Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.
The Wanted – “Glad You Came”
PEAK CHART POSITION: #3 in April 2012
A leitmotif in my worst-of lists is the man — always a man — who acts his shoe size. Listening to “Glad You Came” is like being roped to a chair while a group of overage dipshits yell their fuck-me-after-your-Mimosa over a Harris-sized sampled accordion riff. When The Wanted’s “Glad You Came” became a springtime hit in 2012, many watchers saw Boy Band Craze Pt. XIX about to crest. Maybe exposing their nipples, mid riffs, bare feet, and calves on an Ibizan beach got their passports approved. But “Glad You Came” is the early 2010s equivalent of “Hangin’ Tough”: remaindered hackery. As I wrote in an appreciation of One Direction last summer: “Although I don’t believe homo sapiens as species has improved, in this century we expect hotels to offer attractive bars serving cocktails with fresh ingredients and restaurants that can properly bake Brussels sprouts. We also expect boy bands to offer decent material. I don’t think my memory is playing tricks on me when I claim New Kids on the Block offered terrible songs.”
In retrospect, there isn’t much to “Glad You Came” besides suntan oil and teeth, although I remember reading a couple of endorsements suggesting that it had Summer Classic written all over it in Coppertone. I haven’t heard it since before we re-elected Barack Obama. But it proved the John the Baptizer for One Direction’s Jesus, and lest you think the metaphor is ridiculous, when was the last time you hear “No Control”? I tend to believe songwriting credits, and One Direction were Holland-Dozier-Holland compared to The Wanted.
A Miamian whose life encompasses “Lambada,” Juan Luis Guerra and 440, and dozens of purveyors of Europop, I get “Glad You Came”‘s appeal. The words are monosyllables. That riff is at home in Buenos Aires and Barcelona. At somebody’s wedding I’ll dance to it — I know the words. But I know “Hangin’ Tough” too.