Whether it's overexposure, repetition, or just a terrible melody, each of the songs below are some of the most grating tunes to be released in 2011.
A quick caveat: I realize that there is a lot of top 40 on this list–that isn't because I dislike top 40. But frankly, when the radio is saturated with a certain song, you're more likely to trigger annoyance much faster than an indie number that plays on occasion. (But trust me, had Tame Impala's “Solitude is Bliss” been released in 2011, it would've topped the list–nothing is more annoying than a hipster who brags about how much he enjoys his own pretentious company.)
9. “Hair” – Lady Gaga
I don't know what it is about Lady Gaga — the ridiculous, attention-grabbing get-ups, or the vapid pop-ditties that try to delve deeper into human psyche than a club-banger ever should — but ever since her new album dropped, the pop princess has experienced a significant dip in radio play. It should be a good thing — it seems Gaga is finally running out of drunk shenanigans to croon about. But now: A song about hair.
The production isn't particularly grating, but somebody's gotta call the Mother Monster out on lyrics that read like they were written by Suri Cruise after a particularly rough day on the playground, “I just want to be free, I just want to be me. And I want lots of friends that invite me to their parties…I'm my hair,” Gaga belts. Worst analogy ever.
8. “State Run Radio” – Lupe Fiasco
Perhaps the most embarrassingly bad song to be released by a rapper this year, “State Run Radio” barely classifies as hip hop. The chorus is comprised of of the same few fluffy alt-rockish bars repeated over and over again, “over again, and over again, and over again” the chorus repeats (there's irony for you) before segueing into a very synthy robot-esque repetition of the phrase “state run radio”. The song epitomes Lupe's confused Lasers, an album manifestation of the creative conflict that the rapper is undergoing with his label.
7. “Radicals” — Tyler, the Creator
Odd Future pack leader Tyler, the Creator frequently uses curse words as a crutch in his violent raps (his younger brother, Earl Sweatshirt, by Tyler's own admission, has a far more developed understanding of rap). In “Radicals” Tyler resorts to repeated screaming a violent chant throughout the chorus. It may get all the kids singing “I'm fucking radical, I'm motherfucking radical!” but when you've used “fuck” upwards of 40 times in one song, its time to expand your vocabulary.
6. “Mr. Saxobeat” — Alexandra Stan
Eurotrash music, with it's propensity for repetition and nonsensical lyrics, is already predisposed to annoying the average radio listener after the fifth or sixth listen. Stan's number — which is childishly simplistic and has been overplayed across southern California — is even more obnoxious in its repetition; it only takes three listens to learn all the words.
5. “H.A.M” — Kanye West and Jay-Z
Kanye's over-wrought, grandiose production on the entirety of Watch the Throne suggests that someone might need to stop “trippin off the powder.” But H.A.M. (a terribly acronym), is a particularly tasteless affront to the hip-hop genre. Kanye has lost sight of what music is about — and the while genre-hopping on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was subtly tasteful, the crass, dubby electronic notes and bloated wailing throughout “H.A.M” is aurally overwhelming. On the positive, HOV emerges from the wreckage relatively unscathed. On the negative, Jay's smooth flow makes Ye seem like a confused, drug-addled (“Haah!”) prep school boy who was encouraged by an over-zealous teacher to hit the studio and yell out some terms that he mistakenly associates with opulence and success. It's a remarkably disconnected mess.
4. “How to Love” — Lil Wayne
This song isn't obnoxious so much as it is dull — and annoyance takes root as result of that boredom. Though the song content is forward-thinking (and refreshingly non-misogynistic) “How to Love” is remarkably tame and mushy for Wayne, whose position as pimp-master-in-chief of Young Money Entertainment has put him in control of some of hip hop's biggest up and comers (Drake, Nicki Minaj) and is most commonly heard boasting a healthy helping of swag. Plus, Weezy's distressed vocals aren't really made for serenading babes — listening to Wayne rasp throughout each verse is an tortuously abnormal experience.
3. “When We Stand Together” — Nickelback
This ditty isn't more or less grating than any other Nickelback piece (meaning, rather), but what earns it a spot on the Top 10 is that it literally sounds like every other Nickelback song in existence. When your sound hasn't progressed since half a decade ago, it might be time to reevaluate your artistic direction. Worse, the “We Are the World”-esque song lyrics only adds bloated sleaze to the preexisting unoriginality. Frankly, “Kumbaya” was never very rock and roll.
2. “Someone Like You” — Adele
To be clear: Adele is immensely talented. She wrote her most recent album 21 when she was 21, and has vocals powerful enough to bring tears to the eyes of even the coldest of hearts. That being said, “Someone Like You” is the most absurdly depressing song on the airwaves. Part of the blame is owed to So Cal DJs, who replay Adele's melancholy tune throughout the course of a day (starting at the crack of dawn — what a great way to start the work day) with such hyper-frequency that more than one radio station will often have her wailing at the same time. And I partially blame the Video Music Awards (where the song's live performance first kick-started its popularity) for bringing this perpetual frosty gloom on us. But I also blame Adele, who, while helping thousands of heartbroken lovers to express their sadness through song, needs to eat a tub of Chunky Monkey and get over him already.
1. “Friday” — Rebecca Black
So notoriously bad that it went viral, Black's nasally-autotuned “Friday” wasn't originally meant to be a joke, though it quickly became a popular one. From “Friday”, Black was spoofed on the popular cartoon show “Family Guy” and made a cameo appearance on Katy Perry's “Last Friday Night” — definitive proof that you don't need talent to be famous.