The 15 Worst Songs of 2016 We Hope to Never Hear Again

IMAGE Esquire

The last thing we need this year is more negativity. Hate has defined 2016, and it seems completely reckless to put more of that out into the world. At first I was hesitant to put together a list of worst songs of 2016. What's the point? Then, I realized, the hate in our society is showing no signs of slowing down for the next four years. Once the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve and this crushing year comes to an end, there are decades worth of problems to still deal with.

But one thing we do have power over is what we listen to. We can go into 2017 and never have to hear songs from the Chainsmokers or Imagine Dragons or Twenty One Pilots again if we so choose. Beyond that, there is merit in pointing out the most garbage songs of the year: You need to recognize the lows to truly appreciate the highs. For every Shawn Mendes song, there's a Frank Ocean song to hear instead. For every Meghan Trainor song, there's a Beyoncé song you can put on.

Justin Timberlake — "Can't Stop the Feeling"

I love Justin Timberlake, but his intentions are just so annoyingly obvious with this song—which is to write a song for a children's movie with sickeningly positive lyrics that already sounds like it's been warped by Kidz Bop. But hey, the most basic weddings of the summer needed something to dance to.

John Newman — "Ole"

Calvin Harris co-wrote this song after his breakup with Taylor Swift. I appreciate anyone who also felt miserable during the Summer of Hiddleswift, but the rest of us just wrote some dumb tweets about it. Harris should have stuck to passive-aggressive social media tactics instead.


Desiigner — "Timmy Turner"

It's kind of fun to listen to this song and try to picture all the people making mouth noises in the background. At least that helps you keep your mind off Desiigner's mumbling, auto-tuned fake accent.

Lady Gaga — A-Yo

How did no one at Interscope Records listen to this and immediately realise that it sounds strikingly similar to a little Taylor Swift song called "Shake it Off" that went eight times platinum? It even has talk-rapping...

Bruno Mars — "24K Magic"

Bruno Mars seems like a sweet guy. He really does. Moms love him. But that doesn't mean he should be allowed to get away with shouting "hashtag blessed" in a song that sounds like it was exclusively written for Season Two of Ballers.

Shawn Mendes — "Treat You Better"

If I were to pinpoint the single worst moment of any pop song written this year, it would be when the computerised voice of Shawn Mendes, Popbot3000™, yells "better than he can" in the post-chorus.

Twenty One Pilots — "Heathens"

More terrifying than Method Actor Jared Leto's Joker in Suicide Squad is the thought that nu-metal is actually making a comeback thanks to 21 Pilots (I use numerals here). Do fans of this band not remember the worst bands of the early 2000s or were fans of this band just waiting for the early 2000s to come back with their Jinco jeans? Seriously, consider the tick-tok Linkin Park drum beat, the spooky chorus, and the shitty emo white guy sing-rapping.

Lukas Graham — "7 Years"

Fun fact: Lukas Graham is not a guy named "Lukas Graham," but actually a band of gentleman who refer to themselves as "Lukas Graham." With that knowledge in mind, this pseudo-autobiographical jam about four guys' collective lives (with a focus on their seventh year on this planet) is a TOTAL GODDAMN LIE.

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Meghan Trainor — "No"

Just say no to "No."


WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING AT US, ZAYN? Annoying stylistic capitalisation aside, "PILLOWTALK" is a 3 minute and 22 second build that never reaches a satisfying climax, which I'm guessing is similar to what happens just before and after Zayn's IRL pillow talk.

Gnash — "i hate u, i love u"

Whereas ZAYN's excessive capital letters are a bit aggressive, Gnash takes a more subtle, yet equally stupid, approach with this truly deep look at the duality of the human condition. I hate impotent white-boy emo rap, yet I love to make fun of impotent sadboy rap. Life's messed up, man.

Imagine Dragons — "Levitate"

There's a special spot in hell reserved for whatever suit in the music making machine devised the brilliant plan to market Creed meets Coldplay.

The Chainsmokers — "Closer"

The Chainsmokers are the Nickleback of both EDM and party rap, combining lowest-common-denominator beats with every tired lyric that basic privileged frat bros can take shots to.

Macklemore — "Spoons"

Poor, poor Macklemore. He thinks we're all laughing with him. Part of me feels like a high school bully for making fun of a song as whimpering and pathetic as "Spoons." But he truly deserves all the ridicule in the world for so sincerely rapping the words: "She get too comfortable, bathroom door open when she boo boo-ing."

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Matt Miller
Matt Miller is the Associate Culture Editor for
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