Here, at long last, is the first installment in the results of my attempted research product to create a definitive list of the Worst Albums of the 2010s. I’m not planning to put them into any particular order, or narrow them down to specific round numbers per year, because researching this project practically gave me cancer. It was by far the most unpleasant research I’ve ever had to do for this site (keep in mind that my work on this list has taken three years to complete), and also resulted in my having to purchase hundreds of dollars worth of albums that I never intend to listen to again after I finish this list. With that in mind, I just want to display the results of my research, have a few bitter laughs, and then never think about any of this again. Fortunately, the primary target demographic for this kind of list is primarily here simply to see bad media get eviscerated in a humorous way, and that I can provide easily. So, to start with, here are the albums that met the requirements of my prospective list in the year 2010. Since I have made no attempt to rank them in any way, they are presented in chronological order.
“Animal”/“Cannibal” by Kesha
I have discussed this album in great detail on multiple drafts of its own specific review, so I will be brief here. Suffice it to say that while Kesha has now proven herself to be one of the great geniuses of Pop music, having listened to this album-and-bonus-EP combo, I still completely understand why most of the public at the time of her debut branded her the worst Pop singer of all time.
“Rebirth” by Lil Wayne
This is the result of Lil Wayne’s attempt to make a Rock album. Yes, you heard that right. Lil Wayne tried to break into the Rock world, complete with heavily auto-tuned singing and Wayne actually attempting to play the guitar himself (emphasis on attempting). Apart from one song that featured a guest verse from Recovery-era Eminem, it was hard to find anyone who liked anything about this record, even back when Lil Wayne still actually had fans (we’ll get to the phenomenon that ended that later in this series of lists, trust me). It has to tell you something that even in 2010, when Lil Wayne was the most prominent and successful Rapper in the world at the time, this album still bombed and got a critical thrashing. I’m just amazed that it didn’t manage to damage his career more, but as I hinted earlier, something later on these lists would more than make up for that.
“Jason Derulo” by Jason Derulo
In spite of containing two of the best Pop hits of 2010, “In My Head” and “Ridin’ Solo”, Jason Derulo’s annoying personality and terrible singing are enough to make this album as a whole almost unbearable. Of all the Teenybopper R&B singers to emerge while Chris Brown was temporarily out of the spotlight, Derulo is easily the most fundamentally untalented, and in addition to his incredibly grating auto-tune vocals, he just comes across as intensely unlikable on most of this album. The generally mediocre Electro-Pop R&B that constitutes most of this album is not enough to redeem it from Derulo’s faults as a performer, and the album contains one of the all-time legends of bad songs in its lead single “Whatcha Say”.
“Sweet 7” by Sugababes
Recorded by a once-interesting British girl group after all of the original members had quit, this is noisy, obnoxious, flagrantly sexualized Electropop that is indistinguishable from a bad Rihanna album except in the sense that none of the remaining singers have one-tenth of Rihanna’s charisma or vocal ability. Part of its negative reception can be chalked up to the fact that it was recorded by the band after its management fired the de facto frontwoman, Keisha Buchanan (imagine if Destiny’s Child had fired Beyonce and then tried to go on recording without her), but the music is annoying and sleazy enough to condemn this album on its own.
“My World 2.0” by Justin Bieber
This was Bieber’s first full-length album, and produced the two most notorious of his early hits, the overexposed “Baby” and the ridiculous “Eenie Meenie”. At this point, Bieber still had the incredibly irritating falsetto that made him so much of a target of ridicule back in the day, and he was still peddling his brand of unconvincing pseudo-lascivious Pop crooning that made him sound like a complete ass. Even as cheesy and dated schlock-Pop goes, this is still notably embarrassing, and while Bieber has since improved to the point of kinda-sorta-almost-okay-ish-if-you-squint-at-him-a-little-bit, this album still stands as a permanent reminder of the time when he was the absolute worst thing in popular music.
