We’ve all experienced that moment. You’re listening to the radio when suddenly that song comes on. You know, that one song that just won’t go away. You’ve heard it at work, in the supermarket, at the laundromat, and from that homeless guy singing it outside your apartment, all before noon. But for some reason you let it play. “Oh, there’s probably nothing else on,” you joke to your friends, but some part of you doesn’t want to change it. It’s the same part that DVRs every rendition of “Real Housewives” and presses the replay button on “Bound 2” for the umpteenth time.
We’ll never admit it, but we love our guilty pleasures. Luckily, the year 2013 was totally on board with that and gave us a whopping treasure trove to choose from. What follows is a list of the ten songs from this year that made our skin crawl, yet we couldn’t stop listening to all the same. These are the songs that we love to hate and hate to love. Take your pick.
10. Miley Cyrus – “Wrecking Ball”
Can you name an artist who caused more controversy this year than Miley? Actually, don’t answer that. We’ll get to him later.
In any case, Miley and her tongue dangling, hip twerking antics were inescapable in 2013. Whether you think that her newfound independence and risqué attitude are tasteless or that we should all be applauding her (*ahem) creative new direction, it all worked in her favor. She’s enjoying Adele-sized fame at the moment, all thanks to that WTF performance at the VMA’s and the equally head-scratching video for our number ten pick. Forget the synthesized beat that sounds like it was produced on a Fisher Price keyboard and the chorus that’s just a hop, skip and a jump from a Gotye track, this song finds its way onto my list because of its innumerable parodies, forum discussions and a pop radio format that must have thought it was the cure for cancer for how much it was spun. This former Disney starlet deserves a round of applause for weaving all the insanity and controversy into whopping success. Maybe Amanda Bynes should take note.
9. Capital Cities – “Safe & Sound”
I considered playing my indie card and saying that this song was better before everyone else heard of it, but that just wouldn’t be true. Half the appeal of Capital Cities’ 80s synthpop throwback is its ubiquity. Before 2013, I would often long for a reason to break down and dance at the drop of a hat, and now thanks to this bearded LA duo, I could. Anywhere I went this year, it was only a matter of time before a triumphant “I can lift you up” blasted through a nearby set of speakers followed by the immensely catchy trumpets-in-the-club hook. It’s the worst kind of infectious pop, but that’s why I love/hate it so much.
8. Brad Paisley – “Accidental Racist (feat. LL Cool J)”
If you haven’t heard this white guilt anthem yet, hopefully the title will give you a good idea of what’s going on here. In a sincere effort to mend black and white race relations permanently, Paisley croons a heartfelt apology to the guy working at Starbucks for wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt. “What I meant to say is I’m a Skynyrd fan,” he explains, because of course that’s what Mr. Barista should have known. Excuse him for thinking you were a “Dukes of Hazard” fan instead.
If this weren’t half-assed and narrow-minded enough, he invites LL Cool J to the party, who raps such winning lyrics as “If you don’t judge my gold chains/I’ll forget the iron chains.” Hear that? Slavery forgotten. I’m glad you two came together and solved that little indiscretion.
7. J. Dash – “Wop (feat. Flo Rida)”
It seems like every year, some new rapper swaggers along to teach us that new dance we’ve been dying to add to our repertoire. If you don’t catch me crankin, twerkin, dougie-(ing?) or of course doing the Macarena, you can be sure that I’m about to Wop. No, it’s not a racial slur as far as J. Dash and Flo Rida are concerned, just an intricate piece of choreography that makes creative use of the booty pop.
What lands this little masterpiece on our list is Mr. Dash’s unwavering smoothness even as he “wops” his way through such bits of poetry as “Now I’m checkin shawty with a micro craves/Hotta’ than a baby in a microwave.” I know that’s always on my mind when I spot a classy lady in the club.
6. Finatticz – “Don’t Drop That Thun Thun!”
This song is so stupid it almost shouldn’t be listed alongside Miley and J. Dash, who all things considered are just grown adults trying their best. On the other hand, the mysterious, elusive group known as Finatticz almost defies the idea of pop music, creating an MDMA club grinder that doesn’t have a sincere moment in its jokey midst. And it worked. Without a URL to their name, they stormed the pop charts and helped make a glorious name for ratchet music this year. I almost don’t care that it sounds like I have partial facial numbness as I sing along.
