No. 6: “Come and Get It” Selena Gomez As big a star as she is (with or without Justin Bieber as her arm candy), I’m surprised that it’s taken Gomez this long to finally score herself a Top 10 hit. I’ve heard far worse (like her 2011 single “Love You Like a Love Song,” which spent forever on the Hot 100 without ever rising above No. 22), but I wish it didn’t sound so much like a cold leftover from the recording sessions for Rihanna’s first album.
No. 11: “Heart Attack” Demi Lovato I still secretly wish Lovato’s second No. 10 hit (and third Top 10 overall) were a cover of Olivia Newton-John’s 1982 No. 3 single of the same name.
No. 12: “The Way” Ariana Grande featuring Mac Miller The pure-pop sound is pure 2000 (and Miller’s sweater in the video so The Cosby Show, circa 1984), and there’s no evidence here that Grande, a Broadway and Nickelodeon star making her Hot 100 debut, is a better or worse singer than the Top 20’s other two kiddie actresses-turned-pop stars, but it’s the only one of their current singles that I actually wanted to hear twice. That said, I’ll also say this: The callow, regressive pop sound of the genre’s new princesses (Gomez, Lovato and now Grande) has me praying for the swift return of some of the old ones. Come back, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, all is forgiven!
No. 15 “Get Lucky” Daft Punk featuring Pharell Williams Not only does disco not suck, but it never really went out of style. Daft Punk’s first U.S. hit single may be a highlight in the Top 30, but I miss the French duo’s Gallic electronic edge, which, to be fair, never got them higher than No. 66 on the Hot 100 (with “One More Time” in 2000).
No. 16 “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” Fall Out Boy I was never a Fall Out Boy fan when they were huge in the mid aughts (the band’s song titles were always more interesting than the actual songs, which hasn’t changed), and I’d forgotten all about the guys before they recently resurfaced following a five-year hiatus. As comebacks go, this one is fairly whatever, but I’m glad the single’s a hit if for no other reason than that Pete Wentz can now glare at his ex Ashlee Simpson (where has she been?) and say, “Take that!”
No. 20: “#thatPOWER” will.i.am featuring Justin Bieber Here he goes again. More state-of-the-art overproduction and the biggest collaborators that money and superstardom can buy in search of an actual song. I respect will.i.am’s skill as a producer, but must everything about him be so damn pretentious, from the ridiculous spelling of his name to the hashtag in front of the title of his latest single to the complicated styling of the title itself? Is he trying to hide the fact that behind the beats, there’s actually #zer0SUBSTANCE?
No. 23: “Highway Don’t Care” Tim McGraw With Taylor Swift The man who inspired the title of her 2006 debut single brings out the best in Swift. Infinitely more listenable than “22,” two notches down.
No. 24: “#Beautiful” Mariah Carey Ugh, another hashtag. I know they’re very 2013, but shameless marketing ploys should have no place in the title of a single that probably would have hit No. 1 anyway. Still, I adore this track’s modern Motown vibe, and it’s, well, beautiful (sans hashtag) to see Carey back in the upper echelons of the Hot 100 where she belongs. But a part of me wonders why it had to be a trip for two. It’s a bit — well, maybe a lot — ageist of me, but there’s something off about seeing a 44-year-old mother of twins parading about in next to nothing next to a 27-year-old guy with a flat-ironed coif when she’s got a 32-year-old husband at home.
No. 26: “Next to Me” Emeli Sandé About a year after my friend Trudi sent me the video of this, the third single by UK sensation Sandé, it’s finally a hit in the U.S. Though it’s always nice to welcome genuine talent into the Top 30, with Sandé, I appreciate her talent more than I actually enjoy her songs. In that sense, she’s the British Alicia Keys.
No. 30 “Here’s to Never Growing Up” Avril Lavigne I know Lavigne fancies herself a true artist (because she writes her own material, and compared to pop’s princesses, she’s kind of rock & roll), but at 28, she really needs to start changing her tune. To be forever young at heart is an understandable ambition, but “Complicated” was 11 years ago, and she’s pushing 30 now. Is she still spelling “Sk8er Boi” with a numeral and an “i”? Guess what? Time to grow up — at least in song. Leave the sentiments of being 22 to someone who actually is, like Taylor Swift.