The 10 Worst Songs of the 2000s

The Y2K bug didn’t hit the way doomsayers predicted. Planes didn’t fall out of the sky and artists continued to make music, both good and bad. Here I pick out ten of my most loathed songs from the first decade of the 21st century.

Often I preface these worst song lists by noting that there’s a fine line between a memorable great song and an annoying earworm. But I don’t know that that’s the case here – read on for bad cover versions, mediocre rants against the music industry, unintentionally hilarious vocals, and some lovely lady lumps.

The 10 Worst Songs of the 2000s

#10 The Rose by Westlife

2006
I already singled out the Irish boyband Boyzone on my 1990s Worst Songs list. Their compatriots Westlife had to fire half of their members on account of ugliness before they signed a record contract. Westlife have lovely vocals, but their choice of material is even lamer than Boyzone. 2005 hit ‘You Lift Me Up’ echoed Bette Midler’s ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’, before an actual Midler cover, ‘The Rose’. Westlife’s version is sappy and soulless, but it topped the charts in the UK and Ireland anyway.


#9 Who Let The Dogs Out by The Baha Men

2000
‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ was first recorded in 1998, by Trinidadian artist Anslem Douglas. It had a feminist theme, condemning cat-callers. It was somehow discovered by producer Jonathan King, known for recording the 1960s hit ‘Everyone’s Gone To The Moon’ and discovering Genesis. It fell into the hands of The Baha Men, a Bahamian group whose first album dates back to 1977. This irritating ditty has become a favourite at sporting events.


#8 With Arms Wide Open by Creed

2000
Creed frontman Scott Stapp wrote the lyrics to ‘With Arms Wide Open’ after learning that his wife was expecting. The band worked up the music in a quarter of an hour at a soundcheck. The result is a painfully sincere power ballad, so overplayed that even Stapp’s wife admitted that she would change the station when it came on.


#7 Axel F by Crazy Frog

2005
In 1984 the instrumental theme for Beverly Hills Cop, ‘Axel F’ hit number one on the charts. In 2005, it was back in the public eye when a collective of European producers returned it to the charts. The Crazy Frog sound originated from a 17-year-old Swedish student, who recorded himself impersonating the sound of a two-stroke engine. Accompanied by a 3D animated character, originally referred to as “The Annoying Thing’, ‘Axel F’ topped the UK charts for four weeks.


#6 I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair) by Sandi Thom

2006
It’s easy to forget how successful Scottish singer Sandi Thom was in 2006. ‘I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker’ topped the Australian singles charts for ten weeks. Any mildly informed music fan will take issue with Thom conflating punks and hippies, two distinct cultural movements that occurred a decade apart. But the faulty premise is nothing next to the shapeless melody.


#5 Cha-Ching by Hedley

2009
Both ‘Cha-Ching’ and the previous song on the list take aim at the lack of integrity and creativity in the music business. There’s a delicious irony in that both of these songs are inferior to most of the commercial radio fodder that they complain about. Somehow, ‘Cha-Ching’ was a substantial hit in Canada, even though it sounds like a hybrid of Blink-182 and Smashmouth from ten years earlier.


#4 Photograph by Nickelback

2005
Canadian rockers Nickelback are the most critically lampooned band in the history of popular music. The opening line for this #2 Billboard hit is “Look at this photograph/Every time I do, it makes me laugh.” It’s appropriate because I have to stifle a giggle every time I hear Chad Kroeger’s ultra-constipated vocal stylings. Anything Nickelback released in the decade would fit on this list but the softer sound of ‘Photograph’ serves to emphasise Kroeger’s vocal failings.


#3 Candy Shop by 50 Cent featuring Olivia

2005
Somehow, Curtis Jackson was wildly successful in the early 21st century, despite little lyrical insight or charisma. Like Peter Andre a decade earlier, he was often more celebrated for his muscular frame than his musical talent. On the #1 hit ‘Candy Shop’, he recycles the premise of his earlier hit ‘Magic Stick’, extolling both his prowess and his size.


#2 You’re Beautiful by James Blunt

2005
Former British Army reconnaissance officer James Blunt hit the paydirt with his second single, ‘You’re Beautiful’. Despite Blunt’s vocal resembling an emasculated hobbit, ‘You’re Beautiful’ topped the charts in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia. “Weird” Al Yankovic’s parody, ‘You’re Pitiful’, supplies two key ingredients missing from the original – a sense of humour and a competent lead vocal. Blunt has apologised for ‘You’re Beautiful’, noting that he “was marketed by a record company to appeal to women during Desperate Housewives‘ commercials”.


