Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top Ten: Best Hit Songs of 2014

As they say, the night is darkest before the dawn.  And such is the case on this very blog, where I do my bottom-ten list of the year's hit songs before tackling the top-ten.  With the former out of the way, the latter's time is nigh.  And yet, I found 2014 a very... meh year for music, even more so than last year.  Over the past few years, there were certain albums that generated critical acclaim, strong revenues, and boatloads of awesome singles; for example, 21, The Heist, and Random Access Memories.  But I can't think of a single such source of joy from 2014.  But it's not all bad; instead of one awesome moment, the music scene of 2014 had a lot of little worthwhile moments, so it wasn't a total washout.  After all, if that weren't the case, I wouldn't be able to bring you the list you are about to read!  Also, without wishing to spoil, you can expect 2014's top-ten list to be my most personal yet.

10) "Timber"
by Pitbull & Ke$ha
from Meltdown [EP]
Year-end position: #11

Dear Kevin of 2011: You’ll never believe this, but one of Pitbull’s songs has shown up in my best-of lists.  Maybe it’s time, or outside forces, which have softened me.  You remember Pitbull for rapping about nothing but his success and his propensity for partying, and that has not exactly changed, but he’s starting to endear himself to me for just those reasons, since there’s something innocent about it -- at least, innocent compared to other rappers.  He just wants to have fun, and he manages to do so.  Even the beat does so, keeping the momentum up throughout the song’s short-but-sweet 3-minute-24-second runtime, which has been a problem of pop and dance songs as of late, including Pitbull's own works such as "Feel This Moment".  However, it turns out that “Timber” and “Feel This Moment” have entirely different stables of producers and writers (with the exception of Pitbull himself, to whatever degree he contributed), so I won’t exactly label “Timber” as a positive trend in someone perfecting their craft.  But it worked, dangit!

9) "Problem"
by Ariana Grande & Iggy Azalea
from My Everything
Year-end position: #9

Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea are both new talents which I want so desperately to include in one of my top-ten lists.  Ariana sings like the re-incarnation of Mariah Carey, vocal gymnastics and all, and Iggy Azalea is one of the most exciting rappers to come out in a long time, white female or otherwise.  But for some reason, none of their songs ever clicked for me; they either had serious problems countering their strengths, or were just “meh”.  So I might as well give props to the one song which combines their forces.  The beat's rather funky, using a saxophone riff which is not only better than the one from "Thrift Shop" (and yet, my only complaint about that song), but is used just enough to stay not annoying.  As a breakup song, it's also kind of forceful, especially the title line, "I've got one less problem without you".  Nothing's more important in this equation than your mental health, so you might as well be upfront in that regard.  And, what’s this?  A rap verse which actually ties into the theme of the song?  Now there’s something you don’t see everyday!

8) "Sing" / "Don't"
by Ed Sheeran
from X
Year-end position: #56 / #52

Somehow I have a greater tolerance than most people for the "white guy with acoustic guitar" sub-genre than certain other critics, so I was mildly intrigued by Ed Sheeran, whose 2012 hit "The A Team" married this mellow sound to some dark lyrics.  But this sort of thing doesn't have a long shelf life, so I'm glad he decided to switch up his style for these two singles.  Both appear to take influence from certain white-male-led, semi-rapped pop songs from 2002 or so, namely the stuff Justin Timberlake or John Mayer was doing at the time.  Although I shouldn't be surprised, given that the songs were produced by Pharell Williams ("Blurred Lines") and Rick Rubin ("Baby Got Back", "99 Problems") respectively.  And it is by fusing all these influences that Ed Sheeran and company create pure audio fun.  Oh yeah, and both songs do that thing again, where they pretend to censor a bad word but there's no uncensored version of the track.  Now, I like my music clean, but what's the point of pulling a stunt like that?

