robertsona
Alex Robertson
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Last Active 09-06-14 1:26 am
Joined 05-13-09

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Female Pop Artists: #1 Singles Z

I was surprised at some of the ones that didn't hit rrrthe top spot on rthe charts. Also, this is for USA rronly.
1Katy Perry
I Kissed a Girl

Katy Perry's #1 singles post-this one are really, really good, which is too bad because this song--the one with which she crashed onto the mainstream radio music scene--is pretty much as bad as all the haters say it is. It's sensationalistic for all the wrong reasons, smug, and oddly unbalanced production-wise. The song--the swinging rhythm and slow tempo of which don't lend themselves well at all to Perry's vocals or style (though this would be amended in later singles)--sort of sounds like Katy jumping around, shouting "look at me!" And, as we all learned from Born This Way (2011), that doesn't bode well for good pop music at all. GRADE: C-
2California Gurls

I'll quote my friend for this one: "I remember when "California Gurls" came out, and I was so, like, PROUD of Katy Perry." I mean, yeah: here, Katy goes for the Ultimate Summer Jam, and she knocks it out of the park. This song is perfect for driving with the windows down as the California sun beats down on your back. Or maybe chilling at the pool. Or sitting in front of your computer wishing you were at a bumpin' summer party. Whatever works. Even the terrible Snoop Dogg verse is weirdly perfect. That said, I do have to knock this nearly immaculate song down a few notches--the chorus sounds a LOT like that of Kesha's "Tik Tok". Originality isn't exactly an essential factor in today's pop music scene, but this one's cutting it close. GRADE: B+
3Teenage Dream

I'll go ahead and say that this right here is about as good as it gets. "It" meaning pop music and danceable "serious" tracks and even Katy Perry but also, like, MOST things. "Teenage Dream" is as perfectly nostalgic and twinged with melancholy and yet hopeful as whatever Bon Iver or Elliott Smith record you're listening to--and it's catchier. Hell, Katy Perry--never the best lyricist, admittedly--could be completely silent throughout the song and that same indescribable feeling would still exist. But she sings, and she rocks it, as do the production team of Dr. Luke and Max Martin. A perfect pop song. GRADE: A+
4Firework

"Firework," probably the weakest of the excellent string of Teenage Dream #1 singles, is a more outwardly "touching" song than its preceding single, which is also one of its more obvious weaknesses: "Do you ever feel / like a plastic bag"...ugh. But, in the same way, isn't the unifying power of the single sort of undeniable? Katy clearly puts her all into this song, and when the huge chorus beat comes in, you can really FEEL it. Plus, the verses have that really weird/cool synth sound going on in the background. "Inspirational" singles are usually DOA, but you could do much worse than this. GRADE: B
5E.T.

Disclaimer: I like the version with the Kanye West verse tacked onto the beginning better. Kanye's verse is pretty lazy a la Jay-Z on "Umbrella" (or, really, any rapper on a pop song ever), but it adds flow to the song's structure. But the real star of "E.T." is That Beat. Jesus Christ, how awesome is that? The chorus, like "Firework," goes big, with substantially more success this time. The lyrics are terrible, but, like, come on. Sing it, everyone!: boom boom CLAP, boom boom CLAP. GRADE: A-
6Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)

I didn't really like this song at first because it seemed like Katy on autopilot. Woo, getting drunk! Man, that was one crazy party! That still holds true, but "Last Friday Night" (which has a surprisingly cool guitar riff as its backbone) is pretty much the definition of "infectious". This song is just a hell of a lot of fun, and what more do you really want from a Katy Perry single? Bonus points for the subtle pre-chorus harmonies and the awesomely edited sax solo (which balances out the penalty points for the words "epic fail". Yuck.) GRADE: A-
7Rihanna
SOS

Points for longevity: remember THIS song? Jesus. I was TEN YEARS OLD when this was released. Anyways, "SOS" is a fairly catchy, well-produced, thoroughly uninteresting single by an extremely talented artist. It's competent but goes in one ear and out the other. GRADE: C+
8Umbrella

This huge crossover hit was a Big Deal when it first came out; it instantly launched Rihanna into pop canon status, made unexpected top 10 lists from Rolling Stone to Pitchfork, and was fucking EVERYWHERE. All of it was totally deserved, because "Umbrella" is a massively kick-ass pop single-- catchy, well-written, captivatingly produced (check out those dark basslines!), and, like, cute?? Underneath the idiosyncratic pronunciation of the title hook and Rihanna's perfect vocal delivery (fuck the haters who say she lacks range. She kills it!), a message of sticking together and keeping loyal to those you love. Aww! (And "Don't Stop the Music," which doesn't appear here, is even better.) GRADE: A
9Take a Bow

