Friday, December 31, 2021

Top 10 Best Hit Songs of 2015

 Top 10 Best Hit Songs of 2015

Here we are, the last list I will be making for quite some time, The Top 10 Best Hit Songs of 2015. While I found 2015 as a whole to be somewhat overrated, there was still a good deal to like about this year. While 2015 didn’t have the most great songs of any year I looked at (in fact, only 2016 and 2018 had less in the 2010s), the songs I did like were still amazing (obviously). Only 12 songs scored a 5/5 this year, and there will be two ties on this list, so that means that, as in 2018, there is only enough for a Top 10, no Honorable Mentions here. No point in delaying it any longer, let’s get going with our #10.

#10: Locked Away by R. City ft. Adam Levine (Peak: #6, Year-End: #40)

The bottom two songs on this list were ones that snuck up on me in how much I enjoyed them. Granted, part of it may have been that I was severely lacking in best list candidates and was thus inclined to be more lenient towards songs that were on the border between 4/5 and 5/5, but I like these songs enough to feel justified in placing them here.

The first of these is Locked Away by the Virgin Islands based production duo R. City with Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. A blend of Dancehall, Reggae and mainstream pop, the song’s themes are that of the narrator asking his partner if she’d (I’m assuming neither Adam nor the brothers from R. City are gay) stick around through the bad times, whether it be economic misfortune or legal troubles. This is summed up best through Adam’s chorus.

If I got locked away

And we lost it all today

Tell me honestly, would you still love me the same?

If I showed you my flaws

If I couldn't be strong

Tell me honestly, would you still love me the same?

Granted, if you can’t do the time, then don’t do the crime (unless you were falsely accused or framed of said crime), but the sentiment of “will you stand by me in the bad times?” was still touching nonetheless. How about the other song that snuck up on me in the process of making this list?

#9: El Perdón by Nicky Jam and Enrique Iglesias (Peak: #56, Year-End: #96)

Yup, this song peaked at #56 and made the Year-End Top 100. At the time, this was by far the lowest peaking song to make a Year-End list, somehow staying on the Hot 100 for 30 weeks entirely in the bottom half. It became increasingly common over the course of the 2010s for low peaking songs to make year-end lists, and this was the lowest until FGL broke that record with Talk You Out Of It making the 2019 Year-End list with Talk You Out Of It four years later.

That chart fact aside, how about the song itself? ’ve had a complicated relationship with Latin music in general, and Reggaeton in particular in the past. I don’t speak a lick of Spanish beyond whatever trinket amount your average Anglo-American knows, so lyrics effectively don’t matter when judging Spanish songs, or songs in any other language, for that matter (I did take French in high school, but I was never fluent in the first place and have forgotten most of it since I graduated). It all comes down to production and delivery with foreign language songs.

My biggest problem with the Reggaeton crossover hits of the latter half of the 2010s was just how monotonous and dull they were. Most, if not all of them, use the same “dun-da-dun-da” beat and have monotone, autotune lathered vocals. While El Perdon still has the same beat as the other later Reggaeton hits, it also has more detail like piano and a drum machine near the end. As for the vocals, there’s clearly more emotion and passion put into this than there is into, say, Te Bote. Enrique Iglesias is a great singer (well, when he’s not singing about how he’s gonna f**k you tonight), and Nicky Jam certainly sounds better than he does on anything else I’ve heard from him.

So, what are they singing about? Obviously I don’t speak Spanish, so I couldn’t understand it. However, I did get an idea of what it was about from the title, as El Perdon is directly translated as “the sorry”. The proper translation is “forgiveness”, but I got the general gist. Looking at the translated lyrics, it’s about a guy who’s about to spill his heart out to his ex about how much he misses her and how he wants to be forgiven before she ties the knot with her new man. Basically, it’s what Marry Me by Thomas Rhett would’ve been if Thomas hadn’t bit his tongue at the end of the song, but instead confessed his undying love at the altar in front of both her and the groom. It is kind of implied that he’s trying to get her back, but I can’t be certain about that, and he could just be trying to bury the hatchet. Is it a good idea? No, but since it’s in a tongue I can’t understand, I can’t just go and nitpick it. Now, back to songs in the one language I can understand…

#8: Ghost by Ella Henderson (Peak: #21, Year-End: #93)

Welcome back to One Hit Wonderland, where we take a look at bands and artists known for only one song. Now, Ella Henderson, having been a fairly popular X-Factor contestant, wasn’t a one-hit wonder in her native UK (where she’s had eight Top 40 hits), but only her debut single Ghost crossed the pond and became a hit in America. It just so happens that said debut single is a bop.

In terms of composition, Ghost was produced by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, and it shows in the Pop Rock sound, not going fully into either genre. It’s kinda hard to describe the exact sound, since I feel like I’ve heard both a ton of and very few songs that sound like. Similarly, Ella Henderson’s voice is both familiar and distinct. Sean from Diamond Axe Studios compared her voice to Carrie Underwood, and I can kinda hear it (I can also kinda hear fellow American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson), but she does sound noticeably different from anyone else I can recall. Lyrically, it’s about Ella trying to get over her ex, but being unable to fully let him go - his ghost continues to haunt her.