#1 My Humps by The Black Eyed Peas

2005
The Black Eyed Peas started as an alternative hip-hop act but became wildly popular with Fergie on vocals. Wikipedia drily notes that “the song sparked controversy because of its title and lyrics, which center on a woman who uses her breasts and buttocks to accomplish her goals.” It’s hard to ascertain whether Fergie’s lyrics (“They say I’m really sexy/The boys they wanna sex me”) or Fergie’s vocal performance is the song’s worst aspect.

Apologies if I’ve picked on one of your favourites. Any suggestions for the list?

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36 Comments

  1. I barely know any of these so I guess I haven’t missed anything. I genuinely appreciate the fact that you’re willing occasionally (as am I) to call out shite music. Some bloggers are always going on about positivity which, generally speaking, I aspire to. But sometimes you have to tell it like it is. Watch for my ten-part series on ‘Sometimes When We Touch.’

    • It is pretty easy to avoid bad music now, in a mostly post-radio world, unless you get it piped into work. But it’s still fun to write about it anyway. You are lucky to have avoided My Humps and Who Let The Dogs Out – I guess a couple on the list are British songs that weren’t so big in the US.

  2. I actually like a couple of these – in the same way I like the bangles and Belinda Carlyle and REO Speedwagon. Guilty pleasures.

    Great list – and ya you could have had all Creed or Nickelback.

    Some you missed (mostly from Canada):

    Finger 11
    Three Day’s Grace
    Sum 41
    Default
    Three Doors Down

    • The Bangles are a good band, and Belinda Carlisle was in The Go-Go’s. I don’t think they really count as guilty pleasures.

  3. The ones I knew well were Creed and Nickelback…and YES they deserve to be on this list…I then listened to all of them and knew more than I thought…so I agree with your list 100 percent. My #1 would be Who Let The Dogs Out…that song should be incinerated into ashes…and then salt pour on the earth where the ashes fell…

    • Apparently lots of sports clubs like to argue about who started using Who Let The Dogs Out first. Seems like a dubious claim to fame.

          • No this was “dog” night at the ballpark…you were allowed to bring your dog…so yea it fit…but that doesn’t mean it was easy to listen to.

  4. I’ve only heard about three of these even though I know all the names here. I got to listen to them all to see if they’re as bad as you say. And it looks like they might be, especially that cover of The Rose. Sheesh. I like the old version of Axel F so there’s a chance I might like this new one.

  5. Though I haven’t heard a few of your picks, I strongly agree with “My Humps”, “Photograph”, “Who Let the Dogs Out” and “With Arms Wide Open”. I hated Creed, mainly because of Scott Stapp’s horrible vocals. Have to disagree with James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” though; I know it’s one of the most despised songs of that decade, but I’ve always liked it.

    • ‘You’re Beautiful’ is maybe the closest to a good song on that list, if that makes sense. It’s memorable and has that twist at the end of each chorus, I think I’d like it more with a different vocalist.

  6. How come I can’t post In certain places on your blog? When I try to post a reply to you it keeps saying Nonce Verification. I don’t know what that is. I’ve never heard the word Nonce in my whole entire life. Now let’s see If it works on this other post instead.

      • I looked up the definition for nonce and it means something that’s just for a one-time use or occasion. But it also has a slang use that means a stupid person. And it’s also an acronym for a kind of sex offender and some other British thing. Isn’t that weird that they would use it at a blog place? Nonce verification. Maybe it means that in order to post something you have to have a one-time verification from WordPress. Idk. I just think it is so fucking weird that anyone would even use that word.

  7. But anyway, I wanted to reply to your thing about that guy’s post about Niagara Falls. which was cool. How he went on the Maid of the Mist and everything. When I first moved to Buffalo I went on it and it was absolutely terrifying. I thought I was going to die for sure. And I’ve never gone on it since because it was so scary. Now when I go to the Falls I just watch other people go on it , But I won’t go on it myself. I bet he’ll never go on it again either, I’ll tell you that.

  8. That’s maybe how you know so much about Canadian music.

    I love Rick James and the Goo Goo Dolls (both Buffalo). I especially like the Syracuse band Ra Ra Riot. That’s an hours drive south of where I went to university in Kingston (the Hip, Sarah Harmer, Bedouin Soundclash)

  9. While I’m generally not a fan of ‘worst of’ lists (probably because I actually don’t mind Photograph) I have to say ”Drops of Jupiter’ by Train still irks me after all these years.

    • Drops of Jupiter has never bothered me too much. I’d stopped listening to radio much by the time it came out – it would probably bug me if it was on all the time, since it’s a bit plodding.

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