Radio Rant: Billboard’s Top Ten Songs of the Summer (2011 edition)

Well, Labor Day’s done with, it got coldish outside, and I’ve had a Littlest Orphan Cough for the past few days; it is fall, everybody. So to look back at summer, I thought today I’d look at Billboard’s Top 10 Songs for the Summer. I know I did this last year, but this year I’ve already done formal Radio Rants for most of what’s on this list, so I’ll talk about any observations or thoughts I have on the rankings. Let’s begin!

10. Hot Chell Rae – Tonight, Tonight
Hey, look. It’s that song I don’t like. Glossy production, bland lyrics, and obnoxious instrumentation/vocals collide in “Tonight Tonight”. The song cherrypicks styles (pop rock base with a touch of New Wave and pop punk guitars), and manages to take all of the most annoying elements of each one and water it down. I can certainly see how it made its way onto the list; G-rated, sun shiny pop songs are a summer staple, but I don’t think I ever liked this one.

9. Katy Perry ft. Kanye West – E.T.
And we’ve hit Katy Perry’s first entry on this list. Honestly, I thought this one would have charted higher on this list since at its apex, it was inescapable, but I’m guessing it peaked slightly too early for true “summer” status. I’ve run the whole gamut of feelings towards this one; I didn’t care for it, then I really disliked it, and eventually I ended up liking it more than any other one of Katy’s Teenage Dream singles. In addition to being a pretty good song, I think, it’s also really different for Perry, and I can certainly get behind that. Kanye’s verses are bad, but in a so bad it’s kinda good way, and that’s more than ok with me.

8. OneRepublic – Good Life
I don’t get this song’s popularity. I mean that both in the immediate sense of “why is this on the list?” as well as how it was even a hit in the first place. The production is so hazy and smothering that I’m kind of surprised that there’s actually a song underneath it. The whistle-hook is ok, but also painfully earnest. And it’s not even like I actively dislike this song; it certainly doesn’t piss me off the way that “Tonight Tonight” does, but it’s a musical non-entity with vague “We’re all good” lyrics. Eh.

7. Lady Gaga – The Edge of Glory
As I mentioned in my half-year blog, I don’t think that Lady Gaga’s having the 2011 she imagined. I’m not saying she’s languishing in obscurity or anything, but everyone of her singles since “Judas” has felt like a false start. “The Edge of Glory” is still one of her better songs/singles; if pop went arena rock, it’d sound like this. And, like most of Gaga’s better singles, she sound super confident and really lets loose. At the same time, the song didn’t have the edge over a handful of other songs that stayed virtually gridlocked in the Top 5 for all of July.

6. Lil Wayne – How to Love
Lil Wayne released an acoustic ballad.

Yeah, the premise of “How to Love” registers pretty high on the WtF Meter. I thought this was going to be a sign that Lil Wayne would try something new on Tha Carter IV, but “How to Love” still sticks out like a sore thumb. And on one hand, I applaud him because yeah, trying something new is important and nice, but goddamn is “How to Love” cheesy. The tender/sensitive aspect of the song is dragged down by Wayne’s AutoTuning, but I’d rather not hear “How to Love” without it. Overall, it’s a schmaltzy, clumsy song, but still somewhat likeable.

5. Katy Perry – Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
This song. Out of everything on the list, “Last Friday Night” comes in dead last in likeability. When I first heard Teenage Dream, I equated this song to be D-grade album filler that would never see the light of day. But, here it is, and even went to number 1 for awhile. I have lots of problems with this song, but I’d be willing to overlook all of them if this song sounded anything fun, but it doesn’t. “Last Friday Night” sounds totally disengaged, and no fun for anybody.

4. Nicki Minaj – Super Bass
Meanwhile, this song is nothing but fun. My initial Radio Rant for “Super Bass” was a little mixed, but this song has gotten more and more fun with every listen. The super catchy chorus, the kickass production, the fact that Nicki’s on fire…it’s just a really fun song. The bridge, like I mentioned back then, has no real purpose, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Nicki finally has a pop single that has some bite to it; she needs more of these.

3. Adele – Rolling in the Deep
Well, we all knew this one had to show up eventually. Coming out of virtually no where, Adele’s managed to be this year’s slowburner success. Her album 21 has so far managed to weather major releases from Lady Gaga and Beyonce, and “Someone Like You” is the current number 1 single on the Hot 100. But it all comes back to “Rolling in the Deep”, which is so far the reigning song of 2011. No song (well, with one exception, which we’ll get to in a moment) has had more of a presence this year, and even after all the overplay, it’s still an enjoyable song.

2. Pitbull ft. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer – Give Me Everything
As the rest of this list shows, our club fetish is finally ending, but there’s still signs of life in the movement yet. The fact that we’re on the tail end of club pop’s dominance is as likely a reason for “Give Me Everything”‘s popularity as you’ll find; if you were looking for A-lister club pop this summer, this was about it. It’s club pop by numbers: dumb lyrics and lame rapping, but danceable and upbeat all the same. It’s not doing it for me, but I can see the appeal.

1. LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem
I don’t get it.

I just don’t get it. I don’t get how bargain bin produced club pop by a pair of moronic no names with lyrics like “I’m running through these hos like Draino” and “No lead in our zeppelins!” that at one point gives up and just cheers “Put your hands up!” went on to be not only the number one song in the country for weeks at a time, but the number one song of the whole summer.

And I can’t believe I still kinda like it. Believe me, “Party Rock Anthem” is dumb on a knuckle-dragging level, but sometimes you have to embrace the fun. That said, overexposure can (and more or less did) kill most enthusiasm I ever had for it, but I get the feeling that this one’ll still be decent if/when we ever revisit it.

Well, that’s Billboard’s list of Summer Songs 2011. Here’s looking forward to a new fall!

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About bgibs122

I enjoy music and music culture; I hope you do, too.
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