7) "The Man"
by Aloe Blacc
from Lift Your Spirit
Year-end position: #48

Last year, Katy Perry gave us "Roar", a self-esteem anthem which a lot of people liked and I didn't.  And now, Aloe Blacc (the guy who sang on Avicii's "Wake Me Up") has a song with exactly the same message.  In both songs, the main character has been fed up with being so submissive in the past, being taken advantage of by just about everyone, but no longer!  It's time for the singer to live up to his name and face FULL LIFE CONSEQUENCES!  (lol.)  But whereas "Roar" floundered about with cliches and a weak beat, "The Man" just gets it.  The horn and drum tracks provide a soulful swagger, and if you're going to repeat something for the chorus, it might as well be an assertive statement like "Go ahead and tell everybody / I'm the man, I'm the man, I'm the man".  Apart from "Roar", the song this reminds me of most is "The World's Greatest" by R. Kelly, albeit with much more confidence, both in the music and the singer's performance.  If "Eye of the Tiger" just isn't working for you anymore, and by its overuse in popular culture it shouldn't by now, give this a try.

6) "Something Bad"
by Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood
from Platinum
Year-end position: #99

What little country music I can claim to have, in the loosest sense of the word, liked, is the frequently-female-led adult-contemporary style of country, courtesy of such artists as Carrie Underwood, the Dixie Chicks, Lady Antebellum, and Taylor Swift, at least before she went full-pop on us.  So for the sake of completion and a willingness to come to terms with the genre, in more or less the eleventh hour I checked out "Something Bad" -- that's the name of the song, not an indicator of its quality -- by Miranda Lambert, and I was pleasantly surprised. "Something Bad" is, in a word, "bada**".  I find it almost cute that Miranda Lambert's idea of breaking the rules is skipping church, but maybe that's just a cultural disconnect.  More serving the topic of the song, the beat's got this deep chug to it that I haven't seen since the heyday of hair-metal.  Perhaps there's more to country music than I've given it credit for, since it's more like traditional rock-and-roll than anything else on the charts these days.  So thank you, "Something Bad", for teaching me to love again.

5) "Habits (Stay High)"
by Tove Lo
from Truth Serum [EP] / Queen of the Clouds
Year-end position: #32

You know what I’ve noticed about today’s music?  No one writes songs about drugs anymore.  Well, that changed this year with “Habits (Stay High)”, by the Swedish singer Ebba “Tove Lo” Nilsson.  In the song, she engages in all manner of self-destructive behaviours, because they let her forget about a messy breakup.  And I have to say, this song speaks to me on a personal level.  You see, I’ve dealt with my fair share of disappointments over the past couple of years.  And being unable to fix these things directly, my options are as follows: either obsess over, or ignore, them.  Following the logic that ignoring the problem will not fix it, I ended up keeping them in my mind ever since.  Which not only does not solve them, but keeps my mood in a depression.  A depression which is for all intents and purposes never-ending, as the factors which initiated my troubles and could, if willing, end them are beyond my control.  So I guess just forgetting about them sounds like the more appealing course of action.  Not that I’m going to resort to such drastic actions as Tove Lo or anything, but I’ll find some way to cope.  I mean, who wants to eat gruel in Zion when one could have steak in the Matrix?

4) "The Monster"
by Eminem & Rihanna
from The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Year-end position: #16

It’s funny.  The last time Eminem and Rihanna teamed up, it was for 2010’s “Love The Way You Lie”, a song about an abusive love-hate relationship.  Not the smartest decision when one of the parties concerned is the victim of a literal, physical assault.  But now they’re back with “The Monster”, and this time, for whatever reason, it works.  If Rihanna has developed any personality over the past couple of years, it's at the darker end of the pop-princess spectrum, so her singing that she's friends with the monster in her head or whatever plays to her strengths.  And then there's Eminem himself, whose rapping is the most intense he's managed in years.  He talks about the stresses of fame and whether or not he's stuck to the same goals he had when he first set out on his career, but despite all the doubt, if he's made a connection with even one listener, it will all have been worth it.  And wouldn't you know it, I've felt the exact same way about my own projects, including the SDP.

3) "Rather Be"
by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne
from New Eyes
Year-end position: #41

Pop-song production these days tends to fall into one of two unfortunate categories: either lay on so much synth noise so as to render all its musical elements indistinguishable from one another, or the increasingly popular option of stripping it down so much as to come across as unfinished.  But there is a third way: incorporate a fair variety of instruments, but keep them distinct.  Sounds crazy, right?  Well, that's the way dance-pop newcomers Clean Bandit roll.  It may just be a "mushy love song", as one critic put it, but it certainly does make a suitable soundtrack for falling in love.

