Top 10 Worst Albums of 2021

Was this a good year for music? Usually there seems to be a general consensus among listeners and critics about the state of music in a given year and what the best and records are, but nobody really seems to be agreeing about how they felt about music in 2021. I’ve seen people say 2021 was great, I’ve seen people say it was terrible, I’ve seen year end lists with multiple albums I didn’t even know existed. Im personally conflicted, because the albums I loved I absolutely adored, but the albums I hated I absolutely despised. I’ll talk more about the albums I loved in the best list, but as far as bad albums go I just had no patience for a lot of records this year. As artists are having a harder time than ever making money doing what they love and struggling to get their craft the attention it deserves, I grew frustrated at the artists who put little effort or heart into what they were making, especially if they had a huge platform. As usual, I should clarify that saying that an album is one of the worst doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “the most bad”, I’d really describe these projects as being “the absence of good”. Unless an artist truly fucks up the assignment, I’m typically more put off by the boring, shallow, lazy, and uninspired than the bizarre and messy, as long as you’re attempting to put your best foot forward at least. I’d say almost everything here, with one exception, falls into the former category and not the later, and absolutely everything here I’d describe as “the absence of good”. As usual, this is a countdown from 10 to 1 with 1 being the worst, and for reasons I’ll get into on my best list, I also included some honorable mentions which I normally don’t do. And remember, this is just my opinion, I tend to be very hyperbolic when I write but it’s never really that serious, this is just a fun thing to add to the conversation among music nerds. We have a lot of garbage we have to throw out, so without further ado, this is the Top 10 Worst Albums of 2021.

Tones And I - Welcome To The Madhouse
20
~Honorable Mention~

“I’m just your typical twenty something from Colorado, and after I’ve used my Microsoft Surface Pro to upload holiday pictures to my Facebook account I like to drive my 2022 Subaru Outback to Target while listening to the new Tones And I album ‘Welcome To The Madhouse’. She’s a freak like me!”
Crypt - Buried Alive
20
~Honorable Mention~

Shoutout to @The_X_Territory who gave me five comments worth of comedy gold. I don’t know if it was Crypt pretending to be someone else, I know he does look at reviews of his stuff on here, but I also can fully believe someone who would comment something that ridiculous would find this enjoyable.
Marshmello - Shockwave
10
~Honorable Mention~

There are more great electronic producers than there have ever been, yet somehow this biggest electronic producer in the world right now is Marshmello. So much so that *this* got nominated for a Grammy. Thanks, I hate it.
Dream Theater - A View From The Top Of The World
10
~Honorable Mention~

These guys just need to take a break, there’s no reason why a “progressive” album should be almost as formulaic as AC/DC’s last album. Like I said before, this is the “spiritual lyrical miracle” of guitar music.
TRAMP STAMPS - WE GOT DRUNK AND MADE AN EP
0
~Honorable Mention~

And the final honorable mention, how could we forget TRAMP STAMPS. If this was a full length project this would have been very high on the list. What an embarrassing excuse of a career. Please don’t return. And listen to My Chemical Romance, for fuck’s sake.
Sematary - RAINBOW BRIDGE 3
10
#10 Sematary - Rainbow Bridge 3

You know, I think Fantano gets more flack than he deserves and even the reviews I disagree with I respect, but I will never forgive him for calling “Rainbow Bridge 3” hard. Talk about false advertising. Loud? Sure. Hard? Absolutely not. This thing is so ridiculously boring it as well be a playlist to study to if it weren’t for the fact that I wouldn’t want to study to music that’s this annoying. Part of me questions whether I’m just behind the curve and too closed minded, but I’m just really unimpressed by Sematary. Like I said in my review, I don’t find much of an appeal out of typical trap beats and just over doing the distortion, compression, bass, and reverb, not only because I think it sounds boring and because anyone can do it with little effort, but most twelve year old producers do it by accident when they play with a DAW for the first time. That doesn’t even mention the fact that I’m pretty sure most songs here are in the same or similar sounding key and tempo, making “Rainbow Bridge 3” really lacking in dynamics. And sure, there are a bunch of ironically goofy moments that show Sematary is not taking what’s essentially an hour long bass boost meme seriously, but being bad on purpose doesn’t magically make it not bad. I don’t know what else to say besides that “Rainbow Bridge 3” sounds like the audio equivalent of what I imagine being high off of ketamine feels like, and it just isn’t for me.
Justin Bieber - Justice
10
#9: Justin Bieber - Justice

