Pussycat Dolls, Lady Gaga, Creed, Baja Men and more make the list of regrettable 2000s music.
This isn’t a list of the worst songs of the 2000s.
Instead, it’s a list of songs that weren’t necessarily bad… but do necessarily reflect poorly on pop music tastes in this decade. Songs that we’ll hear in the future and say “I can’t believe that was popular,” “I can’t believe we liked that”… or, worse, “I can’t believe I liked that.” In many of these cases, we’re saying those things already.
Think Ice Ice Baby, Achy Breaky Heart, Mmmbop and Girl on TV from the ’90s… sure, they’re nostalgically kitschy now, but, last decade, for at least a moment, people legitimately appreciated them.
Here are 11 hits from this decade that we really, really ought to be ashamed of. And by we, of course, I mean America… I’m not specifically calling you out because I’m sure you listen to indie music that’s so underground hip even the bands playing the songs haven’t heard of themselves.
11 | Miley Cyrus, Party in the U.S.A. (2009)
Look, we can dance around it all day — but, if you hear this song playing, as soon as you let your guard down, you find yourself accidentally singing along to it.
None of us is proud of the whole Miley Cyrus thing. Eight-year-old girls think she’s cheesy. Does that mean that See You Again, The Climb and, especially, Party in the U.S.A. haven’t all secretly been enjoyable for you? I’m afraid not. Now let’s end this decade where Billy Ray Cyrus’s teenage daughter made pop songs that real people actually kinda sorta respected.
10 | Pussycat Dolls, When I Grow Up (2008)
It was hard for me to pin down which Pussycat Dolls song to put on this list. I knew there had to be one — this list wouldn’t be complete without a song from a corporate-manufactured pop group that’s like a sluttier, less-talented Spice Girls. (Think about the implications of that sentence for a minute.) But choosing one from so many worthy contenders — generic music, vapid lyrics, a very “2000s” sound that certainly won’t hold up in the future.
Ultimately I went with this one… a mediocre-but-catchy song that sums up the decade’s theme of famewhoring.
9 | T-Pain, Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’) (2007)
Well, something auto-tuned had to be on here. And it might as well be the most successful single (it hit #1 in May ’07) by the guy who made himself a multi-millionaire by taking his questionable singing voice and using auto-tune to transform himself into a pitch-perfect robot.
On some level, you have to give T-Pain credit. He was spinning his wheels as a low-level rapper, took a gamble by resurrecting auto-tune… and hit a one-in-a-trillion jackpot. THEN, he was even savvy enough to preempt the anti-auto-tune backlash by parodying it — and himself — in I’m on a Boat and with his iPhone auto-tune app. Both of which he’s made profits off of.
Oh dear God. T-Pain is smarter than all of us.
8 | Jennifer Lopez, Jenny From the Block (2002)
If Shakespeare came back to life and modernized Hamlet… he could replace “The lady doth protest too much” with “Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I’ve got, I’m still Jenny from the block.”
7 | Paris Hilton, Stars Are Blind (2006)
If ever there was proof that there is no correlation between having a pop hit and having musical talent… this is it.
The big problem I have with this song: It’s not bad. In fact… it’s alright. If you heard it and didn’t know it was Paris Hilton — thereby giving you an instant, insurmountable bias — you would chalk it up as another pretty decent but somewhat forgettable Top 40 song.
It’s easy to see why: High-priced composition, writing and production… plus more vocal correction than it would’ve taken to make Simon and Theodore sound like Barry White. There may be a trace of Paris Hilton singing somewhere in there, but that’s like saying there’s trace amounts of actual oranges in summer camp orange drink.
Yet… at the end of the day, we all allowed a song ostensibly by Paris Hilton to be a worldwide success. Check out these peak chart positions: Australia #7, Austria #3, Canada #3, Denmark #5, Finland #6, Germany #7, Hungary #1, Italy #5, Ireland #4, Slovakia #1, Sweden #3, Switzerland #5, United Kingdom #5… and the U.S., #18.
Your move, conquering alien warlords.
6 | James Blunt, You’re Beautiful (2005)
Look, I fell for the James Blunt thing. I don’t know why. I must’ve been going through something at the time.
Somehow, this guy — with his songs so treacly that even John Mayer wouldn’t touch them… his voice cracking like a 12-year-old Homer Simpson… and his “I-somehow-found-a-way-to-be-an-uglier-version-of-Steve-Nash” looks — got us. Ouch.
