The Worst Songs of the Year 2017, When Pop Nearly Killed Us

Images via screenshot.
Images via screenshot.

“At least there will be so much good art in the Trump era,” mused a chorus of privileged people after the election—people who should have had their Twitter accounts deleted immediately. “Music is going to get so political now.”


Putting aside the narcissism of this sentiment, it’s worth observing that in the pop world, most music did precisely the opposite. The best songs, like those on Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., observed the world around us and reacted from the perspective of the personal. The worst, like this dreadful selection from artists like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift—arch rivals united in the race to adopt trendy styles of black music—seemed not to even notice we’re living in hell! In response, Jezebel staffers have chosen the year’s worst songs—the vapid, the tuneless, the snottiest, the crappiest “rapping”—to remind ourselves and commemorate this moment, lest we never forget it, or never stop having nightmares about it.

Katy Perry ft. Migos, “Bon Appetít”

I have no interest in hearing Katy Perry’s opinions, feelings, musings, or thoughts about sex, yet she continues to force them upon me via shitty metaphors and increasingly bad music videos. This song, off the belabored and frankly horrible Witness, features Migos and a lot of talk about cherry pie. Out of those two things, I only tolerate one—I’ll let you guess which it is. —Megan Reynolds

Maroon 5 f. SZA, “What Lovers Do”

This song sounds like the musical equivalent of the paper Adam Levine wrote during third period, which is due in fourth. The intro is three notes plunked out on a... digital piano?... and the lyrics are “tell me if you love me or not” repeated over and over. The chorus is “oooh ooh ooh tryna do what lovers do.” What do lovers do? Sex? Ok. I’m so bored by this song. It’s so depressing that he would turn in work of this caliber and expect to succeed in 10th grade. I went into teaching to change lives, not to grade songs that sound like Adam Levine wrote them during P.E. Mr. Levine, I’ll give you a one-day extension to go home and put some thought into this song. —Kelly Stout

Look What You Made Me Do, Taylor Swift

An inevitable entry on this list, Swift’s first single off her Reputation album remixes Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” from campy bar song into a score-settling revenge anthem. Though the song is Swift’s attempt to reinvent herself yet again (“I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone. Why? Oh! Because she’s dead”) the single sounded like an overproduced version of what has made Swift so famous: catchy choruses and a soft core anger that’s generic enough to be near-universal. Instead, Swift’s anger felt misdirected and her score-settling almost routine. I could forgive that (hey, it’s what she does!) but the chorus of “Look What You Made Me Do” drives me up a wall every time I hear it. —Stassa Edwards


Ed Sheeran, “New Man”

Ed Sheeran is a 26-year-old man with the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old boy. Here he not only makes fun of his ex-girlfriend for getting with a new guy (who probably has a bleached asshole, Sheeran points out) but also for suddenly eating kale and “keeping up with Kylie and Kim.” It might be basic to hate Ed Sheeran in 2017, but nothing is more basic than this terrible song. —Hazel Cills


Louis Tomlinson, “Miss You”

I know nothing of Louis Tomlinson except that he was a lesser-known member of One Direction and has patchy facial hair. After listening to his latest single, I would prefer to know even less, no offense. “Miss You” sounds kind of like Sum 41, if Sum 41 was a band made up entirely of computers. I will not soon forget the emotional impact of such rousing lyrics as “Should be laughing, but there’s something wrong / And it hits me when the lights go on / Shit, maybe I miss you.” —Ellie Shechet


Katy Perry, “Swish Swish”

This song irritated me for about 1 million reasons—the biggest of which is probably how it is an entirely clunky pivot from her politically active, empowerment-focused 2016 persona, to this weird new revenge and receipts-oriented persona that all the white women pop stars are trying nowadays. Other issues: the slapstick, cartoonish video that attempts to be funny and inspiring and fails at both endeavors; the lyric “A tiger don’t lose no sleep, don’t need opinions from a shellfish or a sheep”; the complete lack of a melody; that I keep thinking I like the song for the two seconds before I realize what it is; the hype surrounding that backpack teen—he’s fine, but I have yet to get “the joke.” —Joanna Rothkopf


Miley Cyrus, “Malibu”

This song marked Miley’s artistic reinvention as a nature- and water-loving folk singer with a newfound distaste for rap music who wanted to furiously hug Trump supporters into submission through the power of love and rainbows. I find it disrespectful that not only was this tonal shift disingenuous, but also poor quality. —Clover Hope


Portugal. The Man, “Feel It Still”

This mincing little number initially struck me as mediocre-to-cloying, its mumbled vocal sounding like frontman John Gourley is imitating Andy Kaufman imitating a foreign man, its overall vibe a vague retrosim that smells of the burp of “Pumped Up Kicks.” But then this band and its apparent 5,000 members took to the stage at November’s American Music Awards and behind them displayed a smug message: “NO COMPUTERS UP HERE, JUST LIVE INSTRUMENTS.” Oh really? Well then. That apparently rockist stance is not only obnoxious, it makes absolutely no sense backing a song that has derived its melody from the Marvelettes’ “Dear Mr. Postman.” There are no computers in my middle finger, either! —Rich Juzwiak


Branchez & Big Wet, “Turn Up on the Weekend”

I feel good about country, I feel fine about trap, but I do not feel good about trap-country, particularly when it comes to Branchez and Big Wet’s “Turn Up on the Weekend.” I first heard the song while driving to House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin, one of the strangest places on the planet where nothing I saw (including the full orchestra chaired by molding mannequins that move when you drop a token in a slot) upset me more than that song did. —Madeleine Davies


Chainsmokers f. Florida Georgia Line, “Last Day Alive”

This song is proof that Satan is a major label A&R, and not least for the fact that it sounds like these two groups had never heard each others’ music before agreeing to “hop on a track,” sugarplum dollar signs dancing in their spiraling eyes. This is scientifically orchestrated on an algorithm to cross over from dance/pop to country and back again, its only purpose chart dominance and a dreadful avenue for The Chainsmokers to end up on the CMT Awards because there’s so much fucking money to be made! Also, it includes the lyrics “bottled up in adolescence/ Bottom up forbidden essence.” Honestly. —Julianne Escobedo Shepherd



Katy Perry is still rich as hell and successful, but she really seems to be struggling artistically in this new era of music. I can’t quite put my finger on why, either - you’d think if she wrote some bubblegummy songs she’d flourish (I’ve had more than my fill of grim songs this year and last year).

Taylor Swift’s song was a huge disappointment. Swift is usually really damn good at writing vicious revenge songs. Although it is kind of interesting to have Swift write a “mostly about a guy” album while they’re still in a happy relationship.