Welcome back to the worst list Justin! I did not miss you. To your credit this is less gross than “Changes”, but considering that album started a global pandemic that’s a pretty low bar. I hope Bieber isn’t a reoccurring guest on this list from now on, it’s not cool to hate Justin, but it’s not my fault that when the world decided hating Justin Bieber is cringey and we should give him a chance that he decided to make the worst pop music of today. And while I prefer that he stop trying to make awful R&B like his hero Chris Brown, I also don’t want him playing pretend as a working class everyman in his music videos while making gross Hallmark Christian music, or redoing the tropical house on “Purpose” six years too late, or trying to hop on the 80’s trend (seriously we’ve been nostalgic for the 80’s since the 90’s we need to move on). This doesn’t even touch on the worst part of “Justice”, how he falsely marketed this album around social issues to prey on the anxieties and injustices of today to sell an album about how much he loves his wife, including two MLK samples as though to say Bieber’s generic pop songs about dying for pussy could possibly singlehandedly end racism. I started 2020 asking what do we actually need Justin Bieber for to justify him being one of the biggest pop stars in the world, “Changes” answered that we have no use for him, he gives us nothing. And “Justice”, in between being damage control to cover up the failure of his last record, reconfirms that Bieber will continue to give us nothing besides some of the worst pop music of the new decade.
Greta Van Fleet - The Battle at Garden's Gate
10
#8: Greta Van Fleet - The Battle at Garden’s Gate

The connecting link between “I was born in the wrong generation” teens and out of touch boomers stuck in their glory days. I probably don’t need to bring up how derivative of Led Zeppelin and Rush Greta Van Fleet is, but it’s something you can’t not talk about whenever you’re discussing their music because it’s obviously there. I did find it funny however that not only are they derivative of a band that was famous for copying and ripping off other artists, but they’re not even the first band to be accused of being Led Zeppelin copycats. Greta Van Fleet is not even original enough to be the first band derivative of Led Zeppelin. I just find the layers of anti-innovation really ironic and amusing. Frankly, I wouldn’t care as much about this issue if Greta Van Fleet were at least as quality as the bands they’re clearly inspired by, but “The Battle at Garden’s Gate” doesn’t come close to capturing the ripping fun of Led Zeppelin or the elevated prog and musicianship of Rush, try as they may. And boy, they do try. There’s no fun or heart on this thing, it’s just 70’s riffs, melodies, and lyrical themes you’ve heard before but worse. It doesn’t help that this album is long and front-loaded; with every song being more boring, uninspired, and annoying than the last it’s almost like the band is punishing you for continuing to listen. This is made worse by the awful vocal performance of Josh Kiszka, who I can only imagine is what Gilbert Gottfried would sound like if he was a boyish tenor. Bottom line, what’s the point of making new music if you’re just going to recycle music that already exists, and nowhere near as well might I add? Those classic songs are still here, and I’m obviously going to listen to the band that made “Immigrant Song” instead of a pale imitation band with no music that even comes close.
Hobo Johnson - The Revenge of Hobo Johnson
10
#7: Hobo Johnson - The Revenge of Hobo Johnson

