Sunday, January 2, 2011

p²'s Pop Magic 2010 -- Part 2

Without further ado, here are my ten favorite songs from 2010.

10. The Time - Dirty Bit (Black Eyed Peas) -- The version of this song I've heard on the radio is really heavy on the Dirty Dancing sample, which makes it repetitive and generic (which is often the way I like my pop music). The version on the album is much more Black Eyed Peas-ish (i.e. mega Fergie and Will.I.Am). If you haven't heard the album version, you should do yourself a favor and check it out (unless you hate the BEPs, in which case DO NOT CLICK THE LINK).

9. No Surprise / Life After You (Daughtry) -- This is the kind of music I expected from Bo Bice. It's still one of the craziest results of any AI season that Chris Daughtry was eliminated fourth -- behind Eliot Yamin, Katharine McPhee and Taylor Hicks. I have to think that the three of them combined haven't sold as many records as Daughtry's debut album alone.

I packaged these two songs together because there's nothing particularly distinct about my feelings for each of them. (Plus, I'm pretty sure they are really from late 2009.) He's got a great voice. He (and his band) writes great songs. These two in particular just never get old for me.

He's known who he is since he was on Idol and he's been able to parlay that into a very successful career. Bo, David Cook and Kris Allen should all be watching him and learning.

8. Heartbreak on Vinyl (Blake Lewis) -- I am often disappointed that some of my favorites from American Idol don't end up having more successful careers, but in most of those cases I'm disappointed in them. In the case of Blake Lewis, I'm disappointed in you (the public). His first album was wonderful and what I've heard of this one (I will confess to not having played the entire thing all the way through) is even better. When I saw him perform this year, he talked about how this song was inspired by a record store he loved in Seattle that went of business. Even without the back story, it's just a damn catchy tune. For the record, this version is the one I listen to (as opposed to the embedded video): Bimbo Jones Radio Edit.

7. Hey Soul Sister (Train) -- I never even heard of Train until my roommate's friend sent him a text message saying he was standing next to their lead singer. Then I saw they were nominated for two AMAs and I figured should check them out. I loved this song from the first note. Plus the lyrics, "Hey Soul Sister, ain't that Mister Mister on the radio" and "my heart is bound to beat right out my untrimmed chest" are pure pop gold.

6. Live It Up (Lee DeWyze) -- Sweet Serendipity is the official first single off Lee's debut album (Live It Up), but this song is way better if you ask me. I liked it from the very first listen and I'm liking it more every time I listen. It's possible that part of that is because I didn't expect to love it, but mostly I think it's because he's more interesting to listen to when you aren't being distracted by his utter lack of stage presence.

5. You Don't Know Me (Allison Iraheta) -- Her entire debut album was fantastic, but this is my favorite track of all. If Kelly Clarkson had recorded this song, it would have gone to number one without a doubt. If I ever get around to writing my blog post about my favorite songs that you've probably never heard, this one will be at or near the top of the list.

4. Love the Way You Lie (Eminem w/Rhianna) -- I may have been the only person on earth not walking around saying Ella Ella Ella during that Umbrella phenomenon, but I'm already on record officially not getting Rhianna. Until she teamed up with Eminem for this song. I have to think it was an intentional choice to have her doing the vocals on a song about domestic abuse, which just is one more thing for me to love about Marshall Mathers -- and I already love just about everything.

I'm not one of those rhyme purists that insists that words must rhyme precisely to be considered a rhyme, which gives me the latitude to really admire Eminem as a poet. There, I said it. I think he's a kick-ass poet. Plus, he's insightful in a way I never would have guessed before I started listening to his music. I particularly identified with his description of the the volatile relationship as being "what happens when a tornado meets a volcano." Been there.

3. Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart (Alicia Keys) -- The first time I heard this song, I wrote on Facebook that it's so perfectly written and beautifully sung that it made me almost wish I had a broken heart. A little hyperbole, for sure. But not much. Every time I listen, it transports me to a time when my heart was shattered. When writing these descriptions, I listen to snippets of the song I'm writing about at that moment. This is the only one I let play all the way through before moving on to the next song.

2. Firework (Katy Perry) -- Under normal circumstances, this song would have ended up more in the middle of the list. I love Katy, but I'm even going to try to deny that this album a notch below One of the Boys.

But the circumstances aren't normal. This was the year we were about one teen suicide away from a remake of Heathers (I was impressed to see she made proper use of the word myriad in her suicide note). And when Dan Savage created the It Gets Better Project, Katy dedicated this song to all the kids that have been victims of anti-gay bullying.

Because of that, whenever I hear the lyric, "You just gotta ignite your light and let it shine, just own the night like the Fourth of July" I literally get chills. I just hope that every kid who needs to hear that gets a chance to.

1. Raise Your Glass (P!nk) -- First of all, I have no idea when she started spelling her name with an exclamation point but I love it. Maybe she's been doing it all along and I never noticed. Or maybe it's like when I first started spelling my name differently. For the first five years, the spellings zigged and zagged around one another and you never knew what you were going to get. It never became anything even resembling permanent until I became the editor of a newspaper and my boss told me I had to pick a spelling and put it in the masthead.

Oh yeah. P!nk. I almost forgot. I LOVE this song. The last time I remember loving a song so much so quickly after hearing it once was Since U Been Gone. Yep. I went there. I am putting this song in the league with one of my five favorite pop songs of all time.

Songs I love tend to have a couple of specific things I like about them. One is a good bridge. The one in Since U Been Gone is one of my all-time favorites. Another is a clever phrase that makes me keep playing the song over and over just to hear it. And then there's the hook. One good hook and I'm, well, hooked.

Raise Your Glass is just one kick-ass lyric after another, virtually from the start -- "What's the dealio" (the lyrics say it's "what's the deal, yo" but she clearly says dealio). Then there's the nnnrr-nrrr-nrrr (I have no idea how to spell the super cool guitar sound she makes). And the line "We will never be anything but loud, and dirty little freaks" speaks to me almost directly. I could go on and and on, But as P!nk insists, "Don't be fancy, just get dancey."


  1. As I'm sure you know, I am by no means a popular musical aficionado - that is why I always love reading your favorites of the year. It lets me know what I should be listening to. I agree with you completely about Eminem. I am, however, surprised that Not Afraid didn't make your list.

  2. janet here -- i'm out of pop music these days too, so i didn't know the katy perry or p!nk song (do you like my proper use of the exclamation point?). i find it interesting that they are almost the same song thematically but p!nk's is the far better song (and video, for that matter). katy perry's voice may be good but they are not doing her any favors by auto-tuning the crap out of her. it renders her almost unlistenable in this song. and as for the video, any emotion that was being sparked in me was drowned out by the ridiculousness of the sparklers shooting out of her breasts! p!nk's video works perfectly.