P!nk—“Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”
P!nk’s persona, the pop diva with the heart of a riot grrrl, can create interesting tensions in her music, but sometimes it forces her to overplay her hand. This is a step up from songs like her pre-maternity leave self-help ballad “Fuckin’ Perfect”, but she tries too hard. The song is already tough enough without the double entendre title parenthesis or the ear-piercing pitch of the “shit day” section. It’s not that I don’t believe that P!ink has shit days, it’s that the whole section is overkill and seems designed to do nothing more than give her a chance to swear and remind everyone how down-to-earth she is. Without it, despite it’s worrying 90s feel (guitar line courtesy U2, vocal harmonies on the verses courtesy Liz Phair), it would be a much better song. As it is, it’s slightly above-average and nothing more.
Tim McGraw—“Truck Yeah”
Not a great song, but there’s no doubt McGraw is re-energized now that he’s free of Curb Records. Anyone who thinks Emotional Traffic wasn’t pure contractual obligation should listen to how fired up McGraw sounds here. He’ll come up with better material, but as an announcement of liberation this isn’t bad. Also, the image of McGraw rocking out to Lil Wayne is pleasing in all sorts of ways (though I do wonder how you do that).
DJ Khaled featuring Kanye West & Rick Ross—“I Wish You Would”
Having decided that drunken award show ramblings and all-caps Twitter rants are damaging not only to his reputation but his self-respect, West has wisely decided to express his vehemence and air his frustrations on his records instead. The result, so far, has been a succession of singles in which his anger, instead of being diminished by expression, has grown, as if each record was feeding off the one that preceded it. “Mercy”, “Theraflu/Way Too Cold/Cold” (the succession of titles alone gives you an idea of how focused West’s rage has become), and now “I Wish You Would”, are all rants directed at anyone who has ever gotten in West’s way or dared to consider themselves his equal (excepting, of course, his mentor Jay-Z). Each has been more bitter and pointed than the one that came before. The most brilliant part of this campaign has been his using the bombastic, rap brag production of DJ Khaled as his base, taking the already prominent anger of the form and amping it to the breaking point. Rick Ross does his best to keep up, but he’s out of his league, and Khaled’s best contribution, aside from the beat, is a brief interjection expressing amazement at the majestic vehemence of West’s rap. West is working out so much aggression that I fully expect his next album to be full of laid back soul ballads and Chi-Lites samples. Then again, if he keeps up like this, it may end up as an album length equivalent to the intro of “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To the People”.
Trey Songz featuring T.I.—“2 Reasons”
It’s nice to hear Songz breaking out of the soul ballad niche he’s come close to exhausting and being trapped in, and T.I.’s trying out a new flow and voice is a relief, as well (he’s barely recognizable as his old self). This is nothing but a goof, and suffers from not going far enough into the inanity that drives it, but I like it more every time I hear it, and it may turn out to be a keeper.
Pitbull featuring Shakira—“Get It Started”
What a mess. Pitbull’s willingness to try just about anything is one of his greatest strengths, but here he comes out with a start and stop dance track that doesn’t make sense even when it’s banging. Shakira’s presence adds to the mystery. This sounds like two incomplete productions slapped together in the hope that the marquee names on the label will make the accumulated trash a hit anyway.