The 16 most disappointing albums of the year, ranked

Amy Harris/Joel C Ryan/Invision/APKhalid and Miley Cyrus both released new music this year.

Music lovers were blessed with some excellent albums this year, from pop veterans like Ariana Grande (“Thank U, Next”), Lana Del Rey(“Norman F—ing Rockwell!”), and Taylor Swift(“Lover”) to powerhouse newcomers like Billie Eilish (“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”) and DaBaby (“Baby on Baby” and “Kirk”).

Other high-profile and critically beloved artists, however, disappointed the masses with lacklustre, underwhelming, or uneven projects.

To determine the most disappointing releases of 2019, Insider picked the 16 most anticipated projects from Metacritic’s lowest scores this year. They’re ranked in descending order below. (In cases of tied scores, the user score was used as a tie-breaker.)

16. “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” by Logic

Def Jam‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’ was released on May 10, 2019.

Metacritic score: 65/100

User score: 3.5/10

“Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” is the rapper’s fifth studio album, riding off the hype of his hit “1-800-273-8255” and two Grammy nominations last year. However, it received aggressively mixed reviews. Variety’s (overall lukewarm) review praised Logic’s music as “complex, celestial and snaky,” while HipHopDX described the album as “a dangerously corny pity party of epic proportions.”

15. “She Is Coming” by Miley Cyrus

RCA Records‘She Is Coming’ was released on May 31, 2019.

Metacritic score: 64/100

User score: 8.8/10

“She Is Coming” is apparently the first of a trilogy of EPs, culminating in Miley Cyrus’ seventh studio album. It includes high-profile features from Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah and “Drag Race” star RuPaul.

Despite excited fans, a few glowing reviews, and a truly sublime music video, the six-track project didn’t win over many critics. Rolling Stone called it “unkempt” and gave it just two-and-a-half stars, while Pitchfork said the EP “misuses her talents and makes for a largely unrewarding listen.”

14. “Save Me” by Future

Epic Records‘Save Me’ was released on June 7, 2019.

Metacritic score: 63/100

User score: 5.3/10

The acclaimed rapper’s second EP of 2019 was fairly hit or miss. As Pitchfork’s Reed Jackson wrote, “His latest EP proves he’s still a master of melancholic detail, but thematically and sonically, the Atlanta superstar has hit a wall.”

13. “Wasteland, Baby!” by Hozier

Rubyworks Ltd.‘Wasteland, Baby!’ was released on March 1, 2019.

Metacritic score: 63/100

User score: 8.1/10

“Wasteland, Baby!” is Hozier’s first album in five years, following his critically acclaimed self-titled debut. Many critics agreed that it failed to live up to those high expectations. Rolling Stone’s Jonathan Bernstein noted how the album felt “burdened” by the success of “Take Me to Church,” Hozier’s breakout single, with “songs that can feel like they’re merely piling on feel-good folksy handclaps and grandiose gospel choirs in the hopes of landing on a chill-coffeehouse Spotify playlist.”

12. “Love + Fear” by Marina

Atlantic Records UK‘Love + Fear’ was released on April 26, 2019.

Metacritic score: 62/100

User score: 8.0/10

Formerly known as Marina and the Diamonds, the Welsh singer-songwriter has built a devoted cult following over the years – particularly thanks to 2012’s ahead-of-its-time pop masterpiece “Electra Heart.” But her fourth studio album “Love + Fear” largely abandoned imagination and innovation.

“That Marina – the lyricist who wasn’t afraid to detail the taste of toothpaste on a lover’s tongue, the vocalist who wasn’t afraid to punctuate a sentence with a feral shriek – has gone missing,”Peyton Thomas wrote for Pitchfork. “The temptation of safe is undeniable, but mononyms are earned by embracing risk.”

11. “Death Race for Love” by Juice Wrld

Grade A Productions, LLC‘Death Race for Love’ was released on March 8, 2019.

Metacritic score: 61/100

User score: 5.0/10

Juice Wrld has widely been described as one of rap’s most promising rising stars, particularly thanks to his surprise smash hit “Lucid Dreams.” But his melodramatic sophomore album received mixed reviews. While NME praised the “colourful” album for “taking emo rap to inventive new heights,” The Guardian criticised its “suicide references” and “casual misogyny.”

10. “Labrinth, Sia & Diplo Present… LSD” by Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo

LLC/Columbia‘Labrinth, Sia & Diplo Present… LSD’ was released on April 12, 2019.

Metacritic score: 60/100

User score: 7.5/10

Considering the power and acclaim of the “LSD” trio, one would think the album would be a smash hit. Instead, as Dani Blum wrote for Pitchfork, it was received as “an album of truly forgettable pop music that is too tired to be wired.”

9. “Father of Asahd” by DJ Khaled

We The Best / Epic Records‘Father of Asahd’ was released on May 17, 2019.

Metacritic score: 59/100

User score: 2.9/10

The 11th studio album from the beloved and meme-able DJ Khaled has a ridiculous number of (what should hypothetically be) slam-dunk features: One song is anchored by Travis Scott and Post Malone, while yet another features Jay-Z, Future, and Beyoncé. Lil Wayne, John Legend,Cardi B, SZA, and Chance the Rapper appear elsewhere.

But “Father of Asahd” failed to even debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. HipHopDx called it “lazy” and Rolling Stone said it was simply “adequate,” while Pitchfork reasoned, “There are plenty of voices but no clear message or intention.”

8. “The Lost Tapes II” by Nas

Def Jam Recordings‘The Lost Tapes II’ was released on July 19, 2019.

Metacritic score: 58/100

User score: 8.8/10

The beloved “Illmatic” rapper’s most recent release is a compilation album, a sequel to 2002’s acclaimed “The Lost Tapes.” Though Nas’ fans were thrilled and celebrated the album’s gems, many critics felt those gems were too few and far between.

“There are four or five reminders here of why Nas is one of the greats,” Thomas Hobbs wrote for NME. “Yet the existence of ‘The Lost Tapes 2’ also feels a tad pointless and like something that won’t really captivate many beyond his hardcore fan base.”

7. “Free Spirit” by Khalid

RCA Records‘Free Spirit’ was released on April 5, 2019.

Metacritic score: 58/100

User score: 6.4/10

Despite buzz about an album of the year nomination at the 2020 Grammys, Khalid’s sophomore album “Free Spirit” was largely met with tepid reviews from fans and critics, especially on the heels of his rapid rise to stardom.

“On ‘Free Spirit,’ Khalid sounds caught between wanting to play a superstar and wanting to be himself, with the result that he sounds like neither,” Wren Graves wrote for Consequence of Sound. The Independent, meanwhile, called it “a very credible record with no real mistakes – but no real personality, either.”

6. “Erys” by Jaden Smith

MSFTSMusic / Roc Nation Records, LLC‘Erys’ was released on July 5, 2019.

Metacritic score: 58/100

User score: 5.9/10

“Erys” dragged over 17 long tracks and failed to recreate the experimental intrigue of Jaden Smith’s debut album “Syre.” HipHopDX described the project as “overwhelmingly average.” Tara Joshi wrote for The Guardian, “At best, it’s dreamily creative; at worst, overwrought.”

5. “Can’t Say I Ain’t Country” by Florida Georgia Line

Big Machine Label Group, LLC‘Can’t Say I Ain’t Country’ was released on February 15, 2019.

Metacritic score: 58/100

User score: 3.8/10

“Can’t Say I Ain’t Country,” the fourth studio album from Grammy-nominated country music duo Florida Georgia Line, was described as “uneven” (Rolling Stone) and “an amalgamation of country-pop’s worst features” (Sputnik).

“For all the shopping-mall feel of their songs, they can be industrially catchy,” The Guardian wrote. “If only their lyrics weren’t so cringey.”

4. “7” by Lil Nas X

Columbia Records‘7’ was released on June 21, 2019.

Metacritic score: 57/100

User score: 4.7/10

Lil Nas X probably had the biggest year a rising artist could possibly have. His surprise hit “Old Town Road” reigned for an unprecedented 19 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, became the fastest song in history to be certified diamond, and paved the way for his superstardom. But his first real body of work, the eight-song EP “7” that precedes his upcoming debut album, wasn’t nearly so popular or universally praised.

“It’s … not good. A haze of half-gestures and amateur missteps. A deflated balloon. The songs end quickly, as if embarrassed,”Jon Caramanica wrote for the New York Times. “Apart from the nonsensical yet warm electro-trap song Panini,” none of the new tracks display even a stray ember of creative curiosity.”

3. “No. 6 Collaborations Project” by Ed Sheeran

Atlantic Records UK‘No. 6 Collaborations Project’ was released on July 12, 2019.

Metacritic score: 57/100

User score: 4.6/10

Each of the 15 songs on “No.6 Collaborations Project,” Ed Sheeran’s fourth full-length release, was co-created by one or two other artists. These include pop icons like Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars, Grammy-winning R&B stars like Ella Mai and H.E.R., and rappers at the top of their games like Cardi B and Travis Scott.

But the album was largely interpreted as a bid for attention and radio play, with no real voice or cohesion, that resulted in “an abyss of authenticity or real feeling,” according to Consequence of Sound.

“Few releases have been as baldly transparent and destined for ubiquity as ‘No. 6,'” Rawiya Kameir wrote for Pitchfork, “which has all the conspicuous mining of a Drake album, but very little of the finesse or cultural fluency.”

2. “Jesus Is King” by Kanye West

Getting Out Our Dreams II, LLC / Def Jam‘Jesus Is King’ was released on October 25, 2019.

Metacritic score: 55/100

User score: 5.8/10

After teasing his ninth studio album for over a year, repeatedly postponing its release date in order to tweak and “perfect” it, Kanye West dropped “Jesus Is King” to a resoundingly unenthusiastic reception. Pitchfork called it “largely flawed,” while Rolling Stone observed its place as “a distinctly lightweight entry in his canon.”

“‘Jesus Is King’ is impersonal, repetitive, boring, and somehow too long at just 27 minutes,” Wren Graves wrote for Consequence of Sound. “It has the energy of a prayer memorized long ago being spoken for the umpteenth time. The mouth moves, but the mind is miles away.”

1. “In My Defence” by Iggy Azalea

Bad Dreams Records / Empire‘In My Defence’ was released on July 19, 2019.

Metacritic score: 39/100

User score: 8.7/10

“In My Defence” is Iggy Azalea’s first album in five years, ostensibly intended to revive her image and recapture the magic that vaulted her breakout hit “Fancy” to the top of the chart, making her a household name.

Unfortunately for Azalea, it does neither. “In My Defence” has been described as “exhausted”(All Music), “unconvincing”(Clash), and “offensively mediocre” (HipHopDX).

“The album is stacked with cartoonish approximations of what she thinks a rap song should sound like: shivers of bass, the occasional ‘skrrrt,’ Mad Libs of designer brands and bodily fluids. Many sound like direct imitations of the rappers she admires,” Dani Blum wrote for Pitchfork. “Rather than penitence, she offers only a garish caricature. Her only defence is to further offend.”

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