Bottom 10 of 2010

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

          What kept grating at me this whole year was the number of singing voices that I couldn’t imagine anyone enjoying listening to an entire album of. I notice

d this when I was on a train, and someone’s headset was clearly playing someone I’d never hated up until that moment. The artist was Rihanna, who had no solo hits that made this list, though “Russian Roulette” and “Te Amo” were both contenders just for how depressing they sounded. Also nearly making the cut was Plan B’s “She Said,” which reminded me of why a whole album of Jimmy Somerville’s voice was something to avoid back in the 80’s. Vocal quality is not the only aspect influencing my opinions here, but it is a dominant one for nearly all of them. So here they are, cringe along with me:


10. Hey Soul Sister – Train  There were several American rock singles of the past decade that I hated when I first heard them, but they managed to grow on me. “The Reason” by Hoobastank, “How To Save A Life” by The Fray, and “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s come to mind.  This one did just the opposite, and it came from a band that we’d have given up for lost back around 2002 after “Drops of Jupiter.” Once I heard the chorus and the nostalgic remembrances of as bland and forgettable a band as Mr. Mister, there was nowhere to go but down. And of course, there’s that glass-shattering lead vocal.  

9. Whip My Hair – Willow  Most show biz parents encourage their children to get an education, and if they have show biz aspirations, let them pursue it when they’re a bit older. Will & Jada Pinkett-Smith said screw that, let’s flaunt our namesakes/vanity projects while they’re easily exploitable. So you got older son Jaden becoming a movie star by age 10, and now daughter Willow has decided to skip a few rungs on the ladder of dues, since her age has reached double figures. The result is an obnoxious song with an even more obnoxious video, where she spends a great deal of time repetitively whipping her hair back and forth. Perhaps her follow-up will be a song called “I’m Standing On My Head” where that’s all she does in the video. And ouch, that voice!!


8/7.  Don’t Stop Believing – Glee Cast/Journey We’ll clump the two versions together because, even though I like “Glee” the TV show, despite the unlikelihood that any such school really exists, and that the bulk of the “kids” in the cast are well into their 20’s. Being originally from San Francisco, the fact that the three biggest acts to come out of that artistic Mecca in the 1980’s were Huey Lewis, Eddie Money, and Journey made me glad in a way that by the time they hit, I wasn’t living there anymore. But it was easy to hate all things Journey, and I gotta blame “Glee” for not only putting this horribly clichéd song back in public conscious, but renewing interest in the original, which in UK charted a full 59 positions higher this time around than it did in 1982. And Steve Perry’s voice always annoyed me, no matter what he was singing! 


6. Under Pressure – Jedward feat. Vanilla Ice  Sort of a no-brainer, and we don’t even need to bother going into their voices. What’s more frustrating is that this most untalented pair seem to have infiltrated the other media after this single’s failure to hit #1 resulted in the canceling of their recording contract. That and they gave Vanilla Ice a 16th minute of fame. There is a relief in the near certainty that the most recent “X Factor” joke finalist, Wagner, won’t have the same ubiquity.  


5/4. Once/My Wicked Heart – Diana Vickers More problems with the voice, which annoyed me when she was an “X Factor” finalist in 2008. Praise to her for building her own career basically separated from that initial exposure, but the success of her first album means those horrible habits of swallowing consonants and undistinguishable vowel sounds will be around for at least one more album. I usually try to not include two songs by one artist in one bottom ten, but the #1 single “Once,” featured not only the horrible pronunciations, but that half-yodel that made me so despise Alanis Morrisette. Then there was the jumbled mess of a follow-up, “My Wicked Heart,” which stalled at #13, but appeared on the “Now 77” compilation, so I got to hear it more than I otherwise would. Later allegations were that she had stolen the melody in the chorus from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under The Bridge,” which she admitted she was listening to while writing her song, but then she also stole the opening notes from “Frere Jacques.” She debuted this atrocity as a guest on “X Factor,” and on the same episode…. 

3. Firework – Katy Perry “X Factor” was accused early on of using the recording practice known as “auto-tune,” where out-of-tune vocals can be enhanced on the spot and sound totally on. Well, they DIDN’T use it on Katy Perry’s live performance of her UK premiere of this pile of noise. So not only were we treated to a vocal that sounded like the firework she was wailing about was in her hair, but it was also grossly off-key. Relax, Mrs. Brand, for Chrissake. This year you made an honest man out of one of show biz’s most famous lechers. Why does your voice ring with so much alarm then?


2. Love The Way You Lie – Eminem feat. Rihanna  I may have opened a Pandora’s Box by putting this, the top-selling single of the year in UK, on my bottom ten, let alone at number two, but it just gets more disturbing to me every time I hear it, and if I’m in the car, it only takes Rihanna’s opening notes to get me changing the channel. Perhaps it was that ten years ago, when Mr. Mathers was rapping about torturing and/or killing his ex-wife in “Kim” or playing the lunatic fan doing the same to his girlfriend in “Stan,” there was something either funny or poignant about it. Now that Eminem has un-retired and is nearing 40, rapping about domestic violence doesn’t seem as comfortable to listen to. And it doesn’t help to hear the story punctuated by a real-life well-documented victim of such violence only 18 months ago. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but Eminem’s act is starting to sound stale to me.  

1. Promise This – Cheryl Cole Was going to list this one at #2, but then I heard it on Sunday’s chart show as a re-entry into the top 40, and the decision was simple. The opening “Alou-etta, wetta wetta wetta” sealed it for me. “Ay’m jest showin’ ay ken be moolti-lengual” is all she seems to be saying to me. This is one of the luckiest women on the planet, who probably should have had her career derailed years ago after a racial incident at a nightclub, but somehow became England’s sweetheart once she got to be an X Factor judge, and got the mass sympathy vote this year when her idiot jock husband let his penis do the thinking. If her mentor Simon Cowell has the final word, the US is going to be forced to love her, too, but perhaps they will be spared her music. She always will be a manufactured pop star, and if she is to be anything more than that, she’d best not pump this tune up as any great career accomplishment.


So those are my ten. Agree? Or not?

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