Hot 100 Roundup—6/18/11

Coldplay—”Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall”

Producer Brian Eno continues to toughen them up musically, but the lyrics are as self-obsessed as ever. This one posits romantic revolution for record nerds, where sitting in your room and listening to daring and difficult music is a rebellious act that ends in you raising your fist against something or other somewhere out in the real world. And then you feel sorry for yourself. Not even Eno can ring the sentimentality out of crap as earnest and determined as this.

Pitbull featuring Chris Brown—”International Love”

On the chorus, Chris Brown’s idea of international appears not to extend beyond the continental U.S. The hook is catchy, though, and Pitbull makes up for Brown’s narrowness with an itinerary that starts in Rumania (where a pair of sisters offer themselves to him) and includes Lebanon and most of South America. Compared to his last couple of appearances, Pitbull sounds rejuvenated, especially near the end, when he switches effortlessly between English and Spanish. His voice is his main attraction, but Pitbull doesn’t get near enough credit for his rapping, which is fluid not only linguistically but rhythmically. I find his eurodisco-based beats a bit heavy-handed, but that’s what a club banger is supposed to be.

Beyonce—”Best Thing I Never Had”

Though she tries hard, too hard, to separate herself from the norm, Beyonce fits perfectly into one standard mold: the mid-career pop artist desperate to be taken seriously. Her attempts to break free are, in fact, a symptom of the problem. This is terrible in almost every way: over-arranged, melodramatic, badly sung (when Beyonce wants to sound angry she tends to bellow), with lyrics whose artlessness may be designed to counteract the dramatic production but only succeed in exacerbating the problem. By the time she shouts out “Sucks to be you right now” it’s impossible not to wonder what the hell she was thinking when she recorded this. That she was doing something different and daring, I bet.

Linkin Park—”Iridescent”

I can’t stand these guys, but they are entertaining. This may be the funniest hard rock record since Queensryche’s “Silent Lucidity”, though it doesn’t come close to Queensryche’s preening, pretentious stupidity. It doesn’t even set a record for cliches, since just about any romantic lyricist could beat them in a walk. For sheer boilerplate existential despair, though, no one can touch them, and the first verse, which I feel a duty to quote in full, is a masterpiece:

You were standing in the wake of devastation
And you were waiting on the edge of the unknown
And with the cataclysm raining down
Insides crying “Save me now”
You were there, impossibly alone

It’s even funnier when Mike Shinoda sings it.

Trey Songz featuring Drake—”Unusual”

Reviewed in Bubbling Under, 6/4/11

Rodney Atkins—”Take A Back Road”

Reviewed in Bubbling Under, 5/21/11

Victorious Cast featuring Victoria Justice—”Best Friend’s Brother”

I love the bridge, like the chorus, but could care less about the verses, which are standard, streamlined punk-pop. All the same, Nickelodeon is getting better at mining the Disney-pop model, and Justice, who has a co-writing credit, may be a real talent. Especially if she wrote that bridge.

Andy Grammer—”Keep Your Head Up”

Reviewed in Bubbling Under, 6/11/11

Rej3ctz—”Cat Daddy”

Reviewed in Bubbling Under, 4/23/11

Trace Adkins—”Just Fishin’”

Reviewed in Bubbling Under, 5/21/11