Ghosts and Pitbulls
Hot 100 Roundup—6/16/12

Justin Bieber—“Die In Your Arms”

A good song, and though I could do without the spoken bits, there’s no doubt that Bieber has grown as a singer. The record as a whole, though, is creepy. Bieber’s adoration of Michael Jackson is well known, but to write a pastiche of early 70s Motown and then base the arrangement on a sample of the real thing (Jackson’s “We’ve Got a Good Thing Going”), with almost identical chord changes, seems like something more than adoration and something less than respect. It’s supposed to be a pleasant, gimmicky little love song, but instead it’s like listening to ghosts. I appreciate Bieber’s talent, but his judgment seems more off-kilter with every release.

Jay Sean featuring Pitbull—“I’m All Yours”

Jay Sean is just behind Taio Cruz in the British eurodisco pantheon, and I was relieved to find that the drum crescendo leads into some straight four-on-the-floor rather than the dubstep breakdown I was expecting, but all the same this is Pitbull’s record, and once his rap is finished (I don’t count his banal return for the middle eight) it may as well be over. Pitbull’s raps, at least on his hits and guest spots over the last couple of years, have been so brief that it’s nice to hear him stretch out and be reminded of how good he is. I just wish he’d done it on a better record.

The Wanted—“Chasing the Sun”

I like this more than “Glad You Came”, even though it comes close to being a cover version while demonstrating even less personality. The arrangement changes up in a more attractive way, and the absence of bald double entendres makes the meaningless lyrics more enjoyable as pure sound. It’s a pleasant little piece of eurodisco-influenced pop, and it would be foolish to expect anything more from them.

Keith Urban—“For You”

Urban is a lightweight talent who takes himself too seriously, so of course when he gets hold of an important subject he bites down hard and grinds slow. The record doesn’t reach the point of actual disrespect through self-absorption, but it does little honor to anyone involved, including the men and women it’s about.