2012 brought about some really great songs from lesser known artists, and a few horrible songs from (supposedly) legendary ones. While all artists are entitled to one hit-and-miss in my book, some things are just damn unforgivable. The list below details the top 10 worst song mistakes of 2012.
10. Kelly Clarkson – Catch My Breath
I’ve always been told that I use the word “cheap” loosely, but hopefully we can all agree that Kelly Clarkson’s most recent single (off her ‘Greatest Hits’ album) is just that. The lyrics are beyond elementary, the beat sounds like it was used by Madonna in the 1950s, and the whole presentation sounds like it was done for a first grade project. Kelly’s vocals are somewhat better than some of her previous releases, but the overall arrangement makes the whole thing unbearable.
9. Elle Varner – Refill
Upon listening to her debut album ‘Perfectly Imperfect’, there’s no doubt that Elle Varner is a decent vocalist. However, some artists shouldn’t #reach so hard vocally on their introductory single to mainstreamers. “Refill” is, at best, like a cat being drowned in boiling hot water – painful and torturous. I’ve never heard such a scratchy vocal receive so much praise, as the song has been nominated for Best R&B Song at the 2013 Grammys. Either way, most true vocalists would argue the foundation’s decision. Outside of the hood and a hole-in-the-wall bar, I don’t see any respectable establishment playing this song in full and still expect customers to hang around afterwards.
8. Christina Aguilera – Your Body
Xtina’s had an up-and-down ride with fame, especially since 2006’s classic double album ‘Back To Basics’. “Your Body”, like her previous release ‘Bionic’, leads off a quality album (‘Lotus’) with the entirely wrong impression. The song is oversung like there’s no tomorrow, and given Xtina’s current image, the lyrics are unbelievable. I love the old Xtina, but this song does nothing for her artistry or her ballooning image.
7. Mariah Carey (feat. Rick Ross and Meek Mill) – Triumphant
I’ve never been a Mariah fan, but even her biggest stans argue that this is her single worst release to date. “Triumphant” (featuring #hotforthemoment rappers Meek Mill and Rick Ross) is one hot mess, from the “get em” phrase repeated throughout to the lack of a presence of Mariah on the song. Upon a first listen, I thought this was a song from one of Rick Ross’s mixtapes before he was famous. Granted, there’s Mariah’s misplaced (and unnecessary) higher-than-high note on the song, but that’s it. There’s not much to take from “Triumphant” except that Mariah loves to collaborate with lesser entities.
6. Flo-Rida – Whistle
All of Flo-Rida’s singles to date have been pretty horrible, especially when you peel back the featured artist’s input, but “Whistle” takes things to a different ballgame. Instead of featuring a true vocalist, Flo attempts to sing the song’s chorus himself to drastic results. Top that off with the fact that his lyrics were probably written by X-Factor finalist Astro, there’s no hope here. Flo-Rida’s fanbase mainly consists of younger listeners who only listen for arrangements and not lyrics, but if the beat weren’t so catchy, “Whistle” would’ve placed much higher on this list.
5. Trey Songz – Heart Attack
I don’t look at artists for their image but rather their talents, and unfortunately, Trey Songz doesn’t have either. A hard body doesn’t equate to a quality vocalist, which is extremely evident on “Heart Attack”. Songz has come a long way from his Petersburg #streetsinging days, but “Heart Attack” gives me a heart attack, literally. The vocals couldn’t have passed through a major label for release approval, nor could they be seen as worthy of radio airplay. Everytime I hear this song on the radio, I find myself reaching to change the radio before crashing my car due to heart failure.
4. Chris Rene – Young Homie
Tailored as his X-Factor coronation song, listening to “Young Homie” shows exactly why he placed third in Simon Cowell’s $5 million singing competition. Rene’s vocals don’t even sound like singing, but more like a homeless crackhead begging for an actual place to sing. There’s nothing appealing about Rene except for his sobering story, as every vocal from the X-Factor’s first season was underwhelming, appalling, and flatter than a 2010 Pepsi. After LA Reid checks the overall sales and performance of Chris’s debut single, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll go back to his homeless ways.
3. Nicki Minaj – Starships
Serving as the first official single from her sophomore album ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’, “Starships” has won the hearts of critics and fans alike as being the ‘worst song of 2012’. There are so many issues with Nicki singing that there isn’t enough blogs in the world to cover it. When it comes to the rapping, half of the song sounds like there’s an actual body stuck in her throat, while the other half sounds tripolar. Overall, I counted twelve personalities on “Starships”, with none of them actually talented.
2. Brandy (feat. Chris Brown) – Put It Down
Brandy’s return after her perceived epic failure of an album ‘Human’ is definitely the worst song that her beautiful voice has ever been on. The arrangement is beyond out-of-character for Brandy, the song is written horribly, and the unnecessary Chris Brown feature makes her comeback seem like a new artist’s desperate attempt to strike it big. With lyrics like “I hope the chivalry ain’t dead to you cuz I’m grown”, there’s no way that this is the same Brandy that sung songs like “Full Moon” and “Almost Doesn’t Count”. I’ve heard of piss-poor attempts for urban radio spins, but “Put It Down” is such a mess that no maid (or producer named Bangladesh) could ever clean it up.
1. Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire
Once again, we have a lead-off single from Alicia Keys that features excessive shouting. Once again, we have below average vocals from a highly awarded artist. Once again, there’s no arrangement within a 20-mile radius (a la ‘True Blood’s Salome) to Keys’s vocals, only bouts of screaming paired with a good beat. “Girl On Fire” is so horrible, it’s funny. There’s honestly no way in America that any respectable artist would sing this song the way that she did. No matter how many awards you may have won for your borderline songs, “Fire” has been widely received as unacceptable. I’m just waiting for the shattered window repairs from the studio she sung the song in to surface – then her fans will truly understand. But until then, here’s a rendition of “Fire” from another highly accomplished artist, except they know how to control themselves vocally and sing a song with taste (and class).