I keep going to the river to pray

'Cause I need something that can wash out the pain

And at most

I'm sleeping all these demons away

But your ghost, the ghost of you

It keeps me awake

Overall, Ghost is a song that sounds both similar to and distinct from other Pop songs, and sounds like it could’ve been a hit at any time between the Late 2000s and Mid 2010s. However, it’s got a great sound, and that’s more than enough to get it onto the list, and I wouldn’t have minded Ella Henderson having another hit stateside. Hey, speaking of One Hit Wonders.

#7: Shut Up And Dance by Walk The Moon (Peak: #4, Year-End: #6)

Yeah, big surprise that this is making the list. If anything, you’re probably surprised that it’s only at #7 and not higher, but it was a bit overplayed back then (I mean, it was the sixth biggest hit of the year, of course it was inescapable). With that said, Shut Up And Dance is an absolute banger, for reasons that I have no need to explain, but I’ll do so anyway. 

By this point, you guys should all know my general thoughts on U2. Sure, Bono is a colossal douchebag, and I have no idea what they were thinking when they made Numb (the video for which is pretty much the Dooo It of the 90s), but they’ve legitimately made some of my favorite songs of all time (just look at my Best of 1987 and Best of 2001 lists). As it just so happens, Shut Up And Dance sounds like a U2 song, especially in the guitar work, which sounds obviously inspired by The Edge. However, there are plenty more reasons to like this song than just that. The instrumentation, while highlighted by the aforementioned U2-ish guitar lick, is fantastic New Wave tinged Pop Rock. with one of the best synth solos I’ve ever heard (not the best, that’d be Versace On The Floor easily. Seriously, had it been a legit hit, it’d likely be one of my Top 10 best hit songs of the 2010s, maybe even Top 5). The verses, pre-chorus and chorus all flow into each other seamlessly, yet maintain their distinct qualities. This is the type of upbeat, infectious pop music that was desperately lacking in the following years, and is only now starting to return to the charts.

The lyrics fit into the atmosphere of the song perfectly, describing the narrator meeting the woman of his dreams at a nightclub and enjoying the night of his life dancing with her. 

Oh don't you dare look back

Just keep your eyes on me

I said you're holding back

She said shut up and dance with me

This woman is my destiny

She said ooh ooh

Shut up and dance with me

This could’ve easily been higher on this list, but was kept lower by both residual overplay sickness and the flaws in how I rank songs (these lists are far from definitive), but it’s a bop nonetheless. 

#6: Drag Me Down by One Direction (Peak: #3, Year-End: #65)

You know, I never hated One Direction. Even when I was in 5th and 6th grade in 2012, when every guy at the school I went to was trashing these guys, I didn’t really get it. Granted, I wouldn’t call myself a fan of 1D, but I’ve always thought they got too much crap. However, I will say that I prefer their later, more Pop Rock leaning material over their earlier straight ahead teeny bopper stuff, with this being the prime example.

Really, Drag Me Down is pretty standard. The lyrics are pretty standard, being about how their girlfriends have always been there for them, and how when they’re with their girls, they can’t be dragged down.

All my life, you stood by me

When no one else was ever behind me

All these lights, they can't blind me

With your love, nobody can drag me down

In terms of composition, it combines Pop Rock production with a song structure more typical of EDM. The verses start off more subdued, with tension and volume building towards the drop. While the drop doesn’t hit as hard as some of my favorite EDM hits, it’s still a rewarding payoff, which is what makes or breaks any song with a drop IMO (just look at Starships by Nicki Minaj, which squanders catchy verses and a great buildup with a drop that sounds like ass). The production, as mentioned earlier, is Pop Rock, with multiple layers of guitar, both organic and programmed percussion and backing keyboards that help with the buildup. The guys from 1D all deliver solid performances to boot. Is this song basic as all heck? Sure, but a song doesn’t need to be exceptional or special for me to enjoy it, and this definitely fits the bill of a song that I like for pretty mundane reasons. Now, how about a band I was obsessed with at the time?

#5: Centuries by Fall Out Boy (Peak: #10, Year-End: #43)

I was in 8th grade between 2014 and 2015, and in that year, I was in my Pop Punk phase. This was particularly the case with Fall Out Boy and Paramore, who I listened to constantly between late 2014 and early 2015. I’ve talked about Paramore several times on this blog, as all three of their Year-End hits made previous best lists (including The Only Exception topping my Best of 2010 list), However, I haven’t had the chance to talk about Fall Out Boy yet, but that changes right now.

After a string of hits in the Mid-Late 2000s, where they scored six Top 40 hits (including three that hit the Top 10), the band went on hiatus from 2009-2012, before returning in 2013, scoring a Top 20 hit in the process (I was a bit underwhelmed by that song upon revisiting it for my 2013 lists). Towards the end of 2014, FOB dropped the lead single for their album American Beauty/American Psycho, that lead single being the fifth place song on this list.

While Fall Out Boy did make a stylistic shift away from their Pop Punk origins upon their return from hiatus (much to the ire of some of their fanbase, who gave them the moniker of Sell Out Boy), I’d still say they stay faithful enough to their Rock roots here. Sure, it’s not as hard as their earlier stuff, but the guitars are audible, the percussion is natural and boy does that hook stick. It’s easily one of the strongest hooks on the Year-End list, and considering some of the other songs on this list, that’s saying something. When it comes to the lyrics, well, it’s a Fall Out Boy song, do the lyrics really matter? This is the band that is known for absurdly long song titles and have been called the masters of the word salad, it doesn’t matter if the lyrics sometimes reach Astronaut In The Ocean levels of nonsensicalness. I initially thought this song was about the band bragging about how awesome they were, but it turns out that it’s actually about the fight to stay relevant in an ever-changing music industry, where some artists become legends and others get swept away by the sands of time.

