I don’t think it is too grandiose a statement to say that, on the whole, music was pretty good in 2016. Most other things were not good, it is true (ahem) but there was Solange and Beyonce and Frank Ocean and Rihanna and Chance The Rapper to buffet us through what, in many ways, appeared to be the worst year in the history of the world. Still, as is the case with any other year, there were some bad songs. Or, for lack of a better term, there were some songs that were…infuriating.
To be clear, a song that is “infuriating” is not the same thing as a song that is bad, necessarily. An objectively bad song will make you say, “What? No. What is this?” and turn it off. An infuriating song, on the other hand, is different. You still say some variation of “What? No. What is this?” but something about the song itself–a tropical house beat, or perhaps a background noise that does not request so much as it requires one to “dab” along with it–makes you just intrigued enough so that, despite not enjoying the song in the slightest, you know it is not something you can bring yourself to turn off entirely, either. And so you listen, stewing in an indignation that feels righteous, but really isn’t righteous at all, considering how self-inflicted it is.
Now, it is entirely possible that I am projecting on you here. (A second-person narrative tends to do that to people.) But, truly, I don’t think I am–2016 really did have a monopoly on songs that were not bad, exactly, but more frustrating–what Jia Tolentino over at The New Yorker calls “weird little earworms,” which are infuriating indeed. Don’t believe me? Listen to them again here. You will:
1. “Closer” by The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey:
“Closer” is probably the definition of an “infuriating” song, because, technically, it is a bit of a banger. It is catchy, it has a nice beat, and, on the whole, it is fairly inoffensive. It’s just that I don’t really know what this song is trying to, like, achieve, you know?
2. “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots:
Consider everything that one must endure in order to watch this music video: First, there is thirty second-long advertisement for Capital One featuring Samuel L. Jackson. You can skip this advertisement after five seconds, but this involves clicking the actual computer screen, and if you are putting on your makeup on in a different part of the room, you have to listen to the whole thing. Then, there is a lenghty-ish Suicide Squad intro, in which the lead member of the band imagines himself as a member of the aformentioned squad. Finally, one must grapple with the fact that this video is Suicide Squad #sponcon hosted on a channel that is called “Fueled By Ramen,” which is, frankly, absurd. Is it worth it? I am inclined to say no, but the only song I actually like is “Christmas Is All Around” by Billy Mack from the movie Love Actually, so I’ll let you decide for yourself.
3. “7 Years” by Lukas Graham:
Like most people, I learned only recently that “Lukas Graham” is not the name of one singular person, but, instead, the name of a four-person “pop, soul, punk” band from Denmark. In any case, I heard this song far too many times back when I was trying to become a musical.ly celeb, so it carries a host of painful memories for me.I am sure you can agree.
4. “Make Me” by Britney Spears ft. G. Eazy:
Like most people, I love Britney Spears very much. I do not, however, love this song that she did with G-Eazy, which sounds like every single music trend of the past few years blended together, drawn out through a straw, and blown out on the wall.
5. “Don’t Mind” by Kent Jones:
For whatever reason, when this song came out, I immediately developed an intense, all-encompassing week-long obsession with it. Every time I went out for a run, it was the only song I could listen to, and so it was the only song I listened to every day for thirty to forty minutes at a time. Eventually, I came to my senses–I had listened to this song enough times to ascertain that it is legitimately bad, as well as pretty racist–but at that point it was too late, and this song somehow ended up being my number one most-played song on Spotify in the year of our lord 2016.
6. “Spoons” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis:
Will Macklemore ever learn? I don’t think he will, and I also hope that he never does.
7. “Me Too” by Meghan Trainor:
I don’t think I have anything against Meghan Trainor in particular, whom I once saw in concert and, at the time, seemed nice and talented enough to warrant the success she has gained. I do have many things against this song in particular, however–the faux-funk beat, the nauseating vaudeville aesthetic, the over-permeating bass beat. Meghan Trainor has potential! This song does not.
8. “No,” also by Meghan Trainor:
To quote the artist herself–“no.”
9. “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake:
The other day, I had a lengthy discussion with a friend as to whether or not Justin Timberlake is still cool. We eventually decided that he is not, in fact, cool anymore, due almost entirely to this song. It’s breathy, bubblegum, feel-good kid’s sponsored content at its very worst, and I refuse to have a part in any of it.
10. “We Don’t Talk Anymore” by Charlie Puth ft. Selena Gomez:
This song, which I guess is about ghosting or curving or getting ghosted or curved, is not inherently offensive. It just has a certain quality–and by “certain quality” I mean Charlie Puth’s wispy, sighing, singing voice–that worms itself right into your brain and refuses to leave until another, equally catchy, equally evil song takes its place. I am glad for Charlie Puth, who seems like a nice enough guy, but I am not glad for myself, considering that this song has been stuck in my head since May.
11. “Work From Home” by Fifth Harmony:
For the record, I love formerly-Fifth (and now Fourth, sniff) Harmony, and the song “Work From Home” is a veritable bop. It’s just that the song (and the video, with each of its members clearly vying for group supremacy) is such standard, non self-aware pop that it veers on the side of unintentional pop parody. That being said, I will never stop listening to it, and I will never stop being ashamed of myself.
12. “Sweatshirt” by Jacob Sartorius:
Is “Sweatshirt” a bad song? Yes. Of course it is. In fact, some other, less open-minded person than I might be tempted to relegate this song to the “worst” songs of 2016 list, rather than the “infuriating” list. But I have been a dedicated Snapchat follower of Mr. Sartorius for some time now and, over this period, I have grown rather fond of him. So, here it is.
What do you think of these songs? Did I miss any that you would consider to be infuriating? Let us know in the comments!