Saturday, July 28, 2007

208/365-Year Top Singles List

This was supposed to be a half-year singles list, but obviously I am too late for that, so it is what it is. Since my year-end list consists of 50 singles, this list therefore consists of (208)/365 * 50 = 28.63 singles. I'll round to 29.

The TCR 208/365-Year Top 29 Singles:

1. Rihanna - "Shut Up and Drive": Much like my 2006 single of the year, "Sweet Temptation (Hollow)", this is a song that a lot of people seem to like, but nobody seems to like as much as me. Oh well. It's got a great melody, fun car-as-metaphor-for man lyrics, and the same enveloping, warm instrumental background as "Umbrella". The central metaphor may be somewhat stilted, but it produces several nice little turns of phrase. The bridge takes everything down a notch, but I like it.

2. Miley Cyrus - "See You Again": Although I thought that, on the whole, the music in Hannah Montana 2 lacked the fairly consistent highs of the first season's soundtrack, I loved this song. I mean, if I made a list of my favorite 5 Hannah/Miley songs, about 4 would come from soundtrack 1, but I can tell you that this song would be number one. Frickin' incredibly infectious melody and definitely Miley's best lyrics ever: "The last time I freaked out/I just kept looking down/I st-st-stuttered when you asked me what I'm thinking 'bout/Felt like I couldn't breathe/You asked what's wrong with me/My best friend Lesley says 'Oh she's just being Miley'/The next time we hang out/I will redeem myself/My heart can't rest 'til then/Oh I can't wait to see you again". The "st-st-stuttered" is my favorite moment in music in 2007, and "My best friend Lesley says 'Oh she's just being Miley" is also in my top 5. I've probably listened to this song 50 times since the soundtrack was released. Very, very questionable eligibility, but when it comes to this Diz stuff, who is to say what is and isn't a single. Shrug.

3. Aly & AJ - "Potential Breakup Song": Best lyrics of the year, best vocal performance of the year, and a truly outstanding melody. I guess that would seem to add up to higher than number 3, but Miley and Rihanna have truly transcendent melodies (and good vox/lyrix too). (see previous Potential Break-Up Post). Also, best music video of the year.

I'm certain that the three songs listed above, (plus "The Best Damn Thing", if ever released) are my 3 favorite songs of the year, but the order keeps changing in my head! This is where I stand now.

4. Keith Urban - "Stupid Boy": Heartbreaking and gut-wrenching. Very nice guitar sound on this one, Keith is a great singer, and and a nice melody, but it's really the lyrics that make this one. That, and the song-end fakeout at 3:45 leading to the best outro of the year. That outro, a 2 and a half minute powerhouse of a gutpunch makes for as moving an experience as music can create.

5. Natasha Bedingfield - "I Wanna Have Your Babies": Still totally awesome. I've written about the outstanding lyrics and melody of this song before, and have nothing new to add.

6. My Chemical Romance - "Famous Last Words": Powerhouse rock epic which, like Aly & AJ, weaves together various awesome but disparate parts in a very deft way to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts. Not to mention, I AM NOT AFRAID TO KEEP ON LIVING is the greatest sing/shout-along chorus to come along in years.

7. Vanessa Hudgens - "Say OK": Quite possibly still the best pure melody of the year. And Vanessa gives a good performance too! Not quite ambitious enough to crack any higher than this, but if I had to pick any one song to listen to over and over again for hours this would be the one. Dozens of listens later that melody is still as amazing as it was when I first heard it. One of the prettiest songs in years.

8. My Chemical Romance - "Teenagers": So fun! Don't trust anybody over 30! Funniest lyrics of the year, and a great high-energy chorus. Great usage of electric guitar. MCR continue to be the best mainstream guitar based rock band out there today. This is a great song that may climb even higher as the year goes on.

9. Natasha - "Hey Hey Hey": I suppose there isn't too much too this song, but it's a fun, infectious number that deserved to be a smash hit. Natasha has breathy, airy vocals that lend a sense of airiness to the song, and which conflict with the hard, driving background music in a really wonderful way. Then we kick into "Hey Hey Hey" and nothing else matters. It's very slight, and I'd like to see what a self-assured braggart of a singer could do with it, but it's a real winner as is.

10. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - "Catch You": I've really loved this song since the first time I heard it, and I still think it's the best song on SEB's (kinda disappointing) album this year. This thing has the power to just lodge in my head and hang around there for a long, long time.

11. Amerie - "Gotta Work": Yeah, yeah, yeah, a ripoff of "Crazy in Love", not to mention "1 Thing", but it's a bouncy fun number. The trumpets are great and the chorus is great. But the stutter-step, start-and-stop verse, with it's bouncy, fast, shouting qualities is what really made me love the song. You'd think they'd try to marry a chorus like this to some silky-smooth melody, but there isn't even really any melody to the verses at all. Unexpected, but it really holds the song together, I think, and is the main reason the song holds up to multiple listens so well when other similar songs tend to fade away quickly. I'm hoping for this one to go #1.