Some legends are told

Some turn to dust or to gold

But you will remember me

Remember me for centuries

And just one mistake

Is all it will take

We'll go down in history

Remember me for centuries

Between that and the Suzanne Vega interpolation, Centuries is the best of the three hits Fall Out Boy got during the Mid 2010s, and it’s unfortunate that they followed it up with Mania, an album that I’m sure Todd In The Shadows will cover on Trainwreckords one day (Young And Menace in particular was a disaster). Still, Centuries is a bop that I like just as much now as I did when I was in eighth grade. Now, let’s get to one of the defining artists of our generation who arguably had her peak in 2015.

#4: Style/Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift (Peak: #6/#5, Year-End: #29/#57)

It’s no secret that Taylor Swfit’s 2014 album 1989 was an absolute behemoth of a record. Not only was it one of the best selling albums of the decade, being certified 9x Platinum in the U.S. and being eligible for Diamond certification, but it also dropped five Top 10 hits, three of which hit #1. However, the two that didn’t hit #1 happen to be the best hits from the album, and among the best of Taylor’s entire career.

I’ll start with Style, the song that is higher on the Year-End list (the two songs were equally sized hits, but Wildest Dreams’ run was split between 2015 and 2016, whereas Style’s run was entirely in 2015). The song’s instrumentation fits into that brief trend in late 2014 and early 2015 where 80s tinted mid to high tempo electro pop, and spoilers, this will not be the only song on this list that fits into that sound. That sound, while short lived, was one of the best trends in music during the 2010s, as nearly every song I’ve heard with that sound was at least good, if not great. The driving synth groove sounds great, the guitar licks in the pre chorus add some organic touches to the song, and the chorus is one of the strongest of Taylor’s entire career. Taylor’s vocals are just as great as the production, she could not have sounded better behind the mic on this track. Now, what was she singing about here?

Lyrically, Style is about being in a relationship that you know is probably going to fail, but sticking together because it looks good to other people and draws a lot of publicity.

You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye

And I got that red lip classic thing that you like

And when we go crashing down, we come back every time

'Cause we never go out of style, we never go out of style

You got that long hair, slicked back, white T-shirt

And I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt

And when we go crashing down, we come back every time

'Cause we never go out of style, we never go out of style

The title of the song being “Style” is possibly a not to Taylor’s past relationship with One Direction’s Harry Styles, and that hypothesis was only made stronger by One Direction’s single Perfect, which came out in Late 2015 and was suspected to be a response to this song, it even sounds pretty similar (it also happens to be just as good as this song, as it was my fourth favorite hit of 2016. BTW, here’s a mashup of the two). Whether or not the two songs are related, Style is a great pop song that is easily one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs - but it’s not her only great hit song from 2015.

That brings me to Wildest Dreams, the fifth single off of 1989 and the last one to be a major hit. The theme of Wildest Dreams isn’t all that different from Style, being about a relationship that is doomed to fail, but hoping her BF will remember all the great moments they had together until the day he dies.

Say you'll remember me standing in a nice dress

Staring at the sunset, babe

Red lips and rosy cheeks

Say you'll see me again

Even if it's just in your wildest dreams, ah-ha

Wildest dreams, ah-ha

You'll see me in hindsight

Tangled up with you all night

Burnin' it down

Someday when you leave me

I bet these memories

Follow you around

You'll see me in hindsight

Tangled up with you all night

Burnin' it down

Someday when you leave me

I bet these memories

Follow you around

The wistful lyrics are matched by equally ethereal production, which nails the vibe of the song perfectly. The song follows a classic formula, starting low and building to a climatic bridge and final chorus. The mix of strings, dreamy synths and percussion is absolutely breathtaking, as are Taylor’s vocals, which one again could not have been better. It’s so good, in fact, that I feel like #4 on the list is lowballing it a bit, this would fit perfectly on the podium. It’s easily one of the best ballads of the decade, and the perfect climax to the Pop-dominated era of 2008-2015. Speaking of great pop songs…

#3: Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd (Peak: #1, Year-End: #12)

Wow, a Weeknd song making the best list, what a shocker! The Weeknd absolutely blew up in 2015, and if it weren’t for the massive success he had in 2020 and 2021, 2015 could easily have ended up being Abel’s banner year. While the horror-themed The Hills may have been the more unique song as well as the one that ended the transitional period towards dark minimalism that Royals started (The Hills fits a sound that I like to call Grunge Trap), Can’t Feel My Face is the one that I’ve always preferred.

As with so many other Weeknd hits, this is a throwback. The production combines elements of 70s Disco, 80s Synth-Pop and 2010s Pop to create a song that is both retro and fully modern. This was produced in part by Max Martin, the biggest pop producer of the past 25 years, and while not everything he’s produced has been great, he’s definitely at the top of his game here. The Weeknd has drawn many comparisons to Michael Jackson as a vocalist, and he’s probably never sounded more like the King of Pop than he has on this song (well, either this or I Feel It Coming). He even does some MJ-esque vocal hiccups, particularly in the outro.

