Top 25 of 2008: Part 1

It’s hard to believe, but we’re already one fourth of the way through 2008. In that light, I’ve decided to create a Top 25 of this year’s most infectious singles, ranked according to personal preference but compiled based on chart success and digital sales. We start today with nos. 25 through 21.

25. Ray J and Yung Berg, “Sexy Can I” (Billboard Peak: #3)
Ray J, for all his “merits” as a solo artist, is the epitome of fame by association. Back in ’97, he debuted as the little brother of R&B diva Brandy, who at the time was not only a viable pop singer but also a sitcom star. Then, when those celebrity genes failed to make any noise on the charts, he made a quick buck off the infamous Kim Kardashian sex tape — $1 mill for less than ten minutes of “hot” sex — and suddenly became relevant again. “Sexy Can I” is his biggest hit by far, and the top digital ringtone of 2008. It’s a song about “hot” sex, but I can’t think of anything good to say about the track outside of its chart success.

24. One Republic, “Stop and Stare” (Billboard Peak: #12)
The good news about 2008 thus far is that Nickelback isn’t the most successful rock band of the year. The bad news is that their replacement is One Republic, a flaccid fivesome from Colorado who turned MySpace popularity into international stardom via Timbaland’s remix of “Apologize.” “Stop and Stare” is the second single from their debut disc, and it might as well be “Apologize 2.0”: same tempo, similarly sophomoric lyrics, and, of course, beloved by American youth. Chad Kroeger, please come back.

23. Mariah Carey, “Touch My Body” (Billboard Peak: #1)
Well, it’s official: “Touch My Body” is this week’s Billboard #1, tying Mariah with Elvis Presley for the most chart-topping singles by a solo artist. (Only the Beatles stand in her way with the all-time record of 20.) “Touch My Body,” helmed by the same team who did Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” is full of slinky keyboards and subtle piano — retreading the same successful territory as Mariah’s best singles off of The Emancipation of Mimi. The lyrics, meanwhile, shift between Mariah fighting against the paparazzi for private moments and Mariah detailing at length exactly what she does in those private moments. And it’s kind of, umm, violent.

22. Flo Rida, “Low” (Billboard Peak: #1)
Low” is the most successful single of 2008, both by digital download standards and by Billboard standards. It spent the first two months of this year atop the Hot 100, helped Step Up 2 rake in tens of millions for Disney, and made Florida’s Flo Rida (I seriously just got that about a week ago) a household name. The lyrics detail a particularly well-dressed “shorty” who gets “low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low” in the club — an accurate update of Lil Jon’s “Get Low” phenomenon back in 2004. Two more singles from Flo Rida — “Elevator” and “Roll” — are achieving similar chart success, but his album (Mail On Sunday) has had trouble selling.

21. John Mayer, “Say” (Billboard Peak: #58)
Another soundtrack song — this time from late ’07’s The Bucket List — John Mayer’s “Say” is a nice slice of acoustic pop, full of jingle-jangle guitars and cinematic string sweeps. It’s interesting that Mayer, who refuses to perform his bubblegum hits like “Daughters” in concert, would record such a softie single — but he once again proves that sentimentality is his strong suit.

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