10 Songs We Hated This Summer
Iggy Azalea, Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, and more let us down.
Image via Complex Original
You would think living in an era of Spotify, personal iTunes libraries, and an overall tendency to focus on nothing but ourselves would protect us from hearing the songs and artists we don't like. But some encounters are inevitable. The song will pop up on the radio, or at a party, or even on your Twitter feed, leaving you no option but to sit through four minutes of agony that could have been spent on something more productive. You know, like listening to music that we actually enjoy.
Summer '14 has provided several of these moments for our music staff at Complex. Whether it's a lackluster Lil Wayne collaboration with Drake, a record from T.I. that's soaked in irony, or another single from DJ Khaled, these songs bring out the worst in us, and the only professional thing we can do is hang them out to dry. Here are the 10 Songs We Hated This Summer. Fall can't come any sooner.
DJ Khaled f/ Chris Brown, August Alsina, Future & Jeremih “Hold You Down”
Producer: Bkorn, Lee on the Beats, LDB
Album: I Changed a Lot
Much like Augie's feelings for Coca Cola, I like the idea of DJ Khaled more than the actual product he ends up sharing with the world. That feeling is often triggered by tracks like "Hold You Down," which make absolutely no sense on paper, yet somehow still get green lit for studio time.
All of the artists involved on "Hold You Down" are capable of producing hits, but they don't work as a collective. Jeremih, Chris Brown, August Alsina, and Future spend four minutes tangentially crooning about keeping their women in good spirits, financially and sexually, less like collaborators than individuals waiting for their turns. Just knowing DJ Khaled sat in the lab thinking this was the best shit ever makes it that much worse. —Edwin Ortiz
Lil Wayne f/ Drake “Grindin”
Producer: Boi-1da, Vinylz
Album: Tha Carter V
At one point we were sure of it. This was supposed to be the year Lil Wayne reclaimed his spot as the best rapper not named Jay Z. This was supposed to be the year he proved to all the people who thought he was completely washed up that he could still spit with the same inventiveness that made millions of fans cop his albums during the first week of their release. This was supposed to be the year when he dropped his reported last album, Tha Carter V, and bow out gracefully, leaving his Young Money co-captains, Nicki Minaj and Drake, to keep the fire lit and rake in enough cash to buy five Miami mansions filled with skateboards. We were sure of it. Then we heard “Grindin.”
On paper, a song with a newly invigorated Lil Wayne and Drake, who is nothing if not consistent, is a win. After all, one of the main reasons we even thought 2014 was Wayne’s for the taking was because of “Believe Me,” the supposed first single from Tha Carter V that features one of the best hooks of the year and two rewind-worthy verses from Weezy. People heard it and started talking about how Wayne was back. But where “Believe Me” was all brooding kinetic energy, “Grindin” sounds empty and dull. It’s not a bad song, but it is a disappointment. The chemistry found on songs like “HYFR,” “She Will,” and countless others was gone.
That said, there are four months left in 2014, and “Believe Me” continues to get a lot of play. Maybe the year can still be his. —Damien Scott
Nicki Minaj “Pills N Potions”
Producer: Dr. Luke, Cirkut
Album: The Pinkprint
The best thing to come out of this song/video were the Nicki/Game memes. I get mad when Nicki does bullshit pop records. The video is weird as fuck too: bunnies, bunny ears, her holding Game's head like a football, the weird graphics, her hair vest. When “Lookin' Ass” dropped I was looking forward to hearing some real rapping from her, and then she released this as her lead single. It's not as bad as her other pop records, but I still hate it. Her voice sounds weird on this movie soundtrack beat. I'm not here for it. —Angel Diaz
Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J & Ty Dolla $ign f/ Kill the Noise & Madsonik “Shell Shocked”
This year has produced some questionable rap contributions for promotional film use. Kendrick Lamar's verse on "It's on Again" lyrically felt more like a paycheck than a chin check, Eminem's "Guts Over Fear" added very little to his Mount Rushmore status, and then there's "Shell Shocked."
Forget for a minute that Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J, and Ty Dolla $ign have smoked enough weed that being "shell shocked" could also be a new phrase for getting lit. In no way do they provide anything compelling here, instead misfiring with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles metaphors.
You want to talk about hackneyed, dig this line from Juicy J: "Check my rolex they say I'm the man of the hour/All this green in my pockets, you can call it turtle power." What part of the game is this, exactly? Did movie producer Michael Bay hold a gun to their heads and whisper, "Channel the spiritual aura of the Turtles franchise"?
For a crew that's been killing it in 2014, this is a moment the Taylor Gang brethren will want to forget. I know I do. —Edwin Ortiz
T.I. f/ Iggy Azalea “No Mediocre”
Producer: DJ Mustard
Album: Paperwork: The Motion Picture
It isn’t the generically “Brazilian” beat that keeps T.I. and Iggy Azalea's “No Mediocre” as flat as my small, white ass; no, it’s deadening lyrics like, “You won’t get no dick if it’s a bush down there/Girl, I should see nothing but pussy when I look down there.” It’s 2014, and T.I. has the standards of the Spice Channel circa 1995 and a shitty college-age boyfriend’s willingness to harp on said standards. In the last verse, his bluntness reaches its unimaginative zenith when he announces “I’m in Brazil with a bitch.” Fascinating. Please, do tell.
Unfortunately, his elaboration results in a tutor/brain juxtaposition that’s exactly like every other blowjob-knowledge rap you’ve ever heard, and a sort of joke about anal sex. T.I. isn’t Kool Keith. Explicitness doesn’t suit him.
