It’s hard to believe, but we’re already halfway through 2008 — so I’m continuing my quarterly Top 25 of this year’s most infectious singles. Eligible for this round are springtime singles, ranked according to personal preference but compiled based on chart success and digital sales. We continue with nos. 20 through 16.
20. David Cook, “The Time of My Life” (Billboard Peak: #3)
Like other American Idol singles, “Time of My Life” — David Cook’s audio victory lap — tries to nail immediacy on two levels: first with its rush-release the day of Cook’s coronation, second with its infectious, sugary chorus. But more remarkable is its faulty marketing; surely a heavier sound would have suited Cook much better.
19. Natasha Bedingfield, “Pocketful of Sunshine” (#5)
A few years back, I understood the success of Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.” The thing was as ubiquitous as cosmetic commercials and The Hills could make it, not to mention damn catchy. But the allure of “Pocketful of Sunshine” confounds me — mostly because a summer single about sunshine shouldn’t sound so warped. That said, a lifted chord progression from Nelly Furtado’s “Say It Right” kind of makes it worthwhile.
18. Mariah Carey, “Bye Bye” (#19)
After the publicity circus of “Touch My Body,” Mariah Carey tested the limits of her eternal adolescence with “Bye Bye” — a quasi-lullaby about death in her family. The song charted decently, but stalled at #19 instead of becoming Carey’s 19th #1.
17. Jason Mraz, “I’m Yours” (#44)
Still trying to be the James Taylor of his generation, Jason Mraz’s latest adult-contemporary smash is the first big torch single in a very hit-or-miss career. It works well because blue-eyed soul is hard to resist in the summer, and radio stations appreciate lyrics about devotion from the guy who’s too often too clever for his own good.
16. Ne-Yo, “Closer” (#25)
Ne-Yo has recently expressed his distaste with modern R&B, and I don’t exactly disagree with him; after all, it’s hard living in the generation that features T-Pain on half its club hits. So his attempt to change up the game is “Closer,” which is quite accurate in its approximation of Bad-era Michael Jackson. And while the single has been an extremely slow grower in the states — its original release was in April — its hazy acoustics and synth stabs give it the feel of a 21st-century “Smooth Criminal.”