July 14--Song-of-the-summer seekers will find many gone-viral candidates in this first summer in which YouTube clicks count in sending a song toward the top of the charts.
Among them: the badly behaving Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop," and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," whose "unrated" video featuring topless female models has been banned by YouTube. (A cleaned-up version has still managed to garner more than 86 million hits.)
The season's pop music playlist before you stretches to about 90 minutes -- longer than a mix CD because, really, who listens to CDs anymore? If you go to www.inquirer.com/inthemix, you'll find a widget to play the whole thing on Spotify.
1. "Get Lucky," Daft Punk. High-fives all around: So deservedly successful is this disco come-on, in which Frenchmen Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter employ Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers and vocalist Pharrell Williams, that the Gallic duo are now marketing "Get Lucky" condoms. Score!
2. "Treasure," Bruno Mars. The Hawaiian pop polymath currently wowing crowds on tour with his high-stepping backup band the Hooligans goes old-school R&B on this snappy single from his sophomore Unorthodox Jukebox.
3. "We Can't Stop," Miley Cyrus. Oh, yes, you could stop, Miley, but goodness knows you won't, until goody-two-shoes Hannah Montana is dead and buried. This Mike Will Made It production was rejected by Rihanna. And while RiRi's skills exceed those of Billy Ray Cyrus' twerkin' daughter, "We Can't Stop" is a more than serviceable club hit.
4. "Somewhereinamerica," Jay-Z. The Magna Carta Holy Grail track finds Hova himself bemused by the sight of a twerkin' Cyrus. Otherwise, he explores themes of race, class, and old money vs. new, enjoying the look on a neighbor's face at the sight of a yellow Lamborghini in the driveway next door.
5. "Royals," Lorde. New Zealand songwriter Ella Yelich O'Connor, known as Lorde, is 16 and has no time for Jay-Z, or any shallow fools going on about "Crystal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece / Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash." What's so promising about her anti-materialist rant is she's not an earnest scold, but a savvy pop music maker with hooks to compete with the blinged-out competition.
6. "Power Trip," J. Cole. A battle-of-the-sexes tussle from the North Carolina rapper whose second album, Born Sinner, sits atop the Billboard album chart.
7. "White Noise," Disclosure, featuring AlunaGeorge. Possibly Don DeLillo-referencing, sultry dance track from English electronic music brother duo Guy and Howard Lawrence, with assistance from equally buzzed-about Brit duo AlunaGeorge.
8. "Mirrors," Justin Timberlake. "It's like you're my mirror, my mirror staring back at me." JT gazes in the looking glass and likes what he sees. He plays Citizens Bank Park Aug. 11, with Jay-Z, on the "Legends of the Summer" tour.
9. "Blurred Lines," Robin Thicke, with T.I. and Pharrell Williams. The "you know you want it" lyrics have been criticized as "rapey" by Huffington Post, and the chock-full-of-boobs video has been defended as "feminist" by its female director. Everything about "Blurred Lines" is confusing -- except its rubber-band bass line, and irresistibly lightweight groove.
10. "Niamey Jam," Bombino. Tighter coiled guitar-jam, from Nigerian-born Tuareg axeman Omara "Bombino" Moctar, whose desert-blues hybrid album Nomad was produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and is my favorite album of the summer.
11. "Come & Get It," Selena Gomez. "This love will be the death of me, but I know I'll die happily." Teen pop star goes Bollywood, sort of, to (maybe) declare continued affection for that Justin Bieber scallywag. Scandalous!
12. "Done.," the Band Perry. The cute-as-three-buttons country-pop sibling act gets tough, taking a page from the Carrie Underwood-Miranda Lambert revenge-song template. "You're one bridge I'd like to burn / Bottle up the ashes, smash the urn," Kimberly Perry sings in disgust. Ouch!
13. "New Slaves," Kanye West. Equally angry is Kanye West, who in this initial single off Yeezus rails against enslaving rampant materialism and cops to embodying it. A complicated man.
14. "Get It," Run the Jewels. The lead single from the winning, hard-hitting collaboration between alt-rapper El-P and Killer Mike. One for the hard-core hip-hop heads off their self-titled debut, available for free at www.foolsgoldrecs.com/runthejewels/.
15. "Irresistible," Deafheaven. Love instrumental guitar interlude that's an accessible entry point into San Francisco black metal band's breakthrough album, Sunbather.
16. "Beat This Summer," Brad Paisley. Cowboy-hatted country guitar slinger rebounds nicely from the ham-handed brouhaha of his "Accidental Racist" single. Lots of tasty licks, plus the realization that what makes summer good is that it'll soon be good as gone.
17. "Stare at the Sun," Eleanor Friedberger. Locomotive singer-songwriter pop from one half of sibling duo Fiery Furnaces, who steps out on the excellently titled Personal Record, with songs written with Philadelphia songwriter-novelist Wesley Stace.
18. "See It My Way," Mikal Cronin. Crunchy, melodic power pop from the San Francisco guitarist's excellent sophomore release, MCII.
19. "When My Baby's Beside Me," Big Star. Recorded for 1972's #1 Record, it doesn't get any more summery than this Alex Chilton-sung exultation, which is on the soundtrack of the new Big Star documentary, Nothing Can Hurt Me, available on demand and hopefully coming soon to a theater near us.
20. "Idol," Smith Westerns. Thoroughly enchanting summer idyll from Cullen Omori-led Chicago trio, taking a page out of the dreamy Chilton playbook.
21. "Mavericks," Work Drugs. Title cut of chilled-out Philly band's new album, just out on Bobby Cahn Records. Alleged to have been written on a surfing binge along the Pacific Coast Highway.
22. "Pendulum," Pure Bathing Culture. First single from Portland, Ore., indie duo's due-in-August debut Moon Tides wonderfully captures a languorous seasonal mood.
23. "Do It Again," Camera Obscura. Scottish singer Tracyanne Campbell drops a Smokey Robinson and delivers a bittersweet reverie from Camera Obscura's fifth album, Desire Lines.
24. "Diane Young," Vampire Weekend. "Nobody knows what the future holds / And it's bad enough just getting old." Ezra Koenig of VW -- who close out the pop music summer when they play the Mann Center's Skyline Stage on Sept. 19 -- faces the prospect of turning 30 with an upbeat song whose title plays on "dying young."
Contact Dan DeLuca at 215-854-5628 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @delucadan. Read his blog, "In the Mix," at www.inquirer.com/inthemix.
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