A Decade of Musical Mediocrity: The Worst Songs of the 2000s

Excessive sexual innuendo. An obsession with Joy Division. Misspellings. Auto-Tune. If the 2000s are remembered for anything musically, it’s that artists and producers took something from before, repackaged it, and slapped on a different label. It’s also the time in which several successful genres met a quick death: rap succumbed to chanting, alternative rock to whining, and pop to overly-processed, robotic vocals. If a presidential election is simply a choice of picking between bad and worse, reviewing the songs of the past ten years is siphoning off the unlistenable from the mediocre.

Sisqo – The Thong Song

Every decade has an auspicious opening, and the aughts began with “The Thong Song.” Played everywhere 10 years ago, the track is underwhelming in the present, and represents the worst of the late 1990s, early 2000s time period: no clear melody, slick production that does nothing, and mumbled rapping. With the exception of the chorus and the line “dumps like a truck,” no other part of this track is really discernible. And, while the looks of the booty-shakin’ ladies in the video would be the precursor to the whale tail, Sisqo’s large platinum necklace, overly bleached hair, and spotless white sneakers represent 2000’s fashion trends at their worst.


Fannypack – Camel Toe

What is the aughts’ obsession with derrieres and crotches? Sisqo looks at the ladies from the backside, while Fannypack stares at them from the front. This irritating track was ubiquitous in 2003 and, despite the psychedelic appearance of the music video, is no “Groove is in the Heart.” Rather, the listener gets three minutes of chant-rap, which was all over songs from this decade, from a group of whiny-voiced girls, cheap-as-a-Casio production, and a whole lot of sexual innuendo. Considering all of the novelty tracks from Crazy Frog to Ke$ha this past decade, Fannypack unfortunately initiated this style-before-substance trend.


Ke$ha – Tik Tok

And, while Fannypack might have brought out the novelty track, Ke$ha turned it into a hit machine and doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. Although the unabashedly trashy pop star truly rose to fame in 2010, her hit “Tik Tok” hit radios in 2009, making listeners wonder, “What in the world is this?” and not in a good way. Chant-rap style and dumb lyrics aside, “Tik Tok” shows that Auto-Tune makes everyone a pop star until the live performance.


Cassie – Me & U

But perhaps Auto-Tune isn’t so awful, especially when any chick with a hot bod could be a singer. In the pre-Auto-Tune days of 2006, track “Me & U” was a hit summer single, with a simple-but-catchy synth line opening. There was only one problem – singer Cassie couldn’t actually sing. With a basic, talk-vocal line extending no more than an octave masked by many layers of overdubs, “Me & U” is the decade’s example of when looks significantly surpass talent.


Black Eyed Peas – My Humps

Could Top 40 tracks from the aughts be filled with anymore sexual innuendo than any other decade? Camel toes, thongs, nookie, and many mutations of “junk in the trunk” defined the first five years, and then 2005 dished out “My Humps” – the low point of a group that churns out beyond-basic, pop-rap party jams. Singer Fergie has a pleasing enough singing voice, but this track features her lazily rapping in a whiny tone over a drum machine. And those humps? This song is the aural equivalent of an annoyingly persistent chick shoving a rack repeatedly in your face no matter how many times you shake your head and say, “No.”
As far as the rest of the Peas are concerned, they phone in their performances and, by putting their backup singer in the spotlight, are directly responsible for Fergie’s solo album.


Soulja Boy Tell’em – Crank That (Soulja Boy)

Whoever claims that rap isn’t dead was missing in action in the summer of 2007. Three years ago, the chant-rap style that defined this decade came to an apex with “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” a track that nearly surpasses the repetitiveness of “My Humps.” Soulja Boy lazily raps in a mumbled tone – the only clear words are “crank that,” “Soulja Boy,” and “you” – and does a dance reminiscent of the 1990s’ running man slowed down with a bunch of bouncing around and arm-shaking.


Limp Bizkit – Nookie

If Soulja Boy’s dance is like the running man, Limp Bizkit was the decade’s Vanilla Ice. Although Nu Metal emerged in the late-‘90s and carried through the first few years of the 2000s, Limp Bizkit captured the insincerity of the time period with this song and video: doing it all for the Nookie, having hot girls follow you simply because you’re Fred Durst, and a police arrest while filming a music video. The metal elements still sound fairly 1990s, but the chant-rapping is staunchly a part of the 2000s. Considering the Beastie Boys, the originators of the white guy rap-rock combo, want nothing to do with Nu-Metal and Limp Bizkit, “Nookie” is part of rock and rap histories that should be buried with parachute pants, the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band film, and 2 Live Crew.


Simple Plan – Addicted

Do you know what was wrong with new punk? It sounded absolutely nothing like the original genre. As much as Limp Bizkit is like Metallica, Simple Plan is like the Sex Pistols, and track “Addicted,” which was played all over the Top 40 radio in 2003, put the nail in the genre’s coffin. As much as the 2000s were a rehash of supposedly better times, “Addicted” is an ode to better music, capped off with whiny vocals. Even though new punk is now an old memory, however, the “I’m annoyed because I didn’t get an Xbox for Christmas”-sounding vocals set the tone for Hawthorne Heights and many other emo bands.


She Wants Revenge – Tear You Apart

Paying tribute and totally aping off a band’s sound are two different concepts. As much as the 2000s were a time period revisiting everything ‘80s and ‘90s, at least artists like The Killers and The Bravery saw the older post-punk and synthpop sounds of The Cure, The Smiths, and Depeche Mode as a springboard for modern songs. She Wants Revenge, on the other hand, tries too hard to channel Ian Curtis, and “Tear You Apart,” their 2005 hit, is artificial and derivative. Much like how you can eat ham instead of spam, why listen to She Wants Revenge when you can simply pick up a Joy Division record?


Hoobastank – The Reason

How low can a genre go? In the case of alternative rock, that low point is “The Reason,” the musical equivalent of powdered mashed potatoes. The whiny vocals, again, are a precursor to emo, which defined alternative rock this past decade beyond the few hits put out by The Killers. Nothing about “The Reason” is memorable, with the exception of a “man, when will this song be over?”-type reaction from listeners.


Christina Aguilera – Dirrty

Misspellings were another common feature of the aughts, but giving “dirty” two Rs is the least of this song’s problems. While pop singers, especially those with Disney connections, eventually want to shed their good girl image, “Dirrty” wastes Aguilera’s voice and does what no song should do – make the listener feel like he or she needs to take a bath. This track is a low point for the singer who started out with “Genie in a Bottle,” and Aguilera quickly reformed her image with “Beautiful” and “Fighter” in less than a year. “Dirrty,” on the other hand, should serve as a warning to Miley Cyrus and the rest of the Disney crew: Feel like you “Can’t Be Tamed” and your fan base will go elsewhere.

7 thoughts on “A Decade of Musical Mediocrity: The Worst Songs of the 2000s”

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  5. Actual emo started in the 1990s and isn't really what we consider it too be today. Emo started as emotive rock with intelligent and inwardly intrinsic lyrical meanings. People just labeled It emo and didn't follow the actual definition so it became I want to die by slicing my wrists, if your going to make bold claims at least do some research.

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