I want to say, right at the outset, that I don’t feel good about this.
This whole premise, the idea of a “Worst Song of 2013,” is a bit of a problem for me. On the one hand, just as there is a “best” song of every year, it stands to reason that there will be a “worst” song as well.
On the other hand, who am I helping by posting this? What does it do for you, the reader, to read something that is benign at the least and, at the worst, outright hateful? What does it do to me to listen for these kinds of songs, like some kind of perverse headhunter, and then report my findings for theoretical titillation?
Let the record show that this whole operation is morally dubious.
That said, I can’t shake the idea that I’ve already heard my “Worst Song of 2013” less than a month in.
A few qualifiers:
- As with anything being called “best” or “worst,” this is based on personal opinion and copious consumption of lots of music.
- A song’s quality depends largely on who is making it. For example: if Modest Mouse, my favorite band, releases a terrible song, it’s sulkiness has more weight than if, say, Tyga, releases a bad song. Of course Tyga is going to release a bad song, he’s Tyga.
- Sticking with the Modest Mouse example, a “Worst Song” candidate has to be one that sticks with you, so their bad song which I can’t stop thinking about is going to bother me way more than whatever half-baked song Train ends up making. A “Worst” song has to at least make an impression.
- That said, the true mark of a bad song is this: it has a clear goal, either overt or heavily suggested, and it fails to hit its mark.
Okay, so. The Worst Song of 2013 So Far.
It’s “What I Do For U” by Ra Ra Riot, a mid-album track from their very good and quite fun new album, Beta Love.
If you don’t know, Ra Ra Riot is a pop band that used to sound like Vampire Weekend and now they sound like Passion Pit. Their main weapons are the crazy-strong voice of their lead singer, a sincerity that bleeds through all their music, and their desire to make you dance like Molly Ringwald from The Breakfast Club.
Sadly, it also has this RnB disaster that I unfortunately have to call my “Worst Song of 2013 So Far.” What sucks about this is that, elsewhere on the very same album, the band pulls off this kind of nu-RnB-by-White-College-Kids thing that has taken off in the past three years, but whatever experiment or vision the band had on this mumbler was misguided.
I’m so sorry Ra Ra Riot. I love you and hope we can still be friends.