The Musical Shitlist: Six Terrible Songs From 2007
“Me Love” by Sean Kingston: So, Page and Plant refused to license “Stairway to Heaven” for the Live Aid DVD, but they let this dude sample “D’Yer Mak’er?” Unacceptable.
“Apologize” by OneRepublic ft. Timbaland: How do you end up in the bottom five and top ten at the same time? Add a superfluous, uninteresting beat to an already flaccid excuse for a simpering ballad, and forget to take your name off the credits.
“The Moneymaker” by Rilo Kiley: I know, it’s supposed to be sleazy and porny, but this might be the first time in history that the voice of Jenny Lewis has actually made a song worse. Worst. Rilo Kiley. Ever.
“Wadsyaname” by Nelly: I apologize on behalf of all of St. Louis.
“Crank That (Soulja Boy)” by Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em: The apotheosis of ringtone rap and the nadir of my having a sense of hearing.
“Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal) Remix” by Fergie ft. Sean Kingston: I really don’t like this Sean Kingston character. This song was already irritating enough to qualify for the list with Fergie alone. But congratulations, Mr. Kingston. Your unfathomably grating cameo has vaulted “Big Girls Don’t Cry” to the honor of Worst Song of 2007.
Thirty Excellent Songs From 2007
30. “Thick as Thieves” by Dashboard Confessional: After a satisfying detour into anthemic arena rock, Chris Carrabba returns to his bread and butter: acoustic smart-bombs strummed with the vigor of an ex-punk.
29. “You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told): After hearing this song, you won’t believe they still don’t have a bassist. Dig the classic-rock organ.
28. “I’m So Hood (Remix)” by DJ Khaled ft. Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Big Boi, Lil’ Wayne, Fat Joe, Birdman & Rick Ross: How many hip-hop stars can guest on one brazen street anthem without the whole thing collapsing under its own weight? Wonder no more. Oh, and T-Pain is on there too.
27. “Someone to Love” by Fountains of Wayne: The charming power-pop band makes the list by not changing up their game plan much: just cranking out poignant, catchy sketches of middle class banality and loneliness.
26. “Vintage Clothes/That Was Me/Feet In The Clouds” by Paul McCartney: Ironic that McCartney’s first digitally released album is highlighted by this Abbey Road-style medley. These three songs are the catchiest, funkiest, weirdest music Macca has made since that band from the Sixties.
25. “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)” by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss: I could’ve picked about any song from this magnificent duets album that works way better than it seemed on paper. This obscure Everly Brothers cover strikes a nice balance between both camps. Listen to Plant nearly break out the Led at the end.
23. “None Shall Pass” by Aesop Rock: I know literally nothing about Aesop Rock, but this wordy, silvery groove became a minor alternative hit.
22. “Real Love” by Regina Spektor: The Russian chantreusse finds darkness in Lennon’s posthumous gem – but the chorus shines through, radiant and tender.
21. “Teenagers” by My Chemical Romance: A strutting, funny, scary, glammy ode to the fundamental fear between sullen kids and the adults who assume they will shoot up a school (and they may be right).
20. “What Goes Around . . . / . . . Comes Around (Interlude)” by Justin Timberlake: JT somehow pulls off the impossible, a slow-burner that kills on the dance floor but captures all the tangled emotion of a nasty break-up (complete with creepy stalker coda).
19. “Livin’ In The Future” by Bruce Springsteen: Pissed off about life under Bush 43, the Boss starts kicking ass and taking names and . . . writes a sci-fi song about owning a “monkey on a leash?” Whether or not you buy the political subtext, its great to hear the E Street Band return to form.
18. “Breakin’ Up” and
17. “Dreamworld” by Rilo Kiley: Under the Blacklight allowed Jenny Lewis’ star to burn brighter than ever. While it sparked controversy among the hardcore fans, the album’s critical and commercial success must largely be chalked up to its ambitious genre exercises, the disco of “Breakin’ Up” chief among them. If they are the new Fleetwood Mac, and Lewis is Stevie Nicks, does that make forsaken guitarist Blake Sennett like Lindsey Buckingham? “Dreamworld” must be his “Go Your Own Way,” made all the more poignant and stinging in that this is his only writing contribution to this album.
16. “Potential Breakup Song” by Aly & AJ: Remember when Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera ruled the hearts and minds of teenage girls everywhere? I always felt like they took themselves way too seriously. Here is what I want my hypothetical 12-year-old daughter to listen to: squeaky clean, bubbly, synth-pop sung by homeschooled twins who don’t believe in evolution. I think they are technically owned by the Walt Disney corporation.
