2011: Worst Music Year Since 2010 - New Year's Week


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Written by BTR’s Hater for Hire, John J. Hatred.

2011 was, as every year was before it and every year after it will be, the worst year for music. 2010 was the worst before this year, but now it’s even worse. 1999 was the worst before 2000, then 2001 came along and it got even worse. But no one saw 2002 coming, which was shit. 2003 showed listeners just how awful music could get, then 2004-2008 ended up making things that much awfuller. Things got so bad in 2009 that Matthew D1 said out loud at a St. Vincent concert, “This has to be it. 2009 must be the worst year ever for music,” and threw up my hands as I vomited out a PBR, which was, by the way, the worst beer in 2009. 2011’s worst beer was definitely also PBR.

I’ve broken down my list into albums and songs. Most of these were plucked from various lists across the Internet and others from BreakThru Radio. I went from snooty to mainstream: Pitchfork, Paste, Spin, NPR, Rolling Stone, Glenn Beck, Home Depot’s “Tunes to Saw Wood To” list, and CVS pharmacy’s “Music to Robotrip To” list.

My hate star scale is out of a billion. So if you see “5 stars” don’t think it’s out of 5 stars, because it’s not. It’s out of 1,000,000,000 stars. I have no credibility.


Onehotrix point never – Replica

No wonder I’ve been putting off actively listening to this. It was supposed to just start playing for me at some point and without my knowing it, I’d love it. Sadly, I had to click too many times and I grew bored about four tracks in on YouTube. Would love to take Nyquil and see how far I lasted into his catalogue, though. It’s like listening to Boards of Canada during surgery.

Rating:1.53 million sleepy stars

White Denim – D

Steely Dan and Grateful Dead did it better.

Rating: A hundred rusty stars

Destroyer – Kaputt

This was the least offensive attempt at bringing “bad” 80s music styles into contemporary pop, but it didn’t completely avoid being utterly grating on my classically rock trained ears.

Rating: 1 million Dylanesque stars

Wild Flag – Wild Flag

Oh yea, this is the B-side to One Beat! But where’s Corin Tucker? Oh, it’s not Sleater Kinney? So who is it? Wild Flag? Hmph. Ok, Wild Flag it is.

Rating: 934 hipstar

Portugal. The Man – In the Mountain in the Cloud

So, Beck parodied soul/ABBA already, then MGMT indie-rockified it, and now Portugal. The Band comes along and does what, pretends like we haven’t heard this all before? Hate it.

Rating: 800 plain stars

Childish Gambino – Camp

Hate switch: ON. Ok, we get it. You’re James Franco with less haughty goals for academic stardom. Your interviews in Village Voice and Gothamist made you look half-kind and humble, half-pompous asshole. I’m certain that was intentional, because you’re trying out some grand public performance piece a la Joachim Phoenix/Crispin Glover/Kanye West where the self-consciousness of your persona puts you two steps ahead of all detractors. Well I see you, Mr. Glover. You almost got it, but I see you…

Rating: 3 measly stars with measles

Radiohead – King of Limbs

This album was doomed from the start. The hype before its release was practically nonexistent, probably because Radiohead wasn’t that proud of it and they were afraid they couldn’t top that crazy ‘pay what you want’ thing they did with In Rainbows. It’s more of a sequel than it is a shiny new script, but how do you hold that against a band as great and already accomplished as Radiohead? I’ll tell you: they’re Radiohead. They aren’t some up-and-comers with a game boy and a theremin, and they aren’t Bjork. Imagine this: Barack Obama was elected in 2008, and after four years he didn’t deliver on any of those lofty campaign promises he made. What? Oh. You get it.

Rating: 500,000 million awful stars

Metallica and Lou Reed – Lulu

Just when you thought the vegetative hospital bed dweller that is rock and roll had flat-lined again, Lou Reed and Metallica come out with this masterpiece of what-the-fuckery. It’s unclear what the ratio of cocaine to LSD invoked this dreadful demon, but I know I’m safe in saying that this won’t happen again.

Rating: 5 stars

M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

TL;DL (too long; didn’t listen).

Rating: 0 stars


Todd Terje – “Snooze 4 Love”

What is this, the soundtrack to some self-proclaimed “worldly” American’s story about their camping trip in the German Schwarzwald? Did you dance ponderously under a beech tree and think about the Battle of the Bulge?

Rating: 2 stars

Real Estate – “Green Aisles”

What is this, the soundtrack to some bored poet sitting in his/her cramped railroad apartment at 3 AM after a terrible night drinking gin and tonics with friends who seem to actively not care about your troubles? Did you fall asleep to this song or did you try to force some tears out in your melancholic drunkery?

Rating: 4,666 stars

Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – “I’ll Take Care of U”

Because this involves someone who is no longer alive, it’s automatically better. However, it half-involves someone who is still alive, and thus awful at making or understanding music. The song reminds me of an unplungeable toilet.

Rating: 2.5 million stars

Destroyer – “Chinatown”

The intro to this song is like a cross between a Final Fantasy game soundtrack, a Backstreet Boys tribute band, and a porcupine. In other words, I don’t know how the porcupine got in there, but it’s shooting its quills all over the track and stinging everything that’s beautiful (Backstreet Boys tribute) and brilliant (game soundtrack). After that it’s pretty nice.

Rating: 3.5 stars

M83 – “Intro”

You named your song “Intro”? That’s like getting married and then referring to your wife as “First Wife” to everyone even if you have no plans of divorcing in the near future. Bad planning, M83, bad planning.

