it’s a daunting task, chasing down a song that will plainly and commonly be considered bad by peoples of all cultures, ages, races, sexes and nationalities. I find I must leave my own eclecticisms behind – e.g. my affection for the assless be-underpanted idiocy of Devendra Banhart – but I must also keep my bile firmly in place, which is simply impossible whenever I hear No Handlebars.
No, we must be brave my friends, and rise above our own petty dislikes and seek the truly bad. Fortunately, 2008 has blessed us with a panoply of bad music in every popular genre. The bench was deep, what with your dependable Dolls of Pussycat and your John Mayer out there. We’re all grateful to Kid Rock for the things he tried and smoked, and of course the songs he stole. And a glib band of human-voiced rat puppies turned a shrill kid’s ear-worm into the shrill ear-worm of an entire nation.
This year’s true badness belonged to the breakout acts. Take for example Vampire Weekend, with a blend of African rhythms performed so dorkishly that it could only emanate from a band of white boys from Columbia University. And although Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa was officially released in 2007, disqualifying it from this year’s crown bid, its whiteness leaked through campuses and clubs all over this great country of ours, as pea-coated Lit majors bounced and twitched to the rhythm like ergot poisoning victims long into the new year. I encourage you to savor the charm and inexplicable success.
But rhythm wins – it burrows into ones head and replaces the brain with thoughts of tight skirts with Uggs, Soco-and-lime-laced vomit and where the after-party is. There is a new Queen of Badness, and her name is Lady GaGa.
BAD SONG OF THE YEAR: Lady Gaga, Poker Face
Striking, isn’t she? And by that I mean to say that she could beat me to death without putting down her Hennessy and pomegranate. Here we have the swagger of Trace Adkins, the fashion sense of Cher, the robotic lockstep twitch-dancing of a Madonna or a Britney, the P-funk costuming and art direction, the nasally minor-third drone that passes for vocals, the rhythm that reminds you that Hell is eternal, all wrapped up in one sublime video.
I kept thinking that I was watching Dee Snider in a Japanese girl’s club wig. Then the lyrics washed over me: “Russian roulette is not the same without a gun.” “I’m bluffin’ with my muffin / I’m not lying I’m just stunnin’ with my love-glue-gunning.” It’s all here, folks; like Lex Luger before her, Lady GaGa is The Total Package.