Can we talk about how bad “No One” is? Not just that I happen to dislike it, but I think it’s genuinely a poor piece of music. I’m not the biggest Alicia Keys fan to begin with, but I’ll acknowledge her better songs–“Fallin,” “If I Ain’t Got You,” the irresistible reggae remix of “You Don’t Know My Name.” However, she just sounds off here–her voice is strained, the hook is weak, the lyrics are particularly boring. And yet here we are, week #2 at the top spot. C’mon, surely Soulja Boy deserved at least one more month at #1. How many people are gonna be Cranking Dat No One at Bar Mitzvahs 20 years from now?
There’s not really to much else to be said for the top ten this week–it’s virtually identical to last week’s, though “Apologize” and “Kiss Kiss” have swapped places (#2 and #3, respectively), Fergie is two spots away to having her fifth top five hit off of The Dutchess, and Rihanna’s back in the top ten with “Hate That I Love You” (as if she ever left, #9). For the second week in a row, four of the songs in the top ten have T-Pain on ’em, the first time that’s happened since that 50 Cent chart super-blitz in early 2005. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving robot, I guess.
More exciting for me is the chart success of two of the year’s better rock-goes-disco numbers, Finger Eleven’s “Paralyzer” (at #11 for the second week) and Good Charlotte’s “Dance Floor Anthem (I Don’t Wanna Be in Love)” (up nine to #26). Who could’ve possibly guessed these bands would have a second wind in ’em? Especially glad for the GC single, since their first excursion into funk territory, 2004’s super-underrated “I Just Wanna Live,” passed without half the notice it deserved. Dunno if I’m quite comfortable rooting for the band that once did “Little Things” and “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” but damn, these guys keep surprising me.
Meanwhile, bravo to country-pop princess Taylor Swift, getting her third top 40 hit of the year with “Our Song” (not quite as good as “Teardrops” or “McGraw,” but still better than 95% of country top 40 hits this year, #23). Also doing it big this week are Natasha Bedingfield’s “Love Like This” (kinda liked her as a two-hit wonder, oh well, 27-21), Plies and Akon’s “Hypnotized” (throw Plies on the pile of rappers who can’t seem to have a hit without Akon or T-Pain, 32-24), and Sean Kingston twice over, once on Bedingfield’s “Love Like This,” once on his own “Take You There” (less loveable without an oldie-stealing hook, 42-31). Also, Wyclef has his first top 40 hit in ages with “Sweetest Girl” (though I have a feeling Akon and Lil’ Wayne might have a bit more to do with it, 44-37).
Gotta give special props to Mary J. Blige this week, though. The idea of Mary doing a self-motivational anthem as her new album’s lead single would normally be a nightmare top 40 scenario for me–frankly, I don’t think I’ve liked a single hit of hers since “Family Affair” over a half-decade ago–but “Just Fine” puts a ridiculously big and improbable smile on my face. The cowbell on the chorus helps, as does the “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” pilfering, but really, it’s just a very nice, breezy song. Bizarre, huh? Moves up seven to 36 this week, hopefully with a good deal of climbing still to come.
Josh Groban has the #1 album this week. It’s so sad that the only cultural force with as much influence over popular music as American Idol is Oprah Winfrey.