Now, what is he singing about? At first glance, it’d appear that he’s singing about a woman, one who makes him feel so such that he can’t even feel his face. However, it’s not actually about a woman. It’s about cocaine. I know that’s the lamest way I could’ve possibly put it, but I am so burnt out of doing this that I couldn’t even care to make something more creative. He knows that his addiction will end up being his downfall, but he can’t help but return to that magic white powder.

And I know she'll be the death of me

At least we'll both be numb

And she'll always get the best of me

The worst is yet to come

But at least we'll both be beautiful and stay forever young

This I know, yeah, this I know

She told me, "Don't worry about it"

She told me, "Don't worry no more"

We both know we can't go without it

She told me, "You'll never be alone", oh, oh, woo

Can’t Feel My Face is a bop of the highest order, one of the best #1 hits of the 2010s and more than worthy of the bronze medal in 2015’s Pop Olympics. However, it wasn’t even the best hit The Weeknd had in 2015, which brings us to…

#2: Love Me Harder/One Last Time by Ariana Grande (Peak: #7/#13, Year-End: #56/#67)

You know, there’s kind of a perception with pop stars, particularly female pop stars. That being that all you need to become famous is to be physically attractive and make sexually charged music and videos, and you’ll become super popular even if you have no actual talent. I remember hearing this about Katy Perry when she was popular, and I’m sure people said it about Britney Spears (although talking crap about her nowadays would get you a decidedly different reaction), and while I do think both Katy and Britney are decidedly unexceptional vocalists, they’ve both made music I enjoy (as well as music I can’t stand, see my Worst of 2008, 2011 and 2014 lists for more info). However, then there are pop stars who manage to be both attractive AND talented. These include both older pop stars like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey and their modern-day heir, Ariana Grande.

I’ll start off with Love Me Harder, the bigger of the two songs she has on this list. I’ll be honest here: this is probably my favorite Ariana Grande song. You know how I said that Style wouldn’t be the only song that fit into that retro-modern pop sound that was big between 2014 and 2015? Well, this is that other song. The driving tempo and low but not too dark electro pop synths fit surprisingly well with Ariana Grande’s voice, and ooh boy do I have things to say about her voice on this song.

Ariana Grande has never sounded better or sexier than she does on this track. She’s not doing any Mariah Carey-esque belting, but rather sensually cooing throughout the track about how she wants you to love her harder, meaning exactly what you think it does. Jurgen Klopp would be very pleased by the sound of Ariana’s voice. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Ariana makes me horny, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t at least a little bit turned on. 

Then there’s The Weeknd, for whom this was his breakout moment into the mainstream, something that would be solidified over the following year as he became an A-list pop star. While this isn’t his sexiest performance by any measure (that’d be I Feel It Coming, whose title is basically a That’s What She Said joke), he still fills the role of the male who will love Ariana harder very well, even if, as Todd In The Shadows said, he sounds like a leaking balloon.

For as great as Love Me Harder is, it wasn’t the only Ariana Grande hit from this year to make the list. That brings me to One Last Time, her follow-up single that, while it may not be AS great as Love Me Harder, is still one of the best hits of her career. The EDM-tinged production sounds somehow bright and melancholic at the same time, setting a bittersweet vibe. Ariana’s vocals fit the same mold, being more restrained on the verses and expressive on the chorus, although she doesn’t go into full-on belting. Lyrically, the song I would most compare this to would be Whatcha Say by Jason Derulo, in that Ariana is begging for forgiveness after being unfaithful to her partner, hoping to be with him just one last time. However, I’d say that this is a better song than Whatcha Say, since not only have parts of Whatcha Say aged really badly in a way that One Last Time hasn’t (although I’ll always have nostalgia for Late 2000s pop production), but I’m more able to sympathise with Ariana since she openly admits that she doesn’t deserve him back, even if she really wants to be with him again. I can get why someone wouldn’t like this song, but I did, and I stand by it making the list. Now, finally, let’s get to The Best Hit Song of 2015…

This is the last list I will be making for a long, long time. Barring something like a Pulse rankdown I’m interested in, I’m going to be taking all of 2022 off, at least. I’ve been feeling less and less inspired to do this since about late 2020, and I’m sure that’s been reflected in my writing being of a lower quality. So, for the last placement I’m making on this blog for the foreseeable future, I find it fitting that’d it’d be an artist who’s been on so many of my best lists, including at #2 in two consecutive years, but has never taken the #1 spot until today. Thus, I can only say one thing: congratulations, Adele, you’ve finally done it.

#1: Hello by Adele (Peak: #1, Year-End: #35)

Well, here we are. The Best Hit Song of 2015, and it could’ve only come from Adele. I’ve placed Adele on my best lists for 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2017, which is every year she’s appeared on a Billboard Year-End Hot 100 list thus far (although she will be almost certainly be on 2022’s Year-End list), and in the final best list of the 2010s, she’s finally taken the gold with Hello, her megahit that sold a million copies in its first week and appeared at #35 on the 2015 Year-End list with only three weeks of charting data, and it completely deserved all the records and accolades, because Hello is one of the best #1 hits of the 21st Century.

In the first verse, it’s just a spare piano ballad. Adele calls her ex (presumably Lionel Richie), wondering if he’d like to reconnect and explaining that, even after all the time that has passed, she’s been unable to move on.

Hello, it's me

I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet

To go over everything

They say that time's supposed to heal ya

But I ain't done much healing

Hello, can you hear me?

