Monthly Report: July Singles
1. The Joy Formidable - "Whirring"
It took me a few months of occasionally hearing this song and each time being blown away by how great it is (especially the live performance on "Conan") for me to get past my biases against the band's name, against any new rock band from across the Atlantic really, and just realize that this song is really just everything I could want from a rock song, summed up fairly well by the title. And now it's a moderate U.S. rock radio hit, and I hope it gets bigger from here. I still really need to hear their album.
2. Young Jeezy f/ Fabolous and Yo Gotti - "Flexin'"
Although rap albums with protracted, confusing and confused advance singles campaigns are nothing new these days, it's been especially frustrating to watch what's happened with Young Jeezy's Thug Motivation 103 over the past year and change. "Lose My Mind" was a pretty sizable hit, bigger than any 'street single' has a right to be really, but after a couple of other attempts at singles (the ok "All White Everything" and the awesome "Jizzle") stiffed, everything went quiet for a while. Then we got the mediocre Lil Wayne/Lex Luger bandwagon jump "Ballin'" (which is only slightly entertaining if I pretend Jeezy is yelling BLOG in the chorus), and the pretty weak new "Shake Life," which are both doing well enough that the album might actually get released sometime this year. In the meantime, though, this great track from the mixtape The Real Is Back is getting some minor airplay and I'm really pulling for it to pop up as a surprise hit, really catchy track and the chorus is just hilarious.
3. Trey Songz f/ Drake - "Unusual"
These guys are both so stiflingly ubiquitous on the radio these days, mostly with really boring or terrible songs, that I feel like they deserve a gold star for getting together on something actually kind of great (even if Drake does nothing to contribute to the quality of the song).
4. Jennifer Hudson - "No One Gonna Love You"
I'm a sucker for any song with a loping left hand piano groove that reminds me of "Bennie & The Jets," especially stuff in a modern R&B context like "I'm A Flirt." Also good to hear Hudson on the rare occasion her material lives up to her voice, and to be reminded of how good Rich Harrison could be before he kind of fell off the face of the earth.
5. Avril Lavigne - "Smile"
With this and "What The Hell," Avril Lavigne has had a couple of my favorite Max Martin girl pop songs of 2011, but she's been kind of lost in the shuffle among bigger hits by Britney and Katy and Pink. And that's kind of a shame, because as much as Avril's career doesn't really make much sense at this point, these songs are just undeniably catchy.