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. 15 through 11.
15. Daughtry, “Feels Like Tonight” (Billboard Peak: #32)
I’m still in the camp that has no idea what “It feels like tonight…tonight” means, but I’m also the camp that prefers this song to “Home,” “Over You” and even “It’s Not Over.” The buzz-worthy chorus — while not written by Daughtry himself — falls somewhere between the Adult Contemporary styling of Fuel, the band Chris turned down when asked to sing lead, and the power ballad sensibility of Bon Jovi — the template for Chris’ my-band-is-my-last-name formula for success. And for better or for worse, the commercial reception of “Feels Like” is turning Daughtry’s debut into one of the more viable rock records this decade.
14. Panic at the Disco, “Nine in the Afternoon” (Peak: #52)
Impressively mature from a band whose earlier singles didn’t even have coherent titles, “Nine in the Afternoon” is a sunny piece of A.M. pop nicked from the Abbey Road-era Beatles catalogue. Heavily reliant on immaculate orchestration, tolerable lyrics and even a few time signature tricks, the single is a perfect example of how to alienate your old fans while picking up hordes of new ones in critical circles. The song’s relatively poor performance might put a quick end to Panic’s fascination with all things Lennon/McCartney, but for now it’s quite a nice diversion from their emo days.
13. Carrie Underwood, “All-American Girl” (Billboard Peak: #27)
For Carrie, pulling off another stunt like 2005’s “Before He Cheats” — the biggest crossover country hit this decade, eventually making its way into the Billboard Top 10 — might prove an impossible task for the rest of her career. But in the meantime, story songs like “All American Girl” will do just fine. The single matches a full country band with lyrics about pink instead of blue baby balloons, chronicling three all-girl generations in just as many minutes. And don’t think she won’t show up on American Idol sometime this year to sing a rendition, showing once again that she’s one of the best singers on the pop charts today.
12. Snoop Dogg, “Sensual Seduction” (Billboard Peak: #7)
Back in 1993, Snoop Dogg burst onto the scene with a few revolutionary singles: songs like “What’s My Name” and “Gin & Juice” introduced the world to P-funk, a brand new sound helmed by Dr. Dre and embodied by a skinny Compton kid whose first murder trial came within years of his first album. Since then, Snoop’s output has become more and more tired, and his most successful hits — “Drop It Like It’s Hot” comes to mind — are so minimalist that their sales come more from izzles and dizzles than inventive production. So credit him for this year’s “Sensual Seduction,” a track full of voice box vocals, flute stabs and keyboard than make the entire 1980s blush. And coming from a man whose last Top Ten hit bragged about the many ways he could kill you, the sexual content of “Sensual” is at very least a relief for his lawyers.
11. Rihanna, “Don’t Stop the Music” (Billboard Peak: #3)
A few years back, Rihanna had her first #1 hit with “S.O.S.,” a track that reworked Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” for the 21st century dance floor. So her producers are smart to repeat the trick with this year’s “Don’t Stop the Music,” another club hit that recycles the best parts of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” “Don’t Stop” is impeccably produced if a little repetitive, and it continues a streak of four Top Twenty singles from her Good Girl Gone Bad album — the first of which was last year’s monumental “Umbrella.”