Up Down Up Down: Hot 100 Roundup—12/14/13

Justin Bieber—“Roller Coaster”

Unlike almost every other pop song that has featured a roller coaster, Bieber’s latest entry in his string of diaristic singles uses the slow parts of the ride. The fast bits pay proper homage to the Ohio Players, while the down tempo sections feature the sound of a rattling chain, just like the song’s namesake. But who rides a roller coaster for the slow bits? I realize Bieber’s trying to get at the bipolar aspects of romance, but he’s takng it far too seriously. He sounds moralistic and dull.

Demi Lovato—“Let It Go”, #64
Idina Menzel—“Let It Go”, #89

Lovato has a good voice and bad instincts, with a tendency to stretch songs (not to mention vowels) well beyond their breaking point. Menzel has a passable voice and no musical instincts at all—she’s an actor who’s learned to sing because it’s required of her. Neither is well served by this banal piece of show music, which is barely even a song , but Menzel comes across best. So much better, in fact, in sales as well as style, that it’s difficult not to wonder why Disney commissioned the so-called “single version” to begin with. Lovato does little to make anything out of the song, and gets no help from the hapless “pop” arrangement. Show tunes are probably best left to show people. At least they know what to do with them, however mechanical the result may be.

Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan—“This Is How We Roll”

Not only is this how Florida Georgia Line rolls, it’s how they roll every time. It’s become impossible to tell their songs apart. Luke Bryan better watch out, or the same will go for him.

Will Champlin—“At Last”

Jason Aldean—“When She Says Baby”

Aldean used to be my least favorite country singer, but time has mellowed him enough to make him mediocre and easy to ignore. This is a perfectly serviceable song, and Aldean does nothing to make it worse. He does nothing to make it better, either.

Enrique Iglesias—“Heart Attack”

I could count the decent records I’ve heard from Iglesias on one finger, but “Heart Attack” (the third single with that title to make the chart in the last two years) has to be a new low. If pop dubstep wasn’t already dead, Iglesias may have killed it. If it was, he dug up the corpse and stomped on it. This is incompetent in almost every way.

Fall Out Boy—“Alone Together”

Some good lines (“This is the road to ruin/And we’re starting at the end”; “My heart is like a stallion/They love it more when it’s broken”), but musically and thematically “Alone Together” is ground Fall Out Boy has covered many times before. They don’t sound like they’re tired of it, but I am.