“Beautiful Day”, #24
“The Boxer”, #88
DeWyze won American Idol not because all the tweens voted for the cutest guy, but because the story he lived on the show was better than any backstory anyone else could have come up with. He started as an insecure dweeb and ended up a confident but still humble performer. He had to win; that’s the way these Cinderella stories are supposed to go. He has a decent voice, too, though none of the songs here demonstrate that very well. He obviously doesn’t care much for “Beautiful Day”, but he does seem to have some inkling as to what “Hallelujah” (in it’s third chart appearance this year) is about. “The Boxer”, however, is a disaster. You never mumble a Paul Simon lyric, no matter how bad it is.
Crystal Bowersox—”Up To the Mountain”
Behind the dreads, behind the sunflower tattoo that covers her back and the stupid pushpin piercing under her lips, behind her mature but somehow innocent voice, Crystal Bowersox is one canny performer. I may be the only person in the world who thought her performance of this song on American Idol was terrible, obscuring the melody and losing the song in a maze of vocal flexing and filigree. But Bowersox knew what the Idol audience and judges wanted to hear, so she gave it to them. This studio recording is better, tamer and more to the point. Not as good as Kelly Clarkson’s version from a couple of years ago, but still worthwhile. And her voice is amazing.
Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox—”Falling Slowly”
I hate this song. I don’t care who sings it, or how badly or how well they sing it. I hate this song.
Shoved off the charts by American Idol this week (an improvement, if a small one), the best Glee can manage is a soppy Kiss cover. Singing bad songs badly does not make them funny, it only makes them worse. Though I don’t expect anyone involved in Glee will ever realize it. I also suspect that they’re not trying to be funny.
Will Young—”Leave Right Now”
What can you say about a guy who in comparison makes James Blunt sound like a great artist? That he should follow his own advice?
Paramore—”The Only Exception”
Over Paramore’s usual thrashing, Hayley Williams sounds intelligent and cool, a slightly wistful cynic standing tall in the midst of emotional confusion. Over an acoustic backdrop, however, she sounds like any other female singer/songwriter with well-crafted lyrics whose sentimental rage turns into a sentimental crush when the right guy walks into the room.
Cali Swag District—”Teach Me How To Dougie”
Not a form of jerkin’, according to them (their jeans aren’t skinny, for one thing), but the impetus is the same: turning hip-hop and rap back into party music. The crosstown rivalry, I suspect, will only be good for both. This is fresh and fun, and its appeal appears to be cross-generational—Jermaine Dupri, of all people, has done a remix. They already talk like the four marketeers, and have started a twitter campaign to get Soulja Boy on another remix. In other words, grab them now, before they’re spoiled. There will be a lot of one-hit wonders in this genre over the next couple of years. This is a good one.
J. Cole—”Who Dat?”
Given time I might come up with an answer, except that all I can ever remember about this song is the question.
Ludacris featuring Trey Songz—”Sex Room”
Ludacris has rarely been as funny as this without cracking an obvious joke, and the groove guarantees that even the porn-movie cliches carry an erotic charge. The groove is so good, in fact, that it allows Trey Songz to hold our attention to the very end without his actually having to come up with a lyric, uttering nothing but a few suggestive phrases and the title. Which only makes it sexier, of course.
Rick Ross featuring Ne-Yo—”Super High”
I lot of people will write this off as a Ghostface rip, but I say, isn’t it time? If Ghostface’s tracks weren’t about pimps, whores, and drug dealers killing each other, and so laced with obscenity that a censored version would be half silence, his blaxsploitation-based grooves would be all over the charts, and probably the radio. As Kanye West might put it, he knows how to cook that crack music. Ross knows nothing but how to brag, and the music lacks the dense intensity of Ghostface, but the groove is so undeniable it would be meaningless to complain. As for Ne-Yo, he contributes his best hook since “So You Can Cry”, and raises the track up yet another level. A great one.