Selena Gomez & The Scene—”Naturally”
The title is wonderfully ironic for such an obviously manufactured chunk of music, but this is still the best piece of Disney pop since Miley Cyrus’ “See You Again”, or maybe even Aly & AJ’s “Potential Breakup Song”. Like both of those, “Naturally” was written and produced by Tim James and Antonina Armato, who really should be given some sort of prize for keeping Disney’s foray into pop music respectable. Because this is pop for tweener’s, James and Armato don’t get anywhere near the attention and respect they deserve, but I think they’re one of the best songwriting teams around right now. Once the tweeners take over the world (about five years from now) maybe someone else will notice it.
Young Money featuring Gucci Mane—”Steady Mobbin’”
Young Money, my ass—this is a Lil Wayne record with a brief cameo by Gucci Mane (think of them as the Jailhouse Boys). It isn’t particularly better than any of the other Young Money tracks I’ve heard, nor particularly worse. It does present a nastier Lil Wayne than we’ve heard recently—maybe he’s feeling the need to reassert himself after a year of (often brilliant) goofs. He repeats a lot of his old schtick, though, and for the most part this sounds like a mixtape cut Wayne decided sounded just good enough to go onto the album.
Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins—”Hillbilly Bone”
This is as heavyhanded in sound as any other country/rock hybrid, but its rustic chauvinism is lighter and friendlier than most, and it has a great opening line: “I’ve got a friend from New York City/He’s never heard of Conway Twitty”. After that it goes downhill, but not too far. How much you like it may depend on how much you can stand Adkins’ baritone schtick—I can just barely abide it.
This is more stylish than most of Eminem’s splatter movie fantasies—more Dario Argento than Wes Craven, if you will—but that only makes it seem more garish and stupid. You’ve got to fill up these deluxe reissues somehow, I guess.
Lady Antebellum—”American Honey”
Their Fleetwood Mac obsession continues, and in some ways I like this more than “Need You Now”. It’s both intelligent and tasteful without being stiff and mechanical, and the upcoming album may well be some sort of easy-listening landmark, if only because it will undoubtedly make smoother their inevitable crossover from the Country chart to Adult Contemporary. Which may be a more important achievement than you think.