“The Messenger” by Bizzle
I also did a full review of this one, so let’s just say that this is easily the worst Christian album of the decade, hands down (and yes, I know it’s technically a mixtape. Don’t be pedantic). Bizzle actually has a fair amount of talent as a rapper (something I really hate to have to acknowledge about the “Same Love (A Response)” guy), but the intolerable religious self-righteousness and the unfortunate fact that Bizzle is a raving lunatic destroy anything that could have been good about this album.
“Nobody’s Daughter” by Hole
Believe it or not, as hated as she is by pretty much all of the public, there was a time when Courtney Love’s band Hole actually made interesting music. Unfortunately, this ill-advised “reunion” album was made long after that time had passed. It isn’t the worst reunion album for an iconic Rock band in the current decade (we’ll get to a much sadder and uglier example of this phenomenon on one of the later lists), but it’s still an unpleasant, self-indulgent mess with obnoxious music and pretentious, self-pitying lyrics. Even worse is Courtney Love’s performance…she seems about as likable as a sewer rat with rabies on this album, coming off as smug, gloating and bitter. I understand that this might have something to do with the at least partially undeserved Hell she’s been put through by the public at large, but it’s not going to help with their perception of her personality, and it certainly doesn’t help this album’s case.
“Bionic” by Christina Aguilera
Whether the rumors of her bad-mouthing Lady Gaga beforehand are true or not, it’s still sad that Aguilera felt she had to resort to ripping off Gaga this blatantly, especially considering what a spectacularly bad job she did. At least Lady Gaga, say what you will about her, was 1. creative, and 2. known for making decent music most of the time. This album would be an almost uncanny impression of Gaga’s style, complete with the cryptic spoken-word interludes she liked to include, if the production weren’t so cheap and the lyrics weren’t so stupid. This would be depressing enough coming from an unproven newcomer, but Aguilera is one of the living legends of Pop music. This is the woman who, with her Stripped album, set the template for the kind of artful, empowering use of sexuality in Pop music that Lady Gaga drew much of her own influence from, and then went on to create the sublime Jazz-Pop masterpiece Back to Basics. For Aguilera, this is like a reversion to her “Genie in a Bottle” days before she had any artistic control, only this time with worse music and production.
“Can’t Be Tamed” by Miley Cyrus
This was Miley Cyrus’ extremely heavy-handed attempt to imitate Britney Spears’ transition from child star to raunchy shock-value public spectacle. The same approach would work for Cyrus on her next album (although the music would hardly be any better), but when she first tried it, it was one of the most spectacular bombs of the decade. It’s hard to explain why it worked the second time but not the first, but I put it down to marketing. Apart from her handlers doing a much better job of marketing her image, the music on 2013’s Bangerz (which we’ll get to, believe me), for all its many, many failings, at least sounded like conventionally catchy Pop music. The music on this album is sour, unpleasant, and surprisingly devoid of memorable tunes, even the annoying earworm kind found on Bangerz. It’s also overload-your-senses obnoxious in a very 2010 way, making is one of the hardest-to-listen-to titles even within the confines of this list. It doesn’t even have the paper-thin excuse of pretending to be avant-garde like her third meme-level pop culture disaster, Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz (which we’ll also get to later in these lists). This isn’t quite the worst of Miley Cyrus’ albums, but its existence is definitely the most baffling.
“Streets of Gold” by 3oh3
Ah, yes, the only Crunkcore band ever to actually have any major hits. For those of you who don’t know what Crunkcore is, just imagine someone put bad Party-Rap, bad Hardcore Punk, and bad Electronica in a blender and set it to “Worst music of all time”. These two idiots adopt a persona somewhere between rejects from a bad Will Ferrell movie and an unironic version of the title characters of Beavis and Butthead, and they manage to out-Akon Akon in terms of saying asinine things to and about women. This album was the second one released during their nodding acquaintance with Pop success, and produced their second hit as lead artists, the unspeakably puerile “My First Kiss”. These guys are mostly forgotten now, but as the only Crunkcore band to go mainstream even temporarily, they represent a special kind of shame for Pop music in general.