2) "Pompeii"
by Bastille
from Bad Blood
Year-end position: #12

Before I begin, I’d like to tell you the tale of another indie band’s single which started out interesting but just got killed by overexposure.  Back in 2011, there was Of Monsters and Men, this folky band from Iceland, whose song "Little Talks" got big on my local alt-rock radio station.  And it was, in a good way, quirky.  It’s a little hard to describe, but let’s just say adding the sound effect of creaking wood, as on a ship, really set a unique tone for the song.  So anyway, I listened to this station -- a lot -- as they played this song -- a lot -- and I grew bored of it really quickly.  Such was my lack of regard for "Little Talks" that by the time it had a chance to bubble up to the mainstream level and make it on Billboard’s year-end chart of 2013, I completely forgot about it when compiling my top-ten list for that year.

I will not make that same mistake again.  "Pompeii" may have grown boring over the course of its many spins on the radio, but this time around, I have the good impression it left on me the first time around fresh in my mind.  Musically, it has an epic production style suitable for its namesake, with echoing chants in the background and one of the greatest drum fills since "In The Air Tonight" -- an honour I do not bestow lightly.  And lyrically, it seems to juxtapose a personal disaster against the context of something more literal, namely the eruption of Mount Vesuvius over two thousand years ago.  The metaphor does flail around a bit, so it's hard to have a grasp on how literal to take this song.  But hey -- I like a song that’s open to interpretation.

1) "Let It Go"
by Idina Menzel
from Frozen [OST]
Year-end position: #21

Well, this is awkward.  A song from a Disney musical got some real chart success.  I’ve got to say, this isn’t exactly within my comfort zone, but there is honestly a lot working in favour of “Let It Go”.  Now, I’ve sat through a lot of self-esteem anthems over the past couple of years, and I approve of most of them -- it’s not exactly the worst subject to write a song about.  But does “Let It Go” stand apart from the rest of them?  Well... yes.  For some reason, the version that got more popular was not the “pop” version by Demi Lovato, but the original recording by the actress who sang it in the movie itself.  And the difference is clear -- miss Idina Menzel’s performance sells this song.  On a lyrical level, this song has a clear point -- the protagonist has kept some aspect of herself hidden from others thus far in her life, but is now willing to throw her self-imposed restraints to the wind.  This setup, certainly, could apply to many real-life scenarios for many people.  Heck, it could even apply to me, with all the emotional baggage I've admitted to a few paragraphs ago.  However, a good chunk of the lyrics are a little too specific to the song’s scene in the movie, so its utility as a personal anthem for those going through the same struggles as Elsa does in the movie suffers a bit.

So with all that said, could I still find it in my heart to award my top honours of the year to a Disney song, specifically, this one?

Well… no.

I’m still bitter about Frozen eating all the money in the world and snubbing The Wind Rises back at the Oscars.  It’s been my primary source of depression pretty much throughout the whole year.  But every so often, when my head is clear enough, I remind myself: it’s not Frozen’s fault for what happened.  It’s society’s fault for focusing its attention on one thing instead of another.  It’s like if one were to blame the Jews for World War II.  The problem wasn’t that they existed, but that somebody reacted poorly to their presence.  But touchy metaphors aside, as a sign of protest, I have decided to ban “Let It Go” from my top-ten list for 2014.  See that “1)” in front of its title?  That is a lie.  Instead, it shall occupy the Wildcard slot in this countdown.  Again, this has nothing to do with the movie in and of itself.  Sorry Frozen, it’s not you, it’s the Academy.

And now for my real #1 song of 2014:

1) "Am I Wrong"
by Nico & Vinz
from Black Star Elephant
Year-end position: #14

Congratulations to Nico & Vinz for being the first act from Norway to have an international hit since a-Ha in the ‘80s.  (In case you think I’ve forgotten Ylvis of “The Fox” fame, I haven’t; I’ve mentally quarantined my memories of that song to halt the risk of infection.  Also, thanks a lot, you enabling klutz.)  Their breakthrough hit, “Am I Wrong”, reminds me of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”, which I gave high honours back in 2012.  There are many distinct musical elements going on here.  Unlike the stripped-down Gotye song, “Am I Wrong” ventures closer to EDM territory, giving it some more pop appeal, but stays just far enough away to be different from everything else on the radio.  And given the duo's African ethnicity, they also laid on some tribal drums and chanting which are kind of subdued.  It's probably not enough for the listener to make the connection that this is "world music", but again, it's not like anyone else in the top 40 did this sort of thing.  Am I wrong for giving my top spot to this song instead of "Let It Go"?  Well tough.  That's just how I feel.

