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08.31.11 Female Pop Artists: #1 Singles Z 08.22.11 Im 16years Old Bitch!!!!!
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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:
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+

"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

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
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-

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+

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:
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
satisfying to see Rihanna really TRYING, and the music video is great.
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

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.
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 thatejeheje
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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