R&B hearthob Ne-Yo can't turn off the radio, alt-rock priestess Karen O listens to the lion, and Cascada's Euro cheese is the first great dance-pop track of the year. There's a lot going on, and 1 Week, 10 songs will guide you through the whole thing.
Ne-Yo might have a pretty voice, but it's the piano hook and wordplay that made this songwriter's debut a No. 1 smash. As the dumped loverman explains why he can't bring himself to change his outgoing message from a "we're not here" to an "I'm not here," you really feel his pain. Lots of Kleenex advised.
Hard to say what this song's about, but who cares because it effin' rocks! All we know is Karen O can't find the light, so she consults a gold lion. Lots of strummy guitar and walloping bass shows up, but still no light. Our guess? It's in the hallway next to the front door - metaphysically speaking, of course.
Norah Jones and several of her pals have made themselves a cozy little disc of country covers, and this particular tale, a '60s C&W hit that was later popularized by Gram Parsons, explains the kind of learning curve that can take place when farm folk hit the big city. With a little Lyle Lovett in his voice, singer Richard Julian exudes the heartbreak and disappointment of a husband who uproots his life to please his wife, only to lose her to the bright lights and head back home with his tail between his legs. The message is clear: sometimes your best just ain't good enough.
Those pining for the days when Max Martin wrote cheesy hits for Britney Spears should have a whiff of this. It's European to the core--all touching, feeling, kissing. But then the stadium keyboard kicks in and sweeps everything away in a triumphant adrenalin rush. The first great pop song of 2006.
Like the pole dancers this ass-waving anthem salutes, the beat on the bumper is stripped down and nasty. Following the less-is-more guide to production, rafter-rattling bass and police sirens are all that's needed to set the whole thing off. And if you're still a doubter, Bubba spitting, "Take it off, let if flop, shake it freely," definitely sticks the landing.
Osymyso "Intro Introspection"
This cheeky U.K. DJ takes 101 intros to well-known songs, from Lionel Richie's "Hello" to The Doors' "The End," and mixes them together into one 12-minute-long tease. A brilliantly sustained exercise in anticipation. But where's the outro?
What do you get when a hippie ditches his Odwalla bar for Hasidism? The biggest roots reggae hit since "I Shot the Sheriff." The convert unleashes some deep spiritual vibes while sounding like your dad's best Bob Marley impression. Yeah it's cheesy, but lowbrow it ain't--think world-music Gruyere for the 401K set.
Ray Davies "Next Door Neighbor" Other People's Lives
The esteemed leader of the Kinks has spent an entire career glancing over the hedge and down the street, assessing the state of the larger world by scrutinizing the folks on his block. Here, with a fey whisper and a gracefully swinging melody, he offers several of them advice on health, ambition, self-doubt, arrogance and despair. Even the guy who "went berserk" and threw the telly through the plate-glass window gets some forgiveness.
Alison Goldfrapp's vocals are so breathy, you'll have to wipe the condensation off the windows after listening to this electro-pop jaunt. Her sweet-nothings are punctuated by pretty synth blasts that'll have any fashionista tapping a pointy toe. Goldfrapp whispering, "Switch me on/ Turn me up," should keep the faux-hawk boys compliant, too.
Someone's always getting killed in classic blues tunes, and this jam band spin through Skip James's infectious ditty is a thrilling blend of dark emotions. The syncopation makes the music prance, as if murder was part of Saturday night socializing. The leader's caustic slide guitar whips the horses, and the singer's eerie falsetto (a salute to James's original) brings a ghostly vibe and nasty edge to the whole thing.