I shall close out this article by listing a bunch of songs I discovered this year which didn't make the Billboard list, but I nonetheless still liked and/or thought were good.

Arctic Monkeys -- "Do I Wanna Know?"
Capital Cities -- "Stayin' Alive"
Childish Gambino -- "3005"
CHVRCHES -- "The Mother We Share"
Coldplay -- "Magic"
Disclosure -- "White Noise"
Foo Fighters -- "Something From Nothing"
Foster the People -- "Coming of Age"
Hozier -- "Take Me to Church"
Kate Boy -- "The Way We Are"
Kiesza -- "Hideaway"
Lorde -- "Tennis Court"
Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars -- "Uptown Funk"
MisterWives -- "Reflections"
Mr. Probz -- "Waves"
Neon Trees -- "Sleeping With a Friend"
Steve Aoki & Kid Ink -- "Delirious (Boneless)"
U2 -- "The Miracle of Joey Ramone"
Vance Joy -- "Riptide"
Walk the Moon -- "Shut Up and Dance"
"Weird Al" Yankovic -- "Word Crimes"
The 1975 -- "Chocolate"

I'd have done the same for my bottom-ten list, but it would've all been DJ Mustard productions, so it would have been otherwise pointless.  So, thank you all and have a happy 2015!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Ten: Worst Hit Songs of 2014

I’ve had a lot on my mind this past year, namely in the area of anime and its perceived lack of penetration into American pop culture. Specifically the Academy Awards. But enough about that. With my mind being clouded up so much, I’ve actually been looking forward to doing my traditional top-ten and bottom-ten lists of the year’s hit music. The bottom-ten because these songs are easy and fun to make fun of, and the top-ten because I get to promote the kinds of songs I like. You know the rules by now: only songs that placed in Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 chart are eligible for either of my lists, songs that already made the chart in years before are disqualified, and multiple songs by the same artist may occupy the same spot. So, ladies and gentlemen, let the mental rehabilitation begin!

10) "Animals"
by Martin Garrix
from Gold Skies [EP]
Year-end position: #71

As longtime readers of this blog, specifically my previous year-end music lists, may recall, I have a thing for electronic dance music (EDM).  But now that it's gone mainstream, there seem to be an awful lot of people contributing (to use that word sarcastically) to the genre who just don't get it.  For example, Martin Garrix, a newcomer Dutch DJ who had a minor hit this year with "Animals".  To give my honest opinion, it starts out alright enough; it's dark and tense enough for an instrumental techno song.  That is, for the first minute and a half, for after then, the repetition starts to set in.  See, this song's got three movements -- a soft part, a buildup, and a hard part -- which do not change throughout the song.  And considering that the full version runs over five minutes long, that's a heck of a lot of repetition.  Even "Turn Down For What", despite making a maddeningly worse first impression, gets this right.  It has the decency to switch up its beats for each "verse", and even within the "verses" themselves.  "Animals", not so much.

9) "23"
by Miley Cyrus, Wiz Khalifa, & Juicy J
non-album single
Year-end position: #90

Technically, producer Mike Will Made-It took top billing for "23", but screw that, I say.  You may remember him from some of last year's duds like Miley's "We Can't Stop" and Lil' Wayne's "Love Me" (no), and while he wasn't the deciding factor that made me hate those songs, his slow, dingy beats did not improve their standing.  "23" is no exception.  This song is named after Michael Jordan, presumably because of a line from the chorus which goes "J's on my feet", which I assume refers to Air Jordan shoes.  Oh great, product placement right off the bat.  And it only gets worse from there.  I'd like to say I'm through with being shocked by Miley Cyrus, but in this song, she raps.  And not well, either.  Both she and Juicy J (Wiz Khalifa gets a pass, at least) suffer from a stuttering delivery which got annoying real fast.

