From Calvin Harris To Nicki Minaj: My Top 5 Rubbish Pop Songs

We've all got skeletons in the musical cupboard, but it's time to open up about them. Here are my top 5 tunes that you might think are shit but are actually grade A bangers...


If you are the sort of person who considers themselves a ‘serious’ music fan, you are faced with an eternal dilemma; namely that the seriousness of your passion decrees you feel that certain songs, often whole genres, are deemed unworthy of your time; at least not publicly where like-minded friends are free to mock and chide at your guilty pleasure, whilst pretending they actually like the new one from Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

As a general sort of rule I don’t like particularly like commercial pop, especially the strand that combines commercial R n’ B and awful chippy house that, thanks to the influence of the likes of David Guetta and Calvin Harris, is so popular at the moment.   If you’ve ever been on a holiday to Faliraki or Maila, or visited a Luminar nightclub in the last 5 years you will recognise it as the soundtrack to your dancefloor fingerings. The thought of going to a club where it is the only music played is enough to make me crawl up in a ball and dream of the Borderline, but over the years I’ve picked up on a few tunes that I just don’t like, but love.  They would have me up on any stage this side of an Oceana, finger in air and trousers covered in the beer I’ve just spilt down myself running to the dancefloor.  So without further ado, here are my Top Five Brilliant Bad Pop Songs.

5: Calvin Harris ft. Example
- We'll Be Coming Back

Two of the most guilty purveyors of the unfeasibly chart-bothering branch of poppy house combined earlier in the year for a tune that under normal circumstances would be conceived as everything that is wrong with the current music scene. But for some reason it works.  I caught this at a festival recently, and the crowd were going bonkers for it- they might have all been 15 and wearing luminous Wayfarers but it was quite inspiring; a demonstration of why festivals are still important, whatever music you are into.

4: Kevin Lyttle- Turn Me On

Not sure if its Kevin’s semi-falsetto, the shoulder-bouncy synths or the fact it reminds me of being 21 and trying to feel up nice girls called Lauren at my Uni nights, but it’s a genius piece of Caribbean influenced dancehall-lite. 

3: Taio Cruz- Dynamite

A pretty awful piece of music that soars by virtue of the fact it’s got a chorus where you can go “ay-oh, baby let’s go”.  Though the bit where, in a haze of Autotune, Cruz wails "'cos I told you once, now I told you twice, we gona light it up like it’s dynamite” is guaranteed to have a smile the size of a stick of said explosive matter on this face.  I worked in an office recently that had commercial radio on and this was played at least 5 times a day, 2 years on from release.  Whether or not this justification works for you depends on your penchant for terrible radio stations, or indeed the song, but I love this and it's all I got so cut me some slack?

2: Shakira-Hips Don't Lie

According to Wikipedia, this tune has sold 10 million copies and is one of the biggest selling songs of all time, so I’m clearly not alone in think it’s a bit of a winner.   There’s some folky horns and strings that set it apart from the Black Eyed Peas vibe of everything else in the charts, and Ex-Fugee Wyclef acts as a nice counterpoint to Shakira’s muffled drawl, though everyone knows it’s all about the “Oh baby when you talk like that/You make a women go mad” bit.  Or maybe that’s just me.

1: Nicki Minaj- Starships

I wrestled with myself whether to include this- not because I wasn’t sure if it deserved its place on the list, but because it’s so good I don’t really want to label it as ‘bad’. Unfortunately, research for this piece suggested most people I know didn’t think much of it. Their loss.

I can give or take the rapping at the start, but I just don’t understand how anyone could listen the techno synths of the chorus mash up with ‘starships were meant to fly/hands up and touch the sky/can’t stop ‘cos we’re so high/let’s do this one more time’ without being inspired to, well, try and get really high.

You might not agree with these choice but you've all got guilty pleasures, we know you have.  Tell us what they are in the comments below. Better still, if you fancy writing an article on them for Sabotage,  get in contact with David on

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