By Andy Johnson and Rohan Mahadevan
Some pop songs are rated accurately. Consider the ubiquitous “Royals”: a minority may clamor it has racist undertones, and a few may find fault in Lorde’s vocal style, but most would agree it’s a hit and the young Kiwi has become one of 2013’s breakout artists.
But some songs receive an unbalanced amount of praise or scorn. It must be stressed that the conditions “overrated” and “underrated” are thrown around loosely. Colloquially, deeming something as “overrated” is a passive-aggressive way of saying it blows. However, the term can also be literal. Some songs aren’t necessarily awful, as much as not as good as everyone thinks. The same can be said for the reverse. I enjoy “Work Bitch” but I would by no means consider it one of the year’s top releases. It’s with that mindset that we present to you our most overrated & underrated pop songs of the year.
——- Underrated ——-
Britney Spears – “Work Bitch”
Andy: If you forgot about Britney, you fucked up. You fucked up big time. “Work Bitch” is her most kinetic single in years, a hit that will no doubt anchor her Vegas residency. I acknowledge that this has the stink of Will.i.am (I don’t trust anyone whose name is his homepage) in its DNA, and I cringe at the GOP co-opting its libertarian overtones, but certainly you must agree Britney’s back, bitch?
Rohan: Britney hasn’t been here in years. She isn’t even singing anymore. It is just a preprogrammed robot making noise at this point. “Work Bitch” is one of her worst songs on her worst album. It is worse than Crossroads.
Paramore – “Still Into You”
Rohan: Paramore are on top of their game. Since losing two members, the now three-piece have to work harder and with their latest record, also my favorite record of the year, they have broken through. “Still Into You” is just now getting more radio play as it should. The track is one of the catchiest of the year.
Andy: Your unrelenting enthusiasm for Paramore this year finally convinced me to give their album a spin. Still not my thing, but this is clearly a winner. I love how she rhymes “Ya motha!” and “I loved ya!”
Bastille – “Pompeii”
Andy: My choice for 2013’s one-hit-wonder. It’s Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy” meets Passion Pit, but you know what I fucks with it. At the very least it’s better than “Pumped Up Kicks.”
Rohan: This song is OK. I can fuck with it.
Pitbull Feat Ke$ha – “Timber”
Rohan: This could’ve been bad. I hate Pitbull but I love Ke$ha. Without that incredibly catchy/dumb chorus this song would be bad. But thanks to Dr. Luke this track is perfection.
Andy: Perfection? WOOF! What the hell is this “Cotton Eye Joe” rip-off? This song is butts, but I admit spending time intellectually thinking about Pitbull is uncomfortable. How did Pitbull get popular? Who actually is a fan of Pitbull in the way people are fans of My Bloody Valentine or The Dismemberment Plan or Cher? Also whatever happened to Akon? Did Pitbull body-snatch Akon’s talent? What does Pitbull’s enduring fame mean for humanity? I know nothing about Pitbull’s background or what Pitbull stands for. The man is an existential threat to mankind.
Rohan: By Dismemberment Plan fan you mean people who forget that last record came out right? Cause I’d rather hear that Britney track on repeat then ever hear Uncanney Valley again.
Mutya Keisha Siobhan – “Flatline”
Rohan: Origibabes are the best. If only the album will come.
Andy: Not feeling it. No pop chorus should contain the phrase “that ought to be.” I feel like I’m being lectured.
Rohan: Really? “Flatline” was written by everyone’s indie favorite, Blood Orange.
Tegan and Sara – “Closer”
Andy: I’ve never given Tegan and Sara much of my attention because (1) I’m not Canadian and (2) they don’t make good music. However “Closer” is so catchy that even Taylor Swift recognized its brilliance, performing it with T & S during a stop at the Staples Center:
Rohan: This is one of my favorite singles of the year.
Icona Pop – “All Night”
Rohan: Icona Pop are more than “I Love It.” If you don’t agree, you should check your ears.
Andy: I don’t know anyone who likes doing anything “all night.” Doesn’t matter what: drinking, sex, dancing, even drugs — by around 5 am, you get bored, lonely or, if I can be honest, hungry. Also I don’t much care for this song.
Kacey Musgraves – “Follow Your Arrow”
Andy: I support any subversive mainstream country song that advocates atheism, weed and bisexual hook-ups. Unconditionally.
Rohan: Country music for people who don’t like country music- indie kids. It is a good song though.
Fall Out Boy – “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)”
Rohan: I know why people hate Fall Out Boy. Hell, I think Fall Out Boy hates Fall Out Boy, but damn do they know how to write hits. “My Songs” is just another in their string of smashes and a welcome return for the band.
Andy: What’s Linkin Park up to nowadays? I bet whatever they’re doing is more interesting than this. Woof.
Rohan: Chester Bennington is the new frontman of Stone Temple Pilots….
Sky Ferreira – “You’re Not The One”
Andy: Hooray for Sky! My favorite pop album of the year, no doubt. I appreciate how she’s a big dork who models to support her pop addiction and shrugs off drug arrests. A true renaissance woman. Although I have heard the contrary, I enjoyed her recent 9:30 Club performance, despite her obvious illness.