How the mighty fall…well maybe not mighty, but you get what I mean. I wouldn’t say I was exactly rooting for Hobo Johnson, I have no strong feelings on his art, but I would be lying if I said “The Revenge of Hobo Johnson” didn’t upset me, wasting his potential and giving into his worst tendencies. And as a depressed leftist musician myself I get it, the world is fucked and you just want to scream into a microphone and let your sadness out, but then you’re supposed to write a second draft that’s actually insightful or isn’t at least unlistenable. Besides his lyrical ideas being very base level things that have been said a million times before in more clever or emotional ways with more nuance (seriously nothing he says here is helpful at all), Johnson just made a really bitter album, and even if something is well intentioned bitterness is hard to digest. It doesn’t help that every performance is bad, from Johnson’s high school poetry vocal delivery to the poorly played acoustic guitar to the Lovemakers chants. Johnson made another album this year that was also unlistenable, but that project felt more like a troll than anything else - it’s more annoying than anything else, and even if I had a strong emotional response to it that would be giving it what it wants. “The Revenge of Hobo Johnson” is a worse and more upsetting listen - increasingly so the more you think about it - because it’s a genuine emotional exodus that forces you to be witness to a man have a breakdown and destroy himself, all while performing music badly.
Florida Georgia Line - Life Rolls On
10
#6: Florida Georgia Line - Life Rolls On

Country music is a fucking mess right now, hell it has been for arguably two decades, and it will definitely continue to be as long as the bro country movement refuses to die. It embraces the worst stereotypes about the scene and nobody likes it besides the worst person you know, and Florida Georgia Line is no exception. Beers, girls, defensive obsession with the countryside, praising god, and of course uber nationalism, all themes handled as though the duo were just checking the ideas off to best pander to a demographic threatened by change. This is all made worse by “Life Rolls On” being filled with poorly incorporated modern hip-hop trends like rattling trap hi-hats, stock sounding 808’s, outdated slang, and of course the ad-libs; just to show that they’re aware of hip-hop but not enough to be any good at it. You’d think that with all the backlash this type of music had gotten, even from country fans and from the industry itself, and Florida Georgia Line’s lack of change for a whole decade that this audience would die out, but clearly this frat bro take on the genre must be working if they continue to keep charting. They don’t even sound invested in anything they’re singing about, they just rattle these played out ideas off because they know their audience will eat it up even if they really aren’t invested in the lifestyle. Florida Georgia Line aren’t representative of the working class lifestyle, they’re millionaires with Tesla’s. It’s almost insulting how little effort or heart they put into “Life Rolls On”, with the numb stupidity of the record just being the cherry on top.
Maroon 5 - JORDI
10
#5: Maroon 5 - JORDI

The new Maroon 5 album “JORDI” still sucks. I honestly don’t know why this band hasn’t retired already or moved onto different things, because they clearly do not want to be doing this anymore. They are not invested in this project at all. Funny thing, I was curious about what all the other members besides Levine contributed to “JORDI” since it doesn’t sound like they’ve contributed much performance wise - I assumed maybe they did some programming, or writing, or production, literally anything because it is their band too. But no - no writing, production, programming, nothing. Besides lead guitarist James Valentine and PJ Morton on a barely audible organ on “Lovesick”, none of them contribute to the music at all until track five on an eleven track album. Jesse Carmichael only plays keyboards on three songs, and his keyboard contributions used to be a defining part of Maroon 5’s sound. It just goes to show you how little this band actually cares about what they’re doing, I wouldn’t be surprised if Adam Levine didn’t just come down to the studio for a few weeks after their writers finished writing the band’s material and then the other members just quickly played something that would later be mixed to a barely audible level after the fact. I know I’ve been harping on how Maroon 5 aren’t a band and how little effort or care they have, but that’s honestly the most interesting to talk about when it comes to this album. What is there to say about the music - Maroon 5 sounds like whatever was trending two or three years ago, except watered down and gentrified for parents shopping at grocery stores. I think that’s the worst part about Maroon 5, no one turns this shit on willingly, you’re just forced to listen it while you’re running errands at some place you don’t want to be at. There’s really nothing else you can say about Maroon 5 or “JORDI” - it just sucks.
Drake - Certified Lover Boy
10
#4: Drake - Certified Lover Boy