Rating: 0 stars

PJ Harvey – “The Words That Maketh Murder”

Awesome Track.

Rating: 1 billion stars

Eleanor Friedberger – “My Mistakes”

What can I say about a song that features the line “And he’s ignoring me like it’s 2001” without thinking about all the great medieval films that were ignored in 2001, like Shrek, Black Knight, and A Knight’s Tale. Corky Romano was totally snubbed that year for the “Biggest Mistake” award at the Oscars.

Bon Iver – “Perth”

Wow. This song. The emotion. The spirit and heart. The feelings. Disgusting. In fact, let’s take the whole album. Looking back on the summer of 2011, it’s obvious we all had a bad case of the Seasonal Affective Disorder, the sun was too bright maybe, and songs like this exploited our weird moods in between worrying about the apocalypse and awaiting the next football coach/investment banker pedophilia/evildoing extravaganza. Bon Iver’s Bon Iver was a fitting soundtrack to a fucked up year filled with an enormous amount of things to hate.

DJ Quick – “Killer Dope”

This track is actually pretty dope even though those horns, keys, drums, and vocals from 0:00 to 4:51 are pretty whack. Aside from it being whack, though, it’s pretty dope.

Rating: 1 billion stars(/10 trillion)

Rihanna – “We Found Love”

Song of the year. This is easily the most hated song of the year by non-haters, so it makes it my best song of the year. By “hopeless place” Rihanna is referring to the club, which is hopeless, but really she’s talking about the whole world. It’s the kind of song that always makes me think, “I can tell they let Rihanna write her own lyrics.” Thank the lord for that.

Neon Indian – “Polish Girl”

For the last half-decade or so, many popular songs comprising blurred-out vocals and ambiguously delivered lyrics have been an honest reply to the maximalist, lyrical chaos of artists like Aesop Rock and Beck. From Neon Indian to Panda Bear, these artists of the culturally eclectic/nostalgic school of pop music have found a way to write gorgeous musical atmospheres with lyrics that always seem to sound better when you can’t understand them. This is not one of those songs.

Rating: 89,000,000 stars.

The Men – “Bataille”

Finally, a song with balls attached to its undercarriage and ovaries located in its vulva. Sadly, it’s called “Bataille”, which might mean these guys like to sit around and argue about Georges Bataille. I have no problem with this, but I don’t care to hear a song inspired by a French deconstructionist.

Rating: 56 thousand stars.

Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha – “Till The World Ends” and “Till The World Ends (the Femme Fatale Remix)”

I hope they never stop making this song. Meaning, I’ve heard this song done by about 20 different artists over the last 10 years, and I don’t think I’ll ever grow sick of it. As long as I don’t have to pay to hear it, that is. Ke$ha’s extreme, hopefully tongue-in-cheek diction isn’t as funny as she probably thinks it is, but it adds a nice element of surprise to the song. Not necessarily a good surprise, but surprises don’t have to be good to be surprising.

Rating: 780,343 falling stars.

Julianna Barwick – “Prizewinning”

I don’t know who let the Frodo Baggins Ambient Project collaborate with Galadriel and Her Elvish Espers, but wherever they are, I’d like to have a word with them about not letting Samwise Gamgee spit at least one verse on this. It’s too ethereal… drums almost get us there, but in the end it needs more hobbits.

Rating: 1 star to rule them all!

All radio rap – “Rap Song”

Oh my god rap is so bad these days. I wish it were 1991 again. What happened to all the old school stuff? Doesn’t anyone care about lyricism and style? What’s this stutter-rap shit? Who’s Little Wane? Who’s Jrake? Who’s this Nicholas Menage? Odd Fuchsia? On a more serious hater note – aren’t we all tired of the stutter rap thing? You know what I mean… Lil’ Wayne didn’t used to do it when I half-liked him, and as soon as I finally warmed up to the guy he jumped ship and started imitating Drake and Nicki Minaj? In the words of Pusha-T: Yuck! Waiting on that R.A. The Rugged Man autobiography…

Grimes – “Vanessa”

It takes all types. That’s the only phrase I could come up with. A trite phrase, but the only one that made sense.

Rating: 3 stars times 100.3

Jacques Greene – “Another Girl”

I love this song, but I hate myself for loving it, so I’m going to complain about it anyway. It’s too long, it moves too slowly, and there isn’t enough bass. Yeah, that’s the problem – not enough bass thump. Whenever you make a song like this that sounds like it’s come out of a ghost machine, you need to throw some gratuitous bass in. Ghosts love bass. Oh never mind, there it is (the bass). Great track.

Rating: -1 billion stars (that’s negative a billion)

Sepalcure – “Pencil Pump”

How many more of these jungle-dubstep-rainy-dark-alley-way-of-South-London-zombie-wamp-bumpers are we going to hear before Burial finally comes out with a new LP?

Rating: 500,500 stars

Ill Blu – “Meltdown”

Excellent dance track reminiscent of that time I spent 15 years embedded in the UK jungle dub scene. I remember very little from those years, and this helped me recall an evening I spent dancing with three wild turkeys in the basement of a condemned liquor store in Croydon. It was Dickensian in spirit, and Lynchian in nature, but I made it out alive without learning any valuable lessons.

Rating: 14 starlets

That’s all the time I have for hate this year. Tune in next year for the John J. Hatred 2012 Hate Tour Diary. It’ll be filled with hate!