Last time I checked the Billboard Hot 100, my Corolla was headed to the Mother Waddles scrap heap. But I’ve got the family van for the winter, so I’m happy to say pop radio has re-entered my life. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the top 10 of the hundred.
1. Kelly Clarkson — “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”
I prefer my Kelly to brood. But she’s got to put out a limp-wristed fist-pumper to stay afloat these days, so I can forgive what’s otherwise a P!nk throwaway and some patronizing aphorisms. I just want my Kelly to brood. But it’s not about what I want, is it?
It’s nice to have someone in the pop top-10 who has a thumb casually flipped up the ass of thin-voiced-“diva”-waifery, but Adele is particularly barren on “Fire.” This track ain’t transforming elements — not with those violins, not with a melody this dull. But there are those nice shrieks gnarled inside it like tiny splinters, and I do relish her “oooh”s. They’re quite good. Otherwise, she’s anemic as ever.
3. Flo Rida — “Good Feeling”
It’s remarkable how far into space I can stare once Flo begins to rap. Flo’s flow is so economical and unobtrusive, it’s like a sheet of printer paper taped to white wall. LL Cool J’s effervescence is clawing at this song’s surface, aspiring for reincarnation, only to find that it chose the wrong religion.
4. Rihanna — “We Found Love”
Live and die by the club, in the club, at the club. Are you at the club? We’re headed to the club. We’re at the club. Are you in the club? We’re not leaving the club. We’ll never leave the club. You should come to the club. There’s a $5 cover, though.
5. David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj — “Turn Me On”
This is Nicki’s shot as a house diva, since, well, she’ll do anything, really. Guetta’s too clinical to let her loose so “Turn Me On” functions as incongruous pastiche somewhere near the partnering of Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer. But when Summer felt love, she didn’t need to ask for anybody’s help. And she certainly didn’t care if you danced or not.
6. Jessie J — “Domino”
Repugnant, shrill and effortlessly joyless. Jessie’s plastic ebullience is not only grating, it’s condescending. Her chafing vocalese, spilled over this Katy Perry B-side, is particularly graceless. “I’m feeling sexy and free” she says. Jessie, please, show. Don’t tell.
7. Tyga — “Rack City”
I like the pervy, acid bass-line on “City” and its generally flimsy infrastructure, but I don’t feel much like living in it. What made New Boyz’ “You’re a Jerk” (“Rack” ’s louche partner-in-dread) great was humor in collaboration with all the bleakness. But Tyga’s funny bone seems to have fallen asleep on the armrest of Young Money’s tour bus as it rolled into town.
8. Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa ft. Bruno Mars — “Young Wild And Free”
Why hasn’t this happened yet? Snoop and Khalifa, spiritually, are like peanut butter and peanut butter. They can riff on weed for three minutes, play golf together, loiter around 7-Elevens. “Wild and Free” may strike some as willful insouciance, but it’s more tragic. “So what we get drunk / So what we smoke weed / We’re just having fun / We don’t care who sees / So what we go out / That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
“Living young and wild and free” is a chorus that might ring obtuse, but it’s pleading “why not?” We know what you expect of us, but why should we accept? This is what youth is about, right? Can we live inside a dream, can we chase a high without ever coming down and never die? Fabulous, heartbreaking tragedy. Pretty boring otherwise.
9. LMFAO — “Sexy And I Know It”
In which a joke is no longer funny, in which a laugh becomes the slyest expression of pity, in which nobody escapes from complete and utter misogyny. LMFAO’s shtick is buried in ritualistic buggery. These mooks deserve a pardoning pat on the behind and a designated drive home.
10. Bruno Mars — “It Will Rain”
See Adele, she’ll help out.