I'm in California dreaming about who we used to be

When we were younger and free

I've forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet

There's such a difference between us

And a million miles

Then the chorus hits, and it hits like a ton of bricks.

Hello from the other side

I must've called a thousand times

To tell you I'm sorry for everything that I've done

But when I call, you never seem to be home

Hello from the outside

At least I can say that I've tried

To tell you I'm sorry for breaking your heart

But it don't matter, it clearly doesn't tear you apart anymore.

Instant chills, everytime. Sure, she’s pestering this guy with repeated calls, and he clearly has no interest in answering (matter of fact, he’s probably had his friends collect his records and then changed his number), but she makes me feel the desperation and heartache, and that all she wants is to reconcile. However, this guy has moved on and doesn’t want anything to do with her, so it’s ultimately a hopeless endeavor. With that said, the song is far from over.

Hello, how are you?

It's so typical of me to talk about myself, I'm sorry

I hope that you're well

Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing ever happened?

It's no secret that the both of us are running out of time.

Through all this, the song keeps building up, adding more instrumentation like drums and bells, and it finally comes to a dramatic climax in the final chorus. After that final chorus, the song finally winds down, thus wrapping up The Best Hit Song of 2015, and the final song to top one of my best lists for a long, long time.

Well, that’s it. The last list I’ll be making for the foreseeable future. I’ll be honest, it feels good to have this monkey off my back heading into 2022. I can take a step back, chill and rest, and who knows, maybe my appetite for music will come back. Regardless, I wish you all a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Take care, everyone, and goodbye for now.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Top 10 Worst Hit Songs of 2015

 Top 10 Worst Hit Songs of 2015

Hello readers, welcome back to Gabingston’s Pop Reviews, and today we’ve got a big one, the last year of the 2010s I have yet to look at, 2015. Now, I certainly haven’t saved the best for last (that would be 2012), but I have saved the most important for last, because 2015 was the defining year of the 2010s, and not just in music. This year acted as the bridge between the first half and second half of the 2010s, not just chronologically but in the entire cultural landscape as well. However, that’s beyond the purview of this blog, so I’m just gonna talk about the music. So, how was 2015 for pop music? 

2015 is generally agreed to be one of, if not the, best years for pop music in the 2010s, but I can’t say that I agree with that. Don’t get me wrong, this year wasn’t bad, but it felt pretty middle of the road to me. A lot of the songs I expected to make my best list for this year (Thinking Out Loud, 679 and, yes, even Uptown Funk) shrunk on me, while a lot of songs this year didn’t give me much to talk about, either in a positive or negative sense. When it comes to this year’s bad hits, there weren’t a ton, but the ones that were here were mostly here for being dull, insipid and/or stupid, often times by artists who should’ve known better. The overall score for 2015’s pop music registered as a 285/460, or a 61.9/100. Not bad by any means, but still not quite what it’s hyped up to be (I’ll give it this, it was A LOT better than the following two years). Let’s finally get this list going, starting with our #10.

#10: CoCo by O.T. Genasis (Peak: #20, Year-End: #79)

Starting off our parade of suckage is CoCo by O.T. Genasis, one of the many, MANY Hip-Hop hits that were completely worthless. To start, the beat is about as stock as you can get for a mid-2010s Trap song, just hi-hat, dull synths and this weird transitional sound that plays before the start of some of the choruses, if you can call them that. O.T. Genasis is a mediocre at best rapper, as he uses basically the same flow throughout almost the whole song, only broken up when he says that he’s got baking soda. Lyrically, the premise of this song is quite simple: he’s in love with the CoCo, and he’s not talking about chocolate. Yup, it’s about cocaine. I really don’t have a lot else to say, it’s not exactly an interesting kind of bad song, it just sucks. O.T. Genasis had one more hit following year with Cut It, which is not much better (it might actually be worse in some ways), before disappearing into irrelevance. Good riddance.

#9: Worth It by Fifth Harmony (Peak: #12, Year-End: #23)

Moving on, we’ve got Worth It by Fifth Harmony, the first of three year-end hits from the mid-2010s girl group. Out of those three, this is easily the worst of them. Worth It may be poorly written and dated as all heck, but at least the beat is kinda catchy, and All In My Head (Flex) made my Best of 2016 list. This, on the other hand, was a very, VERY poor first impression for the group. I remember hating this song at the time, and my opinion of this song hasn’t improved much since.

To start, doesn’t that sax riff sound familiar to you? Yup, it’s incredibly similar to the sax riff from Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo, one of the biggest hits of the previous year. Other than that, the production is dated mid-2010s Pop-R&B. The one exception to this mediocrity is the bridge, which is actually pretty good. Seriously, that bridge is a 7.5/10 in an otherwise 3/10 song, but it’s so short that it can’t raise the song too much.

Lyrically, it’s just about the girls from Fifth Harmony (two of whom were underaged upon the song’s release) wanting to get freaky and insisting that they’re “worth it” through one of the most annoying hooks of the decade. That’s about it, nothing more, nothing less. Kid Ink’s guest verse is not much more complex, just him asking his ladies to back that azz up in da club. Aside from Normani on the bridge, none of the girls here are passable vocally, all of them sounding annoying and irritating. I’ve compared Camila Cabello to Vanellope Von Schweetz, a character who is either annoying or adorable with no in between, and Camila definitely falls on the annoying side of that binary. I’ve got to ask why this was the big breakout hit for Fifth Harmony instead of Sledgehammer, which is, I don’t know, actually a good pop song? I for one will never get why, but that’s just how things turned out, and at least I got some material for this worst list six years later.

