Let’s get this done. Most of my favorite songs of the year were in thelower reaches but there are still 50 songs to talk about, so why not finish what we started here.
#50: Beautiful People – Ed Sheeran f/Khalid – 5/10 – Ed Sheeran’s Collaborations No. 6 album wasn’t very good and this song managed to be one of the laid-back and uninspired songs that stayed around on the charts long enough to make the year end. I don’t hate it but it’s bland and not particularly interesting all the same.
#49: Mo Bamba – Sheck Wes – 6/10 – This song was by no means good but it was at least entertaining and any song I can enjoy listening to is worthy of at least that. I don’t expect Sheck Wes to have (m)any more hits, but if he only has one this isn’t too embarrassing of a hit to have.
#48: Lucid Dreams – Juice WRLD – 1/10 – I had a lot of bad things to say about this song when it came out about how it confused sleep paralysis with lucid dreams (both of which I have from time to time, personally speaking) and how the best part of the song was ripped off of Sting’s “Shape Of My Heart” (which now provides plenty of royalties for Sting), but now the song just makes me feel sad. I get the feeling this song will eventually, for all of its lyrical flaws, take on a much greater resonance about death and loss than it now does, but it will likely take some time. It’s very possible that this song will end up being a 7/10 given that greater resonance, and that for some people it has already reached that point.
#47: Thotiana – Blueface – 3/10 – This song is just gross and unpleasant, and from someone who likely won’t have very many hits before he is completely forgotten, so let’s move on.
#46: Beautiful Crazy – Luke Combs – 5/10 – I’m not personally a big fan of the cliche of beautiful crazy girls, but you do you, Luke Combs.
#45: Pop Out – Polo G f/Lil Tjay – 4/10 – This, to me, is one of a lot of generic trap songs from forgettable artists.
#44: Mia – Bad Bunny f/Drake – 5/10 – It’s nice to know that Drake can make tired and bored music in multiple languages, but at least this song has a somewhat notable beat behind its tired lyrics.
#43: Me! – Taylor Swift f/Brendon Urie – 5/10 – This song is certainly not bland, but it’s also not very good either. This song would have been a bit better had it not tried to meme itself (spelling is fun!) and if there would have been one iota of chemistry between the duet partners of this lead track to the sadly mistitled album Lover. The Osmond siblings had more chemistry in their duets. Billie Eilish and Finneas have more chemistry when they are together in interviews. Anyway, moving on.
#42: A Lot – 21 Savage – 7/10 – This song is reflective and its monotony is important as the rapper comments on some of the mistakes that he made in order to get where he is. This sort of reflection and self-examination is a sentiment I can wholeheartedly endorse.
#41: Look Back At It – A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – 4/10 – Yet another winner of the seemingly weekly generic trap hit sweepstakes for no-name artists that 2019 had on the charts.
#40: Panini – Lil Nas X – 8/10 – I really enjoyed this song and its meaning and was quite pleased to see Lil Nas X get his second top five hit so that he is able to avoid being justly labeled as a one-hit wonder. With quirky cultural references and a great sample of Nirvana’s “In Bloom,” this is a song that can lead one to think about the occasionally toxic relationship between artists and their fans.
#39: You Need To Calm Down – Taylor Swift – 2/10 – This song is irritating, holier-than-thou, and incoherent in the most annoying ways. Not only is the song a mess, but it features Taylor Swift trying to gain clout with the alphabetical community while comparing them to her own frustrations with internet trolls. Rarely has a song been so tailor-made to irritate me on all levels.
#38: Money – Cardi B – 4/10 – It’s not a very good song, but it accurately expresses Cardi B’s approach to trying to milk her limited period of fame for as much cash as possible.
#37: Please Me – Cardi B & Bruno Mars – 2/10 – This song is actively painful to listen to and the lines are pretty atrocious. Bruno Mars had a horrible 2019 and his musical contributions to the year were likely even more damaging to him than being accused of being a culture vulture, which is not something that tends to bother me anyway.
#36: Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored – 3/10 – This song was terrible, but mostly for the title and chorus. The verses were at least tolerable, so this song wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
#35: Speechless – Dan & Shay – 6/10 – This song is going to be played at weddings for a long time, and normally that would make me like a song less, but I’m a sucker for sentimental adult contemporary songs, and this is at least well done, so I’m going to give it the credit it deserves for that at least.