5. Baauer – “Harlem Shake”
It may be safe to say that we all participated in this Internet phenomenon back in February. Whether by perusing millions of imitators on YouTube or donning our own horse masks and helmets, we all helped make the “Harlem Shake” Baauer’s lasting contribution to society. It didn’t matter if you were in the office, representing your alma mater or babysitting adorable puppies, we all knew what happened when that beat dropped. It was like a “Gangnam Style” in which we could all participate. Too bad it’s kind of a terrible song. Then again, trap has never quite been my thing.
4. Alison Gold – “Chinese Food”
Remember when you couldn’t go a full day without someone reminding you of Rebecca Black’s existence? Well, in case you missed it, that era returned with a vengeance in 2013. Patrice Wilson (aka the brain trust behind Ark Music Factory and that weird adult from the “Friday” music video) gave us another slice of god awful tween pop that once again proves he’s the king of big budget abortions. One glance through his Patomuzic YouTube channel shows that his middle school clientele is still giving him plenty of business, but nothing captures the pure, almost Zen-like vapidity of “Friday” quite like this little gem spun for the sweet, unsuspecting Alison Gold. To her credit, she appears to love Wonton soup and fried rice as much as the flat lyrics suggest that she does, but the looped production, cast of preteens and panda-suited cameo by Wilson make this a cringeworthy view all the same. So why can’t I stop pressing the replay button?
3. Kaptn – “Juice”
We didn’t truly know how much we missed LMFAO until this party rock protégé showed up to fill the void left in our lives after “Sexy and I Know It” faded from the airwaves. Knowing the size eleven rainbow chucks he had to fill, Kaptn burst onto the scene with this just-barely double entendre of a song that’s so whacky, he just might be serious. He fist pumps his way through the fluctuating beat like a frat bro on spring break, proclaiming that “She on her knees/Her knees/She want that freshly squeezed.” It might be trashier if he didn’t carry a juicemaker under his arm, but Kaptn’s humor is still hard to peg. Is his douchey exterior all a hilarious ruse, or is he the next iteration of 3OH!3? I hope it’s the former, but “Juice” is still good for a few guilty laughs regardless.
2. Ylvis – “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)”
Leave it to the Norwegians to reopen a question that’s been answered for hundreds of years. From the first few bars of Ylvis’ viral sensation, you know exactly what you’re getting into. “Dog goes woof/cat goes meow.” Say no more. Whether through its catchy production, oddball concept, extremely competent music video or all the above, “The Fox” brought comedic music back to a popularity it hasn’t known since “White and Nerdy” lit up the charts.
There have been many complaints about this songs so-called inanity, but compared to serious offerings from the likes of will.i.am and Drake, which aim for greatness and fall flat on their bloated faces, Ylvis hit their target with ease. “The Fox” is a light, fluffy novelty whose only sin is its seeming reluctance to just go away.
And in case you’re wondering, it barks; that’s what the fox says.
1. Robin Thicke – “Blurred Lines (feat. T.I. and Pharrell)”
No one deserves the title of greatest guilty pleasure quite like Robin Thicke. “Blurred Lines” is a terrible song. It “borrows” heavily from Marvin Gaye (a controversy in and of itself), features a lewd music video that had feminists raising hell, sports questionable lyrics that had many crying “rape anthem,” and – my personal beef – had one of the laziest lyrics in recent memory (tell me, what does rhyme with “hug me,” Mr. Thicke?). The worst part of all though was its seeming imperviousness to bad press. No matter what the angry listening public managed to heap on it, not to mention that VMA performance (lest we forget), “Blurred Lines” remained at the top of the charts and burrowed its way deep into our skulls.
In short, it was perfect; the epitome of bad music in composition, politics and social reaction that stood like an iron wall against our better judgment. “Blurred Lines” is the song that we love to hate and it loves to hate us back.
And for a full list of rhymes, don’t forget to check out whatrhymeswithhug.me/.