Saturday, January 28, 2017

2016: the hate chart

Time for my last word on my most hated songs of 2016 - a year which delivered many songs which were overplayed, overrated and overstayed their welcome in a top 40 singles chart which is now more depressingly stagnant than ever, thanks to streaming. The radio stations were no better, playing the same songs, hour after hour, for months on end.

All of these songs were hits either in the UK or elsewhere, but just because something's popular doesn't automatically mean I like it.  However music is a matter of taste, so I must acknowledge that although these were my least favourite songs of 2016, they may be in your list of favourites. Please understand that this is purely my personal choice!

15. "Say You Won't Let Go" - James Arthur.

This guy won X Factor in 2012 but it wasn't long until his career went into freefall after some controversies.  He returned in 2016 with this dreary acoustic number which makes it into my chart for two reasons: 1) its blatant similarity to the vastly superior "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" by The Script; and 2) the did-he-really-sing-that? line "I held your hair back when you were throwing up". How romantic.

14. "I Would Like" - Zara Larsson.

Zara is obviously a talented and very ambitious young artist who is going all-out for world domination, and she is refreshingly frank and fearless in expressing her opinions. However, can I throw in an #unpopularopinion here: if this trashy track with it's cringeworthy "I would like to get/under your sexy body" chorus is anything to go by, quality control seems to be slipping. She needs better songs.

14. "Pillowtalk" - Zayn.

The only bit I like in this is the "bed all day, bed all day" line, because I would rather sleep in bed all day than have to listen to this forced attempt at being all sexy-and-grown-up-and-let's-forget-I-was-ever-in-a-boyband piece of nonsense.

13. "Back To Sleep" - Chris Brown.

In case you wondered if romance is dead, then here's that most odious of r'n'b superstars to confirm it for you with this gruesome chat-up line.

12.  "One Call Away" - Charlie Puth.

It looks as if young Mr Puth could become a regular visitor to my annual hate chart. After the abomination of "let's Marvin Gaye and get it on" in 2015, he returned to torment us with this song which, you can just imagine high-profile featuring in all those Jamster ringtone ads from the days of Crazy Frog (!) if they were still going. The horror is not imaginary, it is reality, because one of my workmates has this as her ringtone. I think I'll get Crazy Frog for revenge.

11. "Summer 2016" - L.E.J.

Let's face it, friends, where would a EuropeCrazy hate chart be without an annual appearance from everyone's favourite irritating French trio?  This time they're mashing up the hits of 2016, from Hello to Hotline Bling to Stressed Out to Love Yourself and so on.  The only thing which would make them even more irritating would be to cover fellow cello-wielding bores Clean Bandit.  Same time next year!

10."Don't Let Me Down" - The Chainsmokers.

Impossibly successful faceless dance act with supremely irritating summer hit.  Don't let me-don't let me-don't let me down-don't let me down-don't let me down.  Remind me what it's called again?? This could probably have done with a guest appearance from Sean Paul.  I mean, surely they can afford him now with all the airplay royalties??

9. "Starving" - Hailee Steinfeld
8. "Sexual" - Neiked

Both of these songs share one very irritating quality - annoying vocals/sound effects.  You know the one. Whether it's the screaming screech in the chorus of "Starving" or that, well, screaming screech two minutes into "Sexual", it's enough to make me launch my radio against the wall every time I hear these songs.

7. "Secret Love Song" - Little Mix featuring Jason Derulo.

I'm not really a fan but credit where it's due, Little Mix have made a few decent pop songs since winning X Factor, but this is not among them.  What propels this into the top 10 of my hate chart is the guest appearance of The Amazing Jason Derulooooooooo And His Autotune Machine.  "Why can't I take my autotune machine out in the street/why can't I take it on the dancefloooooo-autotune-oooooooor?"

6. "Rockabye" - Clean Bandit featuring Anne-Marie and Sean Paul.

Unpopular opinions time again....everyone seems to love this, but for me Clean Bandit will never be anything other than the posh, smug, slappable face of commercial dance music.  This is just a blatant recycling of Sia's "Cheap Thrills", and just to labour the point, they even get the rejuvenated Sean Paul to do his thing, just as he did on....oh, come to mention it, "Cheap Thrills".

Not only was this no.1 for weeks and weeks and weeks, but thanks to the delights of streaming, this completely killed off the tradition of the race for the Christmas no.1.

5. "Closer" - The Chainsmokers.
4. "I Hate U I Love U" - Gnash.

Two songs which I hate in tandem.  "Closer" is a cracking example of the new tedious face of dance music which you can't dance to.  The Chainsmokers' popularity completely escapes me. "#Selfie" was a laugh and a parody to end all parodies, but their newer music is just plain dreary.

Don't get me started on "I Hate U I Love U"....which is a cracking example of the new tedious face of...tedious music, the John Lewisification (!?!) of pop, where everything is slowed down to snail's pace with minimal (usually piano) backing.  I hate this, I hate this....

3.  "7 Years" - Lukas Graham.

This song was all over the radio for at least the first six months of 2016.  Normally I would be cheering if a European act broke through into the British charts but in this instance it just had me reaching for the 'off' button.  Playing devil's advocate for a moment, I can understand the emotional aspect of the song's finale: one day he'll be 60 years old and he hopes that he won't be lonely and that his children will come and visit him occasionally....but I can't see that happening if he keeps singing this bloody song to them.  My main problem with Lukas Graham (the band) is Lukas Graham (the singer) whose voice just grates on me.

2. "One Dance" - Drake.

A song which I managed to escape for the bulk of its almost record-breaking stint at no.1 over the summer.  Whilst I was never particularly a fan of either "Everything I Do, I Do It For You" or "Love Is All Around", both songs had wide-ranging appeal.  To this day I can't understand the appeal of "One Dance" - it's not even a remotely good song, and the autotune (or whatever they used on this) just bumps up the irritation factor.

Where this differs from those other two record-breaking songs from the 90s is that crucially, people chose to buy and own those songs.   My biggest problem with streaming is that it mainly removes ownership from the equation and the main focus is on how many times you listen to a song, without it actually being yours.  Although having said that, who would actually want to own a song as dire as this?

There was never any question about what was going to be no.1 in my chart.  The very first minute I heard this version of a much-loved song, I hated it with a passion and that has not changed.  My number one is....drum roll....

1. "Dancing On My Own" - Calum Scott.

This was an absolute runaway winner as my most-hated track of 2016.  In fact I would go further and say that it is probably the worst of the last 10 years at least.  The most worrying thing about this was that there are people out there who don't know Robyn's version and think this is an original song. 

The original version is a fantastic pop song.  But in this 2016 reinvention, John Lewis Christmas ad-style, all the heartbreak and genuine emotion of the original was replaced with fake emotion and sincerity as this Britain's Got Talent contestant proceeds to destroy everything which was wonderful about Robyn's song.

There are even cover versions of Calum Scott's cover version on YouTube.  Be very afraid.  

So there goes 2016.  I'm sure there will be more songs to hate in 2017 - but most of all, I hope there will be many, many more songs to love :)

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