For a wannabe club song called “No Mediocre,” Iggy Azalea went into the booth and came back with “But I need a bad boy, R.I.P. Whitney.” This barely scans as a coherent thought. The idea is, what, bad boys remind Iggy of Bobby Brown and his substance abuse problems, which brings Iggy to Whitney Houston, who she then recalls has passed, so she says, “R.I.P. Whitney”? To be fair, she follows that up with “pardon me.” Still, as far as apologies go, that’s rather mediocre. Get it? Get it?! —Ross Scarano
Sam Smith “Stay With Me”
Producer: Jimmy Napes, Steve Fitzmaurice
Album: In the Lonely Hour
Listen, I'm pro-love, and I'm pro-limerence; I'm just unmoved and unsure why Sam Smith is waking his one-night-stands with Kirk Franklin's choir and John Legend's piano. Worse yet that all the attending singers and players sound unloved and half-dead, like they're close to O.D.'ing on a sedative cocktail of NyQuil, diazepam, and whatever other blues Smith keeps tucked in that pill bottle next to the pillow. "Why am I so emotional?" Smith whimpers. "No, it's not a good look." —Justin Charity
The Chainsmokers f/ Siren “Kanye”
Producer: The Chainsmokers
The Chainsmokers are best known for "#SELFIE," a shallow, reprehensible record that pulls at the hanging threads of contemporary pop culture and bares nothing in return musically. Which, by definition, makes them culture vultures. That's why it shouldn't come as a surprise that this New York-based DJ duo would release a song called "Kanye."
"One day I'll stand with a crown on my head/Like a God yeah, like a God/With every step, no, I won't second guess what I want," Siren sings over a hardhanded synth, as if this somehow represents Kanye West and his mission. Clearly Siren and the Chainsmokers ain’t been doing the education. Even more frustrating is the music video to accompany this shell of a record, where a maid magically transforms into the belle of the ball for the night. Midway through her euphoric excursion, she opts out and returns to her normal life. Wow. So moving. Very powerful. Excuse me while I sip some tea. —Edwin Ortiz
Iggy Azalea f/ Charli XCX “Fancy”
Producer: The Invisible Men, The Arcade
Album: The New Classic
It was unleashed onto the world this February, and by the end of May, it had clawed its way to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. And as it looked down from its perch on high like a gum-smacking gargoyle, it proclaimed to the 99 below, “First things first, I’m the realest.”
Thus begins Iggy Azalea’s ubiquitous “Fancy,” a winter song that should be long dead but decided to stick around for the warmer months. And why not? The lazy rubber band pluck of synthesizers, the lumbering rhythm, and the most mediocre, fast-lane-living hook Charli XCX has ever produced are better suited for a sluggish summer day. As are Azalea’s lines about wearing high heels, spilling champagne, and slaying hoes, all rapped in the sweetest Southern drawl an Australian could muster.
Ignore the obvious cultural appropriation going on here for a moment—the fact that Azalea is Elvis-ing Southern rappers—and consider her on a surface level: It is plainly ridiculous for Azalea to rap in, what is to her, a foreign accent. Imagine T.I. pretending to sound Australian and calling people “mate” in “About the Money.” Or, less of a stretch, Nicki Minaj only rapping in that British accent she does. It might be excusable, though annoying, if it happened occasionally, but this is what Azalea does on all of her songs.
Maybe you can look beyond her vocal imitation on some tracks, but unfortunately for “Fancy,” the instrumental sparseness gives that voice nothing to hide behind. No merciful big beat or punching Charli XCX chorus shields it. Instead you’re left with only the sounds of the hottest parodist of the moment, front and center. Who dat? I-G-G-Y. —Christine Werthman
Producer: Adam Messinger
Album: Don't Kill the Magic
"Rude" is a song about a dude going to ask his girl's father for permission to take her hand in marriage. It's legitimately that simple, and it hit the top of the charts because a bunch of fucking teens on Vine lip-synched to it for a few months until it went viral.
I hate this song because I don't appreciate art for the sake of art, so at its most literal form, this song is pathetic. First of all, Nasri of MAGIC! will never be able to get the girl now. Saying no is not rude, it's honest. And you're probably not going to marry her anyway after she hears this song.
You'd think someone who has hopped around from pop group to solo to pop group would have finally gotten it right on the third try, but boy, would you be wrong. As the story goes, Nasri originally modeled this after the idea of "Rudebwoy" and that it was about an unhealthy relationship, and after hearing this blasting out of every car and coffee shop that's not Starbucks, we'd really like to hear the original dark version of this putrid love song. —Lauren Nostro
Catey Shaw “Brooklyn Girls”
Producer: Jay Levine
Album: The Brooklyn EP
When the music video for this record initially popped up on our respective timelines, most of the criticism fell upon Catey Shaw caricaturing what the words "Brooklyn" and "girls" stood for. We were wrong though. That's not the issue here. Hell, she could be singing about Fallujah girls; I wouldn't bat an eye. The hook is the least of our problems.
It's that fucking accent. Catey, you're not Adele. You're not Lily Allen. You grew up and lived in Virginia before moving to NYC when you were 19. You want to sing about female empowerment, I'm all for it. Because of your fake English inflection, this message now becomes a 0, plain and simple. That and the line, "Jay Z bumps in her headphones." Don't act brand new, Catey. —Edwin Ortiz