“I Hope” by Gabby Barrett

Sung by a lesser Carrie Underwood clone from the Reality TV circuit, this song was apparently intended to be another entry in the woman-scorned revenge-fantasy field. Now that field has given us quite a few Country classics over the past twenty years or so (among other things, it provisioned most of Miranda Lambert’s early career), and it has also produced a few duds here and there, most infamously Carrie Underwood’s embarrassing “Before He Cheats”. However, I’m not sure this particular genre modeled has ever been executed quite as badly as it is here.

I won’t beat around the bush here…this is the worst hit song of 2020. Yes, even the most popular pick for that title, Justin Bieber’s “Yummy”, doesn’t match the special brand of horrible on display here. This song consists of the singer outlining in great detail the love and happiness she hopes her ex-lover will find with his next partner…and then how “I hope she cheats, like you did on me”. Then, not to be satisfied at that, she speaks of her hopes that they will reconcile, re-ignite their spark, put the past behind them,  and become truly happy again…and then, proclaims that “I hope she cheats” once again.

Now, revenge-fantasy songs of this sort are supposed to go over-the-top (Miranda Lambert’s “Kerosene” ends with the singer gunning down her ex in the street, after all), but the more personal and emotional nature of this song’s imagined revenge, along with the sheer level of thought and detail the singer has apparently put into this scenario, comes off as petty and horribly mean-spirited rather than triumphant and empowering.

Also, there’s a reason most songs of this type phrase themselves as direct action, even if it’s only within a fantasy setting. In contrast, this song is, as the title suggests, nothing but a particularly ugly exercise in wishful thinking. For all the singer’s vitriol, she has no means to actually make these things happen to this person and no intention of trying to do anything. She merely wants them to suffer, which makes the song come across as deeply pathetic on top of all its other problems.

This song actually bears a certain resemblance to one of the worst songs of all time, Country or otherwise, “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town”. That song, after all, was also an invocation of ugly, impotent hatred toward an unfaithful partner, and given that “Ruby” is one of the most widely despised song in all of Country music, it’s not exactly the kind of company any song should want to keep.

Even if you’re feeling malicious enough to enjoy a brutal revenge fantasy (and let’s be honest…we all go through times in our lives when we feel that way, so I don’t judge), it seems unlikely that this song would do anything but make you even more depressed and miserable. It’s certainly vindictive, but it offers no vindication…just an invitation to wallow in the most degrading kind of petty adolescent bitterness. That, above all else, is why I call this the worst hit song of 2020. (And yes, I am aware of the duet “remix” version with Charlie Puth…who should have been above this kind of material, by the way…but since this song’s sentiment makes absolutely no sense as a duet, that version just manages to be ugly, pathetic and confusing).

Verdict: It’s the worst song of the past year. That pretty much says it all right there.

“Yummy” by Justin Bieber

Between 2015 and 2017, Justin Bieber had evolved from ‘the worst Pop star in the known universe’ to ‘kinda-sorta-almost-okay-ish-if-you-squint-at-him-a-little-bit’. Well, his most recent material definitely represents a return to form…in the sense that it plummets right back to the rock-bottom awfulness of his pre-2015 work. This song is probably the most notorious among those releases, and indeed, it’s hard to think of a more abjectly bad song in recent memory.

That the lyrics are terrible could be gleaned from the song’s title alone, but it goes beyond that: virtually every word choice in this lyric is profoundly wrong. It’s like a Train song, but without any of the off-the-wall insanity that at least makes their stuff entertainingly bad.

On top of that, Bieber’s brief flirtation with being remotely tolerable came about mostly because the EDM style he was dabbling in at the time was as good a fit for his terrible singing voice and utter lack of personality as any genre was going to be; it gave them an opportunity to process his voice into something vaguely listenable, and the fact that he sounded like an emotionless robot could be passed off as a stylistic choice.

But of all the genres I could imagine Bieber trying to pull off, Hook-Rap is probably the absolute least credible choice for him. He sounds ridiculous trying to be soulful, and his weak vocals are a bigger liability than they’ve been in years. We’ve seen a lot of Pop stars embarrass themselves over the course the last ten years, but rarely in this abject and humiliating a manner.

Verdict: You have to ask?