Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Charts on Fire: 04-10-08

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on April 13, 2008

“”Dudes are gonna hate this one… Ugly dudes, that is.” – Lil’ Wayne

Couple days behind on this week’s chart rundown, but it’s been a while, and there’s some mildly interesting stuff going on, so better irrelevant than never I suppose. “Touch My Body” is in its second week at #1, which is hopefully pretty close to the end of its run at the top–song’s good enough, but it’s a reputation #1 if there’s ever been one, and we wouldn’t want Mariah to get the wrong idea.
More intriguing to me is the #2 ranking of Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love,” which actually snuck a week at #1 away from Mariah and Usher while we weren’t looking. I’m still not quite sure what I think of the song, since the (admittedly memorable) chorus has yet to really stick with me in any positive way, but I think its classic potential is far greater than the singles straddling it at the moment.

One of those singles, by the way, is Madonna’s Timberlake and Timbaland-supported “4 MInutes,” which in its second week at #3 gives Madonna her first top five hit since “Don’t Tell Me” over 7 years ago. If “Elevator” was evidence that the Timbaland bubble was starting to burst, than “4 Minutes” is fairly definitive proof, as Timbo’s production (and JT’s backing vocals) not only sounds increasingly gun-for-hire, but also completely overwhelms anything unique or interesting that Madonna might tend to bring to the table, as Mrs. Ritchie sounds distinctly like a guest artist on her own semi-comeback single.  Clearly the public is still eating Timbo’s leftovers up with due dilligence, but that can’t last forever…can it?

Similarly perplexing to me is the success of Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop,” at #4 this week. Now Lil’ Weezy has been listed among the greatest rappers alive for some time now, and based on miscellaneous guest appearances, freestyles and non-hits of his (last year’s “I Feel Like Dying” being a particular stunner) have been impressive enough to give him the benefit of the doubt in this respect. But I’ve never really heard that one great, undeniable single from him, nothing that could be stood up next to a “Big Pimpin'” or “Hypnotize” as the kind of universally loved crossover smash that the streets can still respect. “Lollipop” certainly isn’t it–it sounds like a weak, and even sort of lazy concession to pop-rap standards without the big hook to back it up. Plus, using the T-Pain voicebox and deploying the phrase “lovely lady lumps??” Still unacceptable for at least the next 20 years. Until he can crash the charts with a single far superior to this, I don’t really see how he can be considered one of the greats. Maybe the final release of the much-hyped Tha Carter III will convince me otherwise.

The rest of the top ten is old hat, but we got plenty else to discuss in the top 40. There’s the return of Danity Kane, whose “Damaged” (#19) still bears too much of Diddy’s stamp for comfort, but is still about a gazillion times better than ’05’s putrid top ten hit “Show Stopper”. Fall Out Boy are back for the first time in ’08 this year, with friend and kindred spirit John Mayer in tow, on a cover of “Beat It” (#21). FOB’s affinity for some of the most boringly overplayed hits of the 80s has been no secret for some time, and this being the 25th anniversary of Thriller and all, I guess it makes sense, but unless you’re a 12-year old pop-punk acolyte that doesn’t know why MJ should be considered anything but a pedophilic weirdo, goddamn does it feel pointless. Impressive enough shredding form Mayer, though. And just in case you forgot about him for two seconds, T-Pain is back on two new ones in the top 40 this week, Rick Ross’s “The Boss” (confirms Double R as one of the least-compelling figures in hip-hop, but at least Snoop and Slim Charles are in the video, #23) and 2 Pistols’ “She Got It” (more my synth-hop speed, #29).

The real story of the week, though, might be the appearance of Radiohead in the top 40, for the first time since 1993. Alas, the #37 debut of “Nude” on the chart is not as much attributable to a sudden open-mindedness in Top 40 radio or the song’s appearance on a season finale of The Hills as it is to Radiohead’s accidental (or extremely underhanded and shrewd) chartbusting technique of selling the five tracks to “Nude” (currently being used for a Radiohead fan remix contest) individually, counting each of them towards the song’s chart success. Well, it took fifteen years, but Radiohead can now breathe easy, having officially shed the “One-Hit Wonder” title. Something tells me the song might not be bouncing on its way to the top ten this time next week, though. Good song, by the way.

Also worth talking about is one of the notable new entries (of which there are a surprising number this week) on the normally stagnant Modern Rock charts–that of Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart” (#12). Oh, yeah, another new Death Cab single, ho hum–accurate 95% of the time, perhaps, but not so much here. Sez Ben Gibbard of new album Narrow Stairs, “It’s totally a curve ball, and I think it’s gonna be a really polarizing record. But I’m really excited about it. It’s really got some teeth […] I think abrasive would be a good word to use. [We were influenced by] heavy, sludgy, slow metal [and] synth-punk band Brainiac.” Normally this’d be a knee-jerk eye roll, but they do kinda back it up with eight-and-a-half minute lead single “I Will Possess Your Heart.” Abrasive isn’t exactly the word I’d use–more brooding, sinewy, and very very lengthy–but this certainly isn’t your grandmother’s Death Cab for Cutie, and that’s probably a good thing.

That new R.E.M. single, though (#85 Pop, #21 Modern Rock)? Not really so great. Plus, the title always makes me think of that horrific Al Gore episode of South Park where he keeps saying “I’m super, super serial.” Is that even a joke?

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