New this week—6/13/10

Drake featuring Lil Wayne—”Miss Me”
#15

It’s hard to determine whether Drake is the real thing or not—or anything at all, for that matter. His inability to shake his influences and come forth as himself is a major problem—first time I listened to this I thought his rap was Wayne’s. His self-consciousness has it’s charms (though not when it’s converted into beats), but it could quickly turn into a detriment if he isn’t careful. Sounding unsure of what you’re getting yourself into isn’t exactly the best concept to build a career around. Neither is the pronouncement that “life isn’t a rehearsal” when you sound like you’re still doing warm-ups.

Taio Cruz
“Dynamite”, #26
“Dirty Picture” (featuring Ke$ha), #96

Just to ask the obvious question, shouldn’t a song called “Dynamite” sound explosive? This sure doesn’t. On the other hand, “Dirty Picture” does sound dirty. It also sounds unclean, though that may just be a matter of personal taste.

T.I.
“Got Your Back” (featuring Keri Hilson), #38
“Yeah Ya Know (Takers)”, #44

“Got Your Back” is surprisingly warm and affectionate, suggesting real love, something that T.I. has never managed, or for that matter ever really tried, before. He also seems to be breaking out of his tendency to overpack his arrangements (if there’s such a thing as baroque rap, T.I. makes it)—compared to his last few singles shows admirable restraint, it’s few lose threads tied up quite nicely by Keri Hilson. I just wish someone could have done the same for “Yah Ya Know”.

Nicki Minaj—”Your Love”
#51

With her day-glo wigs and cosplay fashion style, it’s no surprise that Minaj’s idea of romanticism comes out sounding like Sailor Moon in the hood. It’s an interesting idea, but it doesn’t quite gel, and it gets confusing. One minute she’s talking about the guy’s stacks and the next she’s dreaming about samurai and geishas who speak Thai somewhere up in the sky, and then she tops it all by turning into Supergirl. She may be on to something, but this is both too obvious and too obscure to get over.

Glee Cast
“Good Vibrations”, #69
“Another One Bites the Dust”, #79
“Tell Me Something Good”, #87
“Loser”, #93
“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”, #95

Two more white rap songs from the crew (three if you count “Loser”), and the joke, which worked on “Ice Ice Baby”, has paled considerably. The less said about “Tell Me Something Good” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” the better.

3Oh!3—”Deja Vu”
#75

This makes two songs from these guys I actually kind of like, but whether that means they’ve improved or my tastes have collapsed under the constant barrage of electro synths I can’t say. It’s worth noting, though, that this is the first of their songs to suggest that the party party world they inhabit is starting to bore them a little. Is that maturity or exhaustion? Who knows?

Billy Currington—”Pretty Good At Drinking Beer”
#83

Currington’s last single was an overwrought string of country cliches. This is cliche bound as well, but it’s also clever, and not overwrought at all. As an argument for being a lard-ass, it’s even charming.

Little Big Town—”Little White Church”
#94

They’ve learned enough from Miranda Lambert to be tough and honest, and enough from Sugarland to be cheerful and spunky even while laying down the law. Too bad they haven’t learned enough from either to write more than a passable lyric, though putting “not gonna have your baby” in the list of things she won’t do until he marries her is still a jolt.

VV Brown—”Shark In the Water”
#97

I’ve already expressed my admiration for Brown, who appeals to me not only for her upbeat sound but for the range of her musical references and influences. Here she steals from both Paul McCartney and Lou Reed, while making explicit the thread of near hysterical paranoia that runs through many of her songs. It’s also nice to see that, unlike most of her UK peers, she’s managed her US chart debut without depending on an American rapper to give her a commercial leg up. Here’s hoping she gets the attention she deserves.

Neon Trees—”Animal”
#100

What decade is this again?