I don't think I had ever heard this song before now, but it's quite good. "Take a Bow" is about as predictable as an R&B ballad single can get in every way possible, but it's got that cool chord change at the end of every progression, it's convincingly sung by Rihanna, and I really like the drumbeat going on in the background. Keeping in line with my not knowing of the song, "Take a Bow" probably won't stay in your head all day like "Umbrella" or "Teenage Dream". But one day you might stumble upon it, and you'll look back on it with fondness. GRADE: B
10Rude Boy

This song was pretty hugely maligned in a lot of circles, I think for sort of nebulous and complex reasons having to do with the whole "a really sexual song post-Chris Brown incident," which, apart from being a groan-inducing incident of haughtiness and forced morals from prudes who like to shy away from artistic and sexual liberation in mainstream pop music, simply does this song a great disservice: it fucking BUMPS. The lyrics are almost a little awkward in how straightforwardly sexual they are, but the beat behind it is a monster, and the vocal hook fits it snugly. You go, girl! GRADE: A-
11Only Girl (In The World)

Here's another song that goes big or goes home, and I'm sort of split on it. I LIKE the idea behind its verse-chorus incongruity, and the chorus certainly delivers on a visceral level, but something about this song feels constricting when it should feel liberating. All the ingredients for a great pop single are here, but something's missing. I'm still trying to figure out what it is. It's still satisfying to see Rihanna really TRYING, and the music video is great. GRADE: B-
12What's My Name

On the flipside, "What's My Name" is the sound of Rihanna pretty much not trying at all. It's about as good as "Only Girl (In The World)". Sorta catchy, pleasant, but not all that interesting. GRADE: B
13S&M

This is another single I don't really remember; it definitely wasn't as ubiquitous as the other two on Loud. That said, listening to it now, it's definitely as good as the other two, which to say--good ENOUGH. It's catchy and fun but once again lacks that extra "oomph" that makes a good single into a great one. Rihanna, if nothing else, proves herself to be the most consistently enjoyable-and-not-much-else pop artist on this list with these last few singles. The lyrics are also a little annoying. GRADE: B
14Lady Gaga
Just Dance

Did you know that Lady Gaga has only had 3 #1 singles in the US? At least, that's what Wikipedia's telling me. Also: doesn't this seem like it came out FOREVER ago? Before all the internet scrutiny, hype and anti-hype (and anti-anti-hype?); before the meat dress; before the self-seriousness and the "express yourself" vibe? When "Just Dance" was released, Lady Gaga was just sort of, like, a pop artist. I'm listening to it now, and it just feels WEIRD, like a time machine back to when things were perhaps a little bit simpler. All that weird pseudo-nostalgia aside, "Just Dance" is a super- strong lead single, mostly because it's REALLY catchy. It's also sung way better than I remember, Lady Gaga putting her all into the most inane lyrics you can think of. Play this at a club, and people with simultaneously be like "woah, this song" (well, maybe they will. I don't know.) and dance their asses off. GRADE: A-
15Poker Face

"Poker Face," which used to be my favorite Lady Gaga single (that honor now goes to "Alejandro," which sadly doesn't appear on this list), has gotten a little weaker with time. It just seems a little flatter, a little more diluted. But let's not ignore that this song is a complete hook-fest (my favorite being the "oh woah-oh, oh, oh woah-oh-oh-oh-oh", yeah?) which does the whole "seismic shift between the verse and chorus" thing much better than "Only Girl". Plus, the supposed bisexual overtones are where Lady Gaga first started playing with her public identity, which, even though it's gotten a little tired, was undeniably fun while it lasted. GRADE: B+
16Born This Way

You probably hate this song: it's sort of weirdly condescending (although, at the very least, it's not trying to be), has a stupid intro, and rips off that one Madonna song. In other words, it's "Fireworks" (an only passable single to begin with) done wrong. But it also displays the best qualities of post-Fame Gaga: it's HUGE in terms of production, it's another frustrating- yet-intriguing mystery in the sprawling identity of Stefani Germanotta, and Gaga really fucking tries like no one else here. The beat pulses with an extremity unfamiliar to her peers, the chorus is super-catchy, and, in the end, against all odds, she sells it. No word on the album from me, though. GRADE: B
17Kesha
Tik Tok

Well, this here is fucking contentious. I mean, just LISTEN to that intro: it's like Autotune brought to its most lowbrow extremes, delivered by that slut you fucking hate. She says this: "Ain't got a care in the world / but got plenty of beer." She fucking SAYS that. It would almost certainly come off as ironic were it not for the fact that it's, uh, good? "Tik Tok" isn't the best Kesha single ("Your Love is My Drug"), but it's weirdly appealing in its complete disregard of what you, the loser, thinks. The triumphantly careless chorus almost makes you want to party with her. Almost. GRADE: B
18We R Who We R

This, meanwhile, is Kesha directly asking you, the self-conscious weirdo, to party with her, and it's pretty lame. It's another self-empowerment single, and it's the worst one yet, because Kesha is probably the worst spokeswoman for believing in yourself possible. The chorus is catchy, but not really enough to sell it. GRADE: C
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