“Funstyle” by Liz Phair
Everyone told Indie icon Liz Phair that the songs on this album weren’t fit for release, but she persevered, and ultimately self-released them on the internet when her label refused to be associated with them. I wish this story had a happy ending, but if it did, it wouldn’t be on this list. Turns out in the case everyone else was right, and releasing these songs essentially destroyed Phair’s career (this happened eight-plus years ago, and she hasn’t released an album since). Really bad Indie Rock is a special kind of bad that no bad Pop music can quite equal, and these songs, including one where Liz Phair actually tries to Rap, are some of the most bizarrely horrible music ever to come out of the Indie scene, much less be recorded and released by one of its living legends.
“United Nations of Sound” by Richard Ashcroft
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The “band” that made this album is essentially a pseudonym for Richard Ashcroft, who had previously been the frontman of legendary Alternative Rock band The Verve. To say this is not on the level of his work with the Verve is putting it exceptionally mildly. Here, Ashcroft offers lyrics that are alternately banal and completely incomprehensible, delivered over cheesy Hip-Hop production that doesn’t remotely match Ashcroft’s sound. Even Ashcroft himself, one of the greatest Alternative Rock singers of all time, just sounds annoying here.
“31 Minutes to Takeoff” by Mike Posner
Mike Posner has turned out to be a significant songwriting talent with “Beneath Your Beautiful” and the At Night, Alone album, but there’s a reason he was initially treated as a joke. Posner was never a very accomplished singer on his best day, but here he attempts a bizarre vocal affectation he later described as “singing Hip-Hop”, which not only made his mediocre singing twenty times worse, but completely destroyed the music itself in the process. This, combined with the wildly uneven songwriting (Posner was still maturing as a songwriter at this point, and boy does it show), makes this album one of those best-forgotten early-career embarrassments for which I believe the internet has coined the expression “Old Shame”.
“Fuckin’ A” by Anal Cunt
Ladies and gentlemen, I present the worst band of all time. This is a band so vile, you can’t even say their name in polite company. These are the reprehensible jackasses who made fun of Eric Clapton after his infant son died…they’re not just bad musicians, they’re bad people. This is actually one of their less horrible albums, though obviously still bad enough to make this list. Here they attempt to do pastiche Hair Metal, and while their music is still thoroughly godawful, at least it actually qualifies as music instead of random noise and screaming like their usual work. On the other hand, it also leads them to make full-length songs instead of their usual under-a-minute fragments, which is definitely not a good thing and kind of serves to neutralize any relative redeeming qualities this album may have compared to the band’s other work.
“Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time” by Santana
This album sounded like a great idea on paper…team legendary guitarist Carlos Santana with some of the most prominent Rock vocalists of today to do covers of some of Classic Rock’s greatest songs. Unfortunately, what we actually ended up getting from this concept was one of the worst cover albums of all time, a sort of 2010s equivalent to Duran Duran’s Thank You. Of course, part of the problem was that some of the vocalists in question, like Scott Storch, Chris Daughtry, and Pat Monahan weren’t really that good to begin with, but even talented singers like Chris Cornell wound up sounding awful here. The real problem was that these modern performers are performing these Classic Rock songs in the style of modern Post-Grunge Hard Rock, with Santana doing his best to back them up in these efforts, and the styles just don’t translate. No matter how talented the performers in question are, Classic Rock chestnuts like “Whole Lotta Love” and “Smoke on the Water” just sound grotesque when performed as though they were Post-Grunge songs, and despite its superficial appeal as a concept, this album turned out to have been a bad idea from the beginning.
