The worst songs of 2017 uninspired, tired


In a year as turbulent as 2017, one may have expected artists to reply in kind with impactful, expressive music that shakes up the status quo and speaks to issues plaguing the world. Instead, 2017 proved to be among the blandest years in terms of pop music, with the charts continuously being dominated by EDM and pop stars airing their dirty laundry. Repeatedly listening to terrible pop music and compiling a list of the worst songs is an arduous task, but I did it so you don’t have to.

“Thunder” by Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons are the poster boys of focus group approved rock. An amalgamation of pop, rock and electronic music, Imagine Dragons produces tracks that are edgy enough to allow them to be considered a rock band on their Wikipedia page, while maintaining a radio-friendly vibe. Imagine Dragons’ chart-topping song, “Thunder,” somehow manages to sound like a consumer product, while attempting to be an empowerment song for people who eschew conformity, an ambitious (and unattainable) goal for a band whose entire discography sounds like it was made for a “Transformers” movie trailer. In “Thunder,” frontman Dan Reynolds gratingly shout-sings about being laughed at in his classes for dreaming about being a star and refusing to fit into a mold. That sounds like a plot for a Disney Channel movie, not a song written by an adult. Imagine Dragons specializes in big, lofty songs about nothing that evoke no emotional response or thought, essentially, music made for commercials.

“Look What You Made Me Do” by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift wants us to know that she’s a villain now, and it’s all our fault. The newest installment in Swift’s descent from country idol to trashy popstar, “Look What You Made Me Do” is a musical riposte to all of her haters, intended to be sharp and stinging, but only succeeding in coming across as self-obsessed and pathetic. “Look What You Made Me Do” hilariously samples the melody of “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred, because if there’s anything that makes me take a song about revenge seriously, it’s sampling a silly song from the early ’90s. Musically, the song embraces electroclash, making it sound like an LMFAO or Black Eyed Peas hit from 2011. Lyrically, it’s embarrassing. Who cares about Swift’s petty feuds with other celebrities? “But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time,” Swift sings in the pre-chorus. Based on what evidence? I cannot imagine her detractors are doing anything but laughing at this attempted retort. If there’s anything good that can be said about “Look What You Made Me Do,” it’s that it provides a fascinating view into Swift’s increasingly paranoid psyche.

“Perfect Duet” by Ed Sheeran and Beyonce

I never thought Ed Sheeran would be the biggest name in pop music, but here we are. 2017 was a killer year for him, with the overwhelming success of “Shape of You” (now the most streamed song ever on Spotify) and his album “÷” (pronounced “divide”) topping charts in 14 countries. One of Sheeran’s singles off of “÷” is “Perfect,” a cloyingly sweet song about love, vague enough to be used in anyone’s wedding. It sounds like Sheeran reinvented his 2014 single “Thinking Out Loud” and decided he needed to crank the saccharine up to 11. What could make this unbearably twee, “white guy with an acoustic guitar” song even worse?

How about an ill-conceived duet?

In an ideal world, “Perfect” would have cracked the Hot 100 only to vanish into obscurity. But then pop behemoth Beyoncé joined Sheeran for a duet rendition titled “Perfect Duet,” catapulting it to the top of the charts. Arguably, the worst part of this duet is that it forces you to picture Sheeran and Beyoncé as a couple. Furthermore, Beyoncé’s superstar presence undermines the original song’s attempted sincerity and everyday-bloke lyrics. This is like if Barbra Streisand decided to collaborate with DJ Khaled, an odd partnership that you would normally never envision. Whether you love or hate Sheeran, he is an undeniably prolific songwriter whose lyrics run the gamut from charming to peculiar. But this is the first song he’s produced that’s simply generic.