How music’s top players stack up in this season’s hot mix

[3 July 2007]

By Jim Farber

New York Daily News (MCT)

What does it take to make a great summer song?

Something light, sheer and easy—much like the right meal or the perfect outfit for this sweaty season just begun.

It never hurts to have something that’s numb in the brain as well. Heavy thoughts and fussy feelings don’t hold any sway in this sphere.

By those measures, a clutch of breezy singles currently ruling radio playlists, and dominating download portals, stand a solid chance of ending up as the summer song of `07.

Here’s a look at the 10 hottest contenders:

Rihanna
“Umbrella”

The sound: A perfectly calibrated cocktail of Rihanna’s breezy R&B voice, Jay-Z’s wry rap and a rousing guitar riff.

Its stats: Currently the No. 1 song in the land.

Its chances: By standing at the summit of the nation’s playlist right as summer kicks off, “Umbrella” has a solid chance of ending up as the season’s winner—as long as it doesn’t fade as quickly as it rose.

Lil’ Mama
“Lip Gloss”

The sound: A sassy salute to the power of puckering up. The hysterically in-your-face rap comes from a 17-year-old scamp from East New York. With its minimalist beat, Mama’s over-the-top attitude and a killer hook line, this stands as the musical equivalent to an open hydrant on a sizzling day.

Its stats: Shot to No. 12 on Billboard’s top singles chart in just two weeks.

Its chances: Given that “Lip Gloss” moved into our pop atmosphere as fast as a summer storm, it could easily end up as the season’s long-running fave.

Sean Kingston
“Beautiful Girls”

The sound: This song offers a twofer of summer sounds. One is the ease of a reggae beat. The second is a sample swiped from one of the greatest warm-weather classics of all time, the Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk.”

Its stats: Right now, No. 43 on Billboard’s Top 100 Song list.

Its chances: The fact that the song is beginning to gain traction, after just three weeks in play, argues for “Girls” standing tall even as summer slogs into its dog days.

T.I.
“Big Things Poppin’ (Do It)”

The sound: Southern hip hop with a rich string arrangement and a hot guitar hook, both courtesy of scorching Orleans producer Mannie Fresh.

Its stats: No. 27 after three weeks.

Its chances: Coming from the biggest-selling rapper of the minute, whose new album drops Tuesday, “Big Things” could bring just that. T.I. ranks as the hottest male sex symbol in current pop, which doesn’t hurt in this clothes-shedding season.

R. Kelly
“I’m A Flirt”

The sound: Smutty R&B. From R. Kelly, you were expecting something different?

Its stats: Recently peaked at No. 12.

Its chances: The song has probably been around too long (17 weeks) to define an entire season.

Maroon 5
“Makes Me Wonder”

The sound: Bony-rumped funk.

Its stats: A former No. 1 that still holds in the top 5.

Its chances: R&B and rap songs have a lock on top summer songs of late. Which should leave these guys marooned.

Huey
“Pop Lock & Drop It”

The sound: Sleazy, strip-club crunk.

Its stats: Still ranks among the top 10 songs after 16 weeks.

Its chances: Doubtful. It’s been around too long to last all summer long.

Justin Timberlake
“Summer Love”

The sound: A massive keyboard hook and a sexy vocal make this a perfect storm for the warm weather.

Its stats: It peaked at No. 6, but still holds in the top 10 after nine weeks.

Its chances: Strong, especially given its title, though it’s weakened a bit by the fact that the album has been out for over nine months.

T-Pain
“Buy U a Drank”

The sound: Goofy R&B with a gimmicky hook from a vocoder.

Its stats: A former No. 1 smash, “Drank” holds in the top 10 after 16 weeks.

Its chances: Probably too long in the tooth to be this year’s ultimate warm-weather song. Consider it instead this year’s late-spring tune.

Shop Boyz
“Party Like a Rock Star”

The sound: Faux rock with a hip-hop beat.

Its stats: No. 2 after eight weeks.

Its chances: It didn’t seem possible, but some songs are too light and dippy even for summer.

___

TOP SUMMER SONGS OF THIS DECADE
2000: “Try Again,” Aaliyah
2001: “Hanging by a Moment,” Lifehouse
2002: “Hot in Herre,” Nelly
2003: “Crazy in Love,” Beyonce, featuring Jay-Z
2004: “Confessions Part II,” Usher
2005: “We Belong Together,” Mariah Carey
2006: “Promiscuous,” Nelly Furtado, featuring Timbaland
(Source: About.com, which compiled the Billboard charts for the months of June, July and August in each year.)

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/article/how-musics-top-players-stack-up-in-this-seasons-hot-mix/