Back from the Grave
1. Natasha Bedingfield - "Babies": Completely mental lyrics, the "Babies, babies, babies, babies" part is completely bonkers, the main hook is "mm mm mm mm mm mm" (Crash Test Dummies!) and the whole thing never really comes together. But it's still brilliant! Good misdirection to the chorus (lyrically), where it seems like it's gonna be a simple declaration of love. Lyrics are funny and great.
2. Toby Keith - "High Maintenance Woman": Hilarious! "A high maintenance woman don't want no maintenance man". Great vocals, as always. Toby Keith has shown a remarkable knack for writing lyrics with funny lyrics and extremely catchy melody, and this goes right in that vein (erm, "As Good As I Once Was", "I Love This Bar", et al). Main hook can get stuck in your head for days, but in a good way! Right up there with Toby Keith's best work. If he can combine great hit singles like this with the remarkable consistency of White Trash With Money perhaps we can get a great album from the guy.
3. My Chemical Romance - "Famous Last Words": It starts out fairly standard, but ends up being nothing short of a genuine rock epic, weaving about 3 or 4 different, equally big, parts together with a great deftness, and all 3 or 4 parts are great, especially the main chorus! It sneaks up on you, but once it hits, it hits hard: emo-rock has met its peak with this song.
[The top 3 songs are all so close in quality and so different that there's no meaningful separation between them. I've listed them like this, but I keep changing my mind! In any event they are all equal, and will likely all be in my Top 20 or close to it.]
4. Vanessa Hudgens - "Say OK": A beautiful ballad. After "Come Back to Me" I had basically, unfairly, written off her entire musical career, but this song knocked me out. A great vocal performance from Baby V here, as her piercing voice just adds a lot of beauty here. Not much going on in the lyrics here, but I can forgive it for the catchiness and prettiness.
5. Hilary Duff - "With Love": It was hyped that the new Hilary Duff album would be more Eurodance, but this sounds like a pretty standard American R&B song to me. Hilary’s voice is filling out as she gets older, but it’s still remarkably thin. But in any event, it’s a super catchy song with a great and original melody, and that forgives all manner of sins. Markedly inferior, however, to “Play With Fire”.
6. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - "Catch You": This sounds appealingly like an electro cover of a great Blondie song that never was. Nice lyrics/music synergy here as this song just SOUNDS like the soundtrack to a high-energy chase. The catchiest melody and music of the brief year to this point and great stalkerish lyrics make this a refreshingly original pop tune that puts a good start on 2007, after British pop's rather weak 2006. (Kickass video too)
7. Ashley Tisdale - "He Said, She Said": Ashley's not a very strong singer, which does hurt this song a bit, but the production and main hook are so catchy they can overcome it. Ashley's album was really inconsistent, but the best of it is quite good indeed. And this is her best effort.
8. Christina Aguilera - "Candyman": Normally I don't go much for the retro sound, but I dig the crazy lyrics here a lot, and that plus the hook are enough for me. And the video! So, yeah, it's rather simplistic and maybe even a bit annoying, but it's my second favorite song on Xtina's last album, and this is one of her best vocal performances ever. She totally sells the ridiculousness of the song.
9. Katharine McPhee - "Over It": The song has the same songwriters and the exact same general sound as Jojo’s “Too Little, Too Late”, which makes it easy to dismiss. But it also has a great melody, conveying the sadness of the lyrics very well. Alas, the lyrics and vocal performance aren’t quite up to the wistful beauty of the music, but they are still pretty good and that “Too Little, Too Late” formula just works so well that it can drive at least a few more great songs. Still the best "Over It" of the year.
[All songs above this comment are 8/10 or better...songs 1-3 are 9/10 and will strongly contend for top 2o singles of the year, songs 4-8 are 8/10 and will strongly contend for top 50 singles of the year. What really separates the 8/10 songs from the 9/10 songs here is lyrics.]
10. Avril Lavigne - "Girlfriend": I want to like it more than I do but the whole thing bugs me. I like the lyrics a lot, but the main hook is kind annoying and I dislike the video so much that it is seriously hampering my enjoyment of the song. Well below the level of Avril's best work ("Complicated", "My Happy Ending", "He Wasn't", et al). But obviously, I still like the song, or else it wouldn't be up here.