8) "This is How We Roll"
by Florida Georgia Line & Luke Bryan
from Here's to the Good Times
Year-end position: #49

Huh, I've never put any country songs on one of my bottom-ten lists before.  I guess it's just ignorance on my part.  I don't really listen to the genre, but at the very least I've treated it with a live-and-let-live attitude.  But these days... hoo boy.  These days, country music has been cross-breeding with mainstream rap.  Pretty much like most glam-rap these days, albeit filtered through the lens of a different sub-culture.  Although I have a poor track record of predicting popular trends, I'd like to think we've reached critical mass in this regard.  How do I know?  It's not just the frequent references to alcohol, girls, and Hank Williams and Drake sharing space on one's playlist, because that's become the new normal.  No, the red flag for me was that on "This Is How We Roll", one of the guys raps.  Yeah, the two men who call themselves Florida Georgia Line are already un-dignified enough, but as if the drawling lustfulness of their last hit "Cruise" did not make that evidently clear, they had to pull a stunt like that on us.  If you like hearing white-trach country boys using outdated hip-hop slang, holla at ya boy!  (No seriously, he says that last part at one point.)  It almost makes me thankful for Luke Bryan's guest verse later on.  I have no idea who this guy is, but I appreciate any change in the texture of this song.  Also, there's a remix version which replaces Luke Bryan with Jason Derulo, of all people.  That version didn't make the Billboard year-end list and thus doesn't qualify for my own, but don't worry, I'll get to him later.

7) "Drunk In Love"
by Beyonce & Jay-Z
from Beyonce
Year-end position: #35

What a fitting title we have on our hands -- "Drunk In Love" is the perfect musical interpretation of an inebriated state.  The momentum is all over the place.  There are so many repeated lines and awkward pauses that every moment, every line in this song, feels like the singer’s stalling for time.  I'm getting mental whiplash here, is what I'm trying to say.  There is a consensus, if not evidence, that indicates that much of the song was ad-libbed by both Beyonce and Jay-Z, which would explain my previous arguments and other bizarre moments such as when Beyonce abruptly stops her verse at the word "surfboard", and repeats it a bit, thus bringing awkward attention to the word, a word not typically encountered in pop music lyrics.  And yet the sad part is, it's pretty much the only interesting thing about this song.

6) "Black Widow"
by Iggy Azalea & Rita Ora
from The New Classic
Year-end position: #26

I actually respect Iggy Azalea as a rapper and a performer, but her songs just don't do it for me.  Maybe it's not her fault that she keeps getting saddled with lazy beats and generic lyrics, but if a song sucks, it sucks.  And "Black Widow" may be the worst case of this for some time to come.  The chorus builds up a tense atmosphere, to its credit, thanks to its subject matter of Iggy and/or Rita Ora taking revenge for a hypothetical relationship gone wrong.  But then... the momentum built up by the chorus is discarded immediately upon the start of each new verse, in lieu of a barely-there music-box tinkle.  I suppose it could work as being creepy, but it bores me more than anything else.  And no amount of hyper-syllabicity on Iggy's part can rescue that.  What this song needs is a drum-and-bass or jungle-techno beat.  Heck, I'd settle for DJ Snake!

5) "Show Me"
by Kid Ink & Chris Brown
from My Own Lane
Year-end position: #43

I would be remiss in discussing 2014’s stinkier musical moments without mention of DJ Mustard, or as he goes by in his audio watermark, “Motha’ on that E!”. (NB: I have been informed that he is, in fact saying “Mustard on that beat”. But seriously, you try digging through his thick, slurry ebonics to get to those words.) Hoo boy, Heaven help ya if you ever turned on an urban-format radio station this past year, because his works were everywhere. All his works sound the same: the same tempo, the same gang-vocals half-heartedly shouting “hey!” in the background from time to time, he’s really annoyed me, I tell you what.

This entry, in spirit, represents all of DJ Mustard's production works, but because of its lyrical qualities, “Show Me” is in a different class of bad.  You know you're in for a trip when the first line in the song, sung by Chris Brown, no less, is "Let me put your panties to the side".  May I ask you, reader, does this sound like a smooth gentleman who will treat the ladies with respect?  If so, then you may need to be quarantined in the off-chance that stupidity is contagious.  And then the hook of the song is as follows:
You remind me of something
I don't know what it is
You remind me of something
Girl, you gotta show me
Making up a sleazy pick-up line is one thing, but you can't even manage to finish your own comparison?  Now that's an epic fail right there.  Not that Kid Ink, the lead artist of this song, manages to save it either.  Let me sum it up for you: "Blah-blah-blah, I'm gonna get you drunk at a party, blah-blah-blah, let's start a three way.  Also watch out for my other girlfriend."  ...Boy, that escalated quickly.

