Saturday, November 25, 2006

Unwritten About Singles of 2006

I usually like to keep pretty strict themes on my posts, but this here is just a mishmash of great singles (at least tangentially related to teen pop) of 2006 I haven't written about before on this blog and don't forsee writing about in the future.

Marit Larsen - "Only A Fool"
Contending For: Top 5 singles of the year
Comments: Country music! Marit was one of the two M's in M2M, and she was great in that. Despite her teenpop pedigree, there's nothing too teenpop about this, but it IS a great song! Marit's album was pretty good, but this is definitely the best song in my opinion. An absolutely amazing mid tempo melody, great lyrics, and great guitar make this track an absolute keeper. Provisionally slotted as my 3rd favorite single of the year, but could rise from there. Probably won't fall.
Greg's Rating: 9/10

Beyonce - "Irreplaceable"
Contending For: Top 5 singles of the year
Comments: As of right now, I'm willing to say that this is my favorite single Beyonce has released to this point in her career, including the Destiny's Child catalogue. Like Marit, she has solid teenpop pedigree as a member of one of the best teenpop groups of the late 90's/early 00's. Again, this isn't really teenpop but it's so awesome! Plus all of the essential Beyonce songs released to this point in her career ("Say My Name"; "Crazy In Love") have been uptempo...I think this is her first really good ballad. At least it's the first ballad of hers that I've really loved. Great gutpunch lyrics. Compares well with "Only a Fool" for most unforgettable midtempo melody of the year.
Greg's Rating: 9/10

All-American Rejects - "Move Along"
Contending For: Top 10 singles of the year
Comments: Emo-rock seems to be the completely dominant form of teen pop right now, at least if you define teen pop as what teens actually listen to. Right now, there is a big disconnect between what I would consider "teen pop" (i.e. music made my teens) and what teens actually listen to. When I was in high school (1996-2000) the music that teens loved was often actually made by young people and would typically be referred to as teen pop. I'm thinking here, Spice Girls, Hanson, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, NSync, etc. Those bands were all huge on a larger scale, but Britney, Christina, BSB and NSync were just unbelievably massive among high schoolers. But now, if you take Hannah Montana, High School Musical, et al. they are unbelievably massive among the younger set, but I can't imagine they are particularly huge in high school. JoJo is one that comes to mind as somebody who may be big among high schoolers, though I don't really know. Anyways, if emo-rock is the new teenpop bring it on if all the songs sound like this. Actually I don't like most of the emo-rock bands, but I love this song.
Greg's Rating: 9/10

Paris Hilton - "Nothing In This World"
Contending For: Top 10 singles of the year
Comments: Well, the TCR has yet to weigh in on the Paris Hilton phenomenon so far. There has been so much excellent ink spilled on this album in the pop community that I hesitate to try to add anything to it. Nevertheless, this is a great song! The Martin/Luke formula apparently never gets old, because songs in that mold keep getting released and I keep loving them! This is more of a dance take on the "Since U Been Gone" formula rather than most of the rock-oriented tracks lately. But this seriously kicks ass! Yes, all this proves is that if you have enough money you too can purchase a good pop album. But pop is a very producer and songwriter oriented genre, and I don't see why the artist has to have personal input on it! My number one pet peeve (by far) in pop music is the idea of "legitimacy" and whether somebody "deserves" to be a pop star.
Greg's Rating: 8.5/10

Hilary Duff - "Play With Fire"
Contending For: Top 15 singles of the year
Comments: To my ears, this is Hilary's first essential single since, oh, "Fly" I guess ("Jericho" wasn't a single)? Yes, this is decidedly a Rachel Stevens rip, but given that Come And Get It is probably my favorite album of 2005 in retrospect and that "I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)" was at the time, and still remains, my favorite single of 2005, this is something that does not particularly bother me. I guess most in the pop community will say that it's just Rachel done worse, but I think this would have been a standout on CAGI. Plus it's not like Rachel is anything great as a singer herself. I really hope it gives Hilary the mainstream breakout hit that she has lacked since "Come Clean". Powerhouse chorus.
Greg's Rating: 8.5/10

