I’ve you’ve been following my blog these past eight months, you know I thought 2017 was a great year for music. Music critics across the board agree. Unfortunately, there was also some really bad music this year. And so, to kick off my month of year-end lists, I’m going to discuss the six worst albums of the year. I think we’re all mature enough that I don’t need to include a disclaimer, so none of my worst or disappointing posts will have one. To qualify for my worst albums list, it has to be an album I gave a genuine chance to or heard enough songs from to make a determination. This will exclude some albums you may expect to see; assume if a terrible album doesn’t make my list, I never actually listened to it. I won’t be ranking these albums. They’re all equally terrible in my eyes. Instead, I’ll be listing them in release date order. But I won’t hold you in anticipation any longer. Here are the six 2017 releases I thought were just awful:
- A Girl, A Bottle, A Boat by Train (Released January 27):
God, I fucking hate Train. I don’t know why they’re not the band that’s universally hated. Nickelback isn’t great by any means, but at least they’re not Train. I’ve hated them since I was a child and “Drops of Jupiter” was the villain of pop radio. This album has the demonic “Play That Song.” Train gives us more emotionless dreck filled with nonsensical metaphors and cliché turns of phrase. Pat Monahan’s stupid face sings with his discount riverboat singer voice, a searing croon that makes babies cry. Am I being too mean? Possibly. But I just hate Train so goddamn much. They are a plague on this earth. Their terribleness is rivaled only by Maroon 5 (and believe me, we’ll get to them). Why do adult contemporary fans keep letting them happen? Why do we pretend they’re harmless, when they’re a scourge on humanity and a threat to music itself? Please, America, let’s do ourselves a favor and leave Train behind once and for all in 2017.
2. Memories… Do Not Open by The Chainsmokers (Released April 7):
I didn’t hate The Chainsmokers when they first tried their hand at being genuine producers (so, their early post-#Selfie days). “Roses” is a genuinely good song and I still don’t hate “Closer” (mostly because I avoided the overplay by listening to my own music as opposed to the radio). But then they kept rereleasing “Closer” and “Roses” and calling them new songs. The Chainsmokers were never excellent producers by any stretch of the imagination, but this really proved their lack of talent. This album is filled with songs that are just different renditions of that first big hit. The lyrics are full of the strangest details, the beat drops ripped from old Atari games. Their songs are background noise that somehow got brought to the forefront. “Honest” drones on and on with Andrew Taggart’s barely passable voice. This should be a new rule of thumb for singers: if you couldn’t have made it to Hollywood on American Idol, you don’t get to be a singer (obviously, there are a couple notable exceptions of talented singers who actually didn’t make it to Hollywood, but they’re the exception and not the rule). I hope 2018 brings an end to their career and they become nothing more than an unpleasant memory.
3.Witness by Katy Perry (Released June 9):
This is the kind of album that makes you sit back and wonder: “Was this person ever even that good to begin with?” Because, despite what the first singles would have you believe, it’s not a bad album. The issue is it retreads the same ground all of Katy’s other albums did. There’s nothing new here. And that’s when I realized that she was never that good to begin with. She’s average, but has been purported to be a major player since 2008. One of the Boys has Katy’s best songs, but even that album was only notable because of shock value (see: “I Kissed a Girl” and “Ur So Gay”). This album is generic and lacks self-awareness. “Chained to the Rhythm” shames us for sticking to the status quo, but when has Katy Perry tried to break from hers? “Swish Swish” is perhaps the softest diss track I’ve ever heard. Even Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” and “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” hold up because at least it sounds like she believes what she’s saying. With Katy, it just sounds like a 33-year-old woman picked some youthful buzzwords and called it a day. Compared to these tracks (and the uncomfortable “Bone Appetit”), the rest of the album is better. But it’s generic and familiar. “Power” is the obligatory “girl power” track, “Roulette” is a “Teenage Dream” retread, and “Save as Draft” is the mediocre lovechild of “Thinking of You” and “Ghost.” Katy Perry simply doesn’t know how to do more with her music. So, while this album isn’t abysmal, it makes you question her talent. And any album that makes you do that is a bad album indeed.
4. Younger Now by Miley Cyrus (Released September 29):
I thought it was impossible for Miley to release a project worse than Dead Petz. I was wrong. And there’s really no reason why Younger Now should be worse. It’s a return to Miley’s country roots, the production value is much higher, and she’s thrown all the weirdness to the wayside. But, somehow, it’s even less listenable than Dead Petz. This is entirely due to the clumsy lyrics and lack of personality. The entire chorus of “Younger Now” is essentially the same sentence over and over again with different wording. On “Inspired,” we find the uncomfortable phrasing of “You’re the handle on the door that opens up to change.” But, truthfully, I could forgive every weak lyric if these songs had any semblance of Miley’s personality in them. Even when appropriating other cultures, her personality was ultimately what drew you to her. From “See You Again” to “7 Things” to “Can’t Be Tamed” to Wrecking Ball,” each song was driven by an underlying Miley-ness. And it’s not like she can’t do country without personality. Remember when she sang “Ready, Get Set, Don’t Go” with her dad? She was a dynamic and distinct pretense on that song. So I’m not sure what exactly went wrong here. The only songs worth anything on this album are “Malibu” and “Thinkin’.” Other than that… well, it’s no wonder Miley abandoned this era before it even really started.
5. Red Pill Blues by Maroon 5 (Released November 3):
See? I told you we’d get to these guys. Each year we think Maroon 5 can’t possibly get worse and each year they somehow do. They’re slaves to music trends. They’re no longer a band; they’re a corporation. They have nothing to say on this album. They’re only here to make money. Worse still, Adam Levine’s voice has somehow become worse and more annoying as the years have gone on. I pray to god this album is his peak terribleness. I blame “Don’t Wanna Know” for single-handedly killing the (albeit already waning) tropical dance music trend. Even SZA couldn’t save “What Lovers Do.” The album title is clearly trying to portray the troubled brokenness of so much alternative pop, but the content fails to support it. I can only assume Maroon 5 pays radio stations to play their songs, because I’ve never met a single person who genuinely likes them. Maroon 5 has proven, yet again, why they are garbage. If we could please leave them behind in 2017, that would be great.
6. Blue Lips (Lady Wood Phase II) by Tove Lo (Released November 17):
2014’s Queen of the Clouds was such a good album, it made last year’s Lady Wood that much more of a letdown. But I could excuse one mediocre album; after all, the sophomore slump is a well-known phenomenon. But this album was somehow even worse and shows that Tove is taking her music in a direction that I am not willing to follow. It tries to capture the melancholy of “Habits (Stay High),” but veers into boring instead. There’s an odd amount of girl hate on “Bitches” and an overall repetitive nature to the album as a whole. Tove explores some bicuriosity on this album, but that’s not enough to save it. Top it all off with the unironic use of “the struggle is real” on “Struggle,” and you’ve got perhaps the messiest album of the year. Electropop is a genre that should work for Tove, but it’s so dreary and near-monotone that it misses the mark. I’m sad to have such a low opinion on a Swedish singer’s work, but Tove Lo has truly taken her 2014 potential and squandered it.
What 2017 album releases did you think were just awful? Tell me about them in the comments!