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An alternative view: the biggest disppointments of 2018

ByJason Woods

Jan 21, 2019

Worst album lists are often an oddity, given music fans tendency to not deliberately seek out bad music. Initially, it would seem like compiling such a list would be an issue but inevitably the worst music the scene has to offer crosses paths with listeners, unsuspecting or otherwise. For all the quality music 2018 gave us, listeners were greeted too by the true bottom of the creative barrel. 2018’s misfits gave us everything from the laughable to the forgettable to the abominable.

5. Nav – Reckless
Given Nav’s career has been the musical equivalent of white bread served with a glass of water, it was perhaps misguided to have any sense of expectation for his debut project Reckless. However, even with these rock-bottom expectations, Nav manages to disappoint with a record outstanding in its averageness. When the Toronto rapper and producer didn’t spend his 2018 ruining good tracks with his guest verses, he was busy releasing a hiphop album endemic of the criticisms levied against the modern genre. An occasional decent feature and passable production do not outweigh Nav’s total lack of personality, an unpleasant combo with the whiney confessional yet braggadocios tone of Reckless. Nav’s verse on Travis Scott’s ‘Yosemite’ was trolled for its barely audible volume.

4. The Chainsmokers – Sick Boy
It was good thinking from The Chainsmokers to release their sophomore album so late in the year, likely after 2018’s ‘Worst Of’ lists had already been produced. Thankfully this list has been released just in time to include this follow-up to their widely-panned debut album, meaning this slightly improved project can occupy its rightful place. Morbid curiosity was the only genuinely intriguing factor for those not enamoured with The Chainsmokers’ boardroom produced EDM sound. Naturally, this sound was not enough to carry an entire record. The pop EDM hybrid of their debut album is largely replaced for equally vapid festival music, still tinged with the same frat-boy misogyny and manipulative self-loathing rife throughout their discography. Unfortunately, nothing seems to diminish the astounding longevity of this group. At least the faceless, soulless nature of Sick Boy indicates The Chainsmokers are just as bored of The Chainsmokers too.

3. Greta Van Fleet – Anthem of the Peaceful Army
Another group with an apparent unfortunate amount of longevity are Greta ‘Not Led Zepellin’ Van Fleet, an American rock band that already seem to have outstayed their welcome. It is perhaps unfortunate that they land on this list given their indisputable technical ability, particularly when compared to 2018’s other flops. Skill alone, however, could not carry an album this devoid of ideas. It is genuinely impressive for an album so obsolete to have been created. Greta Van Fleet offer us no reason to listen to them over the rock legends they so unashamedly copy, apart from as a joke. The fetishisation of boomers and appropriation of Native American culture is not enough to set the band apart from the millions of other Zepellin cover bands, with the band’s total lack of self-awareness rendering them like a parody of themselves. Perhaps worst of all, Anthem of the Peaceful Army validates the white men that think music died after the ’80s. Anyone wishing for a more open-minded, progressive music scene will find this album directly attacking their interests.

2. 6ix9ine – Dummy Boy
Fans of 6ix9ine, otherwise known as Tekashi, often peddle the tired old line of “separating the art and artist.” This as a way to dust their hands of the moral implications that come with supporting people as problematic as the Brooklyn rapper & sex offender. However, even if 6ix9ine fans are taken at their best, this album is terrible before 6ix9ine’s personal life even factors in. Perhaps the only redeeming feature of the unlistenable Dummy Boy is the authenticity 6ix9ine spent his whole career looking for. To say an artist sold their soul is a cliché but it was only by associating with the Los Angeles gang, the Bloods, that later resulted in 6ix9ine’s incarceration from which he gained any level of credibility. This, however, does not excuse for the sonic cracks that are littered throughout the album. The brightest moments on the project come from vultures like Kanye West and Nicki Minaj trying to clamber over 6ix9ine, using every bit of his fame that they can before they discard him and claim blissful ignorance of his atrocities. As 6ix9ine sits incarcerated now, I’m sure the question of if this was all worth it will reverberate endlessly through his brain. Nothing seems to indicate it was.

1. Lil Xan – Total Xanarchy
The Internet age has offered so much to the world of music but inevitably, there had to be some downside to this constant exchange of sounds and ideas. In many ways, Soundcloud is a double-edged sword, offering us otherwise undiscovered talent yet simultaneously forcing flash-in-the-pans to long outstay their welcome. The latter is the case with Total Xanarchy, launched from Xan’s semi-interesting Yung Lean rip-off breakout single ‘Betrayed’. Lil Xan spends an entire record trying to make ‘Betrayed’ 14 more times and fails spectacularly. ‘Betrayed’ would also be the worst song on any other record on this list – a pseudo-confessional trap song so minimalistic that it really accomplishes nothing, complete with lines that would make any listener shudder (“she gay, still into me”). The only positive thing that can be said about this snivelling yet simultaneously braggadocios album is that it lacks the longevity of any of its counterparts, with Xan lacking the street authenticity of a 6ix9ine or the emotional integrity of a Yung Lean. Ultimately, it was apparent that this record would land in this spot the moment it was released and anything said otherwise indicates that it has not yet been listened to.


Image: Troy Larsen via Wikimedia Commons

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