginas and thick, over-enunciated blaccents for King T.I.
Jason Derulo, "Trumpets"
Erin Gloria Ryan: Jason Derulo is a violently obnoxious person whose pores emanate thirst. That he's a celebrity is awful enough, but what makes Jason Derulo truly offensive is that he insists on hoisting on the world his particular brand of watery, irritating music, the kind of music that forces its way into your ears, lays a million eggs, and before you know it, you've got the sax solo from "Talk Dirty To Me" in your head in the laundromat.
Derulo's most recent offering,"Trumpets," is, like every song Jason Derulo has performed, about his penis and how he would like for women to touch it and how attractive the women are who want to touch it, set to a grating tune and punctuated with the artist saying his own name. Jason Derulo cannot sexually climax unless he is making eye contact with himself in a mirror.
The video for Trumpets opens with Derulo casually lounging on a bed, watching another Jason Derulo music video on the television. Enter: woman. Woman who wants to sex Jason Derulo. Jason Derulo finds her sexually attractive, and when he gets all hot and bothered, he hears some struggle trumpets. This is the sound of Jason Derulo's boner. Artificial trumpets. You can't even run to this garbage.
Rich Gang, "Lifestyle"
Hillary Crosley: What. The. Fuck. Is. Young. Thug. Saying. On. "Lifestyle." Is. All. I. Want. To. Know. This mystery might literally be the key to eternal life, where that other sock went in the dryer and how Sade's face refuses to age. That aside, the beat is just so... groovy. I know, I too am upset with this breach in my good taste, oh yeaaaaaah.
Fergie, "LA Love"
Hillary: As a Fergie fan since "My Humps" (don't hate!), I've fought for her right to throw around that tiny butt of hers, but "LA Love" is hot basura. What's more, she had the nerve to make us wait for eight years for this garbage. Fergalicious dropped in 2006! In nearly a decade, no one told her this song was bad? No one? Isn't that Josh Duhamel's entire job? Divorce!
Jia Tolentino: At the peak of this song's unholy reign at the top of the charts, I felt its presence like an aural scourge, and described it elsewhere in such terms as "a grown man in a race car bed fucking the hole in a Kidz Bop CD" and "like a 1-800-411-PAIN jingle, but bad." Now that "Rude" has receded from earview somewhat, I see it more gently: it's a phantom dick floating in the ether that pokes its reggae-hatted tip in your ear when you're waiting in line at CVS; it's that guy who shows up at parties and won't stop saying "That's the tits." It's an old friend, but a terrible friend, but somewhat grudgingly, a friend nonetheless.
John Legend, "All of Me"
Jia: Four and a half minutes of a Hallmark card come to life: the treacle quotient is just off the charts with this one. It's like Ben Folds "The Luckiest" except marauding under a silky, velvety, bouquet-of-roses veneer of sophistication. It also features the Lover's Neg, which is one of my least favorite rhetorical strategies in songs about women, as exemplified in how many times do I have to tell you/ even when you're crying you're beautiful too and all your perfect imperfections, etc. Oh please, oh please, oh please.
Mike Will Made It f. Future & Wiz Khalifa, "Pussy Overrated"
Julianne: The title explains it all but if you need further elaboration, most people took this as a dis track directed at Wiz and Future's exes Amber Rose and Ciara, which, GIANT LOL. Amazingly achieved the feat of becoming the most misogynistic rap song in the year that gave us K-Camp.
Justin Timberlake, "Not a Bad Thing"
Jia: I have heard this song on the radio probably a thousand times and every time I'm like, "Wait, what's happening, what is that unrecognizable ambient noise?" It is amazing to me that Justin Timberlake, no stranger to pop excellence, would release this as a single when its best moments sound like the fade-out ad libs from a 98 Degrees song and its worst moments barely transcribe as melodic: People make/ promises/ all the time/ and then they turn right around/ and breaaaak them is what it sounds like when JT's yawning.
Nicki Minaj, "Lookin Ass"/"Only"
Hillary: The funny thing about "Lookin Ass" is the loop expresses how I feel about the song: "All I know is there should be no reason… " From the rape mentions to the inexplicable fashion in the time-you-will-never-get-back video, I refuse it. Then when smart Nicki acted as dumb as the adversaries she was rapping about by dropping a cover touting her cut's "Lookin' Ass Nigga" title atop an image icon Malcolm X looking out of a window with a gun in hand, I had to disassociate myself. Nah, b. Worst yet is "Only," where Nicki—who's spent bars upon bars telling men they can't sleep with her—lets her "brothers" Drake and Wayne talk about how they'd lay her seven different ways if she gave them the chance. Don't even get me started on the remixes by random rappers rhyming about how they'd love a shot at Nicki too. Bleh.
Great Big World f. Christina Aguilera, "Say Something"
Julianne: An entire song based on one single chorus made of pure schmaltz that reads like a wannabe poet's late-night emo tweets, and which will make you beg for the pregnant pause it invokes. Also, its existence made clear that Christina Aguilera, a longtime fave, has somehow found herself in the predicament of being a little desperado for a pop single. Very depressing song, though not at all in the way it intended.