“Teenage Dream”, #8
“Start Me Up/Living On a Prayer”, #31
“Stop! In the Name of Love/Free Your Mind”, #38
“One Love (People Get Ready)”, #41
The Black Eyed Peas—“The Time (Dirty Bit)”
Since I didn’t listen to radio much in the late ’80s, the use of one of the more irritating hits of that period doesn’t bother me as much as it does some others (besides, will.i.am, with far less of a voice, still sings it better than Bill Medley did), but there’s no doubt that this record represents the group running in place, if not retreating a bit. This is nearly as good as anything on The E.N.D., but it doesn’t break any new ground (unless you consider letting Fergie play diva over minimalist dance grooves a step forward). The E.N.D., whatever you think about the music, was undoubtedly one of the more daring albums of the last few years in terms of a band remaking it’s sound and image, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Peas spin their wheels a bit this time out.
“Scott Mescudi Vs. the World”, #92
These are good records—moody, reflective, self-absorbed but intelligent and with little evidence of self-pity. They’re only on the chart, though, because of 1) the tile; and 2) the presence of Cee-Lo Green. In other words, curiosity. Whether or not the audience is paying attention to what these songs, with their honest consideration of substance dependence, actually mean, is open to question. But Cudi deserves respect for putting the message out there.
Lupe Fiasco—“The Show Goes On”
I like the sound of this, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. And I liked the sound a lot more when T.I. did it five years ago.
Jeremih featuring 50 Cent—“Down On Me”
I like the music: a catchy pop mix of dancehall, dubstep, and hip-hop. But 50 Cent’s presence is a waste in more ways than one—even when he isn’t mumbling he utters nothing but cliches. Jeremih himself starts off shaky, but evens out once he gets to the hook. An interesting change of pace, but an uncertain one.
Lady Antebellum—“Hello World”
When they sing about love, Lady Antebellum play it subdued and classy; they’re not great, but it’s a welcome change from the usual over-arranged country blather. Here, though, they’re delivering a message to the world, and they pull out all the stops and pump all the pedals at once. To compound their sins, their obvious inspiration is R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts”, both the song and the video, an exemplar of emotional intensity and restraint they warp and curdle for the purposes of their own soft-headed sentimentality before the end of the first verse. If this is how country music is going to move into the ‘90s, I prefer they stay where they are.
Jason Derulo—“What If”
A power ballad written and produced by J.R. Rotem. Think about that for a minute.
Tastelessness can be a virtue in pop music, but only if you’re funny, or if you’re being tasteless about subjects people are (secretly) attracted to. This isn’t funny, and the cannibal demographic is, as I understand it, somewhat limited. It’s like a big budget version of a zombie movie–the effects are more expensive but somehow less impressive, and all the insane amateurism has been taken out and replaced with studio gloss, resulting in something that’s not only gross but boring.
Twista featuring Chris Brown—“Make A Movie”
Fresh from his bunker, where it’s always 2003, Twista does his best to revive his video-porn fantasies, just like the good old days. Someone should take him aside and explain the difference between being retro and being in a rut.
“Maybe I’m a dreamer/Maybe I’m misunderstood…” What else do you expect from a band that rose to fame via the “Free Hugs” movement? Yuck.
Having softened up the AC demographic with two kinda cute, uptempo ditties, Train goes in for the sentimental kill. Chances are, this will be in the AC top ten for the next year. I’ve only listened to it once and I’m already sick of it.
Don Omar & Lucenzo—“Danza Kurduro”
Since I can’t understand the words (and even with a translation would probably miss subtleties that only native speakers would pick up), I’m not a good judge of this record. The music, though, sounds ordinary—the arrangement too busy, the production too harsh. Until I know better, I think I’ll stick with Pitbull.
Eric Benet—“Sometimes I Cry”
This retro-soul number has it’s attributes: it’s not a bad song, and the arrangement has a nice, mid-’90s Prince feel to it. But Benet’s falsetto gets old fast, and when he strains it near the end that’s all you hear: no emotion, just strain.