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Tag Archives: Enrique Iglesias

Exploring the Billboard Hot 100

Recently our internet service provider sent us a holiday gift of three free song downloads. At first I envisioned an iTunes-like array of music to pick from, but the actual choices were restricted to this list of the current Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 chart. Hmm. Current pop music isn’t something I usually gravitate towards, but I sensed a challenge here and decided to at least sample the clips of all 96 songs they had available. Man, this made me feel old. It really says something that Pink (or more precisely, P!nk), whose jumpy #2 hit “Raise Your Glass” is one of the chart’s better entries, is considered one of the veteran pop performers in the Hot 100… her first album came out a mere 10 years ago. Other observations:

  • The top 40 is filled with the usual teen-oriented, overly produced swill, but there were a few notable goodies. Cee-Lo Green’s “Forget You” is a certified smash with the kind of classic, Motown-inspired melody that will likely stay durable in the next 10 or 20 years (personally I prefer the bluntness of the radio unfriendly version). I get a similar vibe off Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” although her other charting single “Firework” did nothing for me. Both of these share chart space with their corresponding Glee cover versions. The Glee stuff is fun and all, but it comes across as too shrill outside the TV context.
  • Below the top 40, bucketloads of Country. This surprised me. I would expect to find crossover-friendly artists like Taylor Swift in there, but many of the tunes were hardcore, intense, soul-searchin’ twangy stuff from people who would have never escaped the CMT ghetto only five years ago. What happened?
  • Speaking of which, what very few veteran performers reside in the Hot 100 are said Country stars — Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley (whose unborn baby narrative “Anything Like Me” might be the most cloying thing in the 100), Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Reba McEntire (!) and George Strait (!!!). The only non-Country veteran to land on the chart is the ghost of Michael Jackson, whose collaboration with rapper Akon “Hold My Hand” appears at #84.
  • And hip-hop. Lots of hip-hip, but it leaves the impression that the genre has changed little over the past decade. And when did Eminem get so damn depressing?
  • A few songs from people you’d expect. Ke$ha? Annoying and bratty sounding as ever. Kanye West? Meh. Rihanna? No longer sings like a robot, but not terribly interesting either.
  • Out of the singles ranked outside the top 40, the only ones that halfway appealed to me were the Plain White T’s “Rhythm of Love” at #66 and “Strip Me” by Brit songstress Natasha Bedingfield, which barely made it in at #100. Like I said, lots of dreadful Country/Hip-Hop to slog through.

That said, let’s move on to the three tracks I finally settled upon:

Bruno Mars — Just the Way You Are (#7). This one’s a bit on the mawkish side (I predict many wedding plays), but it boasts a killer hook and Mars’ voice is sweetly pure against a blessedly simple production. The charismatic Mars, who also co-wrote “Forget You,” certainly has the goods to have a long-lasting career.

Enrique Iglesias featuring Pitbull — I Like It (#21). A cheeseball party anthem that made its debut on MTV’s Jersey Shore, what’s not to like? It might be considered a desperate move to grab a mass audience on Iglesias’ part, but this one feels similar to Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” in having an immediate, appealing hook that grabs you from first listen and never lets go.

Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina — Stereo Love (#35). Probably the most unusual song in the Hot 100, this sinuous dance track (from Romania!) topped charts all over Europe last year. The synth-based groove is as cold and robotic as anything a U.S. artist could come up with (actually, it’s very reminiscent of Robin S’s ’90s dancefloor hit “Show Me Love”), only the results are somehow more organic and sexy. I’m loving this one. It’s gotta be the accordion. I guess Weird Al Yankovic isn’t the only one who knows that any pop song can be improved with accordion.