#34: Money In The Grave – Drake f/Rick Ross – 4/10 – This is a sour and unpleasant song, but sometimes people vibe to that. Enough did to make this song a bit hit, at least.
#33: Youngblood – 5 Seconds Of Summer – 6/10 – I would probably like this song, a holdover from 2018’s YE chart, a lot more if I knew what the singer was trying to get at. Then again, depending on the song’s material, I may like it less if I understood what he was getting at by calling himself (or his on-again off-again partner) a Youngblood.
#32: Better Now – Post Malone – 7/10 – This is a suprisingly enjoyable enough post-breakup song that shows Posty reflecting on what led to the breakup in the first place. Again, this sort of self-examination and reflection is a sentiment I can endorse and appreciate.
#31: ZeZe – Kodak Black f/Travis Scott & Offset – 4/10 – There’s a remix that was made from one of the guys whose YouTube channels I watch and it’s way better, a 6/10 at least. It’s hard to separate the art from the artist sometimes.
#30: Goodbyes – Post Malone f/Young Thug – 6/10 – This song would easily be a 7 or 8 out of ten if not for that Young Thug feature. Generally speaking, I appreciate a good song about dealing with goodbyes, but Young Thug sounds terrible here.
#29: If I Can’t Have You – Shawn Mendes – 7/10 – This song is surprisingly jaunty for its material, but it’s definitely an above average Shawn Mednes song and that’s always worth listening to on those admittedly shallow grounds itself.
#28: Ran$som – Lil Tecca – 4/10 – This song is yet another winner of the generic no-name trap artist sweepstakes, and I would give it a 3/10 or a 2/10 if I was judging it by its creepy music video. This song offers more empty flexing and brag raps in a year that was full of them.
#27: Someone You Loved – Lewis Capaldi – 4/10 – While the lyrics to this song are a bit troubling in their sentiments, and Capaldi’s voice hurts me to listen to as he wrecks his vocal cords straining for those high notes, I have to admit that if a female singer took this same exact material and belted it out competently I would give it a 7/10. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
#26: Drip Too Hard – Lil Baby & Gunna – 3/10 – This song is more repulsive than usual among many trap-rap songs here, but I can’t see this song being remembered for very long.
#25: Middle Child – J. Cole – 5/10 – I don’t like this song, but I can give it at least some respect for what J. Cole is trying to do in positioning himself between the young up and coming generation of rappers and their elders, who are already recognized legends. I respect this song, but I still don’t like it.
#24: Suge – DaBaby – 6/10 – This song is dumb but it’s a fun kind of dumb and sometimes that’s all you need.
#23: Sweet But Psycho – Ava Max – 7/10 – I’m concerned given the lack of mainstream interest in any of Ava Max’s better follow ups that she is going to be viewed as a one-hit wonder for this darkly funny ode to the dualities faced by beautiful and crazy women (apparently this song was full of such songs, though I don’t know why), but this isn’t the worst thing to be remembered for.
#22: Girls Like You – Maroon 5 f/Cardi B – 4/10 – Maroon 5 sounds so tired and so bored and so uninterested, that it is somewhat disappointing that a feature from Cardi B that sounds like most of her other verses made this song a #1 hit. If Maroon 5 and its frontman don’t want to make music anymore, they should just quit and do something they love.
#21: No Guidance – Chris Brown f/Drake – 3/10 – Why is Chris Brown still a thing? At least the beat is good though.
#20: Better – Khalid – 8/10 – This is an enjoyable song from an artist who skates by often on his low-key charisma. I enjoyed listening to this song and actually wish it had been a bigger hit.
#19: Shallow – Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – 8/10 – This song isn’t as deep as it thinks it is, but I enjoyed listening to it and was glad that it was so successful for both artists. If A Star Is Born is hardly original material at this point, at least it can be done well.
#18: Going Bad – Meek Mill f/Drake – 6/10 – This song rises just above mediocrity because it begins with Meek Mill owning up to an L in his beef with Drake. That is worth appreciating. Otherwise, this song is pretty bland and forgettable.
#17: Eastside – Benny Blanco, Halsey & Khalid – 7/10 – Halsey is less annoying than usual and Khalid is laid-back and chill, and the video does not match at all with what the song is doing because it’s Halsey being Halsey. What more (or less) would one expect?
#16: I Don’t Care – Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber – 5/10 – When people say they don’t care they are either lying or serious. In the first case, it’s offensive, and in the second case, it’s boring. This song is the second case. One can believe that these two artists, who sound eerily similar on this track from Ed Sheeran’s disappointing Collaborations No. 6 album, mean what they say, but did they have to sing a whole song about it?
