Since American Graffiti, awkward coming-of-age tales have been ubiquitous in popular culture. And it’s easy to see why. The adolescent years are characterised by regrettable choices and cringe-worthy tastes – perennial subject-matter to which nearly everyone can relate. With an average age of 21, the Radius bunch stumbled into puberty in the faux-hawk mid-2000s, met by growing pains that were mirrored by pop music in that era. It’s rather telling that none of these acts are still making music today (besides The Black Eyed Peas, kind of). The combination made for stains on our memories that you’d have done well to wash off.
That being said, we’d like to invite you to remember the 10 worst tracks that scored our transition into teen-hood. This is because compiling this list was as fun as it was cringe-inducing; something about our shared embarrassment in once having loved these aural blemishes – and seeing how far we’ve come since then – was fulfilling. We’re sure you’ll relate. ‘The irony test’ was our criterion, assessing whether a song could be played to a drunk crowd today without fear of emptying the dancefloor. For example, Akon’s ‘Lonely’ narrowly passed and was therefore deemed ironically agreeable, while ‘Butterfly’ saw the Radius team biting into our laptop screens with the sincere hope of being electrocuted to unconsciousness where we’d be safe from Crazy Town’s concentrated cultural genocide. The latter could easily have made it to number 1 had it been dumped upon our pre-mature palates a few years later.
Remember, regret and enjoy.– Zia Haffejee
10. Tweak – House Party
Tweak are the musical equivalent of those long pants that can be unzipped and turned into three-quarter pants.- Andy Petersen
Worst line: (A South African band singing) “Better call the FBI / We’re dialing 911”
9. Plain White Tees – Hey There Delilah
Ostensibly, there is nothing particularly egregious about this song by the Plain White T’s. But the license it gave for every 14 year-old with an emo fringe and guitar to pedal the sort of shallow sentimentality usually reserved for butterfly foot-tattoos is its worst crime. And just like that spotty crush this song was written for under the masquerade of “deep” and “meaningful” lyrics, you just have to look back at this episode of your life with deep and meaningful regret.– Kevin Minofu
Worst line: “I’d walk to you if I had no other way / Our friends would all make fun of us”
8. Bowling for Soup – 1985
As youths ’rocking out’ in blissful ignorance to a song about a time 20 years before our own, who really cared that Bowling for Soup rhymed Nirvana and Madonna? But that ‘1985’s sad housewife protagonist, Debbie, “never knew George [Michael] was gay, hoped they’d hook up one day” is unforgivable. Bowling for Soup couldn’t have known how appropriate the album title A Hangover You Don’t Deserve would become; ‘1985’ is the coming-of-age-faux-pas-hangover soundtrack.– Graham Evans
Worst line: An awful tie between “Where’s the mini-skirt made of snake skin, and who’s the other guy that’s singing in Van Halen” and “Only been with one man / What happened to her plan?”
7. Fatman Scoop – Be Faithful (Put Your Hands Up)
No-one that likes hip-hop ever liked this song. All these years on, the obnoxious question ‘who’s fuckin’ tonight’ – once upon a time answered each and every time with a tactless and hopeful ‘meeeeee!’ – now just feels like an affront to my human dignity.– ZH
Worst line: “Who fuckin’ tonight? (x6)”
6. Evanescence – Bring Me to Life
Evanescence was the cold, hard evidence offered when many a socially-ambivalent pre-pubescent girl proclaimed that, ‘I’m sort of, like, into all kinds of music’ at a social. This song was the soundtrack to all that we ever wanted to be: hard-hitting guitars and soaring vocals perfectly fueled our wildest gothy-but-still-cute-ambitions.
The hardcore chorus made you want to mismatch your converse sneakers, and the rap-portion (yes) let you lift your wine-cooler to the sky. It reassured us that the risqué extra ear piercing we would get without permission wouldn’t shut the door to our (surely) imminent Prince Charming.– Natalie Minofu
Worst line: “Wake me up? Can’t wake up.”
5. Blue – One Love
I owned the second Blue album, which had the same name as this song. I wasn’t even an early adopter. I was late to the Blue train. I bandwagonned Blue. I also really liked this song and knew all the words and used to get really high scores when I sang it on SingStar (not to brag, but basically full marks). Writing this public admission has been cathartic.– AP
Worst line: “One love – for the hip hop beats”
4. Papa Roach – Last Resort
Ah, the sweet scent of pubescent pathos, the middle-class angst and melodrama; just looking up this video in public makes one cringe – let alone having to listen to it.
The woe-is-me attitude of privileged kids with baggy pants and a fetish for baseball caps harks back to the age of Mxit relationships and other embarrassing memories, like that one time the world nearly ended when you weren’t allowed to go to the ice-rink.– Sean Magner
Worst line: “Suffocation, no breathing/Don’t give a fuck if I cut my arm bleeding’ or ‘I’m running and I’m crying/ I’m crying [4x]/ I can’t go on living this way”
3. The Black Eyed Peas – Where Is The Love?
Much of the pop R&B from the early 2000s has found its way back into critical and listener consciousness in recent times. Thankfully, ‘Where is the Love?’ by The Black Eyed Peas has been excluded from this particular upsurge, sparing us from the drunken tears of the shoeless, trance-festival-doting, peace-tattoo-on-the-back-of-the-neck-in-Chinese-symbols troglodytes who personify the song. It seems only a matter of time before this song finds its way to its natural home: as the rallying call for the DA. The worst part? Just try to get it out of your head.
Honestly, where is the love?– Simon Ruff
Worst line: “Madness is what you demonstrate/And that’s exactly how anger works and operates/Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight/Take control of your mind and meditate/Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all” (But really, it’s all of them)
2. The Rasmus – In The Shadows
Remember when you had been watching and waiting in the shadows all your life? Yeah, no. Me neither. Or perhaps you do, but remember that High School passed and thereafter it was just creepy. Besides, Lauri Ylönen really is the basic-bitch of Finnish Pop-Metal, hair-feathers and all.- GE
Worst line: “Touch me, feel me, come take me higher”
1. Hoobastank – The Reason
So bad it’s hateful. –ZH
Worst line: “I’m not a perfect person…”