The Worst Songs of 2018

Gif: Elena Scotti (Photos: Getty, Shutterstock)

The gods of music keep blessing us with more music than we can handle—visual albums, three-song EPs, music-video trailers—not to mention, more than enough platforms to enjoy this endless stream. There’s a lot of fucking music! Which means there’s a lot of bad music. Here are the records, aside from every Zayn song released, that managed to torture us all year long.

“Girls Like You,” Maroon 5

Barring the fact that Cardi B was somehow persuaded to donate her talents to the track (get your coin, girl) and that the song appears on an album un-ironically titled Red Pill Blues, “Girls Like You” is, without a doubt, the most obnoxious song I haven’t been able to escape this year. It is the soundtrack of men not realizing women are people until they become fathers. I did not think Adam Levine could become more of an insufferable (hot) man, but all it took was teaching him the phrase “empower women.”Maria Sherman

“Most People Are Good,” Luke Bryan

Technically released at the end of 2017 on Luke Bryan’s album What Makes You Country but getting most of its play in 2018, “Most People Are Good” is a paean to a persistent strain of nostalgia that is remarkably out of step with our current moment, and every time I heard it on the radio, I was forced to whisper to myself, “Millions of white Americans think it’s okay to be a neo-Nazi” in order to cleanse the air. And let’s not forget that his tepid embrace of queer love in the song—“I believe you love who you love/Ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of”—manages to express the idea that the supposed “shame” queer people feel is the real problem, remarkable in that he both believes this is a groundbreaking sentiment in 2018 and in how wildly off the mark it is. —Esther Wang

“I Do,” Ashlee and Evan Simpson

In the scheme of life, this isn’t a song that had any kind of impact on the world, nor in the realm of pop music. That’s because 1) It’s terrible. And that’s the end of the story. This simple ballad, something of a country wedding song, was released in conjunction with the couple’s E! reality show, Ashlee + Evan, a show exciting as watching eggshell paint dry in slow motion. Also, Evan’s rasp reminds me of Marge Simpson’s sisters. —Clover Hope

“In My Blood,” Shawn Mendes

Ever heard this one? Well, do you remember that god-awful intro to this year’s MTV VMAs, where the skinny white boy performed an acoustic jam that we were all supposed to get riled up for for some reason? That was this song. And while I do pity poor Shawn Mendes for having to open up the ceremony (the show may be irrelevant, but it’s still a hard gig), this song is a total drip, not to mention one cut directly from Ed Sheeran’s playbook (not a good one to pull from, I hope that goes without saying!). He seems like a sweet kid, but good lord, does this song need to be as famous as it is the year? —Hazel Cills

“Supplies,” Justin Timberlake

Timberlake going trap is as logical an end as cheese going moldy. I’m just glad that the listening audience as a whole is no longer putting up with his shit, as Timberlake’s Man of the Woods album (which I will never not refer to in my own head as Hen of the Woods), from which this song was taken, was an utter flop. What took everyone so long??? —Rich Juzwiak

“The Middle,” Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey

Much like a dog, I love to be put in a car and driven around. The only bad thing about spending time in a car is the radio ubiquity of “The Middle,” which is lesser EDM and literally a Target commercial. It is also an anthem for centrism. “Oh baby, why don’t you just meet me in the middle? I’m losing my mind just a little,” it instructs. “So why don’t you just meet me in the middle? In the middle.” Appalling. —Katie McDonough

“The Last of the Real Ones,” Fall Out Boy

It is my opinion that a Fall Out Boy song should appear on every Worst Music list every year the band releases an album, and 2018 is no different. If it seems unfair to conflate a bad song with a bad band, maybe Fall Out Boy should consider no longer releasing music, releasing me from this burden. This song is about as typically bad as any of their other songs, making it worse than most songs of 2018. —Prachi Gupta