#8: No Type by Rae Sremmurd (Peak: #16, Year-End: #70)

I don't got no type (Nah) 

Bad bitches is the only thing that I like

He… he literally contradicts himself IN THE FIRST LINE OF THE SONG! Seriously, IN THE FIRST LINE! He says that he doesn’t have a type, AND THEN IMMEDIATELY SAYS WHAT HIS TYPE IS! Gosh, how incompetent do you have to be?!

It’s not just that line, though, as the entire song is hilariously incompetent. These guys try to present themselves as badass playas, but between the not-at-all-hard minimalist beat and them sounding like 13 year olds, I don’t buy it for one second. When I was listening to this song while I was going through the year-end list, I pretty much laughed my way through the entire song, and that really hasn’t changed. This song makes me chuckle for all the wrong reasons, and while I couldn’t put it any higher than #8, it’s certainly deserving of a place on this list. Now, how about the song that I hated the most in 2015?

#7: Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) by Silentó (Peak: #3, Year-End: #8)

Ooh boy did I hate this song in 2015. If Worth It was a big hit, this was utterly inescapable in the fall of 2015, and I absolutely loathed it. I was entering my Freshman year in high school, and at every football game, the entire student section would lose their s**t to this song, and I just stood there wondering why people were going crazy for this steaming pile of dog crap. In fact, when I was in my wrong generation phase in 2016 and 2017, I credited this very song (along with Hotline Bling, a song that I couldn’t stand at the time but have mellowed out on) with the decline of popular music. Admittedly, I was a bit mistaken in my assumptions at the time. For one, Trap had already been big for a couple of years by late 2015, it's just that that was when it went from one of the big trends in popular music to THE big trend in popular music, and for two, this isn't even an original kind of bad song.

Ringtone Rap was a subgenre of Hip-Hop that was big during the mid-late 2000s, approximately 2005-2008. The genre was built around cheap, minimalist and catchy beats and easily repeatable, simple hooks. I’m talking about songs like Laffy Taffy, Pop Lock & Drop It and, of course, Crank That (Soulja Boy). I am going to make a bold claim: Ringtone Rap is one of, if not the, worst trends in the history of popular music. Of all the songs I’ve heard from that genre, there is not a single one that I like unironically. It was a cheap and lazy genre that has deservingly been forgotten outside of the aforementioned Soulja Boy. 

I bring this up because Vine, a popular app in the mid 2010s that was basically a proto TikTok, seemed to bring Ringtone Rap back in a new form. 2015 had several of these songs make the Year-End list, all of them being mediocre-to-bad. Watch Me fits perfectly into this trend. A cheap, minimalist and mildly catchy beat. Repetitive, inane lyrics. A rando performer who had neither another hit nor any talent. Silento was literally just Soulja Boy again (except for the fact that Soulja had four other Top 40 hits between 2007 and 2010, but that’s beside the point, and also Soulja didn’t murder his cousin). Watch Me might be the hit song I respect the least not just in this year, but in the entire 2010s. However, it wasn’t even the worst song to come out of the short-lived Vine Rap trend of 2015, which brings us to…

#6: Hit The Quan by IHeartMemphis (Peak: #15, Year-End: #83)

Yup, this is the worst of the Vine Rap hits from 2015. No need for any sort of intro, let’s just go into why this song blows.

First, the beat is lazy AF. It’s just a stock beat with some annoying synth sound played on top of it. I feel confident in saying that no effort was put into creating the beat. The hook just repeats “Hit The Quan” and says that he wants to show you how to do it. I mean, I know that it was named for Rich Homie Quan, who was briefly big around 2014/15, but I’m not sure what dance “hitting the quan” is. If you think that the lyrics in the verses are any better, well, you’d be wrong. Let’s take a look.

I paper chase then vanish

Hit the Quan note her make her boyfriend panic

I heart Memphis, but I also love dancing

I done took off on 'em, I don't plan on landing

“Vanish” and “panic” don’t even rhyme. Also, “IHeartMemphis but I also love dancing” is an incredibly awkward bar, even more awkward than my writing. Oh, and who can forget the part where he starts barking like a dog?

Go blah da da da dol, man somebody get some help

Alright, that was pretty bad, but maybe the second verse was a bit better?

Pull Pull Pull up on the block and do the dance like crazy

This chick is hella hot but I know this chick crazy

If I think she not then that makes me crazy

We are both thots so we are both are crazy

“We are both thots so we both are crazy”. Ladies and gentlemen, we have found the greatest wordsmith of our age. Truly brilliant, his poetry shall be recited for generations to come. Rhyming “crazy” with itself four times in a row is truly brilliant poetry that no fourth grader could’ve ever come up with. 

Okay, maybe IHeartMemphis can redeem this song from behind the mic. Maybe he’s some sort of MC savant. Well, to say that he isn’t would be an understatement. I genuinely think that IHeartMemphis (which is a stupid stage name, by the way) is one of the least talented people to have ever had a hit song. To say that he sounds like an amateur on this song would be an understatement. It’s no wonder that he never had another hit, and I’m not complaining about that. Now, for someone who definitely should’ve known better.