15. “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne: I waffled awhile before working up the courage to include this piece of ecstatic bubblegum. It doesn’t so much seduce its target as bash him over the head like a giant pink sledgehammer. Did the songwriters plagiarize the Rubinoo’s “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”? Maybe. Is it anti-feminist? Probably. Is Lavigne’s career a corporate concoction designed to cash in on the pop-punk boom? Definitely. But I dare you to deny the ebullience of those choruses.
14. “Go Getta” by Young Jeezy ft. R. Kelly: Fuck haters! Oh, sorry. That’s just the natural reaction you’ll have listening to Kels and Jeezy elaborate on the awesomeness of sex and coke and status and themselves. Was there a more compelling beat this year?
13. “All I Need” by Radiohead: I guess I’m one of those people who doesn’t “get” Radiohead – I enjoy the pretty noise they make, but I seriously thought “No Surprises” was an uplifting song for the longest time. This sounds to me like a love song gone seriously wrong, as only Thom Yorke & Co. can do.
12. “I’m Like a Lawyer With The Way I’m Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)” by Fall Out Boy: Pete Wentz has gotten a lot of shit over the last few years, some of it deserved – but if people could listen objectively, they might hear Fall Out Boy as the rightful heir to Elvis Costello’s anti-romantic pissings. On this track, they defy the critics who call them a boy band by aping Maroon 5 and the Backstreet Boys – and making it sound perfect.
11. “Good Life” by Kanye West ft. T-Pain: The most uplifting song of the year about how great it is to have truckloads of money.
10. “Ayo Technology” by 50 Cent ft. Justin Timberlake & Timbaland: In the weeks leading up to the sales showdown between Yeezy and Fiddy, I figured this would be the knockout punch to put Curtis on top. Despite its failure in that regard, this big collabo oozes menace – horniness has never sounded so goddamned threatening.
9. “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows” by Justin Timberlake: Putting the beatboxing at the front of the mix seems annoying at first, but it’ll grow on you. What leaves me gobsmacked is the seamless transition from brash cockiness to almost forlorn contemplation and how adeptly Timberlake handles both movements of the song.
8. “You Know What It Is” by T.I. ft. Wyclef Jean: Tip Harris may be going to jail for a very long time, but he amazes with his ability to redefine hip-hop swagger in each track he drops. Isn’t it impressive, how casually he mentions that the best-selling album of 2006 was his? Well-deserved riches, sir.
7. “Famous in a Small Town” by Miranda Lambert: The new queen bitch of Nashville’s bittersweet ode to how little it takes to win in a town full of losers.
6. “Throw Some D’s” by Rich Boy ft. Polow Da Don: So what if Rich Boy looks like a cross between Ray Charles, DMX, and the xenomorph from “Alien”? “Throw Some D’s” landed out of left field at the beginning of the year, taking the concerns of contemporary Southern rap (installing rims on your car) and adding a classic Seventies soul groove – like “peanut butter ice cream.”
5. “Intervention” by Arcade Fire: Overrated they may be, the beloved Canadians know how to do epic. The sound makes me want to go to church again, but the lyrics reflect the opposite view.
4. “3 A.M.” by Young Jeezy: I don’t actually have the social life or stamina to know what this song sounds like at 3 in the morning. The Timbaland sheen comes with a sense of delirious desperation that must set in when clubbing at those hours.
3. “Online” by Brad Paisley: Country’s king of wicked charm pens a half mocking, half loving ode to the new tradition of lying about yourself on the Internet. The charts won’t tell you that this is one of the biggest country crossover hits of the year – Paisley really hit a nerve and created a new anthem for nerds everywhere.
2. “Stronger” by Kanye West: Kanye must be some kind of mad genius. Electronica and the French were persona non grata in hip-hop; so the obvious thing to do was sample Daft Punk. And since the “Kanye is a total egoist” meme was at full pitch, why not rap about how awesome you are thanks to your own positive thinking?
1. “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” by Bruce Springsteen: Springsteen’s songwriting went into severe decline once he got hitched, and that just makes the brilliance of “Girls” even more shocking. The sounds would be right at home on Born to Run, or even Pet Sounds, but the words are of a bitter and broken man. The serene beauty of a small town in the evening is conveyed breathtakingly (and perhaps with a little nostalgia) and the singer is doomed to appreciate it without getting to be a part of it. Like Springsteen’s best work, there is enough detail that you can feel your way right into the song, but the unspoken bits make it universal. If there is justice in the pop universe, this will be Bruce’s biggest hit since “Dancing in the Dark.” And if it’s not, it will still be the best song of 2007.