10. The Chainsmokers, “Paris”
After the Chainsmokers found meteoric success with their 2016 hit “Closer,” the DJ duo seems to be convinced that name-dropping a city and attributing a just-relatable-enough memory to that place is what makes for a good pop track. In reality, the overly nostalgic “Paris” isn’t quite a banger; it’s more like the anthem of that one college friend who can’t resist bringing up their “cathartic” study-abroad experience every time you run into them.
9. Katy Perry, “Bon Appetit”
Perry is no stranger to somewhat monotonous pop music, but “Bon Appetit” feels particularly joyless, endlessly reciting puns about food and sex (she’s on the menu—get it? Do you?). Lukewarm and hardly satiating, this is the fast-food of pop songs, served up by someone who seems she’d rather be doing anything else.
8. Liam Payne, “Strip That Down”
In 2017, former One Direction singer Harry Styles appeared in “Dunkirk” and made a splash with a solo rock album; his bandmate Zayn Malik released a hit duet with Taylor Swift; a third bandmate, Niall Horan, won praise for his folk-inflected new sound. And then there’s Liam. The onetime boy-bander’s solo debut is hung up on his past—”Used to be in 1D/now I’m out free,” he sings. But his present freedom seems constraining: Payne intones lyrics about cars, drinks and sex passionlessly. We end up learning a lot about who he claims not to be, but nothing about who he is.
7. Ed Sheeran, “Galway Girl”
Sheeran’s aggressive posturing tribute to the Emerald Isle may have been “sham rock”—but listeners had no reason to feel lucky. A lilting fiddle joined forces with Sheeran’s halting flow to create a song whose calculatedness and awkward lumber from verse to chorus may depress tourism to Dublin for years to come.
6. Imagine Dragons, “Thunder”
This burdensomely repetitive single from Imagine Dragons offers only two real verses. Unfortunately, lead singer Dan Reynolds wastes even that limited space singing about getting revenge on his grade-school bullies by… getting famous, apparently. Evolve may not have been the right name for this album.
5. Iggy Azalea, “Mo Bounce”
Azalea tossed off a series of singles over the course of 2017, though an album never materialized. Of these, the most aggressive and unpleasant was “Mo Bounce.” The repetitive “bounce, bounce, bounce” chorus was actually a respite from lyrics about how Azalea, who seems to have learned little from criticisms of her seeming to appropriate black hip-hop culture, was a “little bit of ratchet, little boujee.” Perhaps 2018 will be her year.
4. Fall Out Boy, “Young and Menace”
Fall Out Boy‘s first single in over two years segues from droning punk ballad to jerky dubstep disaster without giving its listeners a single second to come up for air. “Oops, I did it again,” lead singer Patrick Stump drawls at the beginning of each chorus. Whatever that is, please stop.
3. Sam Hunt, “Body Like a Back Road”
Bro-country’s biggest charmer had an inescapable hit in 2017 with this almost hypnotically laid-back song, which tells of “doing fifteen in a thirty” with a woman whose body is as curvy as a rural route. Despite how calculated its deployment of country cliché seems, there’s remarkably little momentum to “Body Like a Back Road,” which ends after less than three minutes once Hunt seems to have run out of ideas.
2. Jason Derulo feat Nicki Minaj, “Swalla”
On “Swalla,” Derulo delivers a harmless and surprisingly affectless performance devoid even of his usual empty-calorie charms, while guest star Nicki Minaj is unmotivated even by her own recent standard. If songs were drinks, this’d be a Big Gulp—it’s sickeningly, vacuously sweet from the first taste and then it just… keeps… going.
1. Post Malone, “Rockstar”
Post Malone attempts to use trite phrases like “poppin pillies” to capture the outdated concept of feeling like a rockstar but misses the mark. Meanwhile, 21 savage lends nothing but monotony and tired metaphors to an already exhausted, melodically challenged 3 minutes. The fact that this song went #1 on the Hot 100 is an indication that we really need to retire 2017.
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