“1999,” Charli XCX and Troye Sivan

Listen, I’m a sucker for a collection of pop culture references from the late ’90s as much as a the next woman born in 1990, but “1999” is like the musical version of a ’90s nostalgia BuzzFeed listicle from 2013. The music video was fun enough; Charli and Sivan aping Rose McGowan and Marilyn Manson’s iconic MTV VMAs red carpet outfits was cute (even if it was referencing the 1998 VMAs), but it was almost as vapid as the song. As cloying as I found Anne-Marie’s massive hit “2002,” that at least managed to approach millennial nostalgia with a hint of charm. Meanwhile, “1999” is largely charmless. It’s basically 3 minutes and 28 seconds of someone saying, “Hey, remember Baby-G watches?” (Yeah, duh.) Just listen to “Vroom Vroom” on loop instead. —Ashley Reese

“Esta Rico,” Marc Anthony feat. Will Smith and Bad Bunny

It is almost impossible for me to dislike a song with Bad Bunny on it—and to its credit, “Esta Rico” is extremely fun during el conejo malo’s rather explicit verse (“Ey, si tu tienes novio, mami, no me digas/Enamorado de ese culo, Dios la bendiga” which means… well, you can Google it). But the latest single from Marc Anthony is just dreadful, cringe-worthy at every turn. Anthony is clearly trying to position himself as relevant in the current Latin pop moment, but this track taps into none of the wave’s most exciting undercurrents: Latin trap or reggeaton-pop. It’s the sonic equivalent of someone dancing energetically but very badly before you, hoping their flashy moves will distract from the fact that they forgot all the steps. This song is so deeply corny, so lost in the sauce, I almost cannot listen to it all the way through. No, let me scratch that—I definitely cannot listen to it all the way through. —Frida Garza

Greta Van Fleet, “When The Curtain Falls”

When called upon to prepare my entry for this list of cursed enemies, I spent a half hour staring into my Spotify thinking about songs that I’d listened to at all, in general, in 2018. “Put Greta Van Fleet on there,” a friend said. I had not heard of Greta Van Fleet, but I assumed that it was the name of a milquetoast singer-songwriter, sort of Gillian Flynn-adjacent, maybe in the neighborhood of Neko Case, but abysmal and bad. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that they are a collective of brothers from Michigan doing their best Zeppelin cover band, but absent any hint of soul. It’s an empty performance of the debauchery of the 1970s; these men have wandered into a vintage store on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, stole all the most outlandish shit and draped it on their bodies. This is what a robot would do if you asked it nicely to make a song that evokes the feeling of the opening strains of “Whole Lotta Love.” It’s derivative, an empty gesture. Let’s put it this way: if Jimmy Fallon is jizzing his pants in praise after watching this performance, then isn’t that all you need to know?—Megan Reynolds

Kanye West & Lil Pump, “I Love It”

In A Star Is Born, “Why Did You Do That” was presented to us as Ally’s vapid turn to pop commercialism; ignore for a moment that it slaps and consider the formulaic signifiers it lobs at us, the music industry’s slobbering ass jokes for radio plays, an empty vessel for capitalism. Now strip it of its humor or self-awareness and give it a healthy pour of bro-y cliché, and you’ve arrived at this dismal song, a noise pollutant so empty and thick-headed it can’t even drag itself up to the level of parody. “You’re such a fucking hoe, I love it,” Lil Pump singsongs on the relentless chorus, a numbly immature response to comedian Adele Givens’s pretty good intro about women and orgasms. “I Love It” strives to be ignorant music but doesn’t seem to recognize that the best ignorant music is both dumb and fun. The only saving grace is that Lil Pump is an actual teenager, likely virgin, and based on the song’s boneheaded prurience, has probably learned everything he knows about sex from video games. Kanye has three children and no excuse. —Julianne Escobedo Shepherd


Rhoda Morgenburner

I can not believe that the song “Baby Shark” by Pinkfong did not make this list. None of you must have kids and subsequently not exposed to this particularly heinous earworm.