Here’s the thing about pop music in 2015: It was mostly impressive.
The number of truly great albums made compiling year-end lists feel like The Hunger Games. Plus, there were enough comebacks, left-field collaborations and other surprises to keep us on our toes. Arena spectacles and music festivals largely left us satisfied too. But don’t worry, there were plenty of cringeworthy songs and performances to make the year memorable. Here are 25 moments in 2015 that deserve a lump of coal.
1. Drake and Madonna kissing. When Madonna made out with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera it was shocking, empowering and awesomely meta. Shoving her tongue down Drake’s throat during his performance at the first weekend of Coachella felt like a cry for attention. Why so desperate? As you said on your single (minus that emphatic b-word): ... you’re Madonna.
2. Omi’s Cheerleader ruling summer. So much Auto-Tune. So much airplay. It’s one of the worst songs of all time, for sure.
3. Omi’s Hula Hoop. Worse yet, the Jamaican artist refused to be a one-hit wonder, disrespecting the ears of music listeners worldwide with a song that cracked the top 20.
4. 12 weeks of See You Again at number one. Listen, we all grieved Paul Walker’s untimely death. But he deserved more than a lame rap ballad from Wiz Khalifa. And with multiple Grammy nominations, the song isn’t going away yet.
5. Meghan Trainor’s Dear Future Husband. If you Google this song and its retrograde views on gender, there’s no need to explain.
6. Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor’s Marvin Gaye. Two pretty people kissing is usually a great thing, but watching these two make out during a performance of this uninspired track at the American Music Awards was too uncomfortable for words.
7. The Blurred Lines copyright ruling. If what Robin Thicke and Pharrell did was copying, then most of the artists on pop radio need to start writing a lot of checks.
8. That Hello cover you put on YouTube. Sorry, your name isn’t Adele, so we don’t want to hear it. Parodies of the song’s video, however, will never get old.
9. Pop culture trying to make us like Five Seconds of Summer. We won’t. Ever.
10. Rachel Platten’s Fight Song. Never mind its Katy Perry-lite message of empowerment, that bombastic chorus made our ears fill with blood.
11. Chris Brown and Tyga’s Fan of a Fan album. Terrible. This album from a couple of tabloid favourites was the grossest recording, even in a year when R. Kelly released The Poem. (See below.)
12. All six seconds of R. Kelly slurping on The Poem. No.
13. Taylor Swift’s squad. All we want for Christmas is to no longer need to care about Swift’s rotation of Instagram-friendly celebrity girlfriends.
14. Bob Dylan covering Frank Sinatra. Whether Dylan — with his weathered voice — was serious or not, this was a bad idea.
15. Psy’s return. Dude, you got 15 really great minutes of fame when you deserved just five for Gangnam Style. Don’t do this to us again, please.
16. One Direction pretending like they aren’t breaking up. Hiatus. Sure. Whatever.
17. Cee-Lo Green releasing a weird Robin Williams “tribute” to promote his new album. His heart may have been in the right place with the mawkish Robin Williams, but that doesn’t make it a good song.
18. Ariana Grande’s doughnut-gate. Getting caught licking a doughnut and putting it back on the shelf is a bad look for a pop star, particularly while and having the audacity to fat-shame us. Fortunately, the world shamed her right back for being a gross brat.
19. Award shows. They’re still too long, too predictable, and there’s more of them every year. When will it end?
20. Miley Cyrus hosting the MTV Video Music Awards. Train wrecks are supposed to be fun, right?
21. Star Wars musical tributes. We get it, the world was excited for The Force Awakens, and everyone wants to ride its buzz. But did we really need the a cappella group Pentatonix to perform a run-through of its score, in costume, at the AMAs? We did not.
22. Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea teaming up. Last year we surrendered to Fancy as song of summer, but when Spears and Azalea essentially remade it as the lazy dance-pop throwaway Pretty Girls it just reminded us how much Fancy felt like a pale imitation of Hollaback Girl.
23. Frank Ocean, Rihanna and Kanye West. Three big stars who promised to release an album in 2015 and subsequently blew us off. What did we do?
24. The Whip.
25. And the Nae Nae. And dabbing. Seriously, guys: Making up dances to accompany your lousy single doesn’t make it any more catchy.