Don’t call it a comeback — because Fergie’s new single, intended to launch her second album, has hardly made us nostalgic about what made the singer great. There’s no specificity whatsoever as the Black Eyed Pea just lists place names (Kansas City and Manila in consecutive lines) like a middle schooler cramming for the geography bee. And the “la la la” refrain is more saccharine than celebratory. Pass.
Newcomer Shaw stirred up ire across Kings County — and the internet — with her song about Brooklyn, written as though she’d never been. (“Tonight we run the island,” she sings, about a borough that is not, in fact, an island.) The song’s vague generalities (“headphones” rhymed with “brownstones”) are somehow not as bad as its specifics. “They all want to catch our kitty,” Shaw sings — and she isn’t, surely, referring to a bodega cat.
For the follow-up to her blockbuster summer single “Fancy,” Iggy Azalea easily could have released a worthier song from her debut studio album The New Classic — but instead, she pushed out the lazy and derivative “Black Widow,” left on the cutting room floor of Katy Perry’s Prism sessions (likely because it bears a striking similarity to Perry’s superior “Dark Horse”). The addition of the faceless British import Rita Ora does little to distinguish the song from the other pablum crowding radio.
There’s something a little contrived about releasing a song called “Summer” right before the titular season arrives, but what makes the song grating in the winter now is its anthem ambitions combined with the way Harris kitchen-sink’s it: twinkling pianos, harp noises and stray electric guitar notes are a little much for an otherwise generic banger. Harris might have gotten away with it had he recruited one of his A-list pals for some guest vocals, but his lyrics, which read like Twitter’s @GuyInYourMFA parody account taking a stab at a pop song, don’t distract enough.
“Wiggle” was doomed as soon as what sounds like a discount store recorder starts to play at the beginning of the song. The lyrics didn’t help: “I got one question,” Derulo asks. “How do you fit all that…in them jeans?” Asked and answered by the Black Eyed Peas in 2005. Also, a tip for Snoop: “Wiggle” does not rhyme with “little bittle.”
Trainor caused some offense by mocking “skinny b—-es” for being undesirable and framing body-positivity as something to fake so that boys will like you — but “All About That Bass” has yet more fundamental problems. Its bouncy, too-bright beat and rapped-straight-through-the-nasal-passages delivery made each scan through Top 40 radio into a minefield. The song’s popularity is fading just in time for “Lips Are Movin,” Trainor’s sound-alike second single.
Although there’s nothing prohibiting country artists from kicking back and having a good time, “Sun Daze” still sounds like what would happen if Florida Georgia Line made a disastrous attempt at writing a song for Miley Cyrus (and then recorded it after Cyrus rejected it for being even too low brow for her). “I sit you up on a kitchen sink / stick the pink umbrella in your drink” wins the I Just Threw Up in My Mouth Award for worst innuendo of 2014.
The British chanteuse’s next single shows off all the qualities that have stood between her and lasting success: It’s wildly oversung, and, worse, self-aggrandizing in a manner that feels unearned. A song about how one’s undaunted by mistakes in the public eye seems delusional when sung by someone with no persona to speak of.
The execrable “Literally I Can’t” glorified rape culture at the exact moment when students, activists and the White House were pushing universities to re-examine their policies dealing with sexual assault on campus, in a song that features frat guys yelling at sorority girls to “shut the f*** up” when the women won’t take tequila shots and hook up with their female friends. The lyrics only get worse from there, ranging from, “You got a big ole butt, I can tell by the way you walking, but you annoying me cuz you’re talking” to “I don’t wanna hear, ‘No.'” Sexism is still alive and well.
Correction: The original version of this article said Redfoo, Lil Jon and Enertia McFly were the artists behind “Literally, I Can’t.” The credited artists on the song are Play & Skillz.
Yes, the band name Magic! is ridiculous — but “Rude” makes the list not only for its sanitized reggae-fusion sound but because the lyrics make no sense at all. The song chronicles the story of a man who asks his girlfriend’s father for his permission to marry her; the dad says no, to which the singer replies, “Why you gotta be so rude?” This act just isn’t “rude.” Heartbreaking? Definitely. Cruel? Perhaps. But “rude,” an adjective usually reserved for people texting in a movie theater, probably isn’t right.
Read next: Top 10 Best Songs of 2014