When I was working on the rough draft of this, I actually had the new Maroon 5 at a higher spot than this. But when I was relistening to everything, I just had this itch that made me think “do I actually dislike ‘Certified Lover Boy’ more?” So I thought it would be fit to relisten to both again to make my mind, and I relistened to “JORDI”, and it was awful. But when it came time to relisten to “Certified Lover Boy”, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was too daunting of a task. And I feel like that answers my own question. I mean besides “Yebba’s Heartbreak”, which Drake didn’t even contribute anything to, there is nothing good about this incredibly long album. It’s exhausting, draining, and it’s a testament to how Drake hadn’t evolved at all since he first started doing this shit. He’s an emotionally stagnant thirty five year old talking about his problems like a teenager would. He knows he’s the biggest artist in the world so he doesn’t have to try, and it makes for incredibly boring and embarrassing music when he’s still doing his same old shit. How am I supposed to take any of his whining about getting no respect in the industry when he not only is bigger than any other artist but is able to pull a huge amount of A-list features? And how am I supposed to believe this started from the bottom bullshit when he was only a couple steps away from basically being a Disney kid? If it weren’t for literal garbage human and non-artist Tom MacDonald, I would be fully comfortable with calling Drake the worst rapper we have right now. He doesn’t try, he’s been making the same overbloated album since 2016, he’s whiney, he’s impossible to sympathize with, he’s still emotionally a teenager, his music doesn’t go hard, and any song that accidentally becomes big is immediately forgotten about in a matter of months - I’m just tired of Drake. When did “I want this shit forever man” become such a threat?
Sia - MUSIC - Songs From And Inspired By The Motion Picture
0
#3: Sia - MUSIC

God, can you believe that was from THIS YEAR? Sia really thought this was gonna be her year, I’m assuming she probably thought this project would lead her to be two steps closer to getting her EGOT. But even with seemingly every musical movie being released since “Cats” being fucking terrible, “MUSIC” and its accompanying soundtrack is clearly the worst of the year - and considering I saw “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Amazon’s Cinderella”, that’s saying a lot. The only reason I didn’t put this higher was because, without the theme of the movie this album is tied to, I probably wouldn’t have given this album a 0. I mean I would still hate it and it might even still land on this list, the music is generic and the lyrics are vapid inspiration porn in vain of “Fight Song” AND Sia gives awful vocal performances the entire time - but if it wasn’t tired to a terrible message I would think a 0 was unfair. But because Sia wouldn’t listen to anyone around her and just had her eyes on awards, she made a movie that painted autistic people as nuisance that “normal” people like Sia should be patted on the back for for having the courage to deal with them, and that extends to this soundtrack. It may be harder for neurotypical people to see why even the “MUSIC” soundtrack is offensive, but to me I basically heard a rich white woman congratulate and glorify herself for I guess what she thought was making autistic people’s lives less miserable. And as someone with Autism, I find that practically just as offensive as the awful depiction of the titular character, or the cruel treatment of the first actress that was supposed to portray her, or the misinformation she tried to spread with the support of Autism Speaks. Thank god Sia got the rightful backlash she deserved, and thank god the full cast version of the soundtrack didn’t get released as intended. Fuck MUSIC the film and fuck MUSIC the soundtrack. Next.
Imagine Dragons - Mercury - Act 1
0
#2: Imagine Dragons - Mercury (Act 1)