“Cardiology” by Good Charlotte
Good Charlotte might just be the most annoying band of the 2000s…not the worst, certainly, but the most annoying. Between their blatantly disingenuous Boy-Band-disguised-as-Rock image and the spiteful, mean-spirited whining that permeates their music, they are arguably the most repellent band in the Emo genre. This album is more of the same from them, with obnoxious music, irritating vocals and angsty, self-pitying lyrics with a distinct edge of ugliness and spite to them. The only difference is that by this point, the band’s dual frontmen, brothers Benjamin and Joel Madden, were already thirty years old, and what might have seemed like to excusable excesses of youth earlier in their careers was now just sad and pathetic coming from two grown men. It’s exactly what Emo music in general is often accused of being…music for self-involved arrested adolescents who think they invented suffering…and it gives the better bands in the genre a bad name.
“Wearing Out Our Welcome” by Anal Cunt
I hope this doesn’t make the remaining years’ lists seem anticlimactic, but this one has my vote for the single worst album of the current decade. In contrast to the bad pastiche Hair Metal of Fuckin’ A, this album represents what Anal Cunt normally sounds like…bursts of random unlistenable noise with high-pitched screaming over them. What few lyrics are remotely intelligible constitute the lowest form of cheap shock value. The album’s most unforgivable moment comes in “Tsunasum”, where frontman Seth Putnam openly gloats over the frontman of a more legit Grindcore band with whom he had a rivalry dying in the 2004 tsunami. I wouldn’t normally say this about anyone regardless of whether I liked their music, but given that making fun of people’s deaths was one of Putnam’s favorite pastimes, I can’t help but feel that his death by a heart attack less than a year after this album’s release represents a kind of karma.
“The Incredible Machine” by Sugarland
I don’t know what the greatest Country band of the 2000s were smoking when they decided to make a “Steampunk” album, but while the result may be oddly fascinating, it still can’t be described as anything but a trainwreck. It blends genres in ways that can only be described as the musical equivalent of bestiality, and the music sounds absolutely nothing like anything you would ever think to associate with Sugarland, to the point where, were it not for Jennifer Nettles’ always distinctive voice, you would never realize it was the same band without being told (and probably wouldn’t believe it when you were). Unfortunately, a significant amount of the singing on this album is done by the “other guy” in the band, who normally functions as Nettles’ accompanist, and while Kristian Bush is admittedly very good at playing guitar and mandolin, there’s a reason they didn’t let him sing on his own much on the earlier albums. The only decent song on the album (and, not coincidentally, the only one that sound remotely like a normal Sugarland song) is the final track, a gospel-inflected ballad called “Shine a Light” that is one of Sugarland’s best songs, but also one of their least known, mainly because you have to wade through this album to get to it.
“Will Never Die” by Brokencyde
If you thought 3OH3 were as bad as the Crunkcore genre could get, do I have a band for you! Many people would tell you that Brokencyde are the single worst band of all time, and even I will acknowledge that they are the closest runner-up to Anal Cunt that anyone has ever heard of. Between the obnoxious beats, screaming vocals and idiotic lyrics, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could possibly enjoy this. Granted, Brokencyde’s music mostly gets played at raves, and I suppose being on mind-altering drugs might conceivably make this more tolerable. That said, if there’s a drug that makes you think this album is good music, then it is by definition a bad drug. Don’t take it.
“Loud” by Rihanna
I also did a full review of this one, alongside its infinitely better predecessor, Rated R. I’ll just say here that, in addition to living up to its name by being as noisy and obnoxious as possible, an album by an abuse victim full of raunchy, overtly masochistic sex jams where she sings about how she likes to get tied up and beaten just might have been in slightly questionable taste. Arguably even more horrifying is that this piece of garbage actually got a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year, in what was presumably one of the Grammy committee’s periodic ill-advised attempts to be ‘hip’.
