So Labor Day weekend is almost upon us. That means that the Summer of 2010 is officially over and done with; the kids are going back to school and the adults…well, nothing ever changed for them. And, because Billboard’s obsession with lists surpasses that of any known website, they already cooked up a little Top 10 for summer. So this week, I figured “Hey, why review one song when there’s ten of them so nicely bundled like this?”. And yes, part of this is me dragging my feet on the inevitable “Love the Way You Lie” review. So grab your Daisy Dukes and bikini tops as we count down the top 10 hit songs of Summer 2010.
10. Eminem – Not Afraid: #10? Really? I legitimately thought that this would chart higher than that. On “Not Afraid”, Eminem mixes pissed off with boast track, and does it all while trying and more importantly succeeding at being a serious artist. Not just some goofball so obnoxious that the guys in blink would tell him to grow up. A good song, but not summer-y enough, I guess.
9. Enrique Iglesias feat Pitbull- I Like It: Ah good, this made it. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Pop By Numbers. Take a man-pretty performer, throw in music that follows whatever the big trend is (in this case, club pop), toss him some “Pretty girl in the club” lyrics, add in a guess rap verse (doesn’t matter who does it) to break up the ensuing monotony, shake well, and done! Seriously, this song is so ubiquitous it could have come out anytime in the past 3 or 4 years and been just as dull and predictable as it is now.
8. Drake – Find Your Love: I’ll be honest, I had to look this song up when I saw it on the list. And until the “Hey, hey, hey” part, I didn’t know who it was. This isn’t that bad of a song. Sure, that…drum…beat…thing is annoying as shit, and the chorus is way too damn repetitive, but Drake sounds good and I generally like the music. It’s going to be one of the slow songs at homecomings across America this fall (calling it now), but since Drake can actually sing, I don’t mind.
7. Mike Posner – Cooler Than Me: Ugh. This guy again. The only thing I’ve heard about this sounds-like-the-guy-in-Silversun-Pickups-and-looks-like-JT bloke is that he apparently graduated from Duke University recently. Ok, sure, good for him. But this is either all we know about him, or the only interesting thing there is about him. And based on how bland this halfway bitter screw you to a college girl is (thank you, NevertheHero), I can only guess what’s the answer.
6. Taio Cruz – Dynamite: Here we are. An exercise in how a decent chorus can save a song that I’d otherwise hate. “Dynamite” runs middle of the pack in the Top 10, rather fitting for a song that runs in the middle of the pack as far as pop goes. Nothing about it stands out as being particularly good, but aside from the awful verses, there’s nothing really that bad about it either. The chorus might as well be subtitled “Please sing along”, so I’m gonna let go of the bad parts of the song and do that.
5. Travis McCoy feat. Bruno Mars – Billionaire: Yeah, not surprised this is on here. Really, this song was damn near engineered to be a summer hit. The up-stroke guitar, laid back goofball approach…hell, it’s almost a walking cliche. But, thanks to Travis McCoy’s wink ‘n smile delivery and a singalong chorus, “Billionaire” is a fun summer song. Too bad Sublime wrote it years ago.
4. Usher feat. Will.I.Am – OMG: Wait, this got this far? Shit, I figured that once I was into the Top 6 and hadn’t seen “OMG” yet, it must have just not made it. Between embarrassingly bad lyrics (“Honey got a booty like pop pop pow/Honey got some boobies like wow oh wow”), a bored guest verse by Will.I.Am, shaky production, and a bad misuse of Usher’s voice, “OMG” struck me across the board as eh. So of course it had to be a hit.
3. Eminem feat Rihana – Love the Way You Lie: DAMN. And the whole point of this list was to avoid talking about this song. And I say that because…*shrug* I still don’t really have an opinion on this song. Eminem’s lyrics are brutally honest almost to the point of being uncomfortable (let me stress, almost), but are still stellar. And Rihanna annoys me way less than she has since 2008, always good. For an Eminem song, the backing music is great, albeit a little a 90’s. Good song, it just hasn’t made an impression on me. Yet.
2. B.o.B feat Hayley Williams (and Eminem) – Airplanes: Whoa! I’m actually kinda happy that this got this high. A lot of these are the usual suspects when it comes to summer hits; love songs, breezy pop, etc. “Airplanes” plays things on the serious side in lyrics and sound. And the best part is that it’s actually all pretty good: B.o.B’s a refreshing face in rap/hip-hop, Hayley Williams delivers a great (albeit trying too hard) chorus, and on pt. II Eminem lets a verse off the chain that negates anything bad about collaborations. So yeah, “Airplanes” is a darker song with a great chorus, original lyrics, vocal/rap talent, superb instrumentation, and great production. Wonder what could beat that?
1. Katy Perry – California Gurls: …you know, as much as I want to be surprised by this, I just can’t be. “California Gurls” was freaking made to be a summer chart-topper. I mean that whoever wrote “California Gurls” had to sit down and say “We’re going to write a hit for the summer”. It laughs in the face of “artistic integrity” (although at this point I wonder if Katy Perry even knows what that is). It’s not that “California Gurls” is a bad song by any stretch, it’s actually rather catchy, but for a summer song it feels so cold. Every note here is calculated; Perry’s too-processed voice, the ProTools slap-bass, that little “Whoosh” sound effect at the start of the chorus which is at the start of every freaking song’s chorus now…not bad, just predictable.
But it’s not all bad news. A lack of “Your Love Is My Drug”, “Hey Soul Sister”, “Ridin’ Solo”, and “My First Kiss” at least proves that America has ears. And hey, Gaga hasn’t put anything new out in months, so I’m getting my wish on that front. Here’s to a good second half of 2010.
The only songs that I really enjoyed in this list were the songs involving Eminem… hopefully he’ll be back on an upswing, I guess. I’ve never bought a CD of his, but I consistently like his stuff – I’ll even rap along with some of his dumber Slim Shady tunes just because I like his rhythms.
But almost everything else on this list I either can’t think of off the top of my head or I actively dislike and would cause me to change the radio stations. I’m obviously am not a great audience for this music, I suppose. The only reason I’ve even heard the Eminem songs is because my girlfriend listens to the pop station all the time in her truck!
Although, as a quick side thought, some of these I think I only shun because I’ve heard them so much – the problem with crappy pop songs is that they quickly become crappy popular pop songs, which means they become ubiquitous crappy popular pop songs which get a ton of air play thanks to the record companies saying “PLAY MY SONG” to the radio station.