Kellie Pickler – Someone Somewhere Tonight

Someone’s emoting, kumbayah. [Video][Website] [4.86] Brad Shoup: She found the sentiment, but she forgot the song. This is a draggy waltz, forgettable but for the guitar solo, which takes a big angry bite out of its surroundings. [3] Anthony Easton: Smooth, and slightly worn, I wasn’t surprised when I learned it had been around since […]

Clean Bandit – Dust Clears

Alternative name and slogan for the Roomba, anyone? [Video][Website] [6.33]Scott Mildenhall: Their last single was one of the best of the year, so this is a little disappointing. The move from the fairly frenetic to the strikingly sparse is presumably deliberate, and as well as presenting that variation “Dust Clears” still sounds and looks like […]

Goldfrapp – Drew

Return to CookieFelt Mountain. [Video][Website] [6.70]Edward Okulicz: The arrangement reminds me of a more organic “Lovely Head” — still their pinnacle — and the use of voice is as inventive and ear-catching as anything else they’ve done. Had this been Goldfrapp’s first single, it would have pre-emptively made sense of a lot of the genre-hopping […]

Kings of Leon – Supersoaker

It’s Nerf or nothing! [Video][Website] [4.78]Britt Alderfer: Here’s your criminally underthought late-summer anthem of 2013 (please, no). I found myself enjoying the ringing tones of the intro, but as soon as Caleb Followill started singing I was like “ugh” and that was that. He could dial it down several notches and still sound like someone […]

Avril Lavigne – Rock ‘n’ Roll

Game recognize game. [Video][Website] [4.50]Patrick St. Michel: It isn’t. This is Max Martin pomp joining forces with whatever Chad Kroeger contributes, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”‘s idea sewn up with the last Lavigne single (with Radiohead references whited out, just so nobody does a double take at the hipster line). This is pop, […]

Panic! at the Disco ft. Lolo – Miss Jackson

Are they for real? [Video][Website] [4.00]Anthony Easton: Miss Jackson has a solid pop culture history, which this extends and warps, in interesting ways. As does their use of the phrase back door. Extra point for the heyheys, and for the handclaps. [6] Patrick St. Michel: A slightly less forceful version of that one Fall Out […]

Marnie – The Hunter

Because we’re never not covering people out of Ladytron… [Video][Website] [7.12] Katherine St Asaph: Helen Marnie singing like icicles shattering over a Daniel Hunt tundra: ignore the credit, this is a Ladytron single, and those will never not be good. (My gut insists the Reuben Wu / Mira Aroyo counterpart would be better, though; maybe […]

Priyanka Chopra ft. Pitbull – Exotic

If you think the lyrics are gross, imagine the boardrooms… [Video][Website] [2.40]John Seroff: LMFAO globalism as a crass vehicle for multi-millionaires to become multi-multi millionaires through product placement, recycled beats, co-opted culture and Pitbull. [1] Edward Okulicz: Priyanka Chopra as a global pop star should be a no-brainer. She is ludicrously attractive, moves well and […]

One Direction – Best Song Ever

Not quite “Take That,” is it? [Video][Website] [6.60]Iain Mew: I’ve completely resisted the One Direction contagion to date since I haven’t appreciated the appeal of any of their songs. This one has got me. Partly it’s that for once it doesn’t sound half-finished — the power pop energy of the chorus and its concept extends […]

Beck – I Won’t Be Long

And we won’t be enthusiastic… [Video][Website] [5.33]John Seroff: I know it’s hardly the only song to put so much weight on that simple hook, but I can’t stop hearing “I Won’t Be Long” as a gloss on Cathy Davey’s “Little Red,” and not as an improvement at that. A disappointing degree of Beck’s current era of […]