1. Melanie Fiona - "Gone And Never Coming Back"
It's bittersweet to realize how much you like a song just as it's started sliding down the charts. Fiona's one big hit "It Kills Me" never clicked with me, so I didn't make a point to really give her latest single a serious listen until recently, and realized both that I kind of love its theatrical bombast (the PR soundbyte describing her sound as "stadium soul" is actually pretty accurate!) and that it's had a pretty underwhelming radio performance (it already peaked at #37 on the R&B chart, compared to "It Kills Me" hitting #1). Here's hoping this great song gets a second wind.
2. Kelly Rowland f/ Lil Wayne - "Motivation"
I'm so completely sick of Lil Wayne's voice that it takes a lot for me to feature any song involving him in this space. I tend to listen to just the beginning and/or end of this song when it comes on the radio, and channel surf around the dial during his verse, although I still have to tend with his gross little vocal filtered backup singing on the chorus. But it's a great song even with him dragging it down, and I do kind of appreciate his presence just for helping a song by a perennial also-ran like Kelly become such a big radio hit.
3. Pitbull f/ Ne-Yo, AfroJack and Nayer - "Give Me Everything"
Pitbull and Ne-Yo are both guys that I like but feel peaked artistically very early in their careers, and have spend much of the last few years chasing trends and musican directions that have less and less appeal to me. So it was a pleasant surprise to hear them together on a song that's very much in spirit of each's recent work but so much more undeniable and ingratiating, with a big shameless housey hook that kind of accomplishes what Chris Brown's comparably bland "Beautiful People" seems to be trying for.
4. Hanson - "Give A Little"
I kind of like that these kids have grown up relatively unscathed and still making music with the same basic appeal as the stuff that briefly made them huge, in fact I enjoy their more recent singles more than I ever liked any of the Middle of Nowhere hits, and this might be my favorite to date, it's just so buoyant and joyous, if still unabashedly cheesy. Great little bluesy guitar hook, too. The Jonas Brothers better hope they can write songs this good in 10 years when nobody thinks they're cute anymore.
5. Black Eyed Peas - "Just Can't Get Enough"
I generally prefer solo Fergie to BEP, but I do have a soft spot for some of their more melodic pop-oriented singles like "I Gotta Feeling," "Don't Lie" or "Meet Me Halfway," and this fits nicely in that tradition, at least until that vaguely novel but mostly annoying "switchup" section. And yes, I kind of sequenced the last three songs here as "Give Me Everything," "Give A Little" and "Just Can't Get Enough" deliberately to amuse myself.