12. Ne-Yo - "Because of You": Speaking of silky-smooth melodies...I like Ne-Yo a whole lot, and all of his singles have been pretty good. His album gets a bit tiresome to listen to all the way through, because the songs are so samey, but this is basically the theoretical peak of the style of music he's going for. I love the slap bass in the verses and the main instrumental hook, but the silky smooth melody and vocals are the story of this song. Just kinda makes me drift away when I listen to it. Like "Say OK", one of those melodies that just says super-crisp no matter how many times you hear it.

13. Avril Lavigne - "Hot": Man, the art of the power-ballad is practically dead these days. So many amazing power ballads in the 80s but nobody even tries any more. Avril is one of the last who consistently produces great power ballads. This song is right in her wheelhouse and she knocks it out. Very catchy melody, it gets stuck in my head for days.

14. Blake Shelton - "The More I Drink": Hilarious and true! Drinking does, in fact, make one want to drink more. This is part of a long, long tradition of drinkin' songs in country, and it's a worthy entry into the lineage. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the chorus is catchy as hell too.

15. Katharine McPhee - "Over It": So pretty it almost makes me tear up. Just a great wistful melody and so what if it's a "Too Little, Too Late" ripoff, the formula works and McPhee knocks it right out of the park, as always.

16. Fall Out Boy - "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race": Fall Out Boy step out of their normal box to create a more ambitious, experimental rock song, but it really works. A great explosion of a high energy rock song. Nothing going on with the lyrics and not great vocals, but just as pure music it's very, very good.

17. Toby Keith - "High Maintenance Woman": Another I've written plenty about and have nothing to add too. Like Blake Shelton, catchy-as-hell and funny. Lyrix aren't quite as good as Blake's, so it ranks 2 slots lower.

18. Cupid ft. DJ Unk and Fabo - "Cupid Shuffle (Remix)": Best hip hop novelty song of the year! This has a catchy melody and a nice energy, and that basically makes up for the lack of substantive lyrics. I have never done the Cupid Shuffle myself, but I can tell you this is a hell of a lot better than the Cha Cha Slide song (as a pure song).

19. Shop Boyz - "Party Like a Rockstar": OK, putting the two best hip-hop novelty songs of the year right in a row required a bit of cheating/shuffling, but it seemed appropriate. Really fun song, though. The Boyz have some great flow and they can write some great lyrics and it all comes together in this one song. The rest of their album is just OK, but it kicks way into high gear for this. Like I said about Ne-Yo, this is basically the theoretically best possible song for what it's going for.

20. Sara Evans - "As If": Another great single from one of my 5 or so favorite single artists of the decade. And, okay, this great single sounds kinda like most of her other great singles, but she's got her sound and she runs with it. She's still a really phenomenal singer, and this song has a very nice melody and good lyrics. Not much going on with the music, and it's a little too unoriginal to rank any higher.

21. Rihanna ft. Jay Z - "Umbrella": Amazing synths and amazing lyrics, but the melody (other than ella ella ey ey ey) doesn't grab me as much as it apparently grabs some others. And the Jay-Z part is stupid. It's gotten old from overplaying but don't let that diminish that this is still a very good song. Just needs a little bit more to be a great song. But, great marriage between the sound of the song and the title/lyrics though, very impressive.

22. Tim Armstrong ft. Skye Sweetnam - "Into Action": Heh, a fun throwaway number that will be completely forgotten 5 years from now. But given all that, it's pretty amazing. So fun and catchy. I thought ska was a dead genre, but if the genre can still produce numbers like this bring it on.

23. Carrie Underwood - "Wasted": OK, with the release of this, they've finally run of out great singles on Carrie's debut album to release. (Seriously, the 2nd best song on her debut album). Her 2nd album is definitely my most anticipated album of the 2nd half of the year, let's hope it doesn't get delayed.

24. Sophie Ellis-Bextor - "Me and My Imagination": Great disco melody and disco beat. Sophie's not a great pop singer, but she's competent and she's able to carry a good pop song. This is a dreamy, dizzying little pop number, and I don't like it as much as "Catch You", but I do like it an awful lot.

25. Fergie - "Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal)": Probably my favorite song on Fergie's album other than "Fergalicious". It should be clear from this list that I am a real sucker for mid-tempo ballads. For whatever reason, mid-tempo ballad melodies ("Say OK", "Hot", "Because of You", "Over It") seem to hit me way stronger than the melodies for other songs. I'm not sure why that is but I certainly am not going to fight it.

26. MIMS - "This Is Why I'm Hot": Fun brag-rap that straddles the line between amazing and completely irritating. It mostly sits on the right side of that line, but it is tough to listen to over and over again. But come on: "I'm hot cuz I'm fly/you ain't cuz you're not". Awesome.

27. Ciara - "Like a Boy": It's a mid-tempo ballad. The melody grabs me. Shocker. Nice bouncy musical backdrop though.

28. Enrique Iglesias - "Do You Know (The Ping Pong Song)": Probably the best single Enrique has ever released, thanks to a great chorus and very inventive ping pong ball percussion. The cheesy music and dragging verses do all they can to eliminate the goodwill generated by that chorus and percussion, but the forces of good win out.

29. Kelly Clarkson - "Never Again": I still like the lyrics and I still love the bridge. The melody is maybe not as strong as the best of KC, but it's still pretty good. A tad disappointing, maybe, just because it's Kelly, but judged on it's own it's still a triumph. I like the "Sunday School answer" line.

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