Listing bad songs is easy -- it's simple enough to find songs (or entire albums) that're bad on purpose, let alone songs that are godawful via traditional means. There's no point in making a list of the musically worst songs ever, because the list would be endless and repetitive and could just be a list of songs by the Shaggs, who may have been well-meaning but were objectively the sonic equivalent of a terrifyingly rapid descent into madness in which you are grinningly beaten to death with the entire contents of a hardware store. Listing inept and/or embarrassing songs is pointless. But there are certain kinds of songs that I would argue are 10,000 times worse than the atonal hammering of the Shaggs, or Troll Lou Reed, or Contractual Obligation Neil Young, or anyone else, and here are the worst of them ...
5The Post-Grunge Nightmare
And they're all rock songs and they're all from the early 2000s -- the point in rock music where everything had been done already, but before the genre as a whole realized viable ways forward (polished retroism and desert rock, for starters). Pop music is sort of consistent across time, and rap probably still has final frontiers to explore, but rock was firmly in transition back then, and the era was marked by a vacuum of innovation held up by a previously established infrastructure, allowing the talentless to coast in on the historical momentum of the genre. It was shit, in other words.
And emblematic of this wave of Shit-Rock was the Fred Durst-championed Puddle of Mudd, and emblematic of them was the moron anthem "She Hates Me" (complete with ultra-cool censoring):
In the '80s, rock was dominated by asinine hair metal, people with nothing to say saying nothing and living the rock star life while using women as hood ornaments, and just generally being more full of shit than Ayn Rand after a Mexican buffet. Then, in a conscious reaction to all that, a new generation started to make some generally better rock music (and then the British made some better rock music in reaction to THAT). Hair metal disappeared virtually overnight, and though the new stuff sucked in its own ways, mainstream rock was at least sort of about weirdo self-expression again for a little bit. It was a natural and necessary evolution. "She Hates Me" is essentially the reverse of all that condensed into three jock-tastic, fake-angsty minutes. Evolution? Fuck you!
To succeed, all you need to do is copy successful people, right? Well, the big American acts all have attractive singers and catchy tunes and slickly produced videos with imagery of cars and rocking out, and the kids like the "urban" music, so let's urbanify it 18 percent, and if we just combine all that in our big musical blender then logically we'll produce the exact same success, right? Well, I'll go ahead and let the artist known as Kazzer answer that one for you:
The Kazzers of the world are the result of wanting to make music but not needing to, and then, lack of talent in hand, pursuing glitzy, American-style success by copying others (speaking as a Canadian, it's a pervasive issue with all our godawful major music exports -- the ones we're constantly apologizing for, and that distract from all our really good artists). But the kind of person who thinks they can succeed by copying others is generally the kind of person who can't even copy others properly. They copy successful artists -- they don't copy what MADE them successful.
And so what you get is Kazzer -- a genuinely unnerving uncanny-valley image of what someone in a boardroom thinks a musician looks like. It's musical gentrification -- where people with the means to live anywhere fucking insist on moving into the one part of town where all the cool shops are, and there goes the neighborhood.
As much as desire for fame being your sole motivation can in some cases be a bridge to success, it's a way more common trait among the Never Were. Sustained success in art is generally the weird combination of filling some societal need while filling your own (like it or not, even Fred Durst needed art to fill a hole in his life). Someone has to need it, especially you. Copy the superficial elements and what you mostly get is that nondescript band with the one hit and whatserface from last year and that guy and are you fucking serious and Kazzer and the fourth-worst song ever, because the only need they were all filling was their own need to be on TV.