For those of you upset with the hat trick of Weezer tunes winning all three of this year’s Pat O’Brien Awards for Song Most Likely to Attack You in Your Home Whilst his Burns Down, today’s ceremonial handout is for the three worst songs of the year that were not made by Weezer. It was too easy and too anticlimactic of a ceremony to have a sweep by Rivers Cuomo and company, especially after appearing in each of these lists for the past three years. So without further pontificating or explanation behind the award’s title, let’s get to the other worst songs of 2018.
3. A Perfect Circle – So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish
To say fans of A Perfect Circle were waiting a long time for a new album is an understatement, but as any fan of Maynard James Keenan’s bands already knows, the safe bet is on a release date of “never”. In 2018, A Perfect Circle released their first album in 14 years and their first proper new studio album of original material in over 15 years. After one listen, I was back in the waiting room for the new Tool album for the rest of eternity. Gone are the majority of things I liked about A Perfect Circle; the deep, throbbing bass lines, the showmanship drum work of Josh Freese, the metallic tinged alt-metal of classic A Perfect Circle tunes like “Pet” and “The Outsider”. Instead, we were treated to just under an hour of Maynard and Billy Howerdel fiddling around with keyboards, synthesizers, pianos and electronics and making some of the most placating, sleep-inducing “rock” music around. This drastic shift in style and major line-up changing from the last album has resulted in something very much not for me, and while I don’t speak for all fans, the majority of them seem to echo my sentiment on the Eat the Elephant album. I mean, this album opens with a song that fucking Chester Bennington rejected from the James Alex Fields Jr. Award winning album One More Light, but even that audio Ambien wasn’t the worst song on the record. That prize belongs to “So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish”, a horribly disjointed song that tries to be a sarcastic, fake-happy rant against self destructive modern society but comes off as the new “We Didn’t Start the Fire” instead. Maynard’s vocal delivery is a lot different from what we’ve come to expect and it does not suit this style of song well, and the lyrics are equally atrocious. Trying to shoehorn all the dead celebrity references into the song, along with that terrible “Bravisimo, hip hip hoo-ray” hook is some of the worst writing and singing Maynard’s ever done. This is also one of the most rocking songs on the album with more guitar than most here, and Billy just plays some boring monotonous riffs. The overproduction with focus on additional instrumentation persists here too though, and the orchestral elements just sound awkward and unnecessary as well. It’s a total snooze fest of boring and mundane middle of the road adult-contemporary rock, and absolutely not worth the 15 year wait at all.
2. Machine Head – Bastards
Machine Head is no stranger to these award ceremonies, having won a Jared Fogel Award in 2016 for their single “Is There Anybody Out There?”, which was Machine Head’s second drink from the well of nu-metal. Machine Head have always been trend chasing hangers-on, but with the nu-metal revival in full swing, the mid 2010’s have seen the band take a major shift back to the style that nearly killed their original run back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s with Supercharger and The Burning Red. In 2018, the band released Catharsis, a 75 minute long nu-metal revival album which was absolutely rejected by the fanbase and trashed in reviews from heavy metal media and review sites. While pretty much any song on this album would qualify for this list, the award has to go to the single “Bastards”. In it’s original album version, the song is a bizarre mash of acoustic guitar, horrible talk-singing, and breakdowns oddly reminiscent of Dropkick Murphys and other Irish/Celtic hardcore punk. However, for some strange reason, the band decided to release this music video version of Robb Flynn speaking the lyrics in a poetry slam style. Let me be extremely clear that while I generally agree with the message of these lyrics, these lyrics are insanely fucking horrible. These are some of the worst lyrics I’ve ever heard that are meant to be taken seriously and at face value. Then of course, there’s the part where Robb Flynn tries to incorporate the N-word, with the -er. He’s going for shock value that is just totally flat and brings nothing to the table other than attention toward his poor choice of words, you can’t pull off racial slurs in your songs, you are not Jello Biafra in “Holiday in Cambodia”, you’re not even Axl Rose in “One in a Million”, which aged so poorly it was left off of Guns n’ Roses’ massive box set reissue of Appetite for Destruction this year. Luckily for us all, the resulting backlash from Catharsis and the subsequent implosion within the band has resulted in a hiatus from Machine Head, as every member of the group besides Robb Flynn quit the band. Please stay away forever, nobody will ever clamor for a Machine Head reunion tour.
1. Muse – Thought Contagion
In what is a shockingly long overdue welcoming, let’s give a loud, resounding “who gives a fuck?” for Muse, who have finally debuted in our award ceremonies for the first time ever. If you’re wondering how that’s even possible, Muse did not release albums in 2013 or 2014 when I began these, and in 2015 I did not write a list of worst songs, so Alex Jones: The Album, I mean Drones, missed out on being celebrated for it’s inferiority. The saddest part about Muse and their career trajectory is that they were once a widely celebrated and respected band, bringing progressive rock back into the mainstream with hits like “Hysteria” and “Stockholm Syndrome” while also just being a solid new rock group in the early 2000’s with classic albums like Origin of Symmetry and Absolution. As their popularity grew, the band slowly morphed through self-parody into full on trend chasing pop-laden detritus. It was one album of more electronic/pop, less rock after another all with the ever present dystopian future lyrical styling of Matt Bellamy, falsettos and failing to move away from the mic to breathe included. Muse clearly learned nothing from their forefathers Queen and Rush when it comes to progressive rock bands ditching their strength and going for synthesizer driven electronic pop based sounds. I could include every song I’ve heard from their new album Simulation Theory in this list, that’s just the sad state of the Muse discography since The Resistance, every new song from this band is another new low. “Thought Contagion” was the main single for this album, released extremely far ahead of it’s November release date all the way back in February. They actually released another single from this album, “Dig Down” (dig up, stupid) all the way back in the summer of 2017, and how that song avoided last year’s list is a mystery. Anyway, fans of Muse, or I guess I should say former fans of Muse who laugh at their modern incarnation, already had a fair amount of warning ahead to stay far away from this album. It seems that warning was heeded, because Simulation Theory has been a total commercial failure. This song may have peaked at #1 on the Alternative Songs chart, where Muse hold the record for longest streak at #1 in history with “Uprising” (which was #1 for an agonizing 17 weeks, that’s over 4 months of that boring drivel), but the album itself sold nearly 60,000 less copies than Alex Jones: The Album did in it’s first week. Alex Jones: The Album debuted at #1 in the US while Simulation Theory failed to even reach the top 10, becoming their lowest selling album since Absolution’s release in 2003. Muse’s sound these days can best be described as Thirty Seconds to Mars, Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park or Imagine Dragons; a faceless, soulless, vapid, unremarkable blur of electro-pop-rock to be used as background noise. So here’s to Muse, and their long overdue inclusion in our pantheon of the biggest losers, your 2018 award winner for the Rivers Cuomo Award for Worst Song of 2018 Not Performed by Weezer. Until next time, keep your fatwa against Muse alive and raging.