4) "Summer"
by Calvin Harris
from Motion
Year-end position: #33

Again, although I consider myself an EDM aficionado, the more mainstream stuff like David Guetta and our current subject, Calvin Harris, just doesn’t do it for me. While his stuff has clicked every once in a while, “Summer” is no such exception to the rule. It’s got one riff for the verses, and one for the instrumental chorus, both of them hardly ever changing, making for a repetitive listening experience. Also, unlike many other songs of its kind, the DJ du jour sings the song himself instead of hiring a random guest. I appreciate Calvin Harris trying to earn his featuring credit for once, but in the end it wasn’t worth the effort. He is just too dull of a singer to save this track. The same was true of his last self-fronted single, 2012’s “Feel So Close”, which apparently was so bland that I forgot about it when the time came to write that year’s bottom-ten list, so I might as well rectify that matter in spirit.

3) "Lifestyle"
by Rich Gang feat. Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan
from Rich Gang 2
Year-end position: #71

"Lifestyle" is technically credited to the collective Rich Gang, or as I like to call it, "Young Money 2.0", but the dominant force is Young Thug, and... he sucks.  Young Thug chops and slurs his words... nay, syllables so badly that, combined with his voice drenched in Auto-tune, he is virtually incomprehensible.  For example, near the beginning of the first verse (At 0:47, if you were foolish enough to play the song from that Spotify widget above), he's got a line that goes, "Hundred bands still look like the [adjective] ???".  I blanked that last word out because the way he pronounced it, it could be anything.  So far I've got "tires", "times", "titans", "TARDIS", or "tards" as in retards.  Heh, might as well be that last one.  (Actually, my money's on "Titans", since right afterwards there's a little voice in the background going "Football player!")

But even in the hands of a rapper who didn't just stick marbles in his mouth, this song is still... stillborn.  So he "did a lot of [noun] just to live this here lifestyle", in his words.  Does he ever describe what this lot of [noun] entails?  Of course not.  He started from the bottom, and now, he's here.  Literally now, as if there were no time in between.  But what he lyrics he does choose to ooze out of his mouth cross the line into awkwardly funny.  For example:
I won't do nothing with the [noun], she can't even get me hard
I mean, what else is there to say about a guy who can't get it up for one of his many groupies?  Or a guy who brags about rocking Chanel products, despite nearly all of said products being designed for women?  Young Thug can best be described as a clown.  Laugh at him if you wish.  But it would be better for the whole world if we just ignored him.  As I should have done in the first place.  ...[verb].

2) "Talk Dirty" and "Wiggle"
by Jason Derulo & 2Chainz / Jason Derulo & Snoop Dogg
from Tattoos [EP] / Talk Dirty
Year-end position: #6 / #40

So, we meet again, Jason Derulo. Somehow you’ve managed to ruin every year of the Obama administration -- if only in terms of music -- and with 2014 you’ve presented your worst batch of singles since your unforgivable debut “Whatcha Say”. First off is “Talk Dirty”. One of the things that first hit me about “Talk Dirty” was its horn-led bridge. ...That was, until I discovered it was, in fact, a sample. This part comes from a song called “Hermetica” by the eclectic Israeli-American band Balkan Beat Box, and for “Talk Dirty” was remade by its producer Ricky Reed. So, over time, “Talk Dirty” managed to grow on me a little, and perhaps knowing about where that sample came from had something to do with it.