Well, here we are again. When I first started listening to music regularly I gave Imagine Dragons a 0, now three years later we’re here again. I should mention that I think it’s a lot easier for an artist to get a 10, meaning I enjoyed every singled moment of an album, than it is to get a 0, meaning I didn’t enjoy the album at all, so I don’t think Imagine Dragons being the first band I ever gave two 0’s to should be taken lightly. So why isn’t it at number one? Well funny thing, unlike “Origins” and unlike the other two 0’s of this year, “Mercury (Act 1)” didn’t really leave a pit in my stomach despite this album’s quality. And, unlike Origins” I do think they’re actually trying on this album. That doesn’t mean I like anything here, it just means it’s bad in different ways, but I have to acknowledge I think they’re actually trying here. That said, the childish writing, the overblown sound, the awful vocal performances, the commercial nature of it all - it still is an unenjoyable listen. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to feel when I’m listening to these songs, the “rock” tracks are laughable and the sentimental songs are unintentionally terrifying. It’s not edgy or authentic enough for most rock fans, too edgy for the soft rock and adult alternative crowd, and too embarrassingly lame for the pop or hip-hop crowd. I can’t imagine them getting a third 0 from me, but I also don’t know how the band expects us to take them seriously when they’re making music like “Mercury (Act 1)”. Better luck with Act 2, and I sincerely mean it.
AJR - OK ORCHESTRA
0
#1: AJR - OK ORCHESTRA

Maybe it’s AJR’s lack of change or at least improvement of their over indulgent and gaudy sound. The millennial whoops, the random pitch shifting on anything and everything, the awful lyric tangents they make in an attempt to sound quirky (so many times I ended up thinking “why the hell would you say that?”), the gentrified hip-hop and jazz, the need to throw random shit because they don’t think the songs themselves can stand on their own, the fucking falsetto screeches (when they combine it with their “da-da-da’s”, “la-la-la’s”, etc they sound like literal gurgling babies). Maybe it’s that the band refuses to grow up - AJR has been writing the same themes over and over again from the lenses of a literal child, and not only does it get weirder every additional time they do it but it robs any potential of nuance. And maybe that’s intentional, because whenever they write about something more adult or serious it’s just as shallow and vapid, as though an ad agency is trying to sell the average twenty something experience to me without actually living it at all (you’re fortunate enough to have a recording studio in your own apartment in Manhattan, you’re not broke). But I ultimately put “OK ORCHESTRA” as the worst album of the year because, on top of all I mentioned, it encompasses many of the sins of all the other albums on this list. The bland noise of Sematary, the tone deafness of Bieber, the screeching vocals of Greta Van Fleet, the base level politics of Hobo Johnson, the pandering of Florida Georgia Line, the gentrified trend hopping of Maroon 5, the failure to evolve like Drake, making every cringey and wrong choice throughout the runtime like Imagine Dragons, and, of course, Sia being responsible for it existing. I’m so tired of this bland yet Lynchian like horror that is this band, and that’s why “OK ORCHESTRA” by AJR is, in my opinion, the worst album of 2021.
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3mo
Great list, I really don't have the patience to even finish one run through of the albums on here I did try to attempt. Now I can use your opinions of my own and piss off everyone at the next party I don't get invited to.
4mo
Great list! I had most of them in my last 10 spots as well.
4mo
@vig lmfao thank you!
4mo
"Sia being responsible for it existing" made my day better lmfaoo, dope list tho
4mo
@brinatti @AndreManfre93 thank you so much!
4mo
great list!!!!
4mo
Great list!!
4mo
@midnightbabe @LukasLima thank you so much!
4mo
Great list 😁
4mo
AMAZING LIST
4mo
@humm1ng_b1rd consider yourself luck

@cry lol fair! And yeah lol it feels like a lifetime ago, such a trainwreck

@treblafreeman @rollo_p thank you both so much!
4mo
Sensational list, your writing is spot on!
4mo
Aside from Dream Theater, list's based.
4mo
I like Justice and Mercury but I can see why they made the list lol! :)
4mo
MY FIRST THOUGHT WHEN I SAW THE SIA ALBUM WAS, 'WAS THIS REALLY FROM THIS YEAR' TOO LOL, deserves the number one spot imo
5mo
I do not know if I should be happy for not have listened none of the albums in the list or not.

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