#5: 7/11 by Beyoncé (Peak: #13, Year-End: #61)

It’s one thing when some twerp on Vine makes a dumb dance track, it’s another thing entirely when one of the biggest artists in the world does. Who in the world thought that Beyoncé, one of the most influential and respected musical artists of the 21st century, should make a dumb dance challenge. Why would she want to do this? I mean, I haven’t liked every song Bey has put out (just see my Worst of 2014 list), but I’d expect her to do better than this. 

As with other songs on the list, there’s not much to talk about when it comes to this song. A stock trap beat? Check. Lazy lyrics clearly meant to be made into vine clips? Check. A performer putting in the absolute minimum amount of effort? Check. The reason why this is higher than Watch Me and Hit The Quan is because, as I said earlier, I expect way more from Beyoncé than this lousy garbage. I know she’s capable of making good, even great music, but instead of making something like, say, Halo or Best Thing I Never Had, Bey instead decided to make this crap. My disappointment is immeasurable, and my day is ruined

#4: Only by Nicki Minaj ft. Chris Brown, Drake and Lil Wayne (Peak: #12, Year-End: #51)

Ah, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Only by Nicki Minaj ft. Chris Brown, Drake and Lil Wayne is one of the usual picks for any given Worst Hit Songs of 2015 list, and for good reason, because this is just as bad as everyone says it is.

For one, the beat is just not good. It’s basically a less chaotic version of the beat from Bodak Yellow, which in case you don’t know, is quite possibly my least favorite song of all time. There’s barely anything to say about the beat, but boy is there a lot to say about the lyrics, because hoo boy are they BAAAD. Let’s start with Nicki’s verse:

Yo, I never f**ked Wayne, I never f**ked Drake

All my life, man, f**k's sake

If I did I menage with 'em

And let 'em eat my @$$ like a cupcake

Menage, Minaj, I see what you did there.

My man full, he just ate, I don't duck nobody but tape

Yeah, that was a set up for a punchline on duct tape

Ba dum tss

These h0es couldn't test me even if their name was pop quiz

Who gave Nicki the idea to start making dad jokes?

I don't fuck with them chickens unless they last name is cutlet

Oh my gosh that is corny. Let’s move on to Drake’s verse now.

I never f**ked Nicki 'cause she got a man

But when that's over then I'm the first in line

What is this, the royal family?

We had just come from that video

You know LA traffic, how the city slow

I bet the traffic in LA is bad.

She was sitting down on that big butt

B U T  I  W A S  S T I L L  S T A R I N G  A T  T H E  T I T T I E S  T H O U G H

Ladies and gentlemen, the finest moment in Drake’s career. If I could choose one thing for Drake to be remembered for, it would be that line. That line is just… oh boy, it’s something else. Simultaneously one of the best and worst lyrics of the 2010s. I think that’s good enough for Drake, how about Lil Wayne’s verse?

I never f**ked Nick' and that's f**ked up

If I did f**k she'd be f**ked up

I got the double entendre.

Whoever is hittin' ain't hittin' it right

'Cause she actin' like she need d*ck in her life


That's another story, I'm no story teller

I piss greatness like gold is yellow

Another one of the defining “so bad it’s good” lyrics of the 2010s, or any decade really. Two of them in the same song, how about that?

I think that’s enough. Only is a bad song with a dull beat and some of the most hilariously awful lyrics I’ve ever heard. As for Chris Brown’s chorus, well, it’s Chris Brown, do I really need to give him any attention? Yeah, Only alternates between being boringly bad and hilariously bad, which is definitely more than I can say for this next song:

#3: My Way by Fetty Wap (Peak: #7, Year-End: #44)

Fetty Wap was an… interesting artist. He had an absolutely terrible voice, and yet he could also be an incredibly engaging performer. While I didn’t like them quite as much as I thought I would, Trap Queen and 679 both have their bright spots to me, and I put him on my Best of 2016 list with his feature on Fifth Harmony’s All In My Head (Flex), although in retrospect I’m not sure if it deserved to be on my best list. However, there was one song Fetty was on during his brief time as a hitmaker that slipped through the cracks, and thus I was not sure how I’d receive it. When I hit play on My Way, my approximate reaction was “OHH, I remember this song! I hated it…”

Yeah, this was another song I remember despising in 2015, and while my opinion on Watch Me has softened a bit, my opinion now is the exact same as it was back then: this song blows ass.

I would talk about the beat, but really, there’s not much to say about it. It’s about as standard a trap beat as you can get. Nor is there a lot to say about the lyrics, which I could not care less about. No, my real anger is directed at Fetty Wet Ass P-word’s “rapping”, which could not be more irritating. Most of the song follows the same extremely annoying melody, which I hate from the first line. Fetty sounds like a dying cow. I cannot put into words how much Fetty Wap grates on my ears on this track. Sure, he sounds like a dying cow on his other songs too, but on those songs he’s at least got some energy and sounds like he’s having a good time. Here all of that energy is taken away, leaving just his awful, awful voice. Still, I’ll give Fetty this: at least this song wasn’t the worst rediscovery I made while looking through this year end list.

#2: Blessings by Big Sean ft. Drake and Kanye West (Peak: #28, Year-End: #88)

I went back and forth between this and My Way for my #2 for a good ten minutes. After all, both of these songs are utterly intolerable to me, but I decided to go with Blessings for one simple reason: it was a canary in the coal mine for the decline in quality in popular music over the next couple of years.