But as I tolerated the song’s musical qualities, I started paying more attention to its lyrics -- which only made me even more disgusted. See, at its core, this song is about how Mr. Derulo gets love from girls all over the world. And I’m like, if you want to make a song about that, then do it! I’ve got no problem with that concept in and of itself. But whomever wrote this song did it all wrong. He does name-check the odd destination once in a blue moon, but he doesn’t spend any breath on what he likes about those places, much less the foreign honey to be found within. Such lyrical space is instead wasted on his own ego, in lines like:
Our conversations ain’t long
But you know what is
And then there’s the refrain, at least, the part that precedes that unholy sax riff:
Been around the world, don’t speak the language
But your booty don’t need explaining
All I really need to understand is
When you talk dirty to me
So, we can add “knowledge of foreign languages” to the long, long list of skills which Jason Derulo does not possess. And hold on -- he can’t understand what the girl du jour is saying, but he’s apparently turned on by naughty pillow-talk? How does he know she isn’t just talking smack about his sex technique or something? Man, I can barely imagine the quantity of egg to be delivered to his face. Oh yeah, and 2Chainz is on this track as well. Might as well not be.  His part's nothing offensive, unless this new wave of glam rappers offends you by their mere presence.  Which does to me.

And then, there’s “Wiggle”.  Yet another stuffy old song about the buttocks, and egging girls on to shake theirs.  And he can't even do that with any grounding in reality or common sense.  I mean, when he says "your booty [is] like two planets", one would get the impression that he means it literally.  Furthermore, despite the beat not having been produced by DJ Mustard, it may be worse than his output, crazy as that may sound, because the standard barely-there drum track is accented by naught but some lame whistling.  Snoop Dogg’s guest verse is, at least, my favourite part of "Wiggle", much in the way that Luke Bryan was my favourite part of "This Is How We Roll". It doesn’t rescue the song, by any means, but I’d be willing to replace the Jason Derulo in my musical diet with anything, at any chance I get.

1) "Loyal"
by Chris Brown, Lil’ Wayne, and Tyga
from X
Year-end position: #30

And yet somehow, the combined force of not one, but two songs by Jason Fricking Derulo was not enough to clinch the top spot.  For that, we have to return to some repeat offenders: Chris Brown and Lil' Wayne.  Okay, so maybe Lil' Wayne does have a couple of clever lines in his verse...
But she ain't got her ringer nor her ring on last night
Why give a [noun] an inch when she'd rather have nine?
...and his degree of misogyny isn't worse than his usual fare, unlike what I had to deal with last year.  So "Loyal"'s pole position is due to, once again, Chris Brown.  "Loyal" happens to be a song about women who unfaithful in relationships, if only in theory.  A strong concept, I must say; in fact, some of my favourite songs deal with the subject.  But "Loyal" just doesn't work for me.  First, the message of the song is, in practise, all over the place.
Come on, come on, now why you fronting?
Baby show me something
You just spent your bread on her
And it's all for nothing
Second, Chris Brown and company, I would be more inclined to trust your character if you didn't constantly refer to men and women as n****s and b****es respectively.  Third, I would also be more inclined to trust your character if if you at least acknowledge the presence of women who aren't just in it to take the money and run.  And finally, I would be more inclined to trust your character if you didn't strike your real-life girlfriend all the way to the hospital YOU STUPID DOUCHEBAG SON OF A--

...Sorry, that got weird on me.  It's been almost six years after the Rihanna assault, so you think I should've forgotten it by now.  Oh well, some people just never learn, both him and me.  I guess the best thing to do now would be to end on a so-bad-it's-good note, and that's where the Wildcard slot comes in.  For your lol-ing and trolling pleasure, I have picked out some prime cheese that didn't Billboard year-end list and therefore didn't qualify for mine.  Ladies and gentlemen... "Selfie."

Wildcard) "#SELFIE"
by The Chainsmokers
non-album single

Oh wait, I meant "hashtag-selfie", because how better to annoy me personally than with an arbitrary hashtag?  Well, by making an annoying song, that's how.  This is bad even among the lower-class EDM acts, especially since its bass drop (apparently, there's now a technical term for what I used to call a "dirty bit" moment) seems like a weak clone of the one from "Gentleman" (PSY's failed follow-up to "Gangnam Style").  But "hashtag-selfie" sets itself apart by having this young lady club-goer blabbing over the "verses".  She's narcissistic, judgmental, stupid in several places, and not someone I, personally, would wish to associate myself with.  Then again, I suppose she could be of worse character *coughchrisbrowncough*, because crimes of annoyance are victimless in the long run.  No, I guess the real reason this landed on my hate-list is because what fame it managed to garner was not truly viral in nature.  It was promoted by celebrities behind the scenes thanks to a marketing company called theAudience.  "Harlem Shake", I forgive you.  For all your weirdness, at least your rise to fame was natural.