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. Today: nos. 20 through 16.
20. Miley Cyrus, “See You Again” (Billboard Peak: #11)
For all Disney’s flaws, you can’t deny that the megacorp knows how to market an image. In the case of Miley Cyrus, that’s an adorable country girl who takes to being famous like she knew it was coming all along: the kind of girl who’d tape YouTube videos with her friends, dedicate songs to her late grandfather in concert, and maybe even drop her own name in the instantly likable chorus of her biggest hit. Like Miley, “See You Again” — one part low-fi ‘80s pop in the vein of Corey Hart, one part Kelly Clarkson catchy — is just too damn cute to stay mad at.
19. Buckcherry, “Sorry” (Billboard Peak: #9)
This song at very least shows the Buckcherry’s versatility — the Los Angeles outfit who hit rock novelty gold with last year’s “Crazy Bitch.” “Sorry” is a rather romantic turn from a band who excels at writing aural smut, but it has just the right amount of eighth-grade lyrics to make it clear that this isn’t Buckcherry’s strong suit: “And when I see you cry/It makes me wanna die.” That said, it’s the band’s biggest pop hit by far.
18. Danity Kane, “Damaged” (Billboard Peak: #21)
“Damaged” was an interesting — albeit smart — choice for DK’s first single from their Welcome to the Dollhouse album. For one thing, it wasn’t the most popular new track according to their fanbase; for another, it’s much more girl-group than “Show Stopper,” the big single from their debut that drew mostly from hip-hop. It’s also interesting that “Show Stopper” was a song about being rich and famous before Danity Kane was actually rich famous, while “Damaged” — the song that has legitimized them as actual superstars — is about heartbreak.
17. Lil Wayne, “Lollipop” (Billboard Peak: #7)
Lil Wayne is the hardest working man in hip hop, claiming at one point to have written 400 songs. (This was before his drug arrest in January 2008.) I have a feeling that the bulk of Wayne’s output is too weak for even Birdman to take seriously — but if he’s hiding 399 more “Lollipop”s under his sleeve, then more power to him. The song, despite its tired central metaphor, is perfect for that moment when late night becomes early morning: half whispered, half sung; slow but danceable; and somehow, despite numerous allegorical and explicit references to human anatomy, remarkably romantic. Here’s hoping Wayne won’t be, umm, licking any lollipops in prison.
16. Britney Spears, “Piece of Me” (Billboard Peak: #18)
Headlines pairing the words “Britney Spears” and “hit” are more likely about car accidents than pop songs these days, but “Piece of Me” — the second single from Britney’s surprisingly listenable Blackout album — proves an ingenious and infectious move at this point in her career. The lyrics (not written by Spears) detail her now-permanent presence in the popular press, and the music — from Bloodshy and Avant, the same team that crafted Brit’s “Toxic” — melds junkyard percussion with futuristic pushes and pulls at all the right moments. The single best line? “I’m workin’ hard at bein’ a momma.”