Charts on Fire: 02-06-09
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 7, 2009
Been a while, huh? Been even longer for Kelly Clarkson, though, who nabbed her first #1 since “A Moment Like This” last week with new single “My Life Would Suck Without You.” I don’t know whether to be totally dispirited or mildly amused by this, but if there was a more obvious case in pop music history of a successful artist attempting to venture out on their own, failing dramatically, and then crawling back through the “Supplicants” door begging for another chance, it’s hard to think of it. It sounds almost exactly like career-defining hit “Since U Been Gone” (with an even Interpolian guitar line, if that was possible), except its tone is the polar opposite–once again Kells is on the outs with the bf, but rather than think about how this split has given her perspective and made her feel stronger as a result, this time she desides that, hey, maybe life without dude is purposeless after all. Frankly, though the smash was masterminded, like so many others, by Max Martin and Dr. Luke, it’s tough not to see the puppet strings of Clive Davis behind it, whispering “Yes, Kelly…you’ll not be making THAT mistake again.” Morality aside, the song isn’t really hitting me yet. Guess we’ll see after another hundred listens or so.
Minus Kelly catapulting to the top spot last week, the top ten has been relatively static with leftovers from last year–“Single Ladies,” “Just Dance,” “Live Your Life”–filling in most of the spots. There are three artists I would have never expected to see in the top ten again, though–The All-American Rejects (“Gives You Hell,” #6), The Fray (“You Found Me,” #7) and Jason Mraz (“I’m Yours,” #10). The Rejects seemed lucky to get the crossovers they did, and though “Gives You Hell” has grown on me significantly, it seemed like a Fade to Irrelevancy minor hit to me, not their best charter to date. The Fray song is disappointing, especially with the era of the medical drama appearing to be on the descent (ER‘s final season! How the hell did that happen??) and I kind of like the Mraz, but whatever. Meanwhile, all depressing T.I. songs (“Dead and Gone,” #11) sound pretty much the same, I’m pretty sure that Ne-Yo already had a song with “Mad” in the title (“Mad,” #15), and if the latest Pink song (“Sober,” #16) goes down in history for anything besides having maybe the first video in history where the artist makes out with themself…well, it seems fairly unlikely anyway.
Of course, this is all quite irrelevant, as I have seen the future of music, and its name is “Prom Queen” (#17). I had heard rumors/threats that Lil’ Wayne was planning on releasing an all-rock album sometime in the future, but I never would’ve guessed that the results would come this soon or be this stunning. The song is an odd mix of the forward-looking and the extremely dated, until I’m not really sure which parts fall into which category, but holy hell is this thing wonderful. The rock elements are predictably amateur-ish, but for whatever reason that just makes it fit in better with the song, and I’m way more about the vocals anyway–still rocking the auto-tune, but with echo and multi-track effects to boot now (who could have predicted how wonderful Weezy would sound harmonizing with himself?) The lyrics…well, they’ll do, and at least he managed to stay on the same subject for an entire song, something which I wasn’t convinced that he would ever quite be able to pull off. And how about the sneer on his voice when he talks about the title character’s “fancyyy underrWAYYY-ARRRR” in that second verse? I questioned Skip Bayless’s analysis when he compared Weezy to Prince on 1st and Ten, but maybe the cantankerous old sot wasn’t that far off.
Beyonce’s “Diva” (#21) is kind of weird, isn’t it? Love her “Ring the Alarm” type furors, but the chipmunky hook isn’t doing it for me, and I find her assertion of a diva being the female equivalent of a player to be sketchy at best. The Veronicas’ “Untouched” (#20) is ridiculously fantastic–glad to see them with a breakout finally after “4Ever” and “Everything I’m Not” both charted about 100 places lower than they deserved–and Lady GaGa’s “Poker Face” (#23) seems like a fairly decent second offering, slightly less undeniable than “Just Dance,” but only slightly, and that’s all that matters. My friend texted me the other day to tell me that he had concluded that Keri Hilson and Lil’ Wayne’s “Turnin’ Me On” (#24) was the best song since last summer, and while I can’t quite get on board with that analysis (and he called it “Turn Off” in his text anyway), respect to the “The Way I Are” chick for turning one out on her own, and for helping to keep Weezy’s guest Top 40 appearances on an ’08 pace for early ’09. And Akon has another song with lots of synths in it (“Beautiful,” #28). Hooray.
Meanwhile, I feel very personally invested in Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Thru the Phone” (#32) not climbing into the top 20, although the song is as OMGWTFLOL as any of his last eight or so–largely because the song features a now grown-up Sammie, last heard from when he was a wee tyke of 13, capturing the hearts of the nation with the unfortunately forgotten “I Like It” (in an alternate universe, Sammie goes on to date Ciara and star in Entourage while Bow Wow is damned to appear on third-tier Soulja Boy hits). And really, doesn’t the song’s title remind anyone else of this scene? Gross. I’m hoping it’s just because I haven’t paid attention to the lyrics yet, but so far, I don’t hate Katy Perry’s “Thinking Of You” (#35)–it seems a little less obnoxious than the first two, at least, although admittedly that’s saying extremely little. The only other real movers this week are Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It” (he’s back! With T-Pain! In time for that shitty new movie with Robert Downey Jr.! Making another song about alcohol being an excuse for poor behavior!! #37) and the return of heavily IITS-approved artist/HOT ONE factory The-Dream with “Rockin’ That Thang” (not overwhelmed so far, but most of his are growers, so let’s see about the whole album, #46)
Bruce has the #1 album this week. How about him doing “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” at the Super Bowl last weekend? Did not see that one coming.