#15: Señorita – Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – 6/10 – Shawn & Camila don’t have as much chemistry here as they did in “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” but they have more than Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie, so that counts for something. This song does not actively annoy me, so there’s that too.
#14: Dancing With A Stranger – Sam Smith & Normani – 6/10 – I preferred this song when it was George Michael’s Fastlove (which this song’s video is an open homage to), but again, it’s not something that actively annoys me, and definitely not the worst example of a duet between a gay black man and a black American woman, so there’s that too.
#13: Truth Hurts – Lizzo – 6/10 – I liked this song better when it first became popular but it soured on me rapidly because of Lizzo’s lunkheaded approach to relationship dynamics and empty flexing about her desirability. Why are songs great till they gotta be great?
#12: Thank U, Next – Ariana Grande – 7/10 – I generally enjoyed this song and thought it was a good introduction to her album by the same name. Too bad none of the other singles she pushed from that album reached the enjoyment level of this one, though.
#11: High Hopes – Panic! At The Disco – 5/10 – Congratulations, Brendon Urie, you’re only a one-hit wonder as a solo artist now that Panic! At The Disco has another top 10 smash. This isn’t nearly as good as the best of that band’s work, and the lyrics are definitely a bit obscure (what does Manifest Destiny have to do with a pop act anyway?), but for a sellout track with blaring fake brass instruments it’s not a total trainwreck. You have to take pleasures in the little things.
#10: Sucker – Jonas Brothers – 7/10 – Sure, this song is a ripoff of “Feel It Still” without the baseline that made that song memorable, but this is way better than anyone expected a Jonas Brothers comeback to be, so that is worth celebrating. I enjoyed listening to this song and am still not totally irritated at it yet despite all the overplay, so we’ll consider that a win.
#9: Sicko Mode – Travis Scott (and a few uncredited artists like Drake & Swae Lee) – 8/10 – I don’t think song is quite the trap version of Bohemian Rhapsody, but the way the parts of this song work together is definitely compelling and enjoyable. It also provides the definitive explanation of why Drake sounds so tired too and features the usual excellent Swae Lee feature, all of which is for the better.
#8: Talk – Khalid – 7/10 – I like this song more than most people did. Khalid doing his low-key act trying to talk to a partner over a dance pop beat is a modestly pleasing thing, and that’s all you need sometimes.
#7: 7 Rings – Ariana Grande – 2/10 – This song is dreadful, from its sample to Ariana Grande’s attitude to her total lack of self-awareness that is present in everything about this song. Long after most of the bad songs on this YE list are forgotten, the sour taste of this particular hit is likely to remain.
#6: Happier – Marshmello & Bastille – 7/10 – Unlike most people, I actually like the contrast between the downbeat lyrics of this song and Marshmello’s generic upbeat music. Even though Marshmello doesn’t know what he’s doing with a beat, at least it provided a good melodramatic pre-breakup song and gave Bastille their second hit, so credit to that.
#5: Wow – Post Malone – 6/10 – This isn’t a very well-made song, but it’s a dumb kind of fun and I respect that.
#4: Bad Guy – Billie Eilish – 6/10 – This is by far my least favorite of Billie Eilish’s hits from this year, but it’s not bad, at least. This is one case where the singer’s evident interest in shocking audiences just sounds a bit lame, so of course it’s the one that was promoted the heaviest on radio.
#3: Without Me – Halsey – 4/10 – Halsey’s voice is pretty bad in this, but even if the sentiments in this song do not square up with the reality of her ex’s music career, it certainly does express an emotion of resentful post-break up bitterness that I can understand.
#2: Sunflower (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse), by Post Malone & Swae Lee – 8/10 – This song just had that enjoyable Khalidesque low-key vibe that was easy enough to enjoy and this song just never got old to me, no matter how long it kept on going. It’s by no means an all-time great but it’s enjoyable.
#1: Old Town Road – Lil Nas X f/Billy Ray Cyrus – 8/10 – I think I like this song more for what it represents as a pathway to stellar success than I do for the song on its own merits. The remix is definitely a more complete song than the original, campy and tongue-in-cheek. I get the feeling that decades from how people may study this song more than they actually listen to it, but its video is hilarious and Lil Nas X went from viral meme lord to at least a two-hit wonder, and as an internet troll myself I can definitely respect that.