Charts on Fire: 05-07-09
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 8, 2009
No real time or purpose to string my thoughts into coherent paragraphs here, so just some thoughts worth sharing on the songs currently making waves in our top 40 and beyond:
- (#1) Black Eyed Peas – “Boom Boom Pow“ Time has definitely softened my stance on the Black Eyed Peas, if it was ever particularly harsh to begin with. It occurs to me now that there are worse things in the world than a bunch of quirky, hyper kids making silly music for silly people, having too much fun to concern themselves with always being particularly comprehensible. The seemingly paradoxical ridiculously dated future-chic of this one only goes to further that, really. One question: Is the “I’m so 2008 / You so 2000-late” really good enough to justify the fact that the song didn’t come out until the spring of 2009? I say yes, personally.
- (#4) Kid Cudi – “Day n Nite” A #3 peak for “Day n Nite” is the best fate I could have asked for. The song’s too amazing to not have been huge, but too weird and singular to be an actual chart-topper. #3 seems about right.
- (#5) Flo Rida – “Sugar“ I will never cease to be amazed how many hits Flo Rida is spinning off without leaving much of a mark on any of them. I feel that it’s oddly progressive for hip-hop–such a genre designed for the cult of personality–to have a superstar this totally anonymous, and I’m fascinated to see how much longer he can stay this popular essentially being a guest performer on his own singles. And let’s be honest–the hook to “Blue” always had more pop potential than the Eiffel 65 song it was stuck in anyway.
- (#9) 3Oh!3 – “Don’t Trust Me“ The first time I heard this, I was convinced it was a Lonely Island production of some sort–pop songs just aren’t allowed to have lines like “Shush, girl / Shut your lips / Do the Helen Keller / And talk with your hips” as throw-ins, let alone as their entire bridges. Fantastic stuff, but the question of great significance now, of course, is if we can get these guys to go away forever–and I mean forever–once “Don’t Trust Me” has run its course. Normally I wouldn’t even think it was an issue, but in an era of pop music where Katy Perry and Soulja Boy somehow both managed second hits, I gotta admit, I’m a little worried.
- (#12) Pitbull – “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)“ Jeepers, is this song good. Can’t remember the last time I heard a hit single with this kind of energy to it–due mostly, I think, to Pitbull’s brilliance in keeping the verses so mercifully short and pointless that the song is never more than four measures away from the nearest chorus. Of course, it helps when your song has about a half-dozen different choruses (in two different languages) going for it, as well as hooks zooming in and out from just about every direction, including a can’t-miss classic in the form of the Chicago “Street Player” (via Bucketheads’ “The Bomb,” and more pressingly, Nicola Fasano vs. Pat Rich’s “75 Brazil Street“) horn hook. It ends at just the right time, the video’s great….A+ all-around, really.
- (#15) Shinedown – “Second Chance“ Uttelry perplexing. Just…Shinedown? In 2009? With a song this unremarkable? Christ man, at least Seether tried a little harder.
- (#19) Soulja Boy – “Turn My Swag On” A third hit? Pop music, I don’t even know you anymore.
- (#22) Keri Hilson f/ Ne-Yo & Kanye West – “Knock You Down“ Someone please, please hire Kanye West a pop culture reference editor. Yes, Kanye, it is true that Michael Jackson once had a hit single and album with the title of “Bad.” That does not mean that anything is necessarily gained with a line–in the middle of a supposedly heart-rending breakup testimonial, no less–like “It’s bad, real bad / Michael Jackson.” I was pretty sure that ‘Yeezy would never be able to top “How could you be so / Dr. Evil?” let alone this soon after. Yikes. And Keri Hilson…yeah, “Turnin’ Me On” was great and all, but I’m still not sold that there’s star potential to be had there. She can always take solace in having cemented her status as being only the second-least famous person on “The Way I Are,” though.
- (#23) Jeremih – “Birthday Sex“ I was pretty sure already, and hearing this song back-to-back with Ray J’s “Sex in the Rain” on the radio recently confirmed it–unusual specificity is totally the new thing in dirty R&B. No one wants to hear anonymous loverman jams anymore, filled with vagueries and lacking that personal touch–these last few years it’s been all who and what, but totally lacking the where, when, why and how. Props to Jeremih for riding on the trend’s ascent, but mark my words when I tell you he won’t be the last one–songs like “Sex in Your Parents’ Bedroom,” “Period Sex” and “Sex Through Our Clothes” will be flooding the airwaves before you know it. I’m excited.
- (#24) Kelly Clarkson – “I Do Not Hook Up“ I’ve made countless calls for the formation of an ANDL (Anti-Nerd Defamation League) to monitor pop culture materials insensitive and prejudicial towards the geeky, now I think it might be time for an ARWPDL (Anti-Rich White People) one as well. Sorry we can’t all be as street as you, Kells.
- (#32) Eminem – “3 AM“ Maybe I’m just at a point where anything Eminem does is going to seem hollow and disappointing to me, but for an Eminem song about being a mass-murderer–at one point a surefire recipe for success–doesn’t this just seem oddly…boring? Eminem’s crime sprees used to be so purposeful, so pointedly bilious…and now he’s just killing a bunch of nameless, faceless people for no real reason? He doesn’t sound psychotic anymore, he just sounds tired and frustrated–and really, he barely even sounds like Eminem at all, his congested-sounding voice almost unrecognizable as the sneering toxic avenger he used to be. And no, he doesn’t even give a shoutout to Rob Thomas, so don’t bother asking.
- (#35) Plain White T’s – “1,2,3,4” Couldn’t have asked for a nicer second hit. We should all be thankful.
- (#42) Kristinia DeBarge – “Goodbye” Such a natural choice of sample hook that it’s positively stupefying that no one’s thought to do it before. This song could be huge, so while I love it right now, it’s the 200th time I hear it that’ll eventually be the make-or-break. Either way, score one for genetics in R&B hitmaking.
- (#46) Green Day – “Know Your Enemy” I was talking to a friend about this song last night and when actually trying to come up with something to say about it, we both just kind of shrugged and nodded. Basically, if you had asked me any point in the last five years what the lead single on the new Green Day album would sound like, I feel like I could’ve sang this song almost exactly. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing–Green Day’s earned the right to coast, and we’ve earned the right to enjoy the sounds of Green Day coasting–but I do hope they have a couple surprises in store. Five years and all.