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. 10 through 6.
10. Carrie Underwood, “Last Name” (Billboard Peak: #19)
The best song from her Carnival Ride set, “Last Name” proves that Carrie Underwood spends her time steaming up car windows when she’s not slashing tires. Her backing band plays boogie blues throughout, incorporating fat bass licks, sloping chord changes and a banjo line from Big & Rich’s playbook. And at the end of it all, you’re glad at least one of our American Idols sounds decidedly American.
9. Kanye West feat. Chris Martin, “Homecoming” (#69)
Onto more Americana, albeit sung by a Brit: Kanye West’s “Homecoming” might just be the best moment on his stacked Graduation disc. The piano sample is vintage Kanye — familiar but not so much that you can identify it — and Chris Martin holds his own with lyrics about places he’s only seen on maps. Every once in a while, it’s nice to hear some sentiment to counterbalance Kanye’s massive ego.
8. Alicia Keys, “Teenage Love Affair” (#54)
Sure, Alicia Keys’ “Teenage Love Affair” has a midsection heavy on immature lyrics — but you can’t exactly expect much else from a songstress who’s registered a Number One called “My Boo.” Otherwise, “Affair” is the best slice of summer soul this side of Earth Wind & Fire.
7. Rihanna, “Take A Bow” (#1)
Rihanna’s last huge ballad was “Unfaithful,” in which she played the role of the cheater. Now comes “Take A Bow,” a dagger-sharp slice of scorn addressed to an unfaithful boyfriend. I’m not so sure what comes next, but someone’s getting laid.
6. Maroon 5 feat. Rihanna, “If I Never See Your Face Again” (#53)
Adam Levine has stated that much of his band’s It Won’t Be Soon Before Long draws from Prince’s Controversy — but a single like this one makes that point by itself. “If I Never See Your Face Again,” either with or without Rihanna, is retro cool in its reliance on synthetic funk stabs, Parliament-worthy backing vocals and an electronic drumbeat. And while it’s not exactly modern-era chart dynamite, you can’t deny it would be thirty years ago.