A busy week for the Hot 100 considering the time of year. Only two of these records—”Scream & Shout” and “My Life”—could be considered “true” hits, though. The others arrive only by default: the two souvenir songs from The Voice for obvious reasons, the other three because they were high enough up to be given a lift by Billboard’s chart rules, which drops records from the Hot 100 if they’ve been there for more then twenty weeks and have fallen out of the top fifty. In other words, there are probably records that, by Billboard’s formula, are doing better than these three, but have been arbitrarily removed to make room for more. There are times when I wish Billboard would print a comprehensive chart for singles the same as they used to do for albums (and which has now become the standard album chart). It would be interesting to see how long a song like “Call Me Maybe” or “Somebody That I Used to Know” would hang around the lower reaches. It probably won’t happen because the commercial aspect isn’t that important—once a single is out of the top fifty it isn’t pulling in much revenue anyway, and unless it somehow bounces back radio won’t care about chart placement. But just as a gauge of listening and buying habits it’s something I’d like to see.
will.i.am featuring Britney Spears—“Scream & Shout”
For all the accusations of exploitation, whether of Spears, Spears’s brand, or even will.i.am’s own commercial clout, this is hardly the quickie cash-in people think it is. If will.i.am cared that much about getting a hit, he would have added some dubstep to his minimalist electro, picked a singer with a higher and purer teen profile instead of one with more history than current accomplishment, and lessened his own vocal contribution. Unless he’s playing to an oldies crowd, which in this case means kids who are eighteen instead of fourteen, I suspect he makes this kind of record because he likes it. Yes, he’ll do everything in his power to make it a hit, but that doesn’t mean he makes it to be a hit. Except in the clubs, of course, where this beat will do just fine, and where Britney’s near anonymous vocals and will.i.am’s autotuned flat ones won’t make a bit of difference.
50 Cent featuring Eminem & Adam Levine—“My Life”
50 Cent’s star has dimmed so much that even Nah Right hates this record. Thanks to Eminem, who demonstrates such technical wizardry you wonder why 50 Cent even bothered with the final verse, it isn’t awful, but it isn’t good, either. Strangest moment: after 50 Cent suggests that his new album could put him back in the game, comparing it to Eminem’s Recovery, Eminem himself ponders the possibility that Recovery was a mistake, because it did put him back in the game; that is, back in the same situation that almost destroyed him the first time. If 50 Cent and Eminem ever do this again, they might want to compare notes before they start spitting.
Melanie Martinez—“Too Close”
Cassadee Pope—“Are You Happy Now?”
Tim McGraw—“One of Those Nights”
While country moves on, McGraw, finally free of Curb Records, acts as if nothing has changed and continues to make Bob Seger records with twang. Here he advises young men to hold on to those precious memories of sex in the backseat. Other than as something to be remembered, he doesn’t say what becomes of the girl.
Ludacris featuring Kelly Rowland—“Representin””
Ludacris’s flow—the stretched out vowels, the double time section in the middle of the verse, the intense, near growl at the end—has become so predictable that it hardly matters what he says; you know what he’s gong to sound like the minute he opens his mouth. So maybe the fact that he has nothing new to say and is no longer funny doesn’t matter; there’s something almost comforting in his repetition of the same effects. Still, “Representin’” is almost the definition of mediocrity, and Kelly Rowland changes nothing.
Cher Lloyd featuring Becky G—“Oath”
I’ve come to think more highly of “Want U Back” than I did at first, but I still have my doubts about Lloyd overall. This bopping ode to sisterhood is too ridden with banality to reach any great height, and it’s so corny that if it wasn’t for the relative toughness of the beat you could easily confuse it for a friendship bonding number from a Disney movie (I like Disney pop in general, but the soundtrack songs are almost always terrible). It might help if I could tell Lloyd and Becky G apart vocally. Their British tough-girl act must be something that’s handed out by the labels. Either that, or Simon Cowell keep a supply of them in his closet.