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In the last week of 2021, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis dropped their first new single in five years, and it was, unsurprisingly, greeted with universal silence, as the Grammy-winning rap duo’s credibility had cratered since their peak popularity. Yet the mere announcement of that song reminded us of their last actual hit, 2015’s “Downtown”, which went to #12 on the U.S. charts but had zero cultural impact. That got us thinking: now that we’re in the year 2022, what have been the worst pop hits of the new millennium?
We poured through some of the worst music you’ve ever heard to come up with this list, but a few criteria soon became obvious: it had to actually chart in some fashion (so congratulations, CeeLo Green’s “Robin Williams”, as you avoid this list entirely), and, ideally, was not a one-hit-wonder situation (thus ensuring the Shop Boyz’s 2007 ear-scraper “Party Like a Rock Star” got the chop). This list didn’t have to be year-by-year, so some years might have more duds than others (apologies to 2017). It was a tight narrowing process (BTS’ painfully cloying “Permission to Dance” barely missed the cut), but the decisions have been made: here are the 22 worst pop hits of the past 22 years.
Ricky Martin — “She Bangs” (2000)
Rick Martin’s 1999 Grammy Awards performance of “La Copa de la Vida” / “The Cup of Life” was as grand a star-making moment as they come, but it was the blockbuster single “Livin’ la Vida Loca” that defined his career, as well as ushering in the entire Latin pop craze of the early 2000s. Ricky Martin had other goofball singles off of his English-language self-titled record (think “Shake Your Bon-Bon”), but “Livin’ La Vida Loca” is what he was known for, so the lead single for his second album “Sound Loaded” was a rehash of that. “She Bangs”, however, has only gotten even more cringe in the years that followed, aging like terrible cheese. Martin had no hand in writing the track, and in the years since Martin has come out of the closet, he may take issue with singing wildly derogatory lines like “She looks like a flower / But she stings like a bee / Like every girl in history.” He may have felt it was the right move at the time, but two decades later, it’s one of the most unfortunate tracks in his entire discography.