13. Mumford & Sons - I Will Wait: Is there any band since Dave Matthews which has exhausted the good faith of music lovers more quickly? Every song is the same - pleasing, musical, with reasonably well crafted but bland lyrics, and so sincere that the oil of insincerity drips from their pores. If you heard any Mumford & Sons song in isolation, you’d be very happy with it and want to hear more. But Mumford & Sons is a formula that will be repeated hundreds of times before they’re over. Hearing a rock singer say that I will wait for you’ sort of seems like the acme of insincerity, and after a while, you don’t believe a word they sing.
14. The Vaccines - Teenage Icon: A punk band has the humility to realize they’re not that great. Would that it happened more often, but they’re absolutely right.
15. Usher - Climax: “Revolutionary Pop” eh? Let’s leave aside the stupefying modesty and simply ask: hasn’t popular music had enough fake revolutions for one century? I admire the effort to combine hip-hop with serious electronica, but this is the blandest and most milquetoast climax since Perry Como.
16. Van Halen - Stay Frosty: Gotta be honest, and I’m at least a little less ashamed by this than I should be... I didn’t even know Van Halen was still a band. This song perhaps explains why. Guitar work is nearly as good as I ever remember it being for them, but the song itself... What?
17. Kitty Pryde - Okay Cupid: Well... it’s original. Hipster-Hop? It’s not that hipsters don’t listen to hip-hop, but somehow, this is the whitest, most girl-power, most hipster hip-hop I’ve ever heard in my VAAAAAST experience of all those scenes. It’s still not particularly good, but at least it’s different.
18: Rolling Stones - Doom and Gloom: “How do the Rolling Stones have new songs?” - Ethan Tucker. It sounds like a bunch of 70-year-olds doing an impression of who they were when they were 20. It’s competent, but I don’t even care much for the Rolling Stones from their prime. This is sad.
19. Beach House - Other People: Well, they’re from Baltimore, so I better tread carefully here.... )(&*^*&^$&^%$ &*^% (&* ^(&* )(&^*&^$%*&$% (*&*&%$&^#$^# (*^&&^$&^$ $#$%^#%^$*&!
20. Leonard Cohen - Going Home: Is Leonard Cohen even a singer anymore? At this point, his songs are just hip-hop tracks that move at geriatric speeds. Much moreso than Bob Dylan, I find it almost impossible to judge Leonard Cohen when he sings his own music. The lyrics of this song are so much higher a level than anything here short of Dylan himself, but I find nearly any Leonard Cohen album impossible to listen to. It’s basically just a spoken word performance with a bad synthesizer and the kind of backup girls that sounded anachronistic by 1963. How can a musician so great be so terrible?
21. Donald Fagen - Weather In My Head: The guy from Steely Dan still has it... not that I ever knew he ever had it before. I’ve heard a Steely Dan song maybe twice in my life... But I’m going to start listening right away. Short of Dylan’s contribution, this is easily the greatest song on this list so far - and a song with far better music... Funk can apparently still be done in our time as well as any other. Thank god,... I was really beginning to believe my own worst stereotypes about non-classical music.
22. Skrilles - Bangarang: Well it does demand your attention... with all the endearingness of a spoiled kid on a sugar high. If this song were a kid, I’d slap it. If this is dubstep,...
23. Randy Newman - I’m Dreaming: My extremely uncool passion for Randy Newman is well documented. Yes, it doesn’t help to tell you that the smartest songwriter in America sounds like a mentally challenged asylum inmate, or that South Park, Family Guy, and Mad TV have all had a go at his extremely obvious flaws. But against that, I have to assert that this is a songwriter on an intellectual level - musically, poetically, thematically - that no other songwriter of our time can approximate with more laughs and more pathos-per-bar than Dylan, Cohen, Neil Young, or Springsteen combined. Here is another great song from the greatest songwriter of our era who doesn’t write musicals, and I hope people begin to wake up to that before posterity washes him away.
24. Japandroids - The House that Heaven Built: This band’s got a great name. Otherwise, see the last sentence of #3.
25. Psy - Gangnam Style: “You have to listen to Gangnam Style? You don’t already have an opinion?” - Ethan Tucker ... My opinion can be found here.
26. The Lumineers - Ho Hey: Risible and catchy for all the wrong reasons.
27. A$AP Rocky - Goldie: There will always people around to defend cynical rappers who create song after song of the ‘pimps and hos’ variety. They’ll tell us that it takes cleverness to make songs with such debased values and still make it interesting. What’s sad about this argument is that it’s absolutely right. Yes, it’s objectionable and kind of loathesome. It’s no less objectionable than the pre-packaged, airbrushed, over-produced music we get from everyone from Britney Spears to Justin Timberlake to Maroon 5 to (yes indeed) Lady Gaga. Don’t hate the playa, hate the game.
28. Grimes - Oblivion: Creepy. Very creepy. I’m tempted to leave it there but... the musical technique on display here is pretty astounding. Watch this one. She’s going to the stratosphere.
29. Grizzly Bear - Yet Again: Someone, somewhere, has no doubt that this song is very deep. Find these people, and kill them.
30. The Beach Boys - That’s Why God Made the Radio: God, what we lost with Brian Wilson’s nervous breakdown... No amount of drugs can diminish Wilson’s ear, but this is music by and for a group of people who still exist in a time that is long past. It makes you wonder what might have happened had Mozart or Schubert merely had a nervous breakdown instead of die young - would their older selves be washed up versions of their young years? Forever cranking out a tired copy of their youthful style long after the world moved on?