Every single week I find a handful new pop songs that both excite and delight my ears. But for every new song I like, there’s unfortunately at least three that I don’t, and some of those stinkers become quite popular and really very annoying over time. Here’s my list of the forty worst offenders of the decade. So as not to drive myself too crazy, I restricted the list to songs that made the top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 (which is not the same as the airplay chart, but which is easier to find by lazily browsing Wikipedia.) I also limited the list to one song per artist, because really, is there any point in weighing the cons and cons of each 3 Doors Down hit? No.
40. Lonestar, I’m Already There (2001, #24)
Placing this song on this list may seem crass, especially since the Nashville quartet’s song about separation from loved ones became a hit around the same time that soldiers started getting deployed to Afghanistan. But Jesus, this song is bad. It’s a goopy mess with a dumb chorus and a smarmy, self-important vocal delivery that makes me want to tell the singer to please, please never come home again.
39. Gym Class Heroes featuring Patrick Stump, Cupid’s Chokehold (2007, #4)
I’m not much of a Supertramp fan, so a Breakfast In America interpolation doesn’t really warm the cockles of my soul. And yet that’s still the best part of this pile of crap. Fratty stoners rapping about how they like women to make them pancakes? No thanks, bra. Cupid’s Chokehold was such a runaway hit that a different version appeared on the Gym Class Heroes’ follow-up album. A new video for the song was made, too, starring singer Travis McCoy’s not-yet-famous girlfriend Katy Perry. Sigh.
38. The Calling, Wherever You Will Go (2001, #5)
This song spent twenty-three weeks at number on on Billboard’s adult contemporary chart. Twenty-three weeks. That’s almost half a year. (Appallingly, that also happened to be the year when I had a job where we had to listen to adult contemporary radio.) If the song weren’t so ubiquitous maybe it wouldn’t be quite so bad–I mean, it’s not as immediately cringeworthy as, say, Jessica Simpson’s I Wanna Love You Forever (which was #41 on this list.) But it was so, so popular for so, so long. And it led to so many other anonymous, boring bands with their anonymous, boring mid-tempo ballads. (Can you believe that The Fray’s How To Save A Life came out four whole years after this did? That’s progress?)
37. Carrie Underwood, Inside Your Heaven (2005, #1)
I spent way too long trying to figure out which of Carrie Underwood’s awful songs to include here. I mean, I’ve heard so many drunk girls performing pointed karaoke renditions of Before He Cheats that I’ll probably drop dead on the spot if I ever hear that song again. On the other hand, Jesus Take The Wheel is so completely offensive and self-righteous in its awfulness. In the end, though, I decided to include Inside Your Heaven, because it’s the most flagrant example of the decade’s most terrible pop subgenre: the American Idol coronation song. From A Moment Like This through No Boundaries, each and every one of these songs has been a terrible monstrosity, none more so than this tuneless and nonsensical souffle of crap.
36. Sara Bareilles, Love Song (2008, #4)
If you like Activia, you’ll love Sara Bareilles!
35. Nelly, Grillz (2005, #1)
This was possibly the only song of the decade whose video made me physically nauseous. I defended Nelly for a long time–too long, maybe–but the Destiny’s Child-sampling Grillz was such a gross example of everything that is wrong with the hip-hop word (and the world in general) that I wanted to punch out the fool’s diamond-encrusted teeth and pawn them to pay for some heavy-duty earplugs.
34. Uncle Kracker, Drift Away (2003, #9)
It’s not so much that Kid Rock accomplice Uncle Kracker covered one of most annoying songs of the seventies. It’s that Uncle Kracker actually had a hit song two years after the hellishly crappy Follow Me. And here I had thought he was just going to be the new millennium’s Everlast.
33. D.H.T., Listen To Your Heart (2006, #8)
Speaking of covers, I’m actually pretty forgiving when people cover songs I love. And Roxette’s Listen To Your Heart is, I think, one of the greatest ballads ever written, power or otherwise. D.H.T.’s cover, on the other hand, is a travesty, a soulless and poorly-thought out reworking of the original that sucks all the emotion from Marie Frederickson’s vocals and Per Gessle’s arrangement. If the Belgian dance outfit had gone the Flying Lizards/Black Box Recorder route and made a point of their frostiness, fine, but it’s pretty clear they put no thought whatsoever into this song, which mysteriously became a top 10 American hit three years after its original release. The only conscious variation from the original, for some reason, is that they got rid of the “Take a listen to it” part at the end. (That is, of course, the best part of the song.) Since European dance music only hits American radio about once a year these days, I’m left puzzled as to why the only songs that cross over are so, so bad.
32. Akon, Lonely (2004, #4)
Kanye West didn’t produce Akon’s first foray into ear-tormenting, but he did inspire it. Why else would anyone think it was a good idea to base a song around a cloying sped-up Bobby Vinton sample? Though the era of Akon-on-everybody-else’s-song wasn’t nearly as likable as the era of Sean Paul-on-everybody-else’s-song, I ultimately forgave the Senegalese musician a little after his “woo-hoo! wee-hoo!” exercise on that Gwen Stefani song. I’m always on the verge of unforgiving him, though, and to this day Lonely basically makes me want to die. Even the pointless shirt-changing sequence in the middle of the video doesn’t redeem this mess.
31. Daniel Powter, Bad Day (2005 #1)
I had so many bad days because of this song. Ha! Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week. Speaking of which, six weeks at number one for this stinky pile of doo-doo?! More like a bad month-and-a-half! Am I right or am I right?