2016 has been a very varied year for music. All the acts I expected to do well this year have faltered off, yet we’ve had some of the best music of the year made by the most unlikely of artists. When you concentrate on pop music in particular, this statement is only further proven. Pop music has been impossible to keep track of this year; the sheer wealth of huge artists recording in 2016 has left us feeling a little weary in all honesty. Especially when we hear these particular things being reused and recycled… Que title of the segment… Here is our top five list of ‘things we hate in pop music’… Enjoy!
5. Forced Drug Culture
I’d say about one in three tracks we listen to involves some form of drug use. Now is that a bad thing? Not on the surface. We are hardly PC here at String Buzz and we don’t care for the content of a song as long as that content is good. But when it comes to drug references and drug culture, it’s really beginning to rustle our timbers. You have these ex bubblegum pop acts like Miley Cyrus releasing tracks to do with smoking that reefer, you have acts like Disturbed releasing music about ‘Blazing Up’ and you have indie groups like The Neighbourhood talking about how they survive off of weed… Am I missing something here? Now these acts might do these things in real life and they probably do, but do we really have to listen to them talking about it? There are probably over two hundred million people around the world who do some form of drugs, what makes you so special? The only act I’ve seen this whole year do drug culture justice Macklemore. He demonised it and summed the culture up perfectly. But when I’m hearing these rich white girls and upper classed mummy’s boys sing about how they love to puff things up, it just sounds horrific. The word play is usually terrible, the lyricism in general is usually awful and their self proclaimed ‘clever references’ are blatantly obvious ploys to capitalise on the ever growing stoner crowd. Please just stop it…
4. Steel Pans In Every Single Song
Now I don’t hate steel pans, I don’t hate them one bit. I even have a friend who’s part of a professional steel pans troupe who have played to the Queen and all sorts of folk, but this fad has to stop in pop music. Every other pop track has these steel pan based progressions that cry out to the urban crowd. This over production and excessive use of the instrument in electronic music is really getting on my nerves. It’s making every track sound the same and there is only so much you can do with the pan’s timbre. I love it in reggae and ska, but in general pop music, I find it so lifeless and pandering. This abundant amount of African culture and Caribbean music is great to hear in the charts, when it’s done by people who know what they’re doing and aren’t just jumping on the trend. You can actually blame us Brits for over using this sound since we have acts like Mura Masa and Clean Bandit using them for every other track. Heck you’ve even got people like Maroon 5 using it now; it’s swept the globe and outstayed it’s welcome. This has to die out in 2017.
3. Those Ruddy Horns!
Meme culture and vine culture has led to these air horns being used in modern music. It’s funny in ‘dank meme compilations’ but it’s not funny to listen to in serious tracks being produced every day. At least three songs I listen to per day have these stupid air horns and the joke is dead now; never rely on a dead meme. The funniest use has to be Keke Palmers latest track though. She used it literally after delivering an emotional speech to break into this reggae-pop track about sex… Music is just all sorts of jumbled at the minute. Now I realise that the horns had been used before vine culture back ta the start of the reggae movement. But that was forty to fifty years ago now, times have changed and this has to go…
2. One Word Hooks/Title Hooks (Three Word Hooks)
One word hooks are the in thing this year with countless acts using them to drive sections up to a minute long. Not just that, but the three word hook does this even more excruciatingly. When you pummel a single word into my mind for a collected time of a minute and a half, I’m going to forget you, I just am. You have tracks that have used this excellently in the past like ‘Hallelujah’ and many more, but this year we aren’t even trying to replace this one word hooks. I mean I wouldn’t mind it if they didn’t use this hook for a thirty second chorus, three times or more a track. That’s way too much time dedicated to a single word. Three word hooks on the other hand get an excuse because they are just reiterating the title. But these hooks can last up to two minutes in songs! Look at Zara Larsson. Her two biggest tracks this year ‘I Would Like’ and ‘Ain’t My Fault’ use three word title hooks in the exact same way using the exact same melody… People are ripping off themselves! However, I’m going to cut this one off early since there is a sub category of this pet peeve which I feel takes the top spot…
1. The Word ‘Work’
Oh my goodness this is an overused trend. I cannot believe that the biggest word this year is ‘work’. Now we’ve had popular phrases before like ‘Want you back’, ‘Set fire’ and ‘I don’t need you’, but the word ‘work’ trumps these phrases in repetition throughout this year. How nobody noticed that Rihanna’s track ‘Work’ uses the same hook as Fifth Harmonies track ‘Work From Home’ just sped up, is actually astonishing. We’ve had seven tracks this year that have hit the Billboard Hot 100 top ten with the hook simply being the word ‘Work’. What does it even mean? I mean yeah sure I get it’s a cheap innuendo but is it really that funny or clever that we have to hear over three hours of music dedicated to the word? I mean in the past Wiz Khalifa has used it, David Guetta and Akon has used it, Yung Nation has used it, Iggy Azalea has used it, Lil Jon has used it, A$AP Ferg has used it, and that’s just naming people off of the top of my head! If you type in ‘Work by’ to YouTube there are seven huge artists who have used the word as their title and hook just this year! This has to stop and be left in the dust immediately. Luckily it’s began to fade away this half of the year but how it became a thing in the first place is honestly astonishing.
There are pop tracks coming out today with up to five features… Five… In a single run time of three to four minutes. That’s less than a minute per feature and that’s taking into account that those features are even allowed the full minute. Not just that, you have over thirty people writing these songs, five people producing them and often session musicians to come in and play the pieces. That means you can have up to FIFTY people on a single pop track. There is a saying that too many chefs ruin the broth and that’s proven here. I’m so fed up of tacked on rap features by artists who are there just for a pay check. We had Wiz Khalifa featuring on an X Ambassadors track, we’ve had G-Eazy featuring on The Neighbourhood’s latest album… But let’s address the elephant in the room here. CHRIS BROWN AND DRAKE HAVE APPEARED ON EVERY SINGLE TRACK THIS YEAR. I’m so fed up of this feature bull crap. Just make a track and finish it yourself. Write a proper bridge instead of chucking in a rap verse. Ugh this is so lucky not feature on this list…