5 | Gwen Stefani, Hollaback Girl (2005)
An ultra-gimmicky song… and from Gwen Stefani, who also sampled a song from Fiddler on the Roof this decade, that’s saying something. History should show this asymmetrical monster hit as a weird, piercing anthem for… well… no one. Maybe people who like bananas?
4 | Creed, With Arms Wide Open (2000)
Before Creed got hit with one of the biggest all-out backlashes in music history, this song hit number one and won a Grammy for Best Rock Song.
It’s a black eye for the decade in music but, at least, ushered in the era where anything by Creed would be met with widespread venom. A few acts hit that zone this decade — Limp Bizkit, Puff Daddy, Nickelback, Ashlee Simpson, to name a few off the top of my head — but Creed’s definitely the headliners. We should all be very shameful for helping this song go double myrrh.
3 | Lady Gaga, Poker Face (2009)
I’m squarely in the “Annoyed that Lady Gaga exists” camp. Poker Face is her biggest sin… partially because it’s so paint-by-numbers pop hit… and partially because she clearly doesn’t have any comprehension of what poker is, nor how it’s different than any other type of gambling…
I wanna hold em’ like they do in Texas plays (poker?)
Fold em’ let em’ hit me raise it baby stay with me (I love it) (poker term soup?)
Luck and intuition play the cards with spades to start (bridge?)
And after he’s been hooked I’ll play the one that’s on his heart (no mention of clubbing him?)
I wanna roll with him a hard pair we will be (craps?)
A little gambling is fun when you’re with me, I love it
Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun (suicide game?)
And baby when it’s love if it’s not rough it isn’t fun, fun.
By the way, as I recently Twittered, this song was just nominated for a Grammy… for songwriting. This is YOUR decade in music.
2 | Baja Men, Who Let the Dogs Out? (2000)
I wanted to make this number one. I really did. Two things held me back.
One, as it was pointed out in the comments of last week’s 11 Things That Debuted In the 2000s But Feel Like They’ve Been Around Forever list, it’s hard to believe this song is from this decade. Since it came out in July of 2000, it’s hard to say it’s truly representative of the 2000s… while it’s technically a part of the decade, it almost feels like a ’90s relic.
And two… this song was received as a joke from the moment it debuted, has remained a joke through today, and will remain one forever. To me, it’s akin to I’m Too Sexy, or, earlier, something like Hey Mickey or Kung Fu Fighting or Safety Dance. Sure, it’s embarrassing we spent money on it, sang along to it, played it at parties, or got up for it at sporting events. But we did it all tongue-in-cheek.
We appreciated it ironically in the moment. It falls nicely into the “we should’ve known better, but what the hell, we were drinkin'” category of embarrassments. That’s good enough to squarely land it at number two… it’s easily the decade’s most mock-able song, but one that we will mock along with future generations, rather than bury our heads in embarrassment. Unlike…
1 | Black Eyed Peas, My Humps (2005)
What song could better exemplify this list? A song that had millions of people using the phrase “lovely lady lumps.”
A song by one of the biggest pop groups of the decade that managed to be even more embarrassing than the song where they randomly shout “Mazel Tov” and “L’Chiam” in the same breath as “draaank”… the song that used to (obnoxiously) be called Let’s Get Retarded but they changed to Let’s Get It Started so they could maximize its placement in commercials… or the song by their lead singer where she spells out the word tasty as “t-a-s-t-e-y.”
Or, most importantly, a song that will, one day, make you mortified when your kids listen to it and say, “You liked this? Your taste in music SUCKS.”
So I submit to you, friends: My Humps is the most embarrassing song of the decade. Feel free to prove me wrong in the comments below.
Just barely missed the cut: Avril Lavigne, Sk8ter Boi; Nelly, Air Force Ones; Nickelback, Photograph; Nelly, Grillz; O-Town, Liquid Dreams; Akon, Sorry, Blame It On Me; Asher Roth, I Love College; Fall Out Boy, Thnks Fr The Mmrs.
Honorable mention: Good Charlotte, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous; Jennifer Love Hewitt, Barenaked; Hurricane Chris, A Bay Bay; Enrique Iglesias, Hero; Ashlee Simpson, Pieces of Me; Sisqo, Incomplete; Soulja Boy, Crank Dat (Soulja Boy); Amy Winehouse, Rehab; D4L, Laffy Taffy; Fergie, Fergalicious; MIMS, This Is Why I’m Hot; Destiny’s Child, Bootylicious; The Darkness, I Believe In A Thing Called Love; Uncle Kracker, Follow Me.