To begin, the production is outright miserable. It’s dark, it’s creepy, it’s devoid of life or energy, it’s everything wrong with the direction music went in the Mid-Late 2010s. If this song is about being grateful for what you have, then why does this song sound so depressing? Wouldn’t you want to make something with this theme uplifting and cheerful? As Olivia Rodrigo would say, I really don’t get it.

How about the performers? Well, I’ll start with Big Sean. He’s the lead artist here, so it makes sense that I’d talk about him first. Truth be told, I really don’t have a lot to say about Big Sean. He’s not a bad rapper on this song, but he doesn’t grab me in any way. Nor is my problem with Kanye West, who is definitely phoning it in, but I’m not that irritated by him.

No, my problem is with Drake’s hook, which could just be the single worst hook of the entire 2010s. I f**king HATE Drake’s “chorus”. I’ve hated it since I first heard it in 2015, and I hate it just as much now. Please excuse me as I rant about this dreadful, dreadful 25 seconds of “music”.

I'm here for a good time, not a long time, you know I

This song certainly isn’t a good time, and it drags on for a long time.

I haven't had a good time in a long time, you know I

You certainly don’t sound like you’ve had a good time in a long time. I’d think you’d be more excited about having a good time, but who am I kidding, you’re Drake, you always sound like you’ve had a couple of xannies before you went into the studio.

I'm waaayyy up, I feel blessed

I F**KING HAAATE the way Drake drags out the word “way”. It makes me feel physically angry every time I hear it.

Waaayyy up, I feel blessed

Are you sure, because you don’t sound very blessed. After this it just repeats the last two lines again, so no point in being redundant here. 

You know, I’ve held off on saying this for a while, but I feel like I have the sample size to officially state this: Drake sucks. I’ve listened to every single Billboard year end list from 2010 to 2020, and in those eleven years. Drake has made my worst list in (breathes in) 2011, 2012, 2013, this list here, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Drake made the worst list for nine of the past eleven years. How many of my best lists had Drake appeared on? Not one. Of his dozens of hits in the past twelve years, not a single one rises above a 7/10 (that 7/10 being Hold On We’re Going Home). He’s not inconsistent, nor did he start off good and then stagnate, he’s just a bad artist. Blessings is a terrible song that has one of the worst choruses of all time, but it was not enough to be #1, so what could’ve beaten it and claimed the crown of crap for 2015?

I have a… complicated relationship with the artist who took the #1 spot on this list. This artist is among the most inconsistent artists in pop music history, as her singles span the entire spectrum between absolute pop perfection on one end and hot garbage on the other, and the following song definitely falls under the latter category. This song represents not only everything I hate about the worst music of 2015, but also all the worst qualities of this performer. While this isn’t her worst song, it’s pretty dang close, and it is definitely among the worst songs to have come out in the 2010s. So, in case you haven’t figured out who this mystery artist is based on my past history with her material, you’re about to find out right now. Rihanna, congratulations on topping one of my worst lists once again.

#1: B*tch Better Have My Money by Rihanna (Peak: #15, Year-End: #48)

Welcome back, RiRi. You’re a familiar face at the top of my worst lists, and at the top of my best lists for that matter. Matter of fact, you did it in the same year, as Birthday Cake topped my Worst of 2012 list and Diamonds topped my Best of 2012 list. However, Rihanna only accomplished the former this time around, as no Rihanna song will be appearing on my best list, much less at #1. Meanwhile, B*tch Better Have My Money wound up as my least favorite hit of the year. While it’s not Rihanna’s worst song (that’d be the aforementioned Birthday Cake), it’s pretty dang close, and here’s why.

While this beat isn’t quite as grating and intolerable as the dental drill from Birthday Cake, it still gets under my skin in record time. It’s clearly trying to sound dark and threatening, but it just sounds irritating. This was produced in part by Kanye West and Travis Scott, both of whom have made much better beats than this. Then again, that might just be because of Rihanna herself.

Rihanna’s main talent as a performer is in her adaptability. She can put on almost any image or style and have it sound completely natural. Upbeat dance music? Check. Somber piano ballads? Check. Pop Rock? Check. Electro-R&B? Check. However, one image she cannot put on is trying to sound hardcore, serious or badass. From S&M to Pour It Up to Needed Me, every time I’ve heard her try to sound tough, it has always turned out terribly, and B*tch Better Have My Money might just be the worst of them all. This song is all about Rihanna flexing about how she’s meant to be taken seriously and how she’s the s**t (she might be farting and unable to potty as well), but I just don’t buy it. She doesn’t sound intimidating, she sounds obnoxious and bratty. She’s not even singing or rapping, she’s shouting. She’s straining her voice, which cracks several times. She sounds absolutely terrible here. Really, I don’t want to talk about this “song”, I just want this to be over with. B*tch Better Have My Money is an obnoxious, grating pile of garbage that is Rihanna at her very worst, and it’s the Worst Hit Song of 2015.

I know that I’ve procrastinated and delayed this list way longer than I should’ve. I said this would be out in late September or early October, but it actually came out in early December. Truth be told, I’m burnt out of music reviewing. The passion that I had for doing this in late 2019-mid 2020 just isn’t there anymore. As a result, my Best of 2015 list will be the last list I will be making in the foreseeable future. I will not be making 2021 lists this list season, and I will be taking most, if not all of 2022 off. I should have the Best of 2015 list out by the end of the year, but at this point I can’t promise anything. Thanks for reading this list, and have a fantastic day.