Fergie - "Fergalicious"
Contending For: Top 20 single of the year
Comments: Oh God, I hate Fergie. I hate her so much. The Black Eyed Peas are my least favorite pop act of the 00's and she is the main reason why. I didn't care for "London Bridge" too much, as it seems to be to be a Gwen Stefani rip ("Hollaback Girl" in particular). Plus this song has the same "I am so hot" lyrics that I hated in "My Humps" so much. Man, I wanted to hate this song so much! But even from the first time I heard it, it sounded OK to me. I kind of sweated it out a while and assumed I would grow to hate it, but ultimately even I had to admit that this is a great song. A grower. Curse you Fergie.
Greg's Rating: 8/10

Natasha Bedingfield - "The One That Got Away"
Contending For: Top 15 singles of the year
Comments: Natasha finally releases the best track off of her debut album as a single! Ok, maybe "Unwritten" is better. This song was released to US clubs only, so maybe I should rate it based on the club mix, but I really love the original spare album mix. So simplistic, yet so catchy. Natasha's first album is one of my favorite of the 00's based entirely on the quality of the top songs, although it's very maddeningly inconsistent. For example, I absolutely love this song, "These Words", "Unwritten", "I Bruise Easily", and "Stumble". Now, this song and "Stumble" were not on the UK version, but I live in America so all references to the album herein are to the US version. Those songs could stand with the top 5 tracks from almost any other album of the 00's. But that's not the whole album! It also has (garbage, to my ears) songs such as "Single", "Size Matters" and "Drop Me in the Middle", some of which even beat this song to being a single! Wait where was I going with this? Well, anyways, in summary Natasha Bedingfield = good, Natasha Bedingfield ballads > Natasha Bedingfield uptempo songs, and this is one of the best tracks of the year. This song is trending upwards; the more I listen to it, the more I love it.
Greg's Rating: 8/10

Christina Aguilera - "Hurt"
Contending For: Top 25 singles of the year
Comments: This really pretty ballad is probably my favorite song off of the extremely disappointing Aguilera album released this year. This or "Candyman". In any event, I don't really have any need to decide which I like better, since this is the single and not "Candyman". But this is a great song, and to my ears it could stand up against any other ballad Christina has released in her career, including "Beautiful". And she doesn't even really try to over sing it! Even though, as is well documented, "Genie in a Bottle" is my favorite song of the 90's and one of my favorites of all time, I've never really been too huge a Christina fan. Other than "Genie", "Fighter" is the only other really essential song in her catalogue, and I might even slate this as my third favorite single she's released. This song, "Beautiful", or "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)".
Greg's Rating: 8/10

This is my provisional top 10 singles of the year. My hypothetical Pazz & Jop ballot:

1. Lillix - "Sweet Temptation (Hollow)"
2. Amy Diamond - "Don't Cry Your Heart Out"
3. Marit Larsen - "Only A Fool"
4. Beyonce - "Irreplaceable"
5. Carrie Underwood - "Before He Cheats" [Nashville country single of the year. It baffles me how it took so long to release this as a single.]
6. Hannah Montana - "I've Got Nerve"
7. Camera Obscura - "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken" [old indie habits die hard]
8. Texas Lightning - "No, No Never"
9. All-American Rejects - "Move Along"
10. Paris Hilton - "Nothing In This World"

I don't anticipate there will be too many substantive changes between this list and my ultimate year end list. This list does not include "Rush", which I consider 05 or "Not This Year" or "Indiana", which are not singles. I will say that "Sweet Temptation (Hollow)", "Don't Cry Your Heart Out", and "Not This Year" are my only 10/10 songs of the year, and that "Not This Year" would seriously contend for number 1 if it were included. A good year for singles, far better than last year in any event.

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