I spent most of 2013 going on and on about what a landmark year it was for pop music as art, with records by Daft Punk, Drake, Lorde, and others proving that edgy aesthetics and mass popularity aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive anymore, and that mainstream listeners are more open than they’ve been in years to sounds that don’t conform to commercially proven formulas. So it just makes perfect sense that the second to last Hot 100 chart would just fuck me on that level.
While Lorde’s still-perfect (no matter what the haters say) “Royals” is hanging in at number five after an impressive 24 weeks on the chart and Miley’s “Wrecking Ball,” the best power ballad of the decade yet, is sticking in there at number eight, the rest of the top ten is exactly the kind of mediocre, play-it-safe garbage that made “pop” a dirty word among serious music listeners for so long. Let’s take a look at the awful songs that are tarnishing 2013’s good name. Thank god Beyonce’s new record should start showing up on the charts next week so we can maybe end on a high note.
1) Eminem, “The Monster (feat. Rihanna)”
After leading off his MMLP2 with “Berzerk,” a zesty bit of “classic manic-phase Em,” Marshall Mathers gets back to the flaccid moping that’s defined his postpeak career. Rihanna’s along for the ride because she has what is an increasingly apparent inability to make good choices in collaborators. Somebody just give the guy a bag of molly and 2 Chainz’s number.
2) Pitbull, “Timber (feat. Ke$ha)”
I am looking forward to a day when we can pretend like none of this ever happened.
3) OneRepublic, “Counting Stars”
History’s least memorable rock band embraces the new folk explosion.
4) A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera, “Say Something”
What kind of world are we living in where the great Xtina has been reduced to singing backups for a couple of charisma-free dorks on a melodramatic paint-by-numbers bummer ballad? A sad one indeed.
6) Imagine Dragons, “Demons”
Every generation gets the Coldplay it deserves.
7) Avicii, “Wake Me Up!”
Contemporary EDM demigod embraces the new folk explosion.
9) Passenger, “Let Her Go”
Another limp ballad, this time by a guy whose helium-tinged, vaguely Tiny Tim-ish voice I can’t believe anyone can honestly enjoy. America needs to get checked out for seasonal affective disorder.
10) One Direction, “Story of My Life”
The biggest boy band of the decade embraces the new folk explosion.