“The Beginning” by the Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas had been one of the worst Rap acts in the world since the mid-2000s, but in 2010 they finally made an album so bad it ended their careers. Their previous albums had featured some of the most idiotic lyrics in Rap history, but at least they were usually married to reasonably catchy hooks. The dull, ugly Electronica sludge on display here, on the other hand, isn’t even remotely catchy, and on top of that, the lyrics are just as bad as ever. This album was a career killer if there ever was one, and I’m amazed that the group’s frontman Will.I.Am was allowed to make one more album (which we’ll get to, believe me) before this franchise faded into the mist entirely.
“Only One Flo (Part 1)” by Flo Rida
Flo Rida is the definition of a “singles artist” who puts virtually no effort into their albums, as evidenced by the fact that his three most successful albums, if you tallied up their sales, still wouldn’t be sufficient to get a Gold Record certification. So it should tell you something that this is the one album that even he seemed to be a little embarrassed about…at any rate, take note that there is no “Only One Flo (Part 2)”. This album contains only one hit (“Club Can’t Handle Me”), which didn’t even originate on the album (it was first released as part of the Step Up 3D soundtrack). The only other thing on the album to chart at all was a collaboration with no-talent Pop-R&B sleazeball Akon titled “Who Dat Girl”, which featured Akon’s usual disgusting attitude towards women. The rest of the album consists of utterly forgettable filler. It’s pretty hard for a Flo Rida album to stand out as a noticeable failure, given that none of them have any effort put into them, but this one manages it.
“The DeAndre Way” by Soulja Boy
It is generally acknowledged that the three albums of Soulja Boy’s brief mainstream heyday improved sequentially to a significant degree. The fact that the third and last is still on this list should tell you something about the quality of this artist in general. One of the worst Rappers of all time, Soulja Boy actually managed to kill off the subgenre of Rap he belonged to by his very presence. By this point, the aggressive obnoxiousness of his first two albums had been somewhat toned down, and he had basically become the Rap equivalent of early-career Justin Bieber. This album consists mostly of unconvincing Brag Raps and sappy, insipid love songs, and like Bieber, Soulja Boy does not remotely have the credibility necessary to pull off his persona here. If this is indeed Soulja Boy’s best album, then that’s hardly something to be proud of.
“Michael” by Michael Jackson
Before anyone tries to burn me at the stake for putting a Michael Jackson album on this list, I’d like to remind you all that this album was conceived, compiled and released without Jackson’s involvement, after it was presumably too late for him to object to or prevent it. Moreover, this is an album that he would almost certainly never have signed off on while he was alive. Apart from the unforgivable insult it represents to a dead living legend of the music world (which might have gotten it on this list all on its own), this album is so ineptly executed that it deserves to make this list regardless. The songs are mostly fourth-rate Jackson compositions that most artists might have used as album filler, except that Jackson didn’t believe in album filler and was so dedicated to quality control that virtually every song on his mature albums is remembered as a classic to some degree (in large part because he discarded the material that wound up on this album). The big single, “Hold My Hand”, is a duet with our old friend Akon, and was originally a discarded cut from an Akon album, which should tell you something right there. Worse, three of the songs pretty obviously feature vocals by ringers trying to impersonate Jackson’s famous vocal style (and not doing a very good job). This album is essentially an act of desecrating a legend’s grave for filthy lucre, and it would be easily the worst thing on this list if said list didn’t also contain two Anal Cunt albums.
“No Boys Allowed” by Keri Hilson
There are a number of performers that are routinely described as the “Poor man’s Beyonce”, but Keri Hilson is pretty much the nadir of that phenomenon. In fact, I’m not sure what to call her…the pauper’s Beyonce? The homeless man’s Beyonce? The Dickensian workhouse orphan’s Beyonce? In any case, this album represents a distinct case of sophomore slump, which, given how bad her first album was, should tell you something. There’s a reason Hilson was utterly forgotten after this album’s one hit, the frighteningly generic “Pretty Girl Rock”, disappeared from the charts.