In this stressful exam period, it is always nice to study to a soundtrack. Unfortunately, the YouTube autoplay algorithm always endeavours to confront me with the long-forgotten songs of my childhood, including many that are the source of some embarrassment in having once enjoyed. For the sake of originality, I have decided against including a few old classics – namely ‘All Star’ by Smash Mouth, as the abysmal song has become inseparably tied to the faultless first Shrek film and is consequently beyond reproach – and I hasten to remind everyone that this is all incredibly subjective.
Owl City – ‘Fireflies’ (2009)
A soppingly saccharine little number from the then-unknown Owl City, I can only attribute my younger self’s obsession with this song to its similarity to a nursery rhyme or lullaby. Exceedingly annoying and obvious, ‘Fireflies’ experienced a renaissance of sorts in 2017, becoming the subject of its own internet meme. However, it seems that the lacking substance of the actual song was mirrored by its own online comedic value. The saddest thing you can say about ‘Fireflies’ is that it failed to even provide a half-sustainable meme – a damning indictment indeed.
The Black Eyed Peas – ‘The Time (Dirty Bit)’ (2010)
Much has been written about the musical stylings, or lack thereof, of the Black Eyed Peas. The interesting hip-hop of Elephunk was followed up by over a decade of EDM white noise, and in the present day most have forgotten that they might be capable of anything creative at all. ‘The Time (Dirty Bit)’ interpolates heavily from the Dirty Dancing classic, with a generous helping of techno bleeps and bloops spliced in for good measure. My 11 year-old self, unaware of both the original song and the meaning of nuance, was completely grabbed by the song and by the character of will.i.am, who now comes across as some sort of Poundland Kanye West.
Imagine Dragons – ‘On Top of the World’ (2012)
A frankly embarrassing proportion of the timely music I listen to is provided by the FIFA game soundtracks, including this upbeat gem from FIFA 13. Full of whistles, claps and footstomps, ‘On Top of the World’ has “chart-topper” written all over its verse-chorus-verse structure, its bare lyrics, and its polished-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life production. Imagine Dragons are perhaps in line for an award for Services to Musical Boredom, presented to them of course by Ed Sheeran.
Coldplay – ‘Paradise’ (2011)
Are you noticing a pattern? Yet another band past their years of peak creative power, coming out with a squeaky clean, by the numbers pop song just catchy enough to completely dominate the radio for months. As an uncritical 12 year-old, this hardly mattered much. Chris Martin once appeared on the sitcom Modern Family as himself, and I found his comedic performance as a pompous and annoying megastar genuinely entertaining; ‘Paradise’ is exactly the song that this fictionalised Chris Martin would write. Except he wrote it for real.
Cher Lloyd – ‘Swagger Jagger’ (2011)
I… I don’t even know what to say. This is probably the worst of them all. I’m sorry?