Rohan: Sky is nowhere near underrated. Only complaint I have is she has a bad track record with live performances. I doubt it is drugs but more she really doesn’t care at this point.
——- Overrated ——-
Daft Punk feat. Pharrell – “Get Lucky”
Rohan: This song is shit. If it wasn’t made by Daft Punk, no one would’ve gave it the time of day. I mean it is cool that Nile Rodgers is back but this wastes his talent. Maybe this song and record will be better in hindsight like the last DP album, but right now who knows.
Andy: You’re really gonna be the douche to hate on Daft Punk? The guy at the party who rolls his eyes when it comes on? You’re trying too hard. Drop the cool act, this song owns bones. I’m waiting to hear what clever hate you’ll have for OutKast next year.
Rohan: I am not trying to be cool. I seriously don’t get the hype. I was a DP devotee for years and was very excited for this album. It just wasn’t what I wanted, nor what I needed.
Haim – “Falling”
Andy: The quintessential example of a truly overrated-but-still-good artist. I think Haim’s a perfectly fine band in the same way that I find Chipotle to be a perfectly fine lunch. Both are very enjoyable and make me happy, but there are better options out there, yeah? These girls aren’t the saviors of rock’n’roll, and as long as they don’t take themselves too seriously (and I don’t think they won’t), I won’t feel bad for going to their shows.
Rohan: Haim know how to write a good hook. I love this song so much because it is a perfect pop song. As far as better options, what do you suppose we should love, the new Britney- woof. Haim are also amazing live, so don’t feel bad.
Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell & T.I. – “Blurred Lines”
Rohan: I don’t care if people think this song is about rape – it isn’t – what it does rape are my ears. I never want to hear it again.
Andy: I will side-step your trap to set me up as a rape song apologist and feminist-judo back at you that you shouldn’t use the phrase “rape” so carelessly. Nevertheless, much like with “Get Lucky,” hating one of the year’s catchiest earworms seems like a bit too easy of a target. A digression: T.I.’s verse really bugs me. Specifically the lyric “I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two.” The outrageous boasting of his penis (and proficiency at cocksmanship) is in itself absurd, but an ass is already “torn in two.” It is bifurcated naturally.
Rohan: Yes, it is an easy target, but a target nonetheless. I am not phased by T.I.’s verse. I’ve heard worse. Does it make it ok? Well I’ll leave that up to the Jezebel comment section and “music/pop-culture writers” that feel it is their job to be the P.C. police.
Ylvis – What Does The Fox Say?
Rohan: Go away Psy 2013.
Justin Timberlake – “Mirrors” & “Suit and Tie”
Rohan: Comebacks the world never needed. Both of these songs are the deepest darkest Timbaland excesses. “Mirrors” is overlong and sounded dated upon arrival. “Suit and Tie” has one of the worst Jay-Z verses of the year in a year of incredibly bad Jay-Z verses.
Andy: I bet you were a big Chris Kirkpatrick fan, weren’t you? Anyways, I’ll grant you “Suit & Tie” is poor, even if Timba’s beat low-key reminds me of The Avalanches, but I will not stand by as you slander “Mirrors”, the fitting conclusion in the “Cry Me A River” -> “What Goes Around…Comes Around” triptych.
Jay Z feat. Justin Timberlake – “Holy Grail”
Rohan: I change this song the second it comes on. JT sounds terrible, Jay-Z sound old. Cool story brah- you got money, I frankly couldn’t care.
Andy: As for Sean Knowles-Carter, we are in agreement. Magna Carter Holy Fail.
Imagine Dragons – Any song by Imagine Dragons
Rohan: Imagine Dragons are the worst band on the planet.
Andy: Pretty much. Fart rock for John Cena fans.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop
Andy: “Thrift Shop” isn’t an overrated song because of makes fun of poor people who have to shop at Goodwill stores because they have to, nor is it an overrated song because it consists of nonsense rap and goofball sound effects. It isn’t even an overrated song because Macklemore’s lyrical dexterity rivals Aaron Carter. No, the reason why this is an overrated song–and ultimately why I don’t like it–is that the narrator is an idiot. Why would you wear your “grandad clothes”? Would you wear someone else’s pajamas, which have likely had his or her genitals slathered about? How does one “pop” a tag? You do not look incredible. You look like a dipshit. Furthermore, the R. Kelly “piss” lyric seems grim considering the renewed focus on his predatory behavior. And as for Wonz, I bet Wonz’s friends back at home can’t look him in the eye anymore.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Same Love
Andy: I appreciate Macklemore’s intentions, but considering his audience is exclusively pasty white liberals, this song is preaching to the choir. As a fan of good music, Rohan, does it bug you that such a lame rapper is monetizing the no-duh right to gay marry?
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Can’t Hold Us
Andy: In conclusion, how can you take a man who looks like Roger Klotz seriously? Oh don’t think I forgot about Macklemore’s partner. If 2013 could be summed up in five words, it would be “And fuck Ryan Lewis, too.”
Rohan: I’ll chime in just to say I can’t stand Macklemore either. Case closed.