“He Could Be the One” #10
“I Wanna Know You” (featuring David Archuleta) #74
“Ice Cream Freeze (Let’s Chill)” #87
Miley Cyrus, either as Hannah Montana or as herself, is the living definition of bubblegum: pretty and pink and shiny on the outside, nothing but air on the inside. The difference this time out is that at least one of these songs is bubblegum of a very high quality. “He Could Be the One” is instantly catchy, though it’s appeal fades just as fast, and “Ice Cream Freeze” is a needless remake of “Hoedown Throwdown”, coming less than two months after it’s predecessor left the charts. “I Wanna Know You”, however, is simply a great pop song (I recommend the solo version over this one; Archuleta’s voice doesn’t blend well with Cyrus’s, and his American Idol-style overkill almost ruins the song). Compared to most Disney pop it’s surprisingly subdued, without the tinny, forced brightness of so many of their records, and Cyrus never once plays it cute. Besides, how many pop records feature a tuba?
With The-Dream and Tricky Stewart handling the production, this is a good record, though derivative of a lot of what they’ve done before. I like the way Carey uses her voice these days (she saves the churchy stuff for the end), and her relaxed, kiss my ass attitude. But there’s still something slightly stiff and inhuman about her, a feeling that’s emphasized by her belief that being a corporation is better than being a mom and pop and that holding a press conference is better than having a conversation. She thinks big, and there’s an unbridgeable distance between her and the real world that infects every note she sings.
Less catchy than “Misery Business” or “That’s What You Get”, less dumb pop-metal than “Decode”, this comes close to striking the balance I hope they’re looking for. Sometimes the music is too automatic, but Hayley Williams’ matter-of-fact, take no bullshit lyrics get better all the time. If only their riffs were as sharp and to the point.
Lupe Fiasco featuring Matthew Santos–”Shining Down”
All of Fiasco’s stuff is a little off kilter–which is part of his appeal–but this one is especially weird. Not so much for Fiasco’s rap, though it does take self-admiration a little further than most, but for Santos, who can’t seem to decide which ego-driven rock singer he wants to imitate most: Bono? Chris Martin? Axl? Michael Hutchence? And while he’s making up his mind, I’m still waiting for that guitar arpeggio to turn into “Hotel California”.
Justin Bieber–”One Time”
An Usher-approved 13 year-old white Canadian, Bieber got his start doing Chris Brown covers on YouTube. But except for the occasional patch of teenage warble his voice is so technically worked over here that you’d never guess his age. Not bad, but when he talks to his shorty you do wonder just how old she might be.