For a music culture dominated by shareable playlists and free listening services, the streaming giant Spotify can offer an extremely accurate look at what songs are capturing our attention at any given moment.
Some of those songs, however, are more deserving than others.
We took a look at Spotify’s weekly charts and combined the streaming numbers for 2018 until the beginning of December. From the top 50 most-streamed songs on our list, we chose the 10 worst in order to determine the most overhyped songs this year – ranked in order of ascending popularity.
10. “FEFE (feat. Nicki Minaj & Murda Beatz)” by 6ix9ine
Number of streams: 317,803,715
6ix9ine – also known as Tekashi69, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez – is a 22-year-old Soundcloud rapper. He achieved mainstream credibility with “FEFE,” a nettlesome and underwhelming track that features some of Nicki Minaj’s laziest bars to date.
Not to mention that as 6ix9ine’s star power has grown, renewed attention has been paid to his 2015 conviction for using “a child in a sexual performance,” to which the rapper pleaded guilty.
While the controversy surrounding the collaboration with Minaj may have helped “FEFE” climb the charts, the pedophilic nature of 6ix9ine’s crime should certainly outweigh any intrigue surrounding his music.
9. “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons
Number of streams: 349,146,360
Imagine Dragons’ blend of dystopian rock and electronic pop hooks has proven its mass appeal many times. But “Thunder” is just a watered-down version of ths formula.
The song is slightly weird and pretty catchy, but it becomes more and more grating with each listen.
8. “Love Lies (With Normani)” by Khalid
Number of streams: 438,975,525
Both Normani and Khalid have gorgeous vocals and undeniable star power, which makes “Love Lies” all the more unsatisfactory. It’s not bad at all, but a collaboration between these two massive talents could have yielded something far more emotional, far more convincing – especially when given such a dramatic, sultry premise.
Ultimately, beneath the stunning vocal performances, “Love Lies” is just too boring to be so popular.
7. “Meant to Be (Feat. Florida Georgia Line)” by Bebe Rexha
Number of streams: 442,727,337
Bebe Rexha is an accomplished songwriter with a uniquely throaty voice, but compared to some of her funkier and sassier hits, this country-infused tune falls flat.
“Meant to Be” is essentially the musical equivalent of a three-day-old cinnamon roll. Overall, it’s thoroughly average, but it ends up feeling like a flavourless indulgence that you had hoped you’d enjoy more.
6. “Happier” by Bastille and Marshmello
Number of streams: 505,677,523
With Dan Smith’s smooth vocals and Marshmello’s radio-friendly track record (“Wolves” with Selena Gomez is one of my personal favourites; “FRIENDS” with Anne-Marie cracked the top 10 on our most-streamed list), this song simply should have been better.
Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with cheesy lyrics layered on top of shamelessly catchy electro-pop, but there’s nothing new here – just a gimmicky beat drop and a music video about a dog.
5. “Girls Like You (Feat. Cardi B)” by Maroon 5
Number of streams: 532,519,814
With a music video geared toward capitalising on female empowerment and a guest verse from one of the most savvy, formidable forces in music today, “Girls Like You” was destined to be a hit.
The video, which was released conjointly with the version of the song that features Cardi B, has an admirable message – but it’s really just a cheap knock-off of Drake’s “Nice for What” that doesn’t make any sense paired with the song’s romantic lyrics.
Frontman Adam Levine sings about needing a “girl like you,” but never explains what that actually means. It sounds like their label thought they could use a boost from Cardi B (who couldn’t?) and just threw her star power into an otherwise average song about making up with your girlfriend.
4. “The Middle” by Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey
Number of streams: 537,235,385
“The Middle” was an earworm so popular that it secured three nominations for the 2019 Grammys.
Ultimately, however, it’s more annoying than award-winning. Maren Morris has impressive range, but “The Middle” is a poor use of her voice. It’s the kind of song that sounds really good when you’re drunk at a party, but you’re kind of embarrassed to admit that you like it when you’re sober.
3. “One Kiss (With Dua Lipa)” by Calvin Harris
Number of streams: 624,355,843
Considering Calvin Harris’ cascade of 2017 bops, like “Slide” and “Heatstroke,” the excitement for “One Kiss” was completely understandable – especially when it was revealed that Harris’ talents would be paired with Dua Lipa’s knack for powerful pop bangers like “New Rules” and “IDGAF.”
And so, all things considered, “One Kiss” was a bit of a disappointment. It’s far more dreamy and airy (and repetitive) than one might expect, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – but it didn’t have that attitude, that oomph, that Dua Lipa has come to be known for.
2. “Psycho (Feat. Ty Dolla $ign)” by Post Malone
Number of streams: 673,847,477
Post Malone has some impeccably crafted, impossibly catchy hits. “Rockstar,” in particular, comes to mind; “Congratulations” is one of the most perfect dark-pop songs in recent memory.
Although “Psycho” is the epitome of Post Malone’s signature pseudo-hip-hop (topped off with lazy songwriting), compared to his best work, it’s a complete let-down.
Post Malone’s biggest strength is his ear for melody, and he’s at his best when he infuses that weirdly graceful voice with an energetic undercurrent. But “Psycho” feels like he’s moving through molasses. Pitchfork writes it’s “perfect for the current climate of passive listening that only exists as a means to fill playlists.”
1. “SAD!” by XXXTentacion
Number of streams: 717,959,682
The rise in popularity for the late Florida rapper, however, was inextricable from his highly disturbing past. As the singer’s friend and fellow rapper Denzel Curry once said in an interview with HotNewHipHop: “The thing with X is, when he got into trouble, that’s what blew him up.”
When he was shot and killed in June, XXXTentacion was awaiting trial for a long list of criminal charges, including domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, and aggravated battery of a pregnant woman – accusations the alleged victim detailed in a January 2017 deposition. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and maintained his innocence until his death.
In recordings recently uncovered by Pitchfork, XXXTentacion can be heard talking about assaulting an ex-girlfriend (“I will kill that bitch if she play with me”) and stabbing nine people.
In a 2016 podcast interview, he bragged about strangling and beating a prison inmate nearly to death because he was “a faggot” who was “staring” at him.
All said, the continued interest in and support of XXXTentacion is baffling – particularly in the era of #MeToo and cancellation culture. Regardless of whether “SAD!” is even good (it’s not), it’s upsetting to see it on a fan-favourite list of any kind.
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