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. 10 through 6.
10. Janet Jackson, “Feedback” (Billboard Peak: #19)
There’s something cold and robotic about Ms. Jackson’s vocals on “Feedback,” but the song’s aliens-with-ADD production still keeps it sexy. And while Janet’s musical metaphors fall well short of the mark — “Strum me like a guitar/Blow out my amplifier” — they’re more than made up for by the claim that she’s “heavy like a first day period.” Talk about sexy.
9. Chris Brown, “With You” (Billboard Peak: #2)
At this point in his career, Chris Brown only gets better with age. “Kiss Kiss” was a far better dance track than “Run It!,” and now “With You” tops “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” by more than a mile. The only bad thing about the single is that it shares an unfortunate title with that lame Jessica Simpson hit from a few years back.
8. Usher, “Love In This Club” (Billboard Peak: #1)
Compared to 50 Cent’s feral rants from “In Da Club” — “I’m into havin’ sex/I ain’t into makin’ love” — Usher proves gentlemanly and grammatically correct: “I wanna make love in this club.” “Love,” like most Usher tracks, topped the Billboard Hot 100 within weeks of its release — despite predating its accompanying album by almost half a year. (Here I Stand, Usher’s new disc, drops in June.) That said, it’s a club masterpiece: note the jittery organs, the inevitable guest rap from Young Jeezy and the thickest layer of synths since T.I.’s “What You Know.”
7. Sara Bareilles, “Love Song” (Billboard Peak: #4)
As pretty a melody as it is, “Love Song” is an angry single — catching Sara Bareilles in her own early-90s-Alanis moment. Hitting piano keys so hard they play like percussion, Sara sings her way through track called “Love Song” only to deny her significant other, umm, a love song. Isn’t it ironic? I really do think.
6. Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown “No Air” (Billboard Peak: #5)
I have a really weird concept of this song, mostly because I think its production sounds exactly like an instrumental off a Nintendo soundtrack. Otherwise, “No Air” boasts the prettiest melody on this list, an unfailing combination of two of this year’s biggest (and youngest) stars, and big ballad drum kicks nicked from Justin Timberlake’s “My Love”. But